Review: Arguably the most consistent mainstream artist of the last two decades on the planet, Polly Harvey is nonetheless never content resting on her laurels. Moreover, The Hope Demoltion Project may be her most ambitious album yet - not only one chronicling manifold travels to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington DC and concerned lyrically with global war and poverty, but one whose genesis was watched by the public as part of an art installation. Yet oddly even with the weight of expectation to consider, this may be Harvey's most infectious catchy and fleet-footed collection of songs to date. With a garagey rawness of delivery harking back to her earliest work and an imaginative richness of arrangement, these melodious and haunting songs tackle difficult subjects with alacrity and no little gravtias, testimony to a rare talent on potent form.
Review: Inspired initially by the likes of Screaming Jay Hawkins, Tom Waits and Nina Simone, the Wicklow-born Andrew Hozier-Byrne nurtured his own unique voice, taking soulful gravitas and bluesy grit and using them to sculpt songs with both a soul-searching approach and an unusual earthiness. His first single Take Me To Church was a surprise hit, its existential crises and potent melancholy striking a chord via their intensity of delivery, and this debut shows that it was no flash-in-the-pan. In a world of young artists overly obsessed with overstating their own authenticity, it doesn't take long to work out you're in the presence of one with raw talent to render such concerns redundant.