The Diffusion Lab-produced Soulé track has a Mura Masa-style electronic pop feel and comes with artwork with Soulé wielding a baseball bat. No messing. One of 2017’s success stories.
Harry Bookless and Aaron Page’s Carriages project takes field recordings and weaves them into songs that sound organic, quaint and transformative at the same time. Plucked instruments and rhythmic sounds create a charming bed for Carriages’ songs to exist and for Page’s deep voice to soar amidst the space and playful energy of Bookless’ productions. ‘HArdest Mile’ the sound of pottering and pleasure in one electronic folk package.
Rusangano Family want you to know we all struggle with our mental health at times, and there’s no shame in opening up and talking. We all go through some bad times.
‘All Will Be’ is one of the upbeat highlights from my Irish album of the year, a synth-pop banger with Sorca McGrath’s earworm vocals and Simon Cullen’s production lifting it to the next level.
Pillow Queens – Rat
Fine gurrier guitar pop from an all-girl guitar group to watch out for in 2018.
‘4AM’ begins with the line “I dropped my headphones in the harbour, so I hummed your song the whole way home.” and adds some electronic texture to the Nialler9-featured regular Sorcha Richardson. The Irish but New York-based musician and songwriter has always been one to spend time with, whatever the style that she’s working with.
Lilla Vargen is an Northern Irish artist who re-appeared in 2017 with a new confidence. ‘Hold On’ is an emotionally resonant song written as a caution to a close friend not to get too carried away in new love.
Now 19-years-old, Carney’s new song ‘Awake Me’ is informed by her life experience with anorexia and bulimia. “I’ve been a fool for more than half of my life / I’ve tried to hide” she sings and after knowing her story, those words resonate with a large impact. ‘Awake Me’ is an honest song, a beautiful song of expressive atmospheric folk which feels like the lifting of a fog.
In The Still, the second album from Irish four-piece Come On Live Long feels like a refresh and a recalibration of the step up of their first and the title track is my stand out on ther record an elusively building highlight with a brilliant video.
DAY_S is a 22-year- old singer-songwriter and his debut single ‘Last Night’ is a soulful slice of electronic pop with a wavy synth chorus and pop vocals. The song is about a couple fighting after a drunken night out and is yet another Diffusion Lab hit from 2017.
Dubliner Davy Kehoe’s album Short Passing Game features on the Irish albums of the year and the centrepiece to it is this endlessly repeatable experimental kraut-jazz song – a ten minute meandering gem featuring Kehoe playing mbira, harmonica, MS-20, drum machine, vocals and whistles, acccompanied by Seán Mac Erlaine on bass clarinet and Brendan Jenkinson (Cloud Castle Lake) on guitar and bass.
Featuring vocals from Le Boom’s Christy Leech and production by Ruairi Bantum, Cinema’s ‘Floating’ has a focused electronic sound that keeps the m Kildate man’s spacious disco chug that makes the music under the Cinema moniker swing in the first place and marries it wirth some twinkly retro-electro sounds
Dermot Kennedy pours his heart over an acoustic guitar, burning embers of ambient production and a quietly grand chorus with a vocal sample. it sounds huge and Kennedy is bound to be huge.
Rejjie Snow’s first full length album Dear Annie never droipped as promised but ‘Flexin’ was a nice consolation. It’s produced by Rahki (Kendrick Lamar, Syd the Kid, Eminem), and it is a low-end rap killer.
Electronic A/V musician Sal Stapleton kicked off her Bad Bones project with a series of singles in 2016 that showcased an eerie electronic pop style with dark tones and hypnotic rhythms. Equally interesting was Stapleton’s visual aesthetic that accompanied each track – a monochrome-filtered collection of imagery that reinforced the track’s twisted vocal-featuring vibes. For her first single proper, Sal has revealed ‘You’ a self-described “maximalist” track that has all the hallmarks of her earlier work: dark, brooding, a bit twisted and with vocal cut ups and percussion effects.
The Dublin-based art pop duo of Aoife McCann and Ellie McMahon aka Æ MAK ended tyhe year splitting with Aoife McCann carrying on the name and project. It’s too early to tell what that means but the duo’s single this year had them at their most creative and appealing on a song about “self-belief and determination,” added some textured maturity to their bright harmonies and was accompanied by a artful music video in collaboration with upcoming photographer Ellis Grace and and set designer Ciara O’Donovan.
Autre Monde are Paddy Hanna (vocals), Mark Chester (guitar), Padraig Cooney (bass) and Eoghan O’Brien (drums), and their band is inspired by “an early Brian Eno, John Cale plus post-punk kind of seam,” with references to ESG, Television, Suicide, The Slits and Pere Ubu. ‘New Recruit’ is bright, charming and individual.
Rising Galway pop artist Laoise continues to impress with her atmospheric pop music. ‘Halfway’ was my personal favourite from her in 2017. It was produced with Seán Behan (A Place Called Kai Studios).
An insane beat and production from the Absolutely Wino compilation, brought to you by Wah Wah Wino, which includes Dublin lads Morgan Buckley, Olmo Devin, Dark Delight, Davy Kehoe and more. “Sound of the Rathmines industrial estate … weirdo wagon dance music.” This odd trackis one of the oddest things I loved this year – it sounds like didgeridoo tribal techno until it kicks in on a dubby walk-on-the-moon stomp.
Ross Turner and Cian Murphy’s I Am The Cosmos newest music has moved more in an analogue house vein, as heard on the new Nothing But Love EP and the undulating sonics of the title track with backing vocals by Maria Somerville indicate this change.
‘Feel Your Rhythm’ is an alchemic result of a four-way collaboration between Bantum, remixer Daithí, singer Senita Appiakorang (Shookrah, Lakerama) and Rusangano Family’s God Knows and MuRli.
Lankum – ‘Deanta in Eireann’
The 8-minute ‘Deanta in Eireann’ that could be about nearly any time in Irish history but are applicable to the now – migration, a government who doesn’t care about the little people and using your Irish charm abroad but it turns the song’s gaze back on the homeland – if the Dáil are the pimps, then we are the whores” and in the end, you’ll want to stand up and declare the song our new antagonistic national anthem.
Precious, Solbas, Grooves, and Shek are Super Silly, a band you may have seen playing with the likes of Hare Squead, Soulé, Stay Gold and Farah Elle in the past. On ‘Not Ready to Leave,’ Super Silly mix R&B, jazz and soulful funk in a similarly impressive manner.