This week's rock and pop CDs reviewed


Ape School Counter Records ****

After spending time in underground indie-rock bands Lilys and Holopaw, ex-university lecturer Michael Johnson’s discovery of an old Moog synthesiser kickstarted an evolution of his musical skills. His collaborations with experimental electronica whizz Daedelus on the latter’s Love to Make Music Byalbum triggered further advancement, as well as the recording of this inventive debut. Laden with eccentric lo-fi pop and zooming undertones ( Wail for God), old-skool hip-hop beats over dreamy shoegaze riffs ( My Intention), synth- addled nightmares ( Deathstomp) and gently squealing wooziness ( It’s Over), Ape School sounds twice as good through headphones. Johnson’s influences are subtle but wide-ranging: flashes of Beck, Talking Heads, Squarepusher and even Kate Bush are evident. It’s not perfect, but Johnson doesn’t drag his knuckles when it comes to taking a fresh approach. apeschool LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: My Intention, Wail to God, Deathstomp


You Look Cold Osaka ***

Dublin-based Osaka is one of those hard-graft record labels that operate farther below the radar than they deserve. it’s a diverse collective, home to such international acts as Eglantine Gouzy, Ribbons and Finland’s Hannu, as well as unique local boy Hulk. No surprise, then, that 24-year-old Patrick Kelleher’s debut is just as off-kilter, a two- fingered refusal to be neatly tagged and classified. You Look Cold’s electronic template is bulked out by – where to start? – classical soundtracking, clipped electro, 1960s drone rock and folky flourishes.

Until I Get Paid, a trippy mantra of harmonies, is the sunny flipside of Coat to Wear’s creepy beauty, and Wonder(easily the highlight) wouldn’t be out of place on a Fleet Foxes record. There’s stylistic leap-frogging aplenty, and just when you think you’ve figured out the album, it surprises you again. An original effort from a one-to-watch artist. SINÉAD GLEESON

Download tracks: Wonder, Until I Get Paid, Blue Eyes


Discovery XL ***

Discovery are the indie-rock side project of the season. After discovering a mutual love for sounds that don’t quite fit under the umbrellas of their full-time bands, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij and Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles decided to set a new act in motion. Their Discovery wagon is powered by a fondness for synth- pop, urban jams, nerdy lyrics and smart disco strutting. You can hear exactly what the pair have in mind on Orange Shirt, a primer on the more synthy passages of 1980s pop that is cheeky, breezy and bright as a button. Indeed, you can apply this shorthand to much of the rest of the album, even those tracks that feature contributions from Vampire Weekender Ezra Koenig and Dirty Projector Angel Deradoorian. A fun escapade, but it’s unlikely to become a more than a fling for either musician. JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: Orange Shirt, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend