Artist: The Mariner’s Children
Album: New Moore Island EP
Grade: 4 stars
London-based folkies The Mariner’s Children are the most recent additions to a revival that includes wunderkind Laura Marling and surprise hit-makers Mumford & Sons. But the group’s debut EP offers something far darker.
New Moore Island is a work of desperation, a mile apart from Mumford’s earnest, carpe diem attitude. Musically, this seven-piece ensemble owes most to the group dynamics of the Arcade Fire.
The band’s atmospheric sound revolves around building crescendos of strings and drums – quiet acoustic sections turn to dense blasts of melody tied with the lyrics of ‘Coal’, a man’s plea of devotion to his suffering family, or ‘Golden Pine’s’ narrative of an isolated widow. Ultimately, these songs haunt the listener in a way little modern music can. Alas, like all well-made EPs, it leaves you wanting more. Keep an eye on these guys.
In a nutshell: A teasing debut of folk balladry that is as brilliant as it is heartbreaking.
– Cormac Duffy
Grade: 4 stars
Self-proclaimed “wonky R&B” artist Meljoann bursts onto the electro scene with gusto with her debut album Squick. Some will already be familiar with this artist’s previous contributions as one half of Gland & Conduit. However, with tracks as vibrant as ‘Maritime Safety Announcement’ and ‘E.X.I.T.’, Meljoann opts to tone down her usual heavy industrial beats in favour of more glittering tones.
Squick imposes itself upon the listener full-force, and not without good reason. Grand electronic crescendos and funky digital soundbites sweep across an offbeat, yet oddly catchy, melodic landscape that’s something akin to Battles, but more fun.
Meljoann’s debut will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea – the multitudinous buzz can at times feel too busy. However, what might be chaos in less safe hands is beautifully orchestrated here, and married wonderfully to our protagonist’s more than capable vocals. Squick is a bizarre and unrelenting ride, but one that is brilliant from start to finish.
In a nutshell: Crazy, but in a good way.
– Ethan Troy-Barnes
Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Come Around Sundown
Rating: Two stars
As multi-million selling artists go, Kings of Leon have always been the type your Dad likes – rock music without the weirdness of Radiohead or the unabashed sensitivity of Coldplay. Yet notwithstanding their all-too-obvious MOR leanings, they have often demonstrated a consummate level of swagger and ear for a killer tune which has enabled them to enter rock’s big leagues.
But while the Texans were never a band to seek indie cred, Come Around Sundown sees them in full-on Eagles mode. It consistently eschews edgy musical aggression in favour of lugubrious sing-along soft rock – a sound that is epitomised by ‘Mary’ with its plethora of rock ‘n’ roll clichés, replete with Caleb Followill wailing the eponymous girl’s name continuously.
Essentially, this record is the aural equivalent of McDonalds – likely to go down a storm with the tremendously thick among us, while also maintaining its status as a guilty pleasure for people who should know better.
In a Nutshell: Devoid of wit.
– Paul Fennessy
Album: Not Music
Grade: 3 stars
Although this isn’t technically new material from the British/French post-rock group, this collection of B-sides from their 2008 album Chemical Chords is still a treat for fans.
Not Music has a lounge feel that ranges from the sound of horns to electronic beats. The album includes remixes of old songs, one being ‘Silver Sounds’, a ten-minute journey to the band’s relaxing yet stimulating sound of loopy xylophone and repetition of an electronic base. The standout track ‘Sun Demo’ changes moods effortlessly and includes all of the interesting instruments the band has to offer.
Stereolab have an innovative sound similar to Caribou, while the chilled-out listening style and sweet vocals of Lætitia Sadie are reminiscent of Beach House’s dream-pop vibe. This is especially apparent on the track ‘Two Finger Symphony’.
In a nutshell: Not Music is music – just music that you would listen to when you want to chill to some electronic and xylophone beats.
– Laura Hyson
Artist: Tiger Cooke
Album: Fingertips of the Silversmith
Grade: 3 Stars
Tiger Cooke’s new album Fingertips of the Silversmith is the enchanting jazz-rock sounding follow up to his debut album Wax and Seal. It was produced by Bell X1’s David Geraghty – a friend of Tadhg (yes, he had to change his name to ‘Tiger’ due to constant spelling errors).
The opening track ‘Rid of Her’ is an acoustic number featuring heartfelt lyrics which mirror the sounds of similar artists such as John Mayer and Jack Johnson. This smooth style of vocal continues throughout the album in tracks including ‘There’s an Elvis in us all’ and ‘Your Green Lights’.
The album’s lead single, ‘Out of Reach’, definitely hits the spot, with some interesting touches that hint at a darker folk vibe which sounds promising enough to warrant further exploration on future releases.
In a nutshell: Simple easy-listening that could do with a few more standout moments.
– Laura Brennan