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Cork, Ireland
An Irish based alternative music blog. Music news, gigs, live reviews, album reviews... You'll find them here. If you want anything featured or removed, please shout. I hope you'll discover something new to love on this little experiment of mine. Currently editing the Music Section of the UCC Express and contributing to Motley magazine on campus, as well as writing for PopCultureMonster and 4FortyFour. Always looking for new projects so please get in touch if interested. Thanks for reading.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Favourite Irish Abums of 2010 (Part 2, 20-1)

Let's get this going... Check back on yesterday's post for numbers 40-21. Below is my top 20 favourite albums of 2010, easily the best year in Irish musical history. The diversity and consistency of these records is staggering and, it is worthwhile to note, that all of the top 10 would have warranted a place atop any list of the last ten years. The top few have been chopping and changing rapidly in my head over the last few days so ask me next week and it'll all be different!

20. Imelda May Mayhem (Decca)
19. Jogging Minutes (Richter Collective)
18. The Redneck Manifesto Friendship (Richter Collective)
17. Shit Robot From the Cradle to the Rave (DFA)
16. Windings It's Never Night (Out on a Limb Records)
15. Fight Like Apes The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner (Model Citizen)
14. Not Squares Yeak OK (Richter Collective)
13. Enemies We've Been Talking (Richter Collective)
12. O Emperor Hither Thither (Universal Ireland)
11. Groom Marriage (Popical Island)

And now the top ten...

10. Somadrone Depth of Field (Skinny Wolves)
This was my first encounter with Somadrone, and what an encounter it was. A magnificently crafted mix of electronic, rock and more, this album makes a lot of noise and stands head and shoulders above the crowd.

9. Hipster Youth Teenage Elders (Long Lost)
Quirky and experimental, Hipster Youth has grabbed the attention of many for his innovative use of synths, computers and even Nintendo sounds. Think Crystal Castles, HEALTH or even a little of Anamanaguchi.

8. Villagers Becoming A Jackal (Domino)
The biggest hit of the year for Irish music, Conor O'Brien carefully crafted a powerful work in Becoming A Jackal. Owing to traditional singer-songwriters, as well as more alternative sounds, Conor confirmed his status as one of the most important figures in Irish music with this Mercury nominated debut. Note the haunting performance below on Jools Holland back at the start of the year.

7. Cathy Davey The Nameless (Hammer Toe Records)
With her most accomplished work to date, Davey put together a beautiful collection. Her voice is still the central figure, but it adorns a layered and textured sound of incredible instrumentation. Davey's talent is on show for the world here.

6. Solar Bears She Was Coloured In (Planet Mu)
Like a bolt from the blue, Solar Bears created one of the most exciting collections in Irish music. Floaty, experimental and varied, Solar Bears takes in a number of styles in the fifteen tracks on show here. Reviewers have paid much attention to the cinematic scope of the album and it is clear to hear why. Described by Harmless Noise as "perfect", Solar Bears put together an exhilarating and unmissable album in She Was Coloured In.

5. Fionn Regan The Shadow of an Empire (Heavenly)
Despite the huge success of his debut, Regan's second album seemed to slip through the cracks a bit. Overshadowed by previous work and by the success of contemporaries (Villagers in particular), the sophomore release from Ireland's most talented lyricist put together a subtle, yet powerful, collection of blues infused tracks. It doesn't possess the intimate acoustic nature of his debut and is all the better for it. Ireland's answer to Dylan? Maybe not, but as close as we've seen. The talent is here in droves.

4. The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra Lowering the Tone (Silly Goose Records)
One of Ireland's most endearing acts, the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra put together a stunning mesh of tracks. They have a remarkable ability to hop between styles - swing, smooth lounge music, electronica, Americana... 'The Last of Me' even sounds like it jumped right out a musical. Absolutely sublime, the smooth flow of styles is something that the most accomplished of career musicians would struggle to comprehend, yet the BPLO manage it effortlessly. Do not miss this one.

3. James Vincent McMorrow Early in the Morning (Universal Ireland)
A collection of subtle beauty, the back story of McMorrow's folk masterclass has been told to death so I wont bore you with it again. To truly understand the wonder of what the Dublin native has created, you simply just have to let it take you over. Press play and absorb the sheer genius of James' debut. He touche on the finest in blues and folk musicians: Sam Beam, Justin Vernon, Jeff Buckley, Neil Young... A frightening talent and an instant classic.

2. Ham Sandwich White Fox (Route 109 Recordings)
Absolutely enchanting, Ham Sandwich's second album utilises the band's clearest talents: Niamh's gorgeous voice and a unique, almost American writing style. Catchy pop hooks ensure an irresistible opening, though as the album flows rapidly through its thirty odd minutes, the treasures to be found are incredible. More intimate, more open and even better than the fantastic debut they released a few years ago, Ham Sandwich wear their hearts on their sleeve in this album. The latter tracks almost sound as though they stepped off albums 2, 3 or 4 from the National, and in 'Ants' and 'White Fox' they have created two of the tracks of the year.

1. RSAG Be it Right or Wrong (A Rare Production)
Jeremy Hickey sits alongside Patrick Kelleher as one of Ireland's greatest living musicians. Innovative and creative, he shirks the constraints of style and blows the doors wide open. This record references David Byrne, Joy Division, and nearly everyone in between in what is a slow burning and unmissable work. A more traditional rock & roll work than his debut, Hickey's passion for the rhythm section is unmistakable on the record. Driven by the drum and bass sound that he is noted for, the album reveals itself more and more upon repeated listening. A rare talent and, surely, a guarantee for the Choice Music Prize next year.

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