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One of the absolute breakout indie acts of the year, Dublin-based rock group Pillow Queens have had a hugely prolific 2018. The group released their second EP State Of The State, which is flush with crafty pop punk tunes. Adding to this the group have made a habit of presenting excellent visual media with their tunes. Check out the Bob Gallagher-directed video for ‘Favourite’ for our personal favourite. Pillow Queens have also shown a healthy appetite for live performance. Not only doing support slots earlier in the year but their own headline tours in the later part of 2018. The band’s sound translates superbly in a live setting, owing hugely to the group’s chemistry and standard of musicianship.
Getting all the points for uniqueness is Limerick’s Post-punk Podge. The envelope-clad performer has earned a reputation for his idiosyncratic and often abrasive studio material as well as for the tales of his mosh-heavy live sets. There’s no easing yourself in with Podge’s material, instead, dive straight into the deep end with the acid loops of ‘Revolution!Yeah!’. Usually found performing with his group the Technohippies, we’d highly recommend you go check out one of Podge’s live sets. We caught him late night at Body&Soul and we’re not sure we’ve been the same since.
Powpig are undoubtedly one of the most exciting new bands to come out of 2018. Anna, Andrea, Laura and Leah are a four-piece band (and Leaving Cert school students) from Limerick that make lo-fi garage-rock music: it’s rough around the edges but that’s where their charm lies. Their debut EP Denture Venture draws on a Dream Wife-esque soundscapes that blends a brash punk drawl similar to that of Girlpool. Songs such as ‘Birds of Paradise’ bring an added funk element to their music, which only totally enhances their live show. They also recently won the prestigious Other Voices Open Call which allows them to perform at the festival and have it televised on the TV show. These girls could be your next favourite alt-rock band.
Dublin-based producer and DJ R.Kitt is a bit an underground figure head in the Irish dance scene. While not reaching or aiming for the crowded mainstream house DJs would usually shoot for, the producer has gained a following not only for his excellent released material and live gigs, but for the work he’s done both on and around Dublin Digital Radio. On that released material, Kitt’s 2018 EP Tingle is supremely good listening. Special shout out must go to its opening track ‘Breakboy’, which is an 80s synthwave meets house whopper. Keep doing what you’re doing.
NI Music award winner Roe has duly earned her place on our list this year. The NI musician has long been championing a folk meets pop sound with messages of social inclusivity, but 2018 has been a breakthrough year. ‘Hey Thomas’ was and is a fantastic single, with an important moral. Couple that with the huge appetite the artist has for gigging and, yes, you’ve got a bright future and a certified place on our best new artist list.
Based in Donegal, Rosie Carney emerged in 2018 as one of the country’s most reflective and thoughtful lyricists and musicians. Her music has that earthy closeness associated with much of contemporary folk music, subtle ambiences hung over the warmth of an acoustic guitar. Yet Carney’s vocals have an antique quality, as if coming out of an era long past. Her collaborative single with Lisa Hannigan, ‘Thousand’ was and remains a breathtaking listen and a lesson in modern folk songcraft. We’re excited to hear her debut album which is released very soon and explore how her material translates into a live setting.
Westmeath-based R&B come dancehall act Sequence should definitely be on your radar. The artist, who’s been associated with the Word Up Collective, managed to put out his debut EP earlier this year. That release, entitled Take Time, is filled with summary dancehall instrumentals, trapped hi-hats and auto crooned R&B flows. For sure a popular sound in the domestic scene, but Sequence is among to best to be carry the mantle. We’d love to see the artist expand upon his sound a little more in the year to come and get busy performing the material live.
We sometimes get a hard time for not covering enough rock music here on Nialler9 but we have high standards in our defense. Perhaps those people haven’t been paying attention to what we’ve been saying about Dublin natives Silverbacks. The band have had a stellar year, whether it be the pointed nihilism of a track like ‘Dunkirk’, sure throw in a math rock breakdown for good measure too, or the far more blistering ‘Just In The Band’ which features the group’s best vocal performance to date. While some of the group’s earlier material verged on the primordial, these latest efforts are tighter, more realised and honest adrenaline inducers.
