Rock/Pop

 

This week's rock and pop CDs reviewed

JINX LENNON

Trauma Themes Idiot Times Septic Tiger Records★★★★

It’s impossible to decide whether Jinx Lennon is a poet, a chancer or simply a daft scoundrel. He’s
certainly a character, one endearingly out of step with the mainstream. Think John Cooper Clarke atop a beer-crate soapbox on a dreary Friday night in Dundalk. Nevertheless, the Louthman revels in eccentricity, and his latest album brandishes more of his unique social commentary. Vocalist Miss Paula Flynn provides the occasional melodic flourish, but Lennon’s lyrical deftness, combining comedy and tragedy in one fell swoop, means that the mostly jazz-poptinged soundtrack is ultimately trifling. Regardless, Jinx is a true individual, and there will always be a place for him – or at least
someone like him – in Irish music. www.jinxlennon.com

LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: Protect Thyself and Home, You Can’t Keep Everyone Happy

ROYSKOPP

Junior Wall of Sound ****

Has it really been eight years since this Norwegian duo preceded the electro-pop fad with their debut album, Melody AM? Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge’s accessible doodles were ubquitous for a time, but these northern lights faded when they botched attempts to reproduce that winning formula. For album No 3, Röyksopp’s “keep it simple” strategy is effective. Most of these songs are centred on a melodic hook, around which quirky effects and atmospheric vocals are assembled. Scandinavian singers Lykke Li, Robyn and Karin Dreijer Andersson (of The Knife/Fever Ray)deliver star turns on songs that dart between playground jubilation and electro- club agitation, but it’s never too cool for school. A companion album, Senior, is due later this year. Let’s hope it’s not too grown-up. www.royksopp.com

LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: Tricky Tricky, Royksopp Forever

THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart/ Fortuna Pop****

Once upon a time all indie music sounded like this. If it was 1986, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart would be guaranteed acres of coverage in the NME, oodles of play from John Peel, and a place in the hearts of thousands of twee indie kids. Even in 2009, and especially with the success of such equally likable jangle-pop revivalists as The Vivian Girls, there should be a place at the top table for this New York quartet, who sound as though they’ve slept through the past 20 years. But the Pains don’t overlook the actual craft of songwriting in favour of covering everything in fuzzy loveliness last seen when The Shop Assistants and The Pastels were in their pomp. While it helps enormously that the Pain have got that sound sussed, this album really finds its feet when such tracks as Come Saturday, Stay Aliveand The Tenure Itchplay to the band’s strengths. www.thepains ofbeingpureatheart.com

JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: Stay Alive, Come Saturday

THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH

Shallow Grave
/ Gravitation****

Kristian Mattson is standing on the shoulder of giants. As can be expected from anyone who’s gone into battle with a battered guitar and a head full of wordy lyrics, there are nods and winks to the masters (Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger) throughout Shallow Grave. But what separates the Swedish singer- songwriter with the vibrant, lively voice from so many others are the ideas in the songs. Every song could well have been lying covered in dust on some abandoned porch in America’s deep south for years. But Mattson doesn’t just take these songs for a Flannery O’Connor waltz – she is keen to emphasise how, for example, nature often acts as a bellwether for human emotions and instincts. There’s a sense throughout of a man not only in love with words, but also fully aware of just what he can do with that gift. www.myspace.com/the tallestmanonearth

JIM CARROLL

Download tracks
: The Gardener, Where Do My Bluebird Fly

PARANOID VISIONS

Beware of the God/ FOAD records***

Dublin’s Paranoid Visions are as resistant as ever to changing their 1977 blueprint – they remain either the epitome of individuality or the acme of tunnel vision. For more than 25 years they’ve irritated the Irish music scene, wilfully disrespectful yet thoroughly on point in the areas of artistic freedom and social commentary. Beware of the Godis more of the same; the musical blueprint remains distinctly old-school punk rock ( The Clash, Crass, 999,etc), while main songwriter Deko Dachau’s blunt lyrics continue to rant against the likes of the economy ( High Cost of Living), pornography ( Sex Kills), legal injustices ( Bondage When We Get Out) tourism PR (From Dublin with Love)and corporate/political corruption ( New Dark Ages). So, take your pick: quasi Zen-soul from U2, or a band with the conviction to tell it like it really is? www.paranoidvisions.com

TONY CLAYTON-LEA

Download track: New Dark Ages