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Villagers

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Biography

Villagers, a solo vehicle for Irish singer/songwriter Conor J. O'Brien, specializes in atmospheric, indie folk/chamber pop that balances the youthful exuberance of contemporaries Jens Lekman, Eugene McGuinness, and Johnny Flynn with the classic rock and pop of artists like Paul Simon and Robert Wyatt. Formed in the late 2000s after the breakup of his band the Immediate, O’Brien began writing his own, solo material. A four-track EP appeared in 2009 and was performed entirely by the Irishman. He soon realized that to re-create his burgeoning ideas live he would need a band, so he hastily recruited Tommy McLaughlin, Danny Snow, James Byrne, and Cormac Curran. There was a quiet buzz about O'Brien's new project from the music critics and fans, which eventually transferred into support slots for Neil Young and a European tour with Tracy Chapman. The Dublin native's debut album, Becoming a Jackal, was released on U.K. independent Domino Records in 2010. The record was highly praised across the board and went on to receive a nomination for the coveted Mercury Music Prize, while O'Brien won the prestigious Best Song Musically and Lyrically Ivor Novello award for its title track in 2011. Toward the end of 2012, the band announced the release of the first single from their sophomore album, "The Waves," which marked a slight change in direction and introduced an electronic influence to their indie folk sound. The hotly anticipated follow-up to their debut, wayland, came in early 2013. In 2015, O'Brien returned Villagers to a more introspective, acoustic folk sound with the group's third full-length album, Darling Arithmetic. Their 2016 release Where Have You Been All My Life was recorded at London's RAK studio 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. ~ James Christopher Monger & Scott Kerr
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