Just In The Band
A raucous track propelled by dirty guitars and a momentum that feels like it’s perpetually about to fall apart at the seems, ‘Just In The Band’ is a scorcher, inspired, in both tone and lyrics, by the original New York CBGBs era and the 2015 documentary Danny Says about The Stooges manager Danny Fields. It’s is a raucous throwback walking parallel lines to The Strokes early material. The band have managed to hone an explosive sound, nestled somewhere comfortably between art rock and punk.
Keep It Whole
Earthy and sweet, Anna Mieke’s ‘Keep It Whole’ is a poetic folk tune with the sort of intimate performance and production that feels like getting out of the rain and into the warmth of a seat beside the fireplace.
Super Extra Bonus Party
‘Purple Heart’ carries on with SEBP’s more refined focus while retaining an anthemic-leaning production. The song’s crystalline guitar lines and melancholic but uplifting vocals are superseded by the band’s penchant for synthesizer dance-friendly passages. ‘Purple Heart’ doesn’t feel ramraided by such flips – instead the band effectively merge the two sounds.
We Cut Corners
Rainy Night In Slomo
‘Rainy Night In Slomo’ hears We Cut Corners expanding their sound into a darker, more ominous territory. It’s a highlight from their fourth studio album Impostors, and is Radiohead-esque in its tone. We had a great chat with Conall and John and about the Imposter Syndrome, authenticity, paranoia and performance on our podcast.
Maybe It’s My Nature
If you needed further proof that Wyvern Lingo are a band of nuance, they followed up my Irish song of the year about celebrating the feminine characteristics of a man and vice versa with a song about the reality of monogamous relationships and whether it’s a part of our nature to lust or at least, look to others romantically when you’re in a long-term relationship. A monogamous relationship is often seen as a binary thing and singer Karen Cowley is exploring the buffers of those strict lines – a very nuanced subject for a smooth soul/R&B/indie pop song from an excellent debut album.
Take The Wheel
‘Take The Wheel’ is our favourite of Daithi’s material released this year. The broody track, featuring Paul Noonan of Bell X1, uses both lyrical and musical content to weave a powerful narrative of grief and healing. Noonan’s vocals have a commanding tone. Daithi’s approach to electronic songwriting has found far more nuance and depth.
Really, we could have picked any Fontaines song this year to place on this list but we went for their last tune of the year, the band’s most raucous track and a bit of a departure from the band’s earlier singles with more energy and Grian Chatten singing ‘is it too real for ya?… as it stands I’m about to make a lot of money.” The band didn’t put a foot wrong in 2018.
Dublin electronic dance duo Le Boom came through on their fourth single ‘Animal’.The superb track has all the hallmarks of Le Boom’s previous material. Lead singer and songwriter Christy Leech’s falsetto is still the perfect instrument for delivering memorable hooks over the shimmer of the group’s instrumentals. Also present is the excellent standard of production, heard best in the gorgeous low end of the mix.
DOI – Niall manages Le Boom.
Galway native Laoise released a heavenly pop single with ‘Again’. The artist’s vocal delivery is sleek, as is the very 80s-inspired beat behind the track. Directed at an absentee lover, the production definitely follow a zeitgeist pop formula but it’s an earworm of large proportions.
Brame & Hamo
Sligo producers Brame & Hamo’s ‘Roy Keane’ is a funky, upbeat and melodically joyous track that will make you do exactly what its lyrics suggest and something you can’t imagine Roy Keane doing…dance. It is tailor-made for big soundsystems.
Niall Byrne is the founder of the most-influential Irish music site Nialler9, where he has been writing about music since 2005 . He is the cohost of the Nialler9 Podcast and has written for the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Cara Magazine, Sunday Times, Totally Dublin, Red Bull and more. Niall is a DJ, founder of Lumo Club, event curator and producer of gigs, parties & events.