Seamus Fogarty – The Curious Hand
Mayo singer-songwriter Seamus Fogarty released his second album this year, his first for Domino Records. His 2012 debut God Damn You Mountain establshed his experimental folk textures and this time around, Fogarty has added a melodic drive and sharpness to his music, while the lyrics recount a night spent in a Carlow church and the tale of the 250-year-old skeleton of a giant Irishman.
Conan Wynne and Anna Doran’s latest release as Contour is built on on a meticulous collection of samples and is presented as a continuous mix of jazz, funk, drum and bass while Doran’s vocals tie it all together with a soulful lilt. The album began with a deep dive into which has contributed samples to his own album recently. Samples from Venezuelan funk records to and onto Brazilian music, Afrobeat, Cuban priests, field recordings and Icelandic music from Mick T-Woc’s record collection made its way into the fittingly-titled album and additional live contributions form a host of players on sax, drums, double bass added a modern sonic vitality to the dusty source material.
Belfast musician Herb Magee is a former member of the rock band Lafaro His Arvo Party project, as the name inspiration taken from the prominent Estonian composer suggests, is of a more experimental vein – sprawling and engaging largely instrumental electronic music with detail.
The Berlin-based band Party Fears are the brainchild of Northern Irish artist Maggie Devlin. Their self-titled debut features nine songs of superbly produced, bright rock’n’roll with tendencies towards art pop and punk energy.
Marlene Enright is a Cork singer and songwriter who, when not playing with The Hard Ground, has established her own place in Irish music over a series of singles that have traded in classic songwriting, folk, indie, roots and Americana. Enright’s solo album Placemats And Second Cuts is a rich release that combines all of the above into a cohesive whole. Harmonies, organ-lines, spacious arrangements, rolling rhythms and Enright’s voice which carries a magnetic swirl and focus to it.
Carlow brothers Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn have spent the last few years growing their audience via support slots with Glen Hansard, Villagers, Roy Harper and Lisa Hannigan. Their debut self-titled album released in October is the sound of lilting resonant folk music, suitable for reflective cold days and warm pub fireside listening.
The Northern Irish alt-folk singer-songwriter Joshua Burnside wrote Ephrata while living in Colombia. So it makes sense why there are influences from South America cumbia music. The album sticks mostly to folk textures with guests on the record include Hozier cellist Alana Henderson, his brother Connor on drums and percussions, electronic solo artist Rachael Boyd on violin and synths, Clark Phillips on bass and Sarah Martin on trumpet. The result is a Sufjan and Conor Oberst-esque sweet record that was the winner of the Northern Irish album of the year prize.
A unique curio of an album, Davy Kehoe’s 41-minute 6-track debut album on Wah wah Wino places breakneck krautrock instrumentals, electronica and post-punk rhythms alongside one of the most beautifully-meandering 10-minutes of experimentalist clarinet-featuring jazz. It doesn’t all work but there’s no playing it safe here.
The Belfast post-rock instrumentals deliver heft and a return to form on their new fifth album. The Endless Shimmering dials back on the band’s forays into vocals in favour of focusing on what they’ve made their name with – riffs that radiate all the feels and drums that strap the song to crashing rock dynamics.