Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Review: Malojian - The Deer's Cry

Malojian man Stevie Scullion

After a critcally-acclaimed EP released earlier this year, Malojian - AKA Lurgan songwriter Stevie Scullion - became one of the most talked about names on the local music scene.

Already well-known as one-third of alt-folk act Cat Malojian , Stevie's initial recordings and round of gigs as a solo artist generated so much heat - including a ringing endorsement from Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody - that there was a real fear leading up to the release of his debut album that the long-player would fail to deliver in the face of so much hype.

Early reviews are already putting that worry to bed - if anything, us journalists should be reprimanded for not hyping this release more.

Scullion has delivered a songwriting masterclass in an album that flirts with a number of different musical styles - from the Neil Young-esque ballad 'Old Timer' to the samba-fusion insanity of 'Mario (You Brought All The Computers') by way of the jangly Beatles/Kinks influenced Julie-Anne.

It's probably during the third or fourth listen that it becomes clear that while Malojian is a jack-of-all-trades, he is clearly master of more than a few.

The move from the folk trio of Cat Malojian to recording with a full band has paid off handsomely, most of all on fuzz guitar work-out 'Checkmate', a song that should catapult Malojian into the mainstream's conciousness; It's like The Fail, Super Furry Animals and Grandaddy's best songs rolled into one unavoidably catchy tune.

Malojian - Often Wonder

As good as that is, it's not even a stand-out track. There are at least eight songs that you could make a case for being the best on the collection and when the quality is this high, that puts you firmly in classic album territory. Think The Sophtware Slump or Deserter Songs ; records that seemed to come out of nowhere to sit ubiquitously at the top of those end-of-year polls.

The album's opening song and title track is another stunner and a glowing tribute to the talents of producer Barrett Lahey . Backwards guitar combines with thumping drums and bass in a psychedelic mish-mash that sets the tone nicely.

Also worthy of mention is acoustic ballad 'Watch The Rain'. Gentle finger-picked guitar and heart-broken vocals (Stevie mournfully sings ‘I never knew the dark could be so blue’) are accompanied by strings and harmonica in a song that on paper sounds like singer-songwriter cliché but on record effortlessly outguns pretty much everything else you've heard this year.

'The Deer's Cry' is a masterful piece of work and when music sounds as effortlessly good as this, it's surely the first of many hits for the talented Malojian.

Malojian - Julie-Anne

The Deer's Cry is available on Bandcamp now

Malojian performs in Portrush tonight at Kiwi's and The Bayview Hotel, Portballintrae tomorrow before returning to Portrush at The Atlantic Bar.

Next week's review: J Mippet - It Rolls Downhill

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