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Awayland [VINYL]

4.3 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Vinyl (14 Jan. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Domino Records
  • ASIN: B009ELWJJ6
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,552 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

{Awayland} is the follow up to the Mercury-nominated and Ivor Novello Award winning debut, Becoming a Jackal. Engineered, produced and mixed at Attica Audio in Donegal by Conor J. O Brien and Villagers guitarist Tommy McLaughlin.

BBC Review

When your debut album bags a Mercury Prize nomination, expectations for its follow-up are going to be raised. Villagers’ Becoming a Jackal set of 2010 was an alternately arresting and disturbing release more than worthy of its place on the Mercury list, a showcase for Irish singer-songwriter Conor O’Brien’s sensitive croon and dark way with words.

The mood this time round is tangibly different. Seemingly more of a collective effort (O’Brien lauds the musicianship of his band members in the accompanying notes), the angelic harmonies of opener My Lighthouse, or the gently lulling “ooh”s of the otherwise instrumental title track endow the music with a new lightness.

Strings mimic the ebb and flow of a tide on Grateful Song, reflecting a general loose atmosphere of the sea also created with the album’s lyrical references to “the barrier reef” (The Waves), the singing of sea birds (Nothing Arrived), a “paddle fish” (Passing a Message) and In a Newfound Land You Are Free’s lovely description of how “the windows reveal the spinning sea”.

The macabre does occasionally bare its fangs, but this time round it’s restricted to the odd glancing reference that makes you do an aural double take. The delicate My Lighthouse mentions skinning a corpse (of a ghost); Grateful Song describes a God of “pain… tragedy… hatred and deceit… of a hapless, helpless agony”.

Later, the twist of In a Newfound Land You Are Free – ostensibly a touching ballad to a newborn – seems to suggest that the baby has died: “I am burned by a lifetime too brief / With this newfound land comes a newfound grief.”

The evocative lyrics sometimes suffer from overly mannered or just overdone phraseology – O’Brien’s use of “thee” instead of “you” (The Lighthouse) or “for to” instead of “to” (Grateful Song) jars slightly – and the vocal enunciation is sometimes a little oppressive in its intimacy. But these are ultimately prices worth paying for the pleasingly poetic, adventurous and occasionally florid use of words that mark Villagers out as one of the more interesting, literate and imaginative storytellers of recent years.

--Jude Clarke

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD
Conor J. O'Brien is a fine song writer. No doubt about it. Villagers' 2010
album 'Becoming A Jackal' was a quietly menacing and thoroughly engrossing
affair. The kind of stuff which gave you the shivers in a very nice way.

Their new release 'Awayland' opens up a few new avenues. The sound, though
still substantially acoustic in nature, has thickened and gained in complexity
without losing any of its immediacy and appeal. Take 'Earthly Pleasure', for
example, a dense brew of crashing guitar, brutal percussion and shivering
strings, together with the kind of memorable chorus which has you reaching
for the repeat button the moment it's over; or perhaps the almost jaunty 'The
Waves' with its energetic quasi-caribbean rhythms and the superb 'Grateful
Song', with its uplifting sense of breadth and drama, to witness the artistic
development of an artist firing on all six creative cylinders. There are some
wonderfully simple moments too : 'In A Newfound Land You Are Free' is the kind
of song which you'll be drawn back to again and again for its gorgeous melody
and perfectly focused piano accompaniment and restrained vocal performance.

So early on in the New Year Villagers may well have delivered one of 2013's
musical highlights. It fully deserves our undivided attention and applause.

Highly Recommended.
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By robotfish TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was only slightly persuaded that the Villagers were any good by the first album. I really enjoyed Ship of Fools & Becoming a Jackal & The Meaning of the Ritual, but thought the album as a whole lacked a bit of heart & soul.

I was subsequently knocked out by a performance at the Borderline in London, the songs sounded alive. Plus we got to hear much of this new collection - most of which sounded wonderful.

Now I have the CD, and it mostly is wonderful. The songwriting is assured, the melodies are naggingly good and the playing is great. I still think there is a lack of something soulful herein, but have no doubt that Conor O'Brien is making his way slowly towards creating a masterpiece. He certainly has the talent.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Over the first few listens Awayland has grown from a strong 3-4 stars to an absolutely guaranteed 5. Like all great albums it has hidden depths and guarantees longevity by unveiling itself over several listens. As the title suggests, seeing this performed live at the Leadmill in Sheffiled on Friday enhanced my enjoyment of a superb and varied collection of songs. I really believe this should go one further than Becoming a Jackal and win the Mercury music prize.
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Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
A really interesting album and way way better that the first one. The music is well written and you can really see a movement into new areas of writing some great lyrics too. Track three is a corker and addictive, other tracks on the album a little more conventional but you will find something you really enjoy. Influences abound through this album from Radiohead to Cold playish singing quality, I shall put it on now...keep going lads its getting better and better but keep to the weird and steer clear of commercialism...
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Ok. I have waited and waited for the villagers to bring out this album. I pre ordered it as soon as amazon advised it was coming out.
I prefer having hard copy CD's so had to wait a week until it arrived in NZ. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
This is a great follow up and easily up there with becoming a jackal. Conor J O'Brien is sheer genius. Tough to pick a favourite track
but hard to get Nothing Arrived out of my head. With this CD something certainly did arrive.
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Had high hopes for this. Their previous album, becoming a jackal was one of the best albums I've heard in years so I guess it was a hard act to follow. It's not awful but is doesn't have the acoustic, mellow sound throughout it. There are a couple of tracks that sound like b sides or songs that were originally instrumentals that have been re worked with vocals for an album. Earthly pleasure is plain awful. I still like the album but with becoming a jackal I could listen to the whole album on repeat and enjoy all of it. With this, I find myself skipping quite a bit. There's a bit too much repetition in a few of the tracks. It feels more like early crowded house whereas baj had lots of influences in it. There are still a few good tracks on it so maybe I'm being a bit harsh but I was blown away by their previous effort so its just disappointment I guess. Sorry, its just a personal thing. I'm still pleased to have both albums in my collection but feel away land might have been harder work for the band. Still worth a purchase though.
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4 of the songs on this album are memorable: The Waves, The Bell, Nothing Arrived and Passing a Message. These are good songs. The rest; filler.

Sadly, save for the above standouts, the rest is try-hard experimentation and the production all too shiny at times. There's a need to conquer new territory and, possibly, a failure to recognise when something's JUST right (cue, for instance, The Bell at 2m:45).

Three surplus insipid solo acoustic fillers are dull. Without wishing to criticise the clearly earnest sentiments of the tracks one must question how they passed the track-listing stage.

On the whole, there's disappointment, given the awesome talent O'Brien and his bandy of trusty Villagers clearly posses. There are 4 really good songs, but when you know there could have been 9 or 10, you feel just a little let down.

IMHO. Others will disagree. Meanwhile, I'm back to the Jackal.
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