ØXN: CYRM critique | Folk album of the month by Jude Rogers

ØXN’s album artwork.

The first signing in 18 years to the recently revived Irish traditional label Claddagh Records, ØXN are a band that named themselves after castrated draft animals – “sometimes worshipped, sometimes doomed for domestication,” they say. ØXN don’t trip around in folk’s gentler pastures. They comprise singer/keyboardist/guitarist Katie Kim, drummer Eleanor Myler of experimental rock band Percolator, and two members of the Mercury-nominated Lankum: Radie Peat, her voice as raw and jagged as a glistening oyster shell, and their drone-loving producer, John “Spud” Murphy.

The first LP from this debut album is 45 minutes long and contains six tracks. It opens with the traditional song “Cruel Mother”, which tells the story of a woman who kills her newborn children after having an affair with a married man. The song begins with a solo performance by Peat’s voice, similar to some of Lankum’s most powerful tracks. However, the mood shifts as minor-key guitar arpeggios, reminiscent of post-punk music from bands like The Cure, are introduced. Slowly, drums are added and the music builds to a raucous climax. As Peat repeats the refrain “all alone and lonely”, it creates a thought-provoking juxtaposition between the struggles of women in the past and present.

Peat also takes the lead in the first single, Love Henry, which gradually builds into a chaotic frenzy, while Maija Sofia’s modern ballad, The Wife of Michael Cleary, tells the story of an Irish man who burned his wife alive in 1895, claiming she was a changeling. Kim’s vocals bring a unique and captivating quality to each song: reminiscent of PJ Harvey’s White Chalk era on the piano-driven version of The Trees They Do Grow High, similar to Emiliana Torrini on the original folk composition The Feast, and showcasing full goth queen vibes on a 13-minute rendition of Scott Walker’s Farmer in the City with electronic elements and distortion. This haunting finale perfectly encapsulates the unsettling and eerie tone of the debut album.

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Additionally, released this month are the…

The Mary Wallopers have just released their electrifying second album, “Irish Rock N Roll” on BC Records, following their highly praised performances at various festivals this summer. Lead singer Charles Hendy’s dynamic vocals, combined with the band’s harmonious singing, bring a fiery energy to songs that touch on themes of poverty, sex, and the heat of the road. With their sound reminiscent of the iconic Pogues, the Mary Wallopers are undoubtedly the modern-day successors to this legendary group. Meanwhile, Paddi Benson, Grace Lemon, and James Patrick Gavin’s “Volume One – A Curious Dance” on Slow Worm Records offers a unique interpretation of 19th-century ballroom dances performed at Bedlam hospital. The album features traditional instruments such as uilleann pipes and fiddles, creating a captivating blend of dissonance and resolution. Award-winning duo the Breath, known for their soulful folk music, present a collection of original songs in their latest release “Land of My Other” on Real World Records. The album delves into personal stories of family, love, and grief, showcasing Ríognach Connolly’s hauntingly beautiful voice – a true gem in contemporary folk music.

Source: theguardian.com