Release Date: Jun 8, 2010
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The topic of the modern singer-songwriter has resulted in some quite heated debates with many a music connoisseur friend of mine. The argument kind of settles on the belief that the forefathers of the art are a breed long gone. Such natural talent has been shovelled out in favour of a watered down equivalent. A James Morrison here, a James Blunt there.
Risen from the ashes of his last outfit The Immediate, whose brief, but highly lauded career spanned just onealbum, Irish native Conor O’Brien has re-emerged under a new guise and has set about reminding fans why they fell in love with him the first time around. There’s depth, sincerity and beauty in abundance here, from the quietly menacing opener [b]‘I Saw The Dead’[/b], with its swirling keys and repetitious percussion and the gently funereal [b]‘The Meaning Of The Ritual’[/b] to the elegant backing vocals of ‘Home’. The delicate acoustic number ‘To Be Counted Among Men’ is reminiscent of Elliott Smith in its bare, intimate vocals while the impressive ‘Pieces’ is five minutes of pure heartbreak.
It's no surprise that Dublin songwriter Conor J O'Brien – who records and performs as Villagers – has been an opening act for Wild Beasts. O'Brien's carefully crafted indie-folk is underpinned by an eerie sense of disquiet, as is the indie rock of his labelmates. A tremendous thump, as if someone has landed their fist in the middle of a record player, ends the wistful haze of first track I Saw the Dead, while The Meaning of Ritual bristles with anger – "My love is selfish, and I bet that yours is too," he sings.
Debut record breaks the skin Conor J. O’Brien’s debut produces the same effect as a cut from an extremely sharp knife. You don’t feel anything until you look down and realize you’re bleeding. On first listen, the songs seem innocuous enough—sweet acoustic folk embellished by a judicious use of strings, bells, piano and the occasional howl.
As Edgard Varese never said, the present-day singer/songwriter refuses to die. Indeed, there’s certainly a glut of young troubadours; acoustic guitars in hand, tenor-pitched throats set on melisma, they’re as common these days as cow dung in a pasture. A radio station in your reporter’s West Coast home burg even features such tune-smiths in endless rotation, rendering Dave Matthews, Jackie Greene, David Gray and the rest of their ilk unavoidable.
The debut from Dublin, Ireland’s Villagers is as lush and intricate as the act’s moniker suggests, but its creator’s idea of what constitutes a proper settlement is clearly in question. Formed after the break-up of indie rockers the Immediate by singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Conor J. O’Brien, Villagers is a one-man band, and a damn good one at that.
Conor O'Brien, slight-framed leader of earnest folk-rock project Villagers, tells his publicist he's "terrified of bands. " No wonder: The Dublin-based singer and songwriter's former group, the Immediate, imploded three years ago over "existential differences. " In February 2009, hometown label Any Other City released Villagers' The Hollow Kind EP.
Blk Jks This South African art-rock band traffics in complexity, cross-hatching not only rhythms and textures but also the signifiers of genre. “Zol!” (Secretly Canadian), an EP due out on Tuesday, includes only five songs but brushes up against kwaito, dub reggae and funk, along with the neo-psychedelic prog-rock that provides a baseline style. It’s a woozy hodgepodge not unlike the one on Blk Jks’s 2009 debut, “After Robots” (Secretly Canadian), which met with all the buzz and backlash any band could want.
The Dubliner’s solo offering exudes an aura of maturity that belies his tender age. Rich Hanscomb 2010 There’s a bewitching, precocious charm about Conor O’Brien’s debut album as Villagers. Having served his indie rock apprenticeship with angular guitar slingers, The Immediate, the Dubliner’s solo offering is a different beast altogether and exudes an aura of maturity that belies his tender age.