Monday 22 October 2018

Get ‘Lost in Music’ with John Meagher

La Roux
La Roux

This week: La Roux’s fine comeback album, The Avalanches revisited, Longitude tips and a prize to appeal to fans of David Bowie.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK

La Roux - Trouble in Paradise (Polydor)

Five years is a hell of a long time in pop and a lot has happened since the flame-haired Elly Jackson released the debut La Roux album: think Lana del Ray, Miley Cyrus and the unstoppable rise of Lady Gaga.

Although it looked as though she was a solo performer, La Roux was actually a duo – and featured the songwriting smarts of Ben Langmaid (he just didn’t play live). But after an acrimonious split, Jackson really is going it alone this time and this fine second album suggests she has had little difficulty rekindling her mojo.

Where her debut was flinty and defiant and kept her firmly at arm’s length, these engaging songs are much more open and honest as she sings about relationship troubles, self-confidence issues and struggles with fame. Her candour makes for a compelling listen, especially as she rarely resorts to self-pity.

While one ear is cocked in the direction of radio-friendly chart music, the other is in thrall to the avant-garde and throughout this album, Jackson resembles something of a British Robyn. Her sure-footedness is captured on the album’s centrepiece – the gorgeously slow-burning ‘Let Me Down Gently’, which in its brutal frankness is redolent of Agnetha singing Abba’s songs of heartache – and on the ‘80s-enthralled ‘Tropical Chancer’, a song in which Jackson throws out more ideas than most of her peers do on an entire album.

Key tracks: ‘Let Me Down Gently’; ‘Tropical Chancer’

ALSO OUT

Jungle – Jungle (XL Recordings)

Much hyped at the beginning of the year, the London duo don’t quite come up with the goods on this mixed bag, but the good tracks are well worth spending a few bob on. The uplifting ‘Busy Earnin’’ is one of summer songs of 2014 while the lively ‘Son of a Gun’ will remind some of label mates Basement Jaxx. Mixing soul with tropicalia, and plenty more besides, one senses that if Jungle raise their game next time around, something truly special will be in the offing.

GIG OF THE WEEK

The Longitude festival kicks off this wet evening in Dublin's Marlay Park and the line-up is impressive, albeit not quite as striking as last year's inaugural event.

English dance sibling duo Disclosure, Scottish electro-indie outfit Chvrches and US troubadour Conor Oberst are among the names that fall into the ‘must-see’ category, while Sunday’s main stage headliner, Massive Attack, could deliver a set to live long in the memory. I’ve been binging on their slim back catalogue in recent months and have been reminded of the the quality and invention of the music.

If there was one comparatively unknown act I would urge you to see, it’s San Fermin,  the American chamber pop collective who were responsible for one of my favourite albums of last year. They play the Whelan’s 25 stage at 6.45pm and if it’s anything like their show at Whelan’s earlier this year, we’ll be in for a treat.

Tonight, I’ll be high-tailing it to the Iveagh Gardens for The National (with the excellent Phosphorescent supporting). Matt Berninger and friends played Cork and Galway during the week and the reports have been universally good.

Check out San Fermin’s ‘Sonsick’ here:

BOOK IT

When is a ‘secret’ show not a secret show? When the world, his mother and Twitter know about it. This morning, Aiken Promotions announced that the Jesus and Mary Chain would play a ‘secret’ gig in Vicar Street on July 31. Secret or not, it’s great news for admirers of the Scottish noiseniks, especially as their sporadic live dates this year have seen them play their seminal 1985 debut album, Psychocandy, in its entirety. Tickets (€30) on sale now.

WIN!

David Bowie has been dropping hints of late that he is working on new material. After taking a decade-long hiatus, he released the wonderfully eclectic comeback album, The Next Day, last year so the prospect of brand new material is very enticing.

Until then, Irish Bowie aficionados can look forward to a night of song in tribute to the great man in Dublin’s National Concert Hall. Saturday, July 26, will see local luminaries including Lisa Hannigan and Choice Music Prize winners Adrian Crowley and Jape performing a selection of Bowie’s career-spanning songs. For more information on The Art of the Song: David Bowie, see https://www.nch.ie/Online/Art-of-the-Song-David-Bowie-26Jul14

I have a pair of tickets to give away, so to be in with a chance of winning email me (jmeagher@independent.ie) with the name of the Berlin studio where Bowie recorded the “Heroes” album.

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