This year’s Hard Working Class Heroes lineup of new bands is a tough one. Primarily because there are so many new bands to see for the first time and secondly, because the quality of those unseen is greater than in previous years. This year, the tracks on the Breaking Tunes profiles are well-produced and suggest that there are more bands and artists more clued in to How Music Works than ever.
So for three days, from Thursday to Saturday, HWCH returns to seven venues featuring 100 bands playing to music fans and industry delegates. There are free daytime gigs, a convention in the Liberties featuring speed sessions, panels, talks and more. There’s a special Banter with Pitchfork’s Jessica Hopper on the Sunday. There’s also a special Nialler9-curated afterparty with Dublin Theatre Festival in The Grand Social on Saturday night late with the debut live performance of R.S.A.G. and French producer Cosmo Vitelli as Teleoke.
Here are 20 new bands to see this weekend, I capped it at 6 bands per day. Some of last year’s picks are also playing the festival for further investigation so they weren’t featured here (Rusangano Family / Dear Desert / Buffalo Woman and more).
1. Hare Squead
These Dublin rap soul pop dudes are just getting better.
Thursday October 1 – 10.15pm @ The Academy
It was only last year at the festival where Hare Squead really became known at their Meeting House Square gig. Since then, the Dublin trio have been expanding their sound of rap, R&B, soul and pop music with a full live band show that’s really starting to hit home and gel. With a couple of years more experience, these guys could be huge. On a similiar style-tip, Stay Gold in the same venue are a band following a similar path.
Years & Years style-pop
Thursday October 1 – 8.15pm @ The Academy
A new Kildare duo, David “Monty” Montgomery and Conor Cuffe only formed less than a year ago but with a tropical dance track called Waiting hanging around, they are doing something decidedly more pop than a lot on this list and are worthy of further investigation.
3. Tiz McNamara
Cork/Liverpool singer-songwriter with atmosphere
Thursday Oct 1 – 8:50pm @ The Grand Social
With over 90,000 plays on Spotify for just two songs, the Cork-born, Liverpool-based singer-songwriter has the metrics on his side. It’s the songs that matter though and his most recent single ‘Take It In’ impresses with its production by Scandinavian duo Boxes that takes a singer-songwriter style in a more atmospheric direction.
4. Saint Sister
Self-proclaimed atmosfolk duo
Thursday Oct 1 – 9.20pm @ The Workman’s Club
Celtic-influenced harmony folk world or “atmosfolk” as Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre call it. Their debut EