Grouse – Heads
After a seven year hiatus, Ronan Carroll presents ‘Heads,’ his second album under the Grouse name. So what’s it like? Well, first and foremost the music’s good, which obviously helps and second, much of it has ‘film soundtrack’ written all over it which, for me, is always an added bonus.
Opening number ‘Interval,’ for instance, with it’s reverberating, twangy guitar, lazy beats and slightly ominous mood could have Joel and Ethan Coen reaching for the phone, such is the cinematic tone it projects. Similarly, ‘Silent Protest’ begins gently enough, before graduating towards a more sweeping sound that suggests impressive vistas and vast plains, the only discordant element being the unnecessary Clannad-style, female vocal drifting topside. ‘Telegraph’ rolls along nicely, punctuated here and there with the backing of some horns, while ‘Arm The Harmless’ brings the twangy guitar sound back again before slipping into a more eclectic, musical space, violins adding to the mix.
Downtempo electronica may be the correct term for the album as a whole but the likes of ‘Casanova,’ ‘Head,’ and ‘100 Cuts’ with their ponderous, often beatless melodies and offbeat sounds and rhythmns could just as easily be labelled ambient, while the quirky intro to ‘Grand Gestures’ eventually leads to a more powerful groove, driven along by punchy drums and intense synths. The appropriately-named ‘Finally’ with its gently strumming acoustic guitar and mellow beat, ends what is, with its blending of electronic and real instruments, an interesting and often quite odd musical excursion.
Review by D
Blurb: After a recent string of releases under different monikers on various labels, Irish musician Ronan Carroll is to release his second “Grouse” album on January 7th 2012. The new album titled “Heads”, the follow up to 2005’s “We Want To Be Loved”, will be the first album Carroll has released since returning to his hometown of Dublin after twelve years spent living in San Francisco. “Grouse has always been my main musical outlet so the fact that it’s been over 7 years since the last album, I’m extremely excited get this new one out there.” The music on Heads is similar to the downtempo electronica on his debut although, says Ronan, “This one has a more cinematic feel than the first. It’s almost entirely instrumental, simply because that’s the way the tracks evolved.” Just like the debut, it has a perfect blend of organic and electronic sounds with live guitar, bass, violin and trombone combining with beats and synthesized sounds. With almost no samples, everything was played/ programmed by Carroll and a few choice guest musicians. A record release party featuring an eclectic DJ set from Ronan will take place in Pygmalion, South Anne St., Dublin 2, on December 7th. Look out for tour dates in 2013 from the newly formed Grouse live band.