At a time of great turmoil, every thing else can feel insignificant. Spending all your time listening and digesting music feels trivial. Writing about it even more so. But music, like all artforms, is a gateway to another place, to other people, to understanding, reflecting and solidarity. It’s also an outlet for anger and frustration which is ultimately cathartic. Just listen to Run The Jewels 3.

Music is the answer. But for threats like Trump to world affairs and the people in it, it just doesn’t feel like it. When President Trumpy signed an executive order banning visitors  to the US from seven predominantly Muslim Nations for 90s days: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya, it caused  immediate chaos at airports as people affected were literally in the air on their way here. Organisations like the ACLU and others have been resisting and winning small victories, but the closing of borders in such rash fashion of the “land of the free” is more than worrying, it’s unprecedented. The attempt to change the values of a country in such short time has been met with opposition but the US, a nation of immigrants, is entering uncharted waters by banning people blindly from its territory.

Trump’s ban on those specific seven countries raises questions about whether his own business affairs with countries not on the list like Saudi Arabia mean they’re not on the list. This ban isn’t nuanced, it’s discriminatory. It applies to too many people who can and do actually contribute to the idea of making America great again: people with better education than the average American, scientists of repute, people who have the right to be there. It’s an order than is ignorant of how difficult it is to get a green card, refugee status or a working visa. You can’t just rock up to an embassy and get those papers. It’s bewildering and troubling, the style of a dictator who fashions his own common sense and gets rid of anyone who doesn’t agree with him.

So as I often do, I turned to music. As Kieran Hebden also coincidentally did yesterday by adding 8 songs to his rolling Spotify playlist, I have put together a 32-track Spotify playlist featuring music of artists and immigrants of these banned nations. It’s a small way of showing solidarity, of recognising the common humanity between us all.

The playlist includes first and second generation immigrants and refugees like Sudanese New Yorker Sinkane, Syrian musician and dabke wedding singer Omar Souleyman, Chicago veteran and Iraqi-American Amir ElSaffar, Somalin pop star K’Naan, the  Syrian singer Based in Lebanon & Sweden Faia Younan and the Yemen-inspired Bint El Funk.

Among the 32 are tracks from artists of the country who stayed put, folk songs and pop music of all eras from Iranian singer GooGooosh, Iranian classical and pop singer Simin Ghanem, Somali band Dur-Dur-Band, Iran’s Mehrpouya, Nubian musician Hamza El Din and more Syrian Dabke (which is really something else) from Sounds of the Syrian Houran compilation.

Listen to it here.

Posted on January 31st, 2017

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More Electric Picnic coverage including stage times and more info.

1. Glass Animals

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Sunday, Body & Soul main stage, 10:30pm

One of my favourite new bands of the year. I first encountered the Oxford band at SXSW and they were an impressive live act. Since then, their ZABA album has established them as purveyors of quality ambient indie R&B.

More reading: Album review: ZABA.


2. FKA Twigs

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Hypnotic and hyper-visual electronic R&B music made by Londoner Tahliah Barnett, a dancer and young ambitious artist. Her debut album LP1 is an intimate, lustful and personal portrait and live, she picks up a microphone like few others.

More reading: Album of the week post.


3. Jungle

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Sunday.

Nostalgically-charged sunshine soul from two English dudes. ‘Busy Earnin’ is one of the songs of the year, obviously.


4. I Have A Tribe

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Sunday, Body & Soul main stage, 7:15pm

A member of other bands including Slow Skies, Patrick O’Laoghaire’s debut solo EP showcases an artist at home between balladeering and experimental sounds who has the song always in mind.


5. Kaytranada

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Saturday.

One of the most prolific and promising electronic producers around, his remixes for AlunaGeorge, Disclosure and Janet Jackson are certified funky floorfillers and his original material shows off a finger-snapping, head-nodding R&B and hip-hop influence. He’s recently signed to XL too.

More reading: Download a ZIP file of Kaytranada originals, remixes and edits.

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Posted on August 26th, 2014

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Good evening Dublin and that’s an order!

The 7-day gig guide to Dublin music and events // November 12th – 18th

If you’re looking for tickets to sold out gigs try #ticketfairy on Twitter.

Ticket freebies this week:

How to enter – Email [email protected] with the gig above in the Subject line you’re entering for along with your full name and phone number in the body of the message. Full info on each show below. Draw closes at 6pm the day before the gig.

Full gig guide listings … →

Posted on November 11th, 2013

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Good evening Dublin and that’s an order!

The 7-day gig guide to Dublin music and events // November 5th – 11th

If you’re looking for tickets to sold out gigs try #ticketfairy on Twitter.

Ticket freebies this week:

How to enter – Email [email protected] with the gig above in the Subject line you’re entering for along with your full name and phone number in the body of the message. Draw closes at 6pm the day before the gig.

Full gig guide listings … →

Posted on November 5th, 2013

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Omar Souleyman is a badass in his new overblown video for ‘Warni Warni’ from his Four Tet-produced Wena Wena album out in early November (listen here). He hangs around various iconic American landmarks, maybe chilling on the Statue of Liberty or the Grand Canyon before taking to Paris to get his photo taken at the Eiffel Tower, pausing pensively on a stairs to be juxtaposed with eagles and cows. If you didn’t know any better you’d think Souleyman was a bit of a joke and if you’re not familiar with the Syrian sounds he’s making then yeah, it’s jarringly funny at first. But that’s because Souleyman is a global electronic musician and he uses a wider sound palette that most of us aren’t familiar with.

The Guardian had a good profile with him last week. He plays Button Factory on November 7th. His live show is the best fun around.

GIFS →

Posted on October 22nd, 2013

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Some gig announcements from the last week:

U:mack, Choice Cuts and Nialler9 present South African dance wizards Shangaan Electro on Thursday October 17th in The Sugar Club. More news during the week.


Syrian electronic maestro and recent Four Tet collaborator Omar Souleyman is finally doing his own Dublin show on Thursday November 7th. Support comes from Toby Kaar, tickets are €18 plus fees on sale Thursday from tickets.ie, ticketmaster.ie & outlets nationwide.

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Posted on September 4th, 2013

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If I’m 100% honest it’s difficult to detect the effect of the much-talked about Four Tet production of Omar Souleyman’s new album Wenu Wenu on the title track. It’s business as usual for Souleyman but it’s easy to forget how the Syrian’s music might sound like possibly the most ridiculous sounding music since ‘Swamp Thing’ when you first hear it. Regardless, this is proper global dance music right here.

Four Tet produced the LP in Brooklyn earlier this year with Souleyman who now lives in Turkey. The album is out on October 22nd on Ribbon Music.

Posted on August 2nd, 2013

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The first song from Bjork’s multimedia album Biophilia which will encompass music, iPad apps installations and more has just been released. ‘Crystalline’ is our first glimpse into the project that promises to examine “how sound works in nature, exploring the infinite expanse of the universe, from planetary systems to atomic structure”. So far, so ambitious.

‘Crystalline’ is a similarly expansive song as it turns out. It’s always good to hear Bjork on a track but it’s the multi-layered whipcracking beats and subtle percussion that win out here. Plus, drum and bass ending!

Bjork is debuting new material starting tomorrow night at Manchester International Festival.

Another thing to look forward to – the Omar Souleyman remix:

Posted on June 26th, 2011

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