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The 30 best new Irish artists of 2021

The 30 best new Irish artists of 2021

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M(h)aol

Split between Dublin, London, and Bristol, the intersectional feminist post-punk band M(h)aol released one song in 2015 with Girl Band’s Dara Kiely but restarting into a new gear in the past year or so, the band (Róisín Nic Ghearailt, Constance Keane aka Fears, Jamie Hyland, Zoe Greenway, and Sean Nolan) have found plenty to address including the Magdalene laundries, gender identity, and being a minority in a male-dominated industry.

That M(h)aol match these complex ideas with visceral metallic music is what makes their recent Gender Studies EP such a thrill, along with a cover of ‘Ó Ró Sé Do Bheatha Bhaile’, that gets to the band name’s origins – Gráinne Mhaol, the Pirate Queen of Mayo.


modernlove.

Drogheda four-piece pop-rock band modernlove. are following in the anthemic pop/rock/electronic footsteps of The 1975 with their recent EP on with English label Akira Records (Henry Green, Zola Blood, Shura, CHINAH).

They’ve been knocking out tunes like this for a while now.


Monjola

As part of the Chamomile Records crew, alongside this list’s Aby Coulibaly, Monjola is one of Dublin’s brightest new R&B talents, with tracks that just have a higher calibre than most emerging artists.

Show your work. The beautiful vibey melodic collab with Coulibay ‘Where You At’? while recent single ‘Pain Don’t Die’ cuts deeper than most in terms of production and delivery. What’s more he’s a deft live performer too.


Negro Impacto

It’s certainly early days for Negro Impacto, the Dundalk duo of producer StrangeLove and Chi Chi but the songs on their debut self-titled five-track EP made big impressions on me pitched like atmospheric R&B and hip-hop production with sumptuous hooks.


Royal Yellow

Mark O’Brien’s electronic project Royal Yellow was bubbling for a while with a collaboration with Lisa Hannigan and tracks like ‘Aruba’ but it was the 3-track release of the Still : Until EP where the project went sonically deep and into elongated territory, like the near 12-minute track ‘Until’ and the two-part piano, vocals and electronics track ‘Still’.


Rushes

2021 was another year of restrictions which the Skibereen artist Rushes turned into an advantage, making videos from his picturesque home in West Cork.

Rushes also released his debut long-player Glowchild, a sparkling collection of R&B and pop songs that embeds the exploration of the self in a “therapeutic homecoming.”


Sal Dulu

Dublin-based producer Sal Dulu’s Xompulse album was released in February and its DNA is downtempo jazzy hip-hop productions, ambient music and electronica while Fly Anakin, Koncept Jack$on and staHHr (aka Angelina who previously featured on MF DOOM records) provide vocals.

Xompulse has the set intention of exploring “nostalgia and the liminal spaces between dreams and reality acting as a collection of ten idiosyncratic “dreams” with each one providing a different tangent.”


Samuel Powell

Kildare producer Samuel Powell’s ‘Floating’ was an immediate attention-grabbing song when it was released last year. It was the artist’s first release, and gave off a Jon Hopkins propulsive electronic style.

This month, Powell releases a four-trackOwls EP on Shall Not Fade and the songcraft and production has stepped up once again with a more nuanced sound of synths, ambience, “post-rave influence,” bass beats and pads all used to evocative effect.


Sello

Irish drill has been having a moment for a while now with the likes of A92, Reggie and Offica repping the country, while remaining independent and obfuscated from most of the music industry with the exception of Trust It Entertainment, which did a deal with Atlantic Records to further the sound outside of the country.

Clondalkin artist Sellois one of those who have released as part of the deal, his track with Offica is a part of the partnership, but Sello is also doing something different from a lot of drill artists, in that he is bringing in Irish language samples and doing things like switching up his flow over a memorable ethereal Sinead O’Connor vocal, like on ‘As Gaeilge’, and previous track ‘Dublin’ sampling ‘The Foggy Dew’.

A support slot with Kneecap can’t be a bad thing either.


Spider

I loved the debut single ‘Water Sign’ from London-based Irish artist Spider, and for her seconjd single ‘I’M FINE, IM GOOD, IM PERFECT!’, Spider brings an off-kilter weirdness to a big pop hook. It’s quality over quantity with Spider that has her placing on this year’s list.


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