5 new Irish acts you should hear this St Patrick's Day
As always, I’ll dedicate a fair bit of this St Patrick’s Day to embracing my Irish roots. Drinking black beer (never green), eating salty corned beef and listening to Irish folk songs. It’s going to be great.
While Irish folk songs have their place, they are not the only way we should be celebrating Irish music in 2017. The country has an unbelievable crop of up and coming artists who deserve your attention. Their different perspectives offer us a broader picture of Ireland, away from the caricatures that are so rife around this time of year.
Here are just five of the artists that have grabbed my attention in the past 12 months that I don’t think have yet received the attention they deserve outside of their homeland.
I love a band who embraces where they’re from. Although technically Burnt Out are more of a collective than a band. Their message is conveyed through not just music, but photography, video and more.
While the atmospheric opening of Burnt Out’s ‘Dear James’ could come from an alt/emo band anywhere on the planet, once the vocalist starts singing, you realise couldn’t be from anywhere else but the working class streets of North Dublin.
It’s a harrowing track, bleak guitar lines and pounding drums hammer home the narrator’s misery as he unleashes about the death of his friend. Watch the clip, it’s profoundly affecting and beautifully crafted. And read more about the group and what they’re trying to do with this project.
Jealous Of The Birds
I first came across Jealous Of The Birds – the nom de plume of Naomi Hamilton - through this really cool collaboration with Irish electro producer Ryan Vail.
Then I heard ‘Goji Berry Sunset’ and it completely flipped my initial perception. What attracted me to Hamilton initially – a cold, emotionless, sardonic voice who uses pop music to project her unhappiness – was obliterated entirely. This was a genuinely kind-hearted piece of music. Hamilton had used her powers for good.
It’s everything that’s great about sweet, heartfelt pop music. It’s barely two minutes long, there’s hardly any instrumentation – just guitar, voice and an infuriatingly catchy whistled motif – and every word just makes your heart that little bit warmer. It’s beautifully economical music that you’ll want to hear over and over again.
Her debut LP Parma Violets is well worth your time.
‘I just wanted to be Harlem, I just wanted to be London
I just wanted to be Trench Town, now it's time to be Shannon
Now it's time to be Limerick, get used to my surroundings’
Limerick’s Rusangano Family are three immigrants – from Zimbabwe, Togo and Co Clare – whose brand of hip hop is inspired by their love of rap from the US and UK and their own heritage. But, more than anything, it’s inspired by what it’s like being an African migrant in Europe today.
This piece in the Irish Times is a great introduction to the members and their story and their debut album Let The Dead Bury Their Dead is essential listening to anyone interested in hip hop or even just storytelling from this unique, often unheard, perspective.
Dublin’s Girl Band are one of the bigger indie acts to come from Ireland in recent years. They’re on Rough Trade, which no doubt helps. They also have immensely messed up video clips – the kind you do not want coming on Rage at 2 in the morning when you’re all alone.
But really, it’s got more to do with the fact that their noisy, dissonant, confronting blasts of punk fury pack more punch than just about any other band on the planet right now.
Their debut album Holding Hands With Jamie was written while frontman Dara Kiely was in the midst of an intense mental breakdown, requiring him to check into hospital for some time. The band wrote together and, when he checked out, Kiely added scribblings from his diary to their intense music.
It’s confronting stuff, but incredibly clever too.
Rosie Carney's gentle new single ‘Awake Me’ reminds me of something that’d be played in one of those poignant, reflective scenes on a show like The OC. As far as I’m concerned that’s as high a compliment as one can give.
The County Donegal based singer is an astoundingly mature 20 years old, both musically and personally. On her blog she opens up about her struggles with mental illness and, if you listen close to this song, you’ll hear she puts plenty of that struggle in her music too.
Carney kinda had to grow up fast. She was signed to Polydor at 16 and dropped less than two years later. This crushing loss, on top of an eating disorder, sexual assaults and depression, saw her hit rock bottom. But it sounds like she's back, ready to take stock of what has happened in the past and set for a big future.