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Nialler9’s 20 best new Irish artists of 2022

Nialler9’s 20 best new Irish artists of 2022

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Meryl Streek

Meryl Streek

An artist rallies against the Catholic church and the establishment with fervent rage and electronic punk anger.

For the full story on Meryl Streek and the album 796, read the full piece here.

The title of the album 796 refers to the number of babies found in Tuam in a septic tank, put there methodically by the Catholic church, uncovered years later with the help of Catherine Corless.

The title of the album 796 refers to the number of babies found in Tuam in a septic tank, put there methodically by the Catholic church, uncovered years later with the help of Catherine Corless.

It’s a tragedy that the singer-producer returns to frequently throughout the 12-track album, released on UK label Venn Records, alongside the cost of living crisis, landlord status, and inequality.

The anger through 796 is relentless, each song picking apart the aftermath, the shock or refracting the position of priests in Irish society through guttural howls as heard on track two ‘Full Of Grace’.

It’s rare for an artist to appear with a fully-fledged single-minded project like this. The last time that happened was For Those I Love.

Negro Impacto

Photo: Katelyn Markham O’Halloran.

Dundalk duo are on the next wave

Dundalk duo producer Laurence Kapinga (StrangeLove) and vocalist Chi Chi are Negro Impacto, and were one of my favourite discoveries of the last year or so.

Their debut EP is a fine collection of R&B and pop with verve and tropical vibes, and the accompanying Strange Luv Edits offered alternative takes from the producer’s perspective.

They’re a tight little funky fun outfit live and made a big impacto at All Together Now, Forbidden Fruit and Body & Soul and many bills around the country this year.

OliveyOlive

An underrated album from a visually-interested producer.

Previously known as Olive on the Beat, Oliver has previously scored the Apollo Project, an exhibition curated by young people in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Oliveyolive’s debut album Life Of Colour was launched with an exhibition and live set drawn from the album, which features 13 tracks of effervescent electronic music for the head and body, with turns from Hare Squead’s Tony Konstone, Daryl Bengo, Daire Patel, Curtisy and Jamie Freed.

As Konstone instructionally says on track two, “throw away the key and let’s get lost.” The album fizzes with breakbeats, garage, Afrobeats, open-hearted vocals, and emotional synth melodies, the artist’s self-described “Euphoric Therapy,” informed by the Japanese idea of Wabi Sabi of embracing imperfection and impermanence.

Pretty Happy

Photo: Celeste Burdon

Cork art-rock trio.

Pretty Happy  aren’t for everyone that’s for sure. Sometimes, I’m not sure myself, which keeps me coming back to them.

Live,  the Cork band come across as a theatrical cabaret version of art-punk live and in some of their songs. The band’s newest Echo Boy EP was released on November 14th and produced by John ‘Spud’ Murphy (Lankum, Black Midi) at Hellfire Studios in Dublin.

When Pretty Happy lean into their weird side it’s usually with repeating discombobulating vocal lines that leads to frenzied rock music like on ‘Boots’. Elsewhere, ‘Conn Boxing’ is something else, a meditative song with explosive, angry lyrics with overheard platitudes about a boxing club and could possibly allude to toxic masculinity, or abuse or simply just sport and reputation. It’s not clear, but the atmosphere builds to a vocal release that suggests something more difficult to digest.

It’ll be interesting to see how far, and weird they can take it.

Really Good Time

Really Good Time

“Don’t touch the good cups / touch the good cups / I’m saving them up / I’m saving them…”

Really Good Time is a new band made up of former members of Dublin band Beach / Fat Pablo and electronic producer Diolmhain Ingram Roche AKA Wastefellow.

Really Good Time’s byline says they are “Dublin’s hottest post-crunk apré-garde super group, and with strong, singles ‘Best Medicine’,  ‘Afternoon Tea’  and ‘Really Good Song’ (of course), I have to agree, they’ve cornered that particular market. A superb live show too.

Rory Sweeney

Experimental producer with a collaborative edge

The prolific producer Rory Sweeney lets his ears take him wherever they go – whether it’s bass, jungle, experimental rap, sludgy breaks, gabber or clubby rap music.

A member of the Bitten Twice collective, Sweeney is a constant community collaborator with Julia Louise Knifefist, Pippa Molony, EMBY, E The Artist, Ahmed With Love, and Kayleigh Noble, all notable artists who were considered for this feature, alongside the aforementioned Curtisy, who features on ‘Veggies’.

Sweeney just dropped his album late in the year, Trash Catalogue in two parts showing his work and his cohorts.

Sammy Copley

Photo: Niamh Barry.

21 year-old Dublin artist and Youtuber with nearly 250k followers (on a channel started in 2014), Sammy Copley released a debut album called Growing Pains in January 2021.

This year, the Little Box EP on London label Tinpot Records gave us a selection of brightly lit acoustic songs with Phoebe Bridgers and Maria Kelly as reference points for these intimately-spun songs.

Live reports have been positive too. There are no overnight successes anymore, and Sammy has shown patience that is rewarding in the developing of a career and songcraft.

Still Blue

Photo: Patrick Coyle

One of my favourite new Irish discoveries of 2022.

Sometimes you just hear a band and think, yep, they’ve got something, and I felt that with Dublin-based band Still Blue when i heard ‘Whatcha Gonna Do?’

The song was the second single from Nicole Lyons, Ruairi Forde, Noelle Duffy and Gregory Kearns, a melodic indie track that bursts with energy and verve.

When COVID took out a band at the Nialler9/Word Up showcase at Output in Belfast in February, the band stepped in last minute, with a similarly buzzy live show.

They went on to release ‘Ladybird’ and play We’ve Only Just Begun, and indeed, they have only just begun, with some excitement in tow.

Tomike

Curtisy

Soulful grooves from a Dublin artist.

Tomike has been featured here for a few years to date (having only written her first song in 2019) but stepped up her output in 2022 with the release of 7-track mini LP Take Two, along with a collab with rising Belfast rapper Emby.

With jazz, soul, hip-hop influences, Tomike’s vibe is one that’s. easiest to get on board with, drum-centered production and spacious arrangements.

Tomike took the sound to Primavera in Barcelona this year. More of this please.

Ugolino

Elzzz & TraviS

Neo-soul jazz-rap duo.

The Dublin duo of lyricist/vocalist, Shane Richardson and composer/producer Oran Hurley, and their singular brand of alternative jazz-rap ended up on Nialler9’s best songs of 2021, with their debut single.

Since the song has received over a million listens on Spotify, and the pair have released two others – the spoken word orchestral of ‘Three Stripes’ and the piano-lead ‘Searching’.

Ugolino on Insta.


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