Monday, December 22, 2008
Herald AM and Evening Herald Best Irish Albums of 2008, by critic John Meagher.
ANOTHER WAY OF BEING THERE
This beguiling and beautiful album - a collection of post-rock and electronica will have you reaching for such terms as'widescreen'and'cinematic! Three years in the making its 10 songs are meticulously crafted, not least a pair of standouts; Salmon' and'Prairie'The album is, by turns, upbeat and reflective but never less than absorbing. When Jeff Martin takes the title tracks contemplative vocals, the group packs a significant emotional punch. Halfset may be the sort of band created for appearances on the tedious arts show 'The View/, but please don't hold that against them Another Way of BeirgThere' offers a leap in progress from their debut and it's the best Irish album of the year.
THE HOLY PICTURES
The Belfast man has become celebrated of late for his Hollywood soundtracks, but this album finds him returning much closer to home, with atmospheric music that documents his youth and musical influences. It also serves as a tribute to his late parents, Jack and Sarah. Much of it is minimal and some of it rocks. And the guest duty of Martin Rev - frontman of post-punk visionaries, Suicide'- proves to be a masterstroke. While his previous albums worked as exercises in cool, there was always a sense that Holmes was at a remove from his music. That couldnt be further from the truth with this album, and right from the off, one Ws that it's a tabour of love - a document to people and places.
Richie Egan has had his fair share of record industry woes, but this third album finds the Dubliner in revitalised form. This eclectic album offers an exercise in experimental pop-rock that'sjust both clever and commercial. From the dancefloor swagger of 'I Was A Man' to the delectable 'Replays' and onto the stripped back acoustic-driven 'Phil Lynott', Egan has created somethingvery special here.
The Meath singer has had little trouble
stepping out of the shadow of Damien- Rice and this hugely assured debut reveals herto be a songwriter of some distinction. Those looking for Ireland's answer to Feist could begin their search here. An Ocean and A Rock' is typical of her strong melodic gifts and Sea Sew has been wowing audiences in the US.
COLOURS OF SOUND
The third album from the under-rated Ken McHugh is his best - a slick productionjob that takes his electronics into the mainstream The Mayo-man has the commercial nous of
Moby - they both share the same agent Regular cohorts Cathy Davey and Carol Keogh provide the vocals and are intypically fine form. A chill-out record par excellence.
The Jimmy Cake
Once more lauded than they really deserved, the instrumental Dublin-based collective finally came good with 'The Spectre and the Crown', their third album Minimalist one moment, multi-layered the next, there's real beauty here, as well as - whisper it-tunes.