Debut album 'Up To Snuff' recorded at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio, Chicago. Mastered at Abbey Road by Steve Rooke (Wilco, Animal Collective). Released on CD on 12/11/'10 independently through Nestegg Records and distributed by Cavallero/RMG.
From 'Up To Snuff' liner notes:
Getting this album out there has been a true labour of love. We recorded and mixed it in 14 days, with the unerring enthusiasm, support and professionalism of Rob at the desk. A song a day and then four for mixing. We put it down live, with some of the best original and vintage instruments at our disposal (thanks Electrical Audio) and hopefully you can hear that in the recordings. We met some great people, ate some great food (Kuma’s Corner, Kitsch’n), visited some cool watering holes and pulled out a lot of hair. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.
Since then we’ve been working away at putting it out. I couldn’t think of a worse time in history to commercially release an album. And I tried my best to make an ‘album’ in the classic sense. It has a beginning, middle and end. Every song matters. I want you to feel like you’ve covered a distance when you’ve listened to it. I want you to feel immersed. I have no idea how this record will fare. It’s possible few might hear it. But do you know what? Each person involved can stand by this album as something that was made uncompromisingly. We made the album we wanted to make. I wouldn’t change a thing and I hope you enjoy listening to it even a fraction as much as I
enjoyed making it.
Up To Snuff album reviews:
**** Totally Dublin
"Although he does sing and write songs, lumping Ivan St John in to the Dublin singer-songwriter category would be doing him a huge disservice. Bypassing the morose whinging about girls who don't like you angle, the man once known as Pinky, and his band have embraced buoyant, instrument-driven pop music. The gypsy rhythm of Edwina makes for the highlight of this excellent debut."
Irish Daily Mirror.
"THE SNUFF OF DREAMS." "Album will single Ivan St John out for recognition."
"Ivan St John's Up To Snuff hits the shop shelves today and it's a record like no other you will hear this year - in a good way.
Already the infectious single There You Stand has been creeping into the ears of the public, throwing it's bitter sweet hooks into the minds of many.
And now the long-player indicates a bright future for Ivan St John.
The album is jam packed with catchy tunes and perfect pop songs like There You Stand but there's obvious musical skill behind them.
There's something quirky and almost old fashioned in Ivan's singing and writing style but ultimately this record works as something incredibly different and refreshing.
Up To Snuff is a diary of disastrous romances, heartache, blossoming love and everyday life.
But with such uplifting tunes and a refreshing attitude, it will be very hard not to love this record."
* Maeve Quigley
Irish Mail On Sunday
"The Dubliner is brave in the sense that listening to the catchy There You Stand you'd think that the seismic musical shifts of the past 40, even 50, years hasn't moved him a jot. The droll quality to the lyrics of songs such as Senectitude Becomes Her and Edwina echo that of Neil Hannon. When he mentions smoking 'skunk' on Mysterious Ways you realise his head is very much turned on to the present day."
"Dubliner Ivan St John has an alluringly odd nasal voice that reminds us of Zachary Francis Condon from Beirut but is more unique than that.
With a clever use of harmonies adding to its charm, the voice graces a collection of cheerful acoustic pop tunes utilising an eclectic array of instruments including electric pianos, kazoos, ukuleles and jazz flutes.
The songwriting occasionally hints at Neil Hannon dramatics, but its predominant influences are early doo-wop and rock n' roll."
Sunday Business Post
"Dublin singer songwriter Ivan St John showcases the virtues of his diverse musical palette on this endearingly of f-kilter debut album that manages the neat trick of sounding both refreshingly new and comfortingly old-fashioned.
Recorded in Chicago and mastered at Abbey Road, Up To Snuff’s ten tracks prove that St John (pronounced ‘Sinjun’) and his three-piece band are as enthralled by skiffle, music hall and ragtime as folk, psychedelic pop and indie rock.
The harmonious There You Stand, the foot-tapping Edwina and the delightfully flamboyant Senectitude Becomes Her are highlights of a lovingly crafted record that’s steeped in musical history.
With a bit of luck, if St John’s template is followed, the days of Dublin singer-songwriters whining about lost love over some rehashed Nick Drake plucking maybe over."
"This Dublin-based singer-songwriter has delivered a sweet little album likely to raise a smile or two. If you're looking for a domestic album with oodles of charm, you won't go far wrong with this."
* John Meagher
The Irish Times
"(Ivan St John has a) distinctive nasal warble, some smashing harmonies and a great understanding of melody. St John’s debut was recorded in Steve Albini’s fancy Chicago studio, but it’s the homemade charm of songs such as Senectitude Becomes Her and Mysterious Ways that gives Up to Snuff its allure. There’s a lot to bounce, tap and nod along to on this unassuming debut."
* Lauren Murphy
"(Ivan's) record is soaked in close harmony singing and unusually sweet male vocals" and "sounds like genuinely unexplored territory for the modern indie musician on the make."
* Patrick Freyne
There You Stand single review:
"There You Stand is quirky, playful and very, very sweet."
* Celina Murphy
Hard Working Class Heroes 2010 Festival live review:
"After a nice, quick change-over, Ivan St John and his band launch into their strange mix of bouncy acoustic guitars, rowdy rhythm and vocals that hop from a breathy Antony Hegarty to a restrained Caleb Followill and an out-of-breath Paul Weller. It’s such a multi-faceted affair, it’s hard to decide if you like what they’re doing to you but it’s certainly interesting."
The Walkmen support live review:
"Ivan St John played support. He and his band deserve kudos for their playful performance that literally warms up the audience who have just come in from a typically unforgiving Galway storm with a mixture of pop, folk and blues using ukuleles and kazoos."
* Liam Griffin
"One of the outstanding Irish releases of the year."
* Craig Fitzpatrick