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The 50 best Irish songs of 2018

The 50 best Irish songs of 2018

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40.

Rosie Carney

Bare

Donegal-based singer-songwriter Rosie Carney blends aspects of folk, indie and ambient in her breathtaking single ‘Bare’. The track’s first half is distinctly folky, with Carney’s hushed vocals over a lone acoustic guitar. However, the track gradually adds tracks of ambience. By its climax, much of the song has been washed away in a sea of reverb, leaving only Carney’s own vocal harmonies to cut through the mix. An emotive track that reaches for a hand in hard times.

39.

All Tvvins

Infinite Swim

A slow burner from All Tvvins as they gear up for a 2019 album produced by James Vincent McMorrow. Definitely one of their more overtly pop tracks. ‘Infinite Swim’ is a return to the more driving alt-rock style of their debut but with fresh textures and a lighter tone.

38.

Erica Cody

Good Intentions

A smooth R&B track, Erica Cody’s ‘Good Intentions’ has all the trappings of an artist with plenty of mass appeal. Clearly taking plenty of influence from the American brand of 90s R&B, Cody has expanded upon this sound with an astute modern pop production aesthetic. Compelling lyrics and a catchy hook is the name of the game here.

37.

Squarehead

Always On

Squarehead made a much-anticipated return with ‘Always On’ last month. The song hears the group in fine form, with some very dynamic layered guitar parts and a striking hook in the chorus section. ‘Always On’ deals with the issue of taking on responsibility in a sometimes very daunting modern world. A welcome return.

36.

Hozier

Nina Cried Power

‘Nina Cried Power’ sets itself up for the big league. Any song which has a legendary singer like Mavis Staples as a co-vocalist and gives thanks to mostly black protest singers like the titular well-known civil rights activist Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Curtis Mayfield, along with Joni Mitchell and John Lennon while channelling some serious soul vibes has to attempt to live up to those influences. The man from Bray more than holds his own. Bonus marks for ‘Shrike’ from the EP too.

35.

1000 Beasts

Lord (It’s Ok) feat. Janet G

For his first 2018 release, ‘Lord (It’s OK)’, Sweeney teamed up with former X-Factor contestant Janet Grogan for a “broken-hearted love ballad reminiscent of Bon Iver, Francis and the Lights, and Cashmere Cat,” which we say is a confident slice of Irish electronic pop.

34.

Jafaris

Found My Feet

Percy Chamburuka aka Jafaris is one of the frontrunners of the burgeoning new generation of hip-hop artists in Ireland. ‘Found My Feet’ is notable in that it arrives with a focused urgency, as well as African tribal and percussive beats, the combination of which make for a unique, cohesive sound totally unique to him. It’s got hooks for days. The superb video shot by Nathan Barlow & Stephanie Naughter features Jafaris in an array of colourful scenes and settings and totally enhances the track.

33.

Paddy Hanna

Toulouse The Kisser

‘Toulouse The Kisser’ stays true to the unique Paddy Hanna sound honed on Frankly, I Mutate, upbeat and joyous packed with strings and playful lyrics. “It’s a travelogue of drunken misadventure, watching your future waste away and accepting you will become the person to whom people say, “at least I’m not that poor fool,” says Paddy

32.

Powpig

Concerned

PowPig are one of the most exciting bands to come out of 2018. The Limerick band are still in their teens and there’s a sense of music in development: rough around the edges but that’s exactly where it’s lo-fi charm lies. ‘Concerned’ is taken from their EP Buzz Buzz and it has a lot of personality in its shimmering beach jam vibes that culminates in the chorus line of “SKIBBIDYBOOPBOPBOPBOPBADADA / F—K ALL OF Y’ALL.” We can’t wait for them to finish school.

31.

Wastefellow

Infinity Gaze

Wastefellow, the moniker of rising Dublin based artist and producer Diolmhain Ingram Roche first came to our attention two years ago with his single ‘Wonder’ and has been producing music of high calibre ever since. ‘Infinity Gaze’ is a jittery, synth-laden track complete with his signature trippy drum rhythms and automated vocals line. The track is taken from his recent Post Human Potential EP on Soft Boy Records.

30.

