Rock/Pop

Fri, May 8, 2009, 01:00

This week's rock and pop releases reviewed

BLOC PARTY

Intimacy Remixed Wichita **

Getting the remixers around for a release like this has always been a favoured ploy for labels attempting to get paid on the double. Some of Bloc Party’s fan base can always be relied upon to have another go, though it’s questionable if remixes of the band’s last (and fairly so-so, at that) release will appeal to those of a more casual persuasion. As for the remixes themselves, there’s little stunning reinvention going on here, with most of the remixers phoning in their work. Veteran remixer Armand Van Helden and Los Angeles Smell alumini No Age are the pick of the bunch, with treatments of Signs and Better Than Heaven showing distinct signs of imagination. Paul “Phones” Epworth’s reworking of Talons deserves a mention, but there’s little else here to trouble anyone beyond already committed Party people. www.blocparty.com JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: Signs, Armand Van Helden remix; Better Than Heaven, No Age remix

WAYNE BRENNAN

In My Hands Libéré Records ***

Debutant Wayne Brennan has the wide-eyed wistfulness needed to survive past the first post in this crazy business they call music. With faint echoes of Ben Harper (in one of his more pensive moments) on She’s the One, Brennan’s voice and lyrics are elsewhere closer to Prefab Sprout, particularly on the picture-pretty opener, Slow the Pace Down. At times he struggles lyrically, yielding to the temptation of the easy rhyme at the expense of the sentiment, to wit: “And I love your skin so smooth/ when your clothes remove”. Still, clunky moments aside, Brennan wisely lets his sizzling band full rein, and in unison they take flight on the aquatically themed Moving Me . Unquestionably, Brennan is a first- timer with an original voice – and something to say. www.wayne brennan.com SIOBHÁN LONG

Download tracks: Peace in Your Mind, She’s the One

IRAN

Dissolver Narnack ***

Naturally, a lot of the attention about Iran’s third album will refer to TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone (a long-standing Iran member) and David Sitek (who partly produced this album). Those who’ve followed Iran will probably also note how this long overdue album sees the band leaving lo-fi recording methods in favour of more conventional and cleaner tonal swabs. But what’s perhaps most noteworthy about Dissolveris just how much punch Iran’s main man, Aaron Aites, applies to his songs. Sure, you can spot Sitek’s brand of atmospherics and fuzz all over the shop, but Aites’s confident tackling of songs such as I Can See the Futureand Buddyreally resonates. Even shorn of the more experimental edges that made Iran’s previous album, The Moon Boys, such a strange delight, Dissolver is an experience to relish. www.myspace.com/iranband JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: I Can See the Future, Buddy

SUBPLOTS

Nightcycles Cableattack!!****

Sometimes you can tell when a band is rich in experience simply by the way they play their instruments. Subplots aren’t exactly veterans of the Irish music scene, but they have been active under various guises for the past few years. As a result of that shapeshifting, their sound has been fine-tuned to precision, and it shows on their long-awaited debut. The term “post-rock” often elicits notions of sombre dreariness, but the trio twist these intricate songs into works of beauty and uplifting sadness with their offbeat structures and ornate melodies. Phil Boughton’s fragile falsetto exquisitely swoops beneath the gorgeous repetition of Politisand the pensive orchestral sway of Violent Sea. Elsewhere, there are star-like bursts of energy and instrumentation to add timely spells of drama. Listen attentively, and prepare to be completely ensnared in the narrative. www.myspace.com/ subplots LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: Politis, Leech, Violent Sea

ST VINCENT

Actor 4AD ****

Annie Clark’s debut, Marry Me, was an odd riot of instrumentation that instantly marked her out as an artist willing to take chances. Her musical eccentricity brought comparisons to the usual suspects (Björk, Kate Bush), but Clark, judging by the rollercoaster ride of her new album, is focused on her own vision. On Actor, Clark’s off-kilter time sigs and jazzy, choirgirl vocals remain, but there’s a darkness bubbling under the surface. From 1940s Hollywood melodrama to creepy nursery rhyme sing-songs, Clark goes from delicate to buzzsaw, beautiful to brittle in seconds. Opening with the epic, sweeping The Strangers, these are surreal stories of black rainbows and stashed Playboys. From the gnarled guitars of Marrow to the Party’s weariness, there’s no shortage of standout tracks on this strange, beguiling and brilliant work. www.ilove stvincent.com SINÉAD GLEESON

Download tracks: The Strangers, Save Me from What I Want, Marrow