Featuring Ways Of Seeing, Eve Belle, Robert John Ardiff, Seamus Fogarty, Melina Malone, Decarteret, Bricknasty, Rebel Phoenix, Garrett Laurie, CABL, SX2, Chubby Cat, Fortúne Igiebor.
A lot of music from Ireland and Northern Ireland comes our way and every week, we listen through it all, sift the list down to a manageable list and share the best new tracks from emerging artists and some more established acts that deserve to be heard by you.
Ways Of Seeing
Hasn’t Happened Yet
A dreamy indie electronic pop standout from Cork-based Kerryman James O’Donnell. ‘Hasn’t Happened Yet’ is giving ’80s Cut Copy vibes.
Ways of Seeing is the project of singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist James O’Donnell, who was previously in Hush War Cry and Dear Desert. A Ways of Seeing album called End Comes To Light was released last year, and I featured a track last September.
The album was recorded and produced with Christian Best (Mick Flannery), Alex Borwick (Niamh Regan, Rachel Lavelle) and mixed by Tommy McClaughlin (Soak, Pillow Queens, Ailbhe Reddy) at Attica Audio in Donegal. Live, the project is a four-piece band.
“The song came out of a reaction to the fear that is stoked so much by the media these days when one wonders if things really are much worse off than they ever were…..perhaps they are, but you have to question who’s benefiting from all this “fear”? With growing levels of anxiety in the world, it feels even more important to be kind to ourselves and sometimes recognise that so much of what happens in our lives is out of our control.”James O’Donnell
Donegal singer-songwriter Eve Belle is back on the independent trail with a new EP called Sharp Relief on September 29th.
‘TV’ is the smart first song from the release, with some memorable lines like “the man who runs my nightmares / won an Oscar / for getting away with murdering his wife / he looks me in my eyes / knows me an imposter / says that i’ll do 25 to life.”
The EP features a collaboration with Ciaran Lavery, and was produced in Belfast’s Start Together studio with Darragh Tibbs.
Robert John Ardiff
Dublin songwriter Robert John Ardiff (ex-Come On Live Long) has announced a new solo album on October 20th called Once I Was.
‘September Road’ is the first single from that third record, a pensive acoustic song with surreal imagery concerning a robin and evocative harmonica and brass instrumentation.
“My forthcoming album Once I Was is a series of experimental indie folk recordings which rely in parts on samples and field recordings to compliment the songs themes. September Road is representative of this approach with the bells of Christchurch Cathedral and sampled/warped trumpet recordings which I made of a friend in Dole, France peppering the melody and trying to pull the listener into this tale about how jealousy can lead us to invent stories which often border on the ridiculous.”
“Like the best odysseys ‘Once I Was’ started with a chance discovery. In this case it was finding an old Spanish guitar in my parents’ attic. It had a small crack in its neck yet I was drawn to its warm imperfection. Serendipitously, around the same time that I was writing songs on this guitar I also unearthed old field recordings I had made on a 4 track tape machine I had bought when I was a teenager. This machine had accompanied me to the many countries I’d subsequently lived in abroad, and it housed hours of city soundscapes and recordings of friends, strangers and fellow musicians, often made late at night in various apartments. The machine was a time capsule of past memories and chance encounters, a document of a more transitory time in my life.”
Ardiff has written music for the John Carney movie Flora and Son starring Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon Levitt.
‘September Road’ was recorded in Yellow Door Studios in Dublin and in Newcastle, Co. Dublin. It was mixed by James Eager (The Scratch, The Cope, James Vincent McMorrow) It features Neil Murray on Harmonica and Jean Baptiste Boute on Trumpet/Sample. It was mastered by Ivan Jackman.
They Recognised Him
London-based Mayo folk singer-songwriter Seamus Fogarty is doing off-kilter things on ‘They Recognised Him’, a spoken-word-lead track from the frothcoming Hee Haw EP out October 27th on Lost Map Records.
“I got into the idea of doing a spoken word track after spending a good portion of 2021 and 2022 listening to early 90s hip hop while collaborating on the soundtrack to an Irish movie called ‘Sunlight’ with my friend Barry Ward. Ordinarily I would be far too self-conscious to make something like this, but I found myself really enjoying this slightly new approach to writing lyrics and the story just fell on to the page. It started out being quite humorous but the lockdown and the months following it were so tough, I wanted to write a song with a really solid backbone that would serve as a message to myself and to whoever else might listen.”
