TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

It’s been a topsy-turvy year, with things hap­pen­ing that weren’t ex­pected: Manic Street Preach­ers re­leased Save the Tigers, their best album in more than 10 years. An­other didn’t-see-that-com­ing re­lease was Cathy Davey’s sec­ond album, Tales of Sil­ver­sleeve. Those that were dread­ing the fol­low-up to her de­but, Some­thing Ilk, had to scrape their pre­con­cep­tions off the tar­mac.

The only other Ir­ish record to make a gen­uine im­pact on me was the de­but from Louth/Mon­aghan band The Flaws. Achiev­ing Vague­ness may have oc­ca­sion­ally tripped over in­flu­ences as close as The Killers, The Edi­tors and In­ter­pol, but it ben­e­fited from a fresh look at how clas­sic pop melodies could be in­te­grated with dole­ful, se­ri­ous rock. Lyri­cally, too, the band have the skills to ex­tend their world­view be­yond the typ­i­cal and the tra­di­tional.

Es­chew­ing both of th­ese were ev­ery­one’s favourite Ice­landic band, Sigur Rós, and their back­ing string sec­tion, Ami­ina. While the for­mer re­leased a pe­cu­liar sort-of great­est hits dou­ble album ( Hvarf/Heim), the lat­ter de­buted with the year’s most gen­tly spine-tin­gling record, Kurr.

Two stal­wart acts of the pop/Amer­i­cana per­sua­sion – Bruce Spring­steen and Ryan Adams – re­leased records that are up there with their best. Spring­steen’s Magic is The Boss as pop-song­writer ex­traor­di­naire – no blus­ter, no stir­ring an­thems, no po­lit­i­cal pro­nounce­ments, just one classy pop song af­ter an­other. Adams de­liv­ered qual­ity straight-ahead pop/Amer­i­cana – no frills, no waste.

New names were thick on the ground, but only a few picked them­selves up and walked off with any shred of dig­nity. One was Jay­may, whose Au­tumn Fallin’ bal­anced clas­sic singer-song­writer tra­di­tion with staunch in­di­vid­u­al­ism. Top 10 CDs 1. Manic Street Preach­ers – Save the Tigers 2. Cathy Davey – Tales of Sil­ver­sleeve 3. The Flaws – Achiev­ing Vague­ness 4. Bright Eyes – Cas­sadaga 5. The En­emy – We’ll Live and Die in Th­ese Towns 6. Sigur Rós – Hvarf/Heim 7. Ami­ina – Kurr 8. Bruce Spring­steen – Magic 9. Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger 10. Jay­may – Au­tumn Fallin’ Gigs of the year REM, Olympia; Arc­tic Mon­keys, Malahide. High of the year On tour with The Flaws in Ger­many. Lows of the year The muck at Ox­e­gen; 50 Cent at the RDS.

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