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Alternative & Indie - Released January 11, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio - Sélection du Mercury Prize
The second album of any artist's career is always a difficult one to deliver and possibly more so if your debut reaped critical praise, a Mercury Prize nomination, and an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. This was the situation Conor J. O'Brien and his band Villagers found themselves in when writing their sophomore record, {Awayland}. The Irishman had hit a wall after two years of touring debut Becoming a Jackal and found creativity hard to come by. It was at this point that O'Brien turned his mind away from the confessional, brooding folk-pop of his first effort and purchased a synthesizer, drum machine, and sampler. Over the period of a year he taught himself to create basic electronic music that slowly evolved into the soundscapes and noises that went on to form the framework of the second record. The textures and layers that these electronic influences have created give a wonderful depth to otherwise folk-pop tracks "Judgment Call" and string-laden album ender "Rhythm Composer," while the frantic verses and melodic chorus of "Earthly Pleasure" wouldn't sound out of place on a Bright Eyes record. Album highlight "The Waves" unfolds gently from a Morse code-like bleep and eventually flourishes into the more familiar sound of horns, piano, and gently plucked guitars, until it ends in a noisy swell of feedback, crunching guitars, and synths. Another audible change is brought by the fact that O'Brien collaborated with his band for the recording of this second Villagers album. The songs feel fuller as a result, and without the burden of playing every instrument, the Irishman has concentrated his efforts into his lyrics. These are influenced by literary luminaries such as Slaughterhouse 5 author Kurt Vonnegut alongside songwriters Nick Drake and Curtis Mayfield. The creative progression O'Brien exhibits here leaves no lingering questions of doubt whether he would succumb to the dreaded second album syndrome, and regardless of awards, {Awayland} sees the Irishman at his best, both musically and lyrically. ~ Scott Kerr
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 11, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions Sélection du Mercury Prize
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Pop/Rock - Released May 24, 2010 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions Sélection du Mercury Prize
The debut from Dublin, Ireland’s Villagers is as lush and intricate as the act’s moniker suggests, but its creator’s idea of what constitutes a proper settlement is clearly in question. Formed after the break-up of indie rockers the Immediate by singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Conor J. O’Brien, Villagers is a one-man band, and a damn good one at that. Handling all of the duties (besides brass and stings), O’Brien has crafted a warm, weary, and highly listenable first album that shows that you can go it alone without going lo-fi. Part Conor Oberst, part Paul Simon, and a whole lot of Jens Lekman and King Creosote, Becoming a Jackal starts out strong with the one-two punch of “I Saw the Dead” and the infectious title cut, both of which present two sides of the artist -- the former, a dreamy, dirge-like invocation of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, and the latter a simple, reflective bit of folk-pop that’s only a few vinyl scratches away from classic rock radio. It’s a formula that he applies throughout the record, and while it doesn’t always work, there’s enough honesty in his rich, warm voice to render even the most forgettable tracks into pleasant diversions on the way to future favorites. ~ James Christopher Monger
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 21, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Like wine, music improves with age. And Conor O’Brien’s matures well. From the Malahide coast, where the Irishman composed his first three albums on his farm, to the hubbub of Dublin, the villager has changed his scene. Much like his album. After Becoming a Jackal, Awayland and Darling Arythmetic, three soft pop-folk albums, the songwriter with ice-cube eyes has released The Art Of Pretenting To Swim. O’Brien has read the Pro Tools manual for a shorter album length (44 minutes) and much more elaborate detail. We find simple poems (A Trick Of The Light) where the Irishman sings “We are the dawn, we carry the sun”, while he tells of the conflict between blinding faith and mathematical reason on Ada. With his string arrangements (Ada) which are more reminiscent of The Clientele than Damien Rice, beautiful electro (Real Go-Getter), soul (Long Time Waiting), brass (Love Came With All That It Brings), soft synths (Sweet Saviour) and a warming voice, the opus is addictive and unpretentious. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 8, 2016 | Domino Recording Co

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Dublin indie folkers Villagers follow 2015's positively received Darling Arithmetic, an album that went to number one in the Irish album charts. Twice shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize, Villagers recorded Where Have You Been All My Life? at London's RAK Studios in one day, the majority of the songs being captured in one or two takes. The band eschewed overdubs or extensive post-production in favor of a more pared-back, intimate sound. ~ Simon Spreyer
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 13, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

Coming off Villagers' highly touted, Mercury Prize-nominated debut, 2010's Becoming a Jackal, singer/songwriter Conor J. O'Brien updated his group's atmospheric baroque pop sound with the addition of various synthesizers and drum machines, as well as creative collaboration with a working group of bandmates. Subsequently, Villagers' sophomore album, 2013's {Awayland}, was an even more robust, sonically layered production. Rather than sticking with a more-is-more approach, O'Brien has taken the exact opposite tack for his third album, 2015's Darling Arithmetic, forgoing a group sound and instead working once again as a true solo act. To this end, Darling Arithmetic is possibly even more insular than Becoming a Jackal, with O'Brien largely favoring acoustic guitar, piano, and softly sung lyrics ripe with the scent of a relationship in trouble. In "Everything I Am Is Yours," he sings "I am just a man/Tipping on a wire/Tightrope walking fool/Balanced on desire/I cannot control/These ever-changing ways/So how can I be sure/The feeling will remain/It'll always change." This skeptical desire for love is echoed later in "Hot Scary Summer," as he addresses problems with a possible lover with "So you thank me for my hard work/But you've had it up to there/'Cause this shouldn't be hard work/But I'll fight to care if you'd care to fight." Musically, much -- if not all -- of Darling Arithmetic is pitched at a slow, dream-inducing pace and, while lushly recorded, feels smaller in scope than even Villagers' debut. Admittedly, these are also slower-burning compositions that lack the hooks and pop immediacy of much of Villagers' previous work. Ultimately, however, the pulling back feels intentional and fitting for an album of songs that always seem born out of O'Brien's most personal experiences. As he sings on "The Soul Serene," "So I go walking on the shore/And I wonder what I'm walking for...and I find chameleon dreams in my mind." ~ Matt Collar
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 13, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 13, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 7, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 17, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 17, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 10, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 3, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 25, 2015 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2014 | Domino Recording Co

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Pop/Rock - Released October 22, 2012 | Domino Recording Co

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Pop/Rock - Released August 1, 2010 | Domino Recording Co

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 22, 2013 | Domino Recording Co

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Pop/Rock - Released October 4, 2010 | Domino Recording Co

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Pop/Rock - Released October 22, 2012 | Domino Recording Co

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