Irish Greek R&B ne-soul singer Melina Malone is about to release her debut album Aphrodite on October 6th.
‘Naive’ has the singer questioning how she lost herself in a relationship, and is the album’s opening track.
“Naive is another really special one from the album. I wrote this with musician/producer Steven McCann in 2019 and it’s been a regular appearance in my live sets since then. I brought the demo to Adam Shanahan in 2022 at the very start of the album record, (it was the first track we worked on) and he did such a sublime job on production. It’s the opening track from the album and the beginning of the story for me so I wanted really dramatic, orchestral strings for the intro, (with the help of Ryan Hargadon on keys) building tension and placing the listener right in the story. The production and beat is very heavily inspired by 90’s R&B girl groups like SWV, Brownstone and Destiny’s Child. I love the emphasis they place on intricate soulful harmonies, and you can hear the harms are STACKED, there are layers upon layers in there and I wanted them to be a main feature in the mix, sitting right up there with the bass or keys.
Catch Melina at Ireland Music Week, the Guinness Cork Jazz and the Irish Cultural Centre, London as part of ‘Glór Nua’ on Thursday 12th October.
It’s hard to believe it but the Dublin rapper Rebel Phoenix released his long debut album Museum only last week.
Launched at Maser Atelier with a special focus on the illustrated artwork by Classquatch, Museum closes with the standout album production and rhymes of. ‘Pretty Ugly’ beyond the previously released singles.
The story of the album ‘Museum’ sees an artist reflecting on, contemplating and analysing many different areas and eras of his life (past, present and future) through the lens of someone who has developed and matured a great deal over the course of its inception. The primary aim of this work is to present the listener with a warm and welcoming gesture, allowing room for them to reflect on their own life experiences. Rebel hopes to inspire them mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
There’s some sumptuous cinematic indie songwriting at play on ‘Novak’ that reminds me of the likes of Weyes Blood from the Belfast artist Garrett Laurie.
The song is inspired by Hitchcock-associated actor Kim Novak (Vertigo). Laurie is one of the artist’s on the Oh yeah’s Scratch My Progress programme this year, along with Beat Up Car, HY:LY and Martha Greer.
Dublin alt-rock band CABL drop the first single from a Chris Ryan-produced EP ‘See You in a Year and a Half’.
The band describe ‘B.1.’ as “halfway between a Phoebe Bridgers sad girl pop banger and a sludgy DIIV shoegaze track,” and it’s a nice starting summation.
“Lyrically, the song starts off as one big sentence from the verse to the chorus, narrating this idea of someone not quite being the person you thought they were. Like in the reoccurring line “I realise I’m dreaming of, another you”. This idea of dreaming up an image of a person is common theme throughout the whole EP, it’s represented through a lot of surreal, dreamlike imagery and unsettling, ambient, harsh noise”.
October 12th – Free House – Aras na Gael, Galway
October 25th – Happy Days Fest – The Grand Social, Dublin.
November 26th – LASA – Pharmacia, Limerick.
KISSIN IN THE VALLEY-O
Before their upcoming Ireland Music Week performance, Chubby Cat FKA It’s Just Cat, dropped this boomin’ soul number made with Kris Platt about how Ireland is failing its young people (you could make a banging compilation out of tracks about this sentiment sadly).
“I wanted to create a song that was relevant to me and the people around me in terms of growing up in our 20’s and 30’s. KITVO talks about the housing crisis and the struggles people face when trying to rent somewhere to live that’s not too expensive, too damp or unsafe, worrying about having money for food or money for electricity, breathing in all kinds of mould and getting sick as a result, trying to keep relationships going when you live with housemates who you don’t get along with etc.
Using a modest home studio, sampling things like pencils tapping on the table top and scraping blue tac wrappers up and down, myself and Kris wanted to capture a new energy in this song.
The last single was the excellent ‘Big Dog Barking’
For more extensive Irish and new music coverage, hit up the Irish section for individual track features
For this and more Irish songs, follow the Nialler9 New Irish Spotify playlist.