The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - JIM CAR­ROLL

DIVAN Mod­ern Knowl­edge

Self-Re­lease Mu­si­cians oc­ca­sion­ally have to jump through bar bed-wire hoops in or­der to get to a point where they feel com­pletely at ease with who they are and what they’re try­ing to achieve, which is prob­a­bly why Dublin-based­band Divan sound so com­fort­able in their skin. The band con­sists of pre­vi­ous mem­bers of The Am­bien ce Af­fair( Jamie Clarke and Marc Gal­lagher) and To­mor­rows/TheGhan­dis/Big­gles Fly sA gain( Co no rD easy) and there is an ease of ac­cess into the mu­sic. Co-pro­duced by Brent Knopf( a mem­ber of bands Ra­mon a Falls and ELVY, the lat­ter with The Na­tion al’ s Matt Bern in ger ), Mod­ern Knowl­edge takes routes less trav­elled– there is less of Deasy’s erst­while pop mu­sic in­flu­ence and more of an al­ter­na­tive, som­bre sound that tact­fully doff sa cap to Ra­dio head. It is all quite im­pres­sive, sub­tle and brood­ing. TONY CLAY­TON-LEA


Top Shelf Records A few years ago, Philadel­phi­aBrook­lyn’ s Field Mouse was a rip-it-uptwo-piece; found­ing mem­bers Rachel Browne and An­drew Fu­tral did it them­selves, self-record­ing and self-fi­nanc­ing as they made the trip from new­bies to fully-fledged-unit. Two years af­ter their de­but, Hold Still Life, the band has ex­panded to in­clude Browne’ s younger sis­ter Zoe as well as mu­si­cians Tim McCoy and Says ha Heinz man. As if to bol­ster the band’ s sound even fur­ther, Episodic fea­tures guests( in­clud­ing Joseph D’ Ago st in of rom Cym­bals Eat Guitars, and Sadie Du pu is from Speedy Or­tiz ). What tran spires from suchamix­tureisa pro­gres­sive record that high­lights in­tel­li­gent lyrics( themes cover re­la­tion­ship break­down and fam­ily ill­ness) and in­ven­tive ap­proaches to en­thu­si­as­tic, melodic gui­tar pop. Ten pitch-per­fect songs, com­ing in at just over 30 min­utes? Way togo. field­mouse­mu­ TONY CLAY­TON-LEA


Sar­gent House While­many­post-rock­act­s­kick against the con­straints and tropes of the genre, Rus­sian Cir­cles con­tinue to tight en the mu­si­cal knot, em­brac­ing the lim­i­ta­tions that gui­tar, bass and drums grant. Fourth al­bum Em pros (2011) marke­daturn­ing point­forthe Chicago ans as they fi­nally gelled a track-listin­toa co­he­sive, sat­is­fy­ing whole. Two re­leases on, they’ve doneita­gain. Withit­sex­pertly man­aged mood and pace, Guid­ance quite sim­ply flows. No­tably demo­cratic in their ap­proach, the trioably show­casetheir con­sid­er­able ch ops. Ten­der opener

Asa is a mo­ment of calm be­fore the gut-pum­mel ling con­trolled ex­plo­sions of V ore land Mo ta send de­bris in ev­ery di­rec­tion. Afrika gor­geous ly bal­ances the ag­gres­sive push of Mog­wai with the emo­tional pull of This Will De­stroy You. Ground break­ing? No, but im­pres­sive ly earth-shat­ter­ing. rus­sian­cir­cles­ BRIAN KEANE

ARC IRIS Moon Saloon

Bella Union What be­gan as a solo project in ad­di­tion to Jo­cie Adams’s day-job as a mem­ber of Rhode Is­land folk-rock­ers The Low An­them blos­somed into her full-time en­deav­our around 2013. It’s just as well, too, con­sid­er­ing Adams’s se­cond al­bum un­der the Arc Iris ban­ner is a joy­ful, free­wheel­ing jour­ney into cham­ber pop, jazz and songs that sound culled from Broad­way mu­si­cals. With the help of her band­mates, she bun­dles those di­verse el­e­ments into neat pack­ages of up­lift­ing, sunny-side-up songs that touch on the out­put of Tori Amos ( Paint

with the Sun), Feist ( She Arose) and even Ca­role King ( Rainy

Days). Cou­pled with the loose, im­pro­vised feel to these songs, it’s shrouded in an in­trigu­ing sense of un­pre­dictabil­ity - but you’ll be en­snared un­til the last charm­ing note is struck. ar­ciris­mu­ LAUREN MUR­PHY

DM STITH Pi­geon­heart

Out­set D MS tit h’ s 2009 de­but Heavy Ghost was one of that year’ s most strik­ing records: a col­lec­tion of bitter sweet, plain­tive songs un­der­pinned by the Suf­jan Stevens-en­dorsed artist’s lovely falsetto. Writer’s block, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with John Mark Lap ham on The Re­vival Hour and a spell in Steven s’ s band took up the time be­tween then and the re­lease of his se­cond al­bum. Here,Stith works with pro­ducer Ben Hil­lier on songs where the elec­tronic crunch and clat­ter­are of­ten­more prome­ni­entin the mix than the melan­choly. In­deed, there are times when it seems as if Stith­has de­cided to take a back seat to al­low the ma­chines move to front stage. But­foreverysonic rat­tler­like

Rooster or War Ma­chine, tracks where the elec­tron­ics are fully un­leashed,there are less fren­zied and dense tracks like Sum­mer

Mad­ness when St it hf ore goes the wall of sound and his voice guides you along. dm­ JIM CAR­ROLL

BIG THIEF Mas­ter­piece

Sad­dle Creek You may not think you need yet an­other in­die-folky band from Brook­lyn in your life – and then you clock what Adri­anne Lenker and friends are do­ing and you’re all ears. It takes con­sid­er­able swag­ger to call your de­but al­bum

Mas­ter­piece, but the songs here back up such gump­tion. Rich, tex­tured, emo­tional, se­duc­tive, de­tailed and deep, Mas­ter­piece is one of those sea­soned al­bums that sounds as if it’s been around for­ever. Lenker’s pen­wom­an­ship is po­etic and foren­sic through­out, a song­writer cover­ing the life, love and loss beats with great ob­ser­va­tional grit and dili­gence to pro­duce mag­nif­i­cent work like

Real Love and Lit­tle Ar­row. Around Lenker’s blue and bit­ter­sweet tones, the band add colour with sub­tle tones which oc­ca­sion­ally (see Hu­mans) ex­plode into sky-fill­ing fire­works. A sweet­heart of a record, one to keep close and treasure. bigth­

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