Dublin-based R&B artist Soulé has been a little quiet on the new music front this year but has been hinting at a new EP set for release early in 2019. One of Diffusion Lab’s most prolific signings, her music is infused with lacings of soul and pop and has the kind of sound that has potential of worldwide appeal. Her latest single ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’ saw release in September and had a considerably stronger EDM and contemporary-pop feel than previous releases – it could be a taster of what’s to come.
Super Silly are a four-piece that blend R&B, jazz and soulful funk in an impressive manner. Having played with Hare Squead, Soulé, Stay Gold and Farah Elle in the past, they are accomplished musicians in their own right and are bringing a real fun element to the Irish music scene in their live shows. Hudis, Grvz, SolBas and Glory first met through their church in Glasnevin and they’ve woven these gospel roots through their music, giving it a real soulful undercurrent.
Irish electronic duo Bebhinn Mc Donnell and Taylor Doyle or Sylk first piqued our interest last year with ‘Am I Alone’ (think FKA Twigs meets Massive Attack) and have proven themselves to be a promising new Irish outfit with a string of top-class singles since. They released the heavily distorted ‘Girl’ in February which is a sombre dance track of sorts, that shows off Taylor’s pitched vocals. The pair bring a dark edgy and energetic energy to their live performances with a live light show and a stage presence that further adds to the ambience of their music.
Dublin-based electro-indie group Tanjier, having spent much of 2017 writing and learning, emerged this year with a focused new sound and energy. The group have excelled at crafting a summery breed of melodic indie music, helped in no small part by their carefully crafted vocal hooks and warm synth tones. Their most recent single, ‘Lights’ has gone on the earn more then 20,000 streams on Spotify. Given the right exposure, the band champion a sound that carries the promise of mass appeal. Live, the group change dimensions, opting for a heavier more immersive experience than their breezy studio recordings. Their secret location gig in Studio 10 remains one of our Irish gig standouts of the year.
Dublin-based five piece Thumper are the ultimate among a host of noisey and energetic noise rock groups in the country. The band, who label their sound as bubblegum rock, released two singles this year. The first, ‘AFL’, is a blistering showcase of the band’s speed, precision and instrumental technique. ‘Down’ is a far more explorative track, with a sprawling B section hidden in the middle of the track. Both tracks embody certain positive characteristics of the group’s material, namely their instrumental prowess and their collective inner ear, which expands upon the songwriting formula their earlier material established. The group are also among the most active on this list in terms of live performance, with live shows filled with happy moshers.
Math rock three-piece Tribal Dance may not have officially released any studio material this year yet (watch this space next week), but the carry over from their 2017 single ‘Flongo’ and their live prowess earns them a spot on this list. There’s a lo-fi charm to ‘Flongo’, the first chippings from a group of talented young musicians captured in a bedroom or garage space. Production aside, the technicality and songwriting skill on show on this single is among the finest in an Irish math rock tune in an age. The group can certainly translate their sound into a live setting, having performed a gig for a publication earlier in the year.
The avant garde electronic producer underwent considerable evolution this year. Apart from being signed to Softboy Records, hosting his own weekly DJ night in the Grand Social and co-hosting a weekly show on DDR. Roche managed to find time to write and release a new EP Post Human Potential. The release hears Wastefellow further cultivating his own unique voice in the Irish electronic scene while showcasing stronger songwriting fundamentals than his first release. Now, with the backing of the country’s most exciting labels behind him, there’s a huge platform for him to jump off of in 2019.
Whenyoung are a new-ish pop punk band made up of Irish musicians Aoife Power (Vocals/ Bass), Niall Burns (Guitar), Andrew Flood (Drums). They all hail from Limerick and met when sneaking into Costello’s Tavern early on. Now based in London, they’ve had a fruitful 2018 in signing with Virgin EMI earlier this year and supporting Nick Cave in Dublin soon after. Armed with an infectious sound and striking visuals, it will be interesting to see what 2019 has in store for these guys. Listen to our podcast chat with them.