Sunday 21 January 2018

Loaded: Mercury rising for villagers

It is one of the most widely acclaimed Irish albums in years, and this week Conor J O'Brien -- the heart and soul of Villagers -- has been celebrating a Mercury Music Prize nomination.

His debut album Becoming a Jackal just about lived up to the phenomenal hype that started around the time of his first EP early last year, but its quality won't have surprised anyone familiar with his former band, the short-lived fourpiece The Immediate.

The bookies, however, don't give O'Brien much of a chance, with Ladbrokes making him the least likely of the 12 nominees to win come September. You can get 25/1, which seems like good odds to me, although I genuinely can't see him winning the prize.

My money is on The xx to win for their slow-burning self-titled debut. I also think Dizzee Rascal, Laura Marling and a revitalised Paul Weller are well worth a flutter.

Also nominated are Foals, Wild Beasts, Mumford & Sons (that band's front man is dating Marling, incidentally), I Am Kloot, Corinne Bailey Rae, Biffy Clyro and this year's token jazz act Kit Downes Trio.

I would love to have seen recognition for Northern Irish trio Two Door Cinema Club, whose debut album Tourist History has provided the soundtrack of the summer for many of us.

Alex Trimble and friends will have to contend themselves with a Choice nod -- which must surely be in the offing.

  • One of the country's top festivals gets under way today, with Dun Laoghaire's Festival of World Cultures, now in its 10th year.

Up to 200,000 people attend each year, yet somehow the weekend rarely feels like it is over-populated. The majority of shows are free and the key attraction for me this year is the Bollywood Central stage, which will boast a myriad of Indian performances on the Saturday.

The festival officially opens this evening with a performance by Homeland -- a fascinating quartet comprising very different singers -- Irish sean nos vocalist Iarla O Lionaird, Canadian Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Norwegian folk performers Adjagas. The concert takes place in nearby Monkstown Church at 8.30pm and tickets cost €24.

  • The Electric Picnic line-up just gets better and better. Among the new names announced this week are the aforementioned Two Door Cinema Club, Swedish pop star Robyn and the fantastic Brooklyn outfit, The Antlers, whose second album Hospice was one of last year's most arresting releases.

  • Martha Reeves and the Vandellas play Dublin's Helix tonight. Sadly, the man who helped make the show happen, Louth-based booker Derek Nally, won't be there to see it, having died of a heart attack last week.

  • A very popular figure in the domestic music scene, he had been involved with Whelan's for years, helping to make it one of the foremost venues in the country. He also managed Juliet Turner and Ham Sandwich. RIP.

    • Tomorrow will mark a sad day for many music fans, as one of Dublin's finest independent record stores, Road Records, finally shuts its doors.

    Established 13 years ago, the shop on Fade Street -- not far from Grafton Street -- became a favourite for local musicians and vinyl enthusiasts alike.

    All stock -- including fixtures and fittings -- has been reduced to clear, so if you're after a bargain, get in there during the next couple of days.

    The store almost closed two years ago, but a €1,000 investment from 30 concerned fans provided a stay of execution. Sadly, the recession, coupled with the fact that many people simply don't buy physical music anymore, have been cited as the primary reasons for its demise.

    Irish Independent

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