R.Kitt

Breakboy

Yes yes. R.Kitt’s ‘Breakboy’ is the perfect kind of electronica. Weaving in elements of ambient, classic house and 80s synthwave in all the right ways. There’s something glorious in the jittery synth chord splashes against the warm resonance of Kitt’s bass tone. One of the city’s finest purveyors of tunes.

29.

Lilla Vargen

Believe Me

For her first song of 2018, Vargen addressed a messed-up relationship that happened at the wrong time in her life but had a lasting effect on the songwriter. “I never really sung before until I sung about you,” she sings. ‘Believe Me’ is a confident step forward for a developing artist. It was written in West Cork with Nick Rayner.

28.

Ailbhe Reddy

Shame

Ailbhe Reddy has had a phenomenal year and she ended it on a high with the release of ‘Shame’. With R&B inspired programmed drums and lush vocal treatment, especially on the repeated chorus line, the track has plenty of radio appeal. Thematically, it tackles the stigma surrounding mental health, especially that of depression. The artist has stated that “shame is the word that sums up so much of what holds people back and keeps people down. A pre-cursor for my own experience of struggling with depression and feeling afraid to talk about it.”

27.

Fia Moon

Water Runs Through

Fia Moon is a Dublin native who piqued our attention earlier this year and sustained it with a steady string of hits since. ‘Water Runs Through‘ is ripe with irresistible vocal melodies and smooth keys, contrasted by metallic percussion and stuttering synths. Moon’s voice glides airily over the instrumentation, rising and falling in all of the right places. Lyrically, the song is an ode to independence and confidence, a theme that we can all get on board with: “you can’t stop the river the water runs through”.

26.

Spies

Watchman

Earlier this year, Spies told us that during their two-year hiatus period they evolved their sound by introducing synths and drum machines into the writing process. The fruits of this experimentation can be heard clearly in their single ‘Watchman‘. Trapped high-hats and textured synth lines blend together to form a sound that is distinctly electro-infused yet retains some of the indie-rock elements that we first heard from Spies on their older material. Namely in the guitar riffs and rousing vocal lines. Special shout out to Constancy heartbreaking closer ‘Love Is A Dream’.

25.

James Vincent McMorrow

Me And My Friends

James Vincent McMorrow returned after a brief hiatus this year with this jubilant single. Written about the birth of his first child, the track is bouncy and dripping in layers of vocals and synth lines and seems to embody all the joy that a newborn baby brings. Play this when you’re feeling down for an instant mood booster.

24.

Soak

Everybody Loves You

After a hiatus from making music and what seems to have been a fair amount of growing up Soak returned in 2018 with ‘Everybody Loves You’. There’s bliss in the slightly melancholy track. Sure, there’s a definite irony in the refrain, from which the track gets its name. Yet, there’s a poignancy in Soak’s vocal delivery which suggests a real affection and admiration for the song’s intended subject.

23.

Orla Gartland

I Go Crazy

Orla Gartland first came to prominence through YouTube covers circa 2011 and has established a firm fan base since then. Now based in London, the singer released her first original material in two years earlier this year with ‘I Go Crazy’. Minimalist production develops into an intricate mix of instruments as the narrative of the song progresses. The track is brimming with the personality and bounce that Gartland has become known for (especially in her animated live shows).

22.

Tanjier

Lights

This shimmery pop track plays like an anthem for summer nights, complete with silky smooth vocal delivery and sharp guitar riffs. ‘Lights’ is the strongest release yet from Dublin-based electro-indie trio Tanjier. The track tactfully sidesteps between the heightened drama of indie rock group’s like Foals and an overtly dance-oriented production ethos. The result is a sugary sweet indie pop anthem. Catch them live at our Christmas Party on Saturday in The Workman’s.

21.

The Redneck Manifesto

Head Full Of Gold

Among the most explorative of the new material on TRM’s The How, ‘Head Full Of Gold’ incorporates plenty of elements from modern dance music. It’s the ominous synths waving down the front end of the track and the industrial quality of the drum pattern. Once the song kicks in proper though it’s unmistakeably math rock, with TRM’s ultra-tight rhythm sections dancing in and out of new sections and ideas.

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