The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Your Paris correspondent finds it the most over-hyped and over-rated Irish album of recent years, but what do we know? Everyone else in Ireland can only rave about Villagers and 'Becoming A Jackal'.

Conor O'Brien of Villagers busking in front of Amelie's greengrocer, Abbesses, Montmartre, Paris, France (Still image from video by Le Hiboo)

This party line has also been adopted by our UK neighbours: Conor O'Brien's recent appearance on 'Later... with Jools Holland' was this week followed up by him popping up on the Mercury Music Prize shortlist for 2010. (Only a begrudger and player hater would dare suggest that he's the token Irish act on the list.)

And like one of those animated map graphics showing the Nazis' advance through Europe, Villagers-love has spread to France.

On the radio, O'Brien joined Laura Leishman for an interview and acoustic session on her high-profile show on alt-music station Le Mouv'. Villagers tunes have also popped up in the playlist of C'est Lenoir, France Inter's long-running and much-loved indie hour.

In the press, 'Becoming A Jackal' has got the serious rave. Les Inrockuptibles devoted a typically flowery feature to the "little genius" O'Brien and "his gothic folk, haunted by black lights and bruised words" comparable to Nick Cave, Scott Walker, Prefab Sprout and Van Dyke Parks. The more readable Magic RPM, in their 5-out-of-6 review of what they consider "a masterpiece", spot a different set of reference points: Paul Simon, Belle And Sebastian and Leonard Cohen. 

On the web, O'Brien features in a set of 'Takeaway Show'-style performance videos by French site Le Hiboo. ('Hiboo' is the French for 'owl'.) Filmed in Abbesses, a less-touristy part of Montmartre, the videos have O'Brien strumming and singing and strolling all at the same time. Sharp-eyed French movie fans will recognise the shop in the picture above: the greengrocer's in 'Amelie'. (No wonder that grocer was always in such a foul mood.)

Anyway, for the countless millions of you who like Villagers, check out Conor O'Brien on the streets of Montmartre singing 'Set The Tigers Free' and, below, 'Home':

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Nuggets from our archive

2000 - 'Rock Criticism: Getting it Right', written by Mark Godfrey. A thought provoking reflection on the art of rock criticism.