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Becoming A Jackal

30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (24 May 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Domino Recording
  • ASIN: B003D85E6Q
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,907 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. I Saw The Dead 5:04£0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Becoming A Jackal 3:19£0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Ship Of Promises 4:36£0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. The Meaning Of The Ritual 3:14£0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Home 4:41£0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. That Day 3:10£0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. The Pact (I'll Be Your Fever) 3:28£0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Set The Tigers Free 3:22£0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Twenty Seven Strangers 3:24£0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Pieces 5:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
11. To Be Counted Among Men 4:43£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

Young Dubliner Conor J. O'Brien or as he likes to call himself, Villagers, is the mastermind behind the 11 varied, subtle, complex and plain gorgeous songs that are Becoming A Jackal. Conor plays all the instruments (except strings and french horn) and Becoming A Jackal was recorded in Villagers home studio, with Tommy McLaughlin engineering and co-producing alongside Conor. Becoming A Jackal is a startling intro to the gripping poetry and melodic depth of Conor J. O'Brien.

BBC Review

There's a bewitching, precocious charm about Conor O'Brien's debut album as Villagers. Having served his indie rock apprenticeship with angular guitar slingers, The Immediate, the Dubliner's solo offering is a different beast altogether and exudes an aura of maturity that belies his tender age.

At its core, Becoming a Jackal is an album of childhood fantasia, the inevitable changes that come with growing up and the environment in which this is experienced. Opener, I Saw the Dead, is sumptuously arranged evoking the bucolic splendour of O'Brian's home town, Dun Laoghaire, as well as Sub Pop's forgotten orch-pop nearly-star, Eric Matthews. The title-track displays the same feral, bottle-up-and-explode angst that typified Elliott Smith's clenched teeth missives: "When I got older, when I grew bolder, out on to the streets I flew". At odds with O'Brian's often disconcerting Gothic lyricism is the album's sonic tenor. Tracks like Ship of Promises and That Day romp by with a spectral sense of urgency as O'Brian sings on the former, "it takes you in and scrubs you clean, sanitises every dream", referring to his youthful church experiences; whilst the latter concerns the grim, unspoken "midnight fears" that pollute a relationship. Elsewhere, so affecting is Set the Tigers Free's saccharine shuffle and its tenderness near tangible that surely Roddy Frame would be jealous.

Becoming a Jackal clocks in at less than three-quarters of an hour but it feels longer, and this is one of the album's few flaws. O'Brien's earnest warbling has all the seriousness befitting a young man with the weight of the world upon his invariably frail shoulders, which can grate in one sitting. The dearth of any light amidst the swathes of shade reaches its nadir on Pieces, a maudlin waltz about as endearing as the type of music played at a wedding reception's twilight hour, wherein O'Brian howls–literally–at the song's conclusion.

Admittedly, such callow behaviour is a rarity here and we can forgive a young man for labouring the point. For the most part, this is a fine debut and speaks of even finer things to come. --Rich Hanscomb

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Linzal on 14 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
When you listen to a new album and it is like falling in love, spending the day thinking about when you can next listen to it. The rising flutter in your stomach, feeling sick and tingling and elated and excited all at once. The haunting melodies and darkly lyrical poetic words - the music creeps up through my flesh, crawls through my veins, settles in my elbows and knees and runs rings in my mind. Something primal, urgent and real yet simultaniously haltingly ethereal, mystical and beautiful.

This sounds like an awful lot of prentious rubbish, but it is what I actually wrote after two days of first listening to this album. A month or so on prehaps my attitude has tempered a little and some logic has crept in, but I'm not sure I wanted it to. This is by no means a flawless album, but it is one that speaks to you (it does to me at least). There are some very special moments - particularly tracks 1, 2 and 4. Though for me I think track 8 Pieces, is one of the best things I have heard this year. There should be more howling in songs in general.

There is something quite special about this album. It is also really quite unnerving.

"Before you take this song as truth, you should wonder what I'm taking from you. How I benefit from you being here, lending me your ears, while I'm selling you my fears"

I have clearly bought into Conor J Obrien's fears wholesale, but I fail to see how one cannot when he a is a purveyor of such sincerity.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Red on Black TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 22 May 2010
Format: Audio CD
The recent great news that BBC Radio 6 music is to be saved warmed the cockles of many a music lovers heart in the UK particularly those who seek out new and original music. Listening to the channel recently a song came on which was clearly an outright classic; a lost gem perhaps from Paddy McAloon, a new song from Andrew Bird or a neglected find from the vault of the late great Elliot Smith? As it turns out the song was "Becoming A Jackal" from Dublin songwriter Conor J O'Brien who records under the name of Villagers and whose band has recently supported those cherished dilettante's from Kendal - The Wild Beasts. As we speak this wonderful debut album sits on top of the Irish album music chart (Week ending 20th May 2010) proving yet again the impeccable musical taste of our chums across the Irish sea who we can just about make out from some parts of Wales on a good day.

Becoming a Jackal is an album bursting with O'Briens' vivid narratives, gripping poetry and melodic depth. As a debut album it oozes such confidence that O'Brien could claim this has his fifth album and not a single eyebrow would be raised. True the album gets off to a rather strange start with opener "I saw the dead" which is an ever so Gothic rolling piano ballad but which grows on repeated listened. It is followed by the already mentioned gem of a title track and other little jewels quickly follow not least the incredibly strong set of songs that compose the middle part of the album. The "Meaning of ritual" stars with a slow organ which reminds me of a James Yorkston song and builds into a delicate confessional ballad which really exposes the complete shallowness of the work of those other pretenders the Morrison's, the Merriweather's and the horrible Nutini.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By From the Chaos Pad on 6 May 2010
Format: Audio CD
Villagers is Conor O'Brien. I heard this round a PR person's house and scribbled the following: Blue Nile, Jeff Buckley &
Steve McQueen Prefab Sprout.

As anyone who saw him on Later will know, he has a voice and a confidence that is almost otherworldly.

The songs on this album unfold like moments of the day dissolving into dreams. Lead single Becoming a Jackal has a chorus that stays
swirling around your head for days. The kind of tune you find yourself humming without knowing where it came from.
Well it come form here, this incredibly assured debut.

At times the lyrics sound very abstract, other times very everyday. Surrounding them is some incredible shimmying music.

O'Brien's voice carries the whole thing and the record is full of unexpected twists and turns, marrying strange chord changes with his
Irish lilt.

a record to really lose yourself in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. Byrne on 28 Jan. 2011
Format: Audio CD
For those of you that don't know, this isn't Conor O'Brien's first foray into music, his previous project "The Immediate", an Indie rock band that was met with limit success outside the UK and Ireland, which split up in 2007. Conor O'Brien is clearly an exceptional talent, every track is written and every instrument except for some Brass sections is preformed by him also. Becoming a Jackal is a wistful and gentle record with some suspense fired in for good measure. The opening track "I Saw the Dead", a dark, brooding opener with a melodic gentle piano section that builds up with suspense to match the dark lyrics to end with a loud thump, with its intent to shock the listener into the imaging the outcome of the story being told through the song. The radio hit "Becoming a Jackal" is next up with its Simon and Garfunkal inspired harmonies and chorus'. The next few song's add to the spiritual and emotional theme of the album. "Home" appeals for its honesty and simplicity, while "That Day" another radio hit here in Ireland exposes the qualities of O'Breins voice. "Set the Tigers Free", is probably the most upbeat and my personal favorite on the record. The last three tracks continue with the proven formula of the beginning of the record, of sobriety and beauty. Technically 'Becoming A Jackal" is probably not the best record of 2010, but it's polished production coupled with honest, hidden beauty of Conor's lyrics and instrumentation make it one of my favourite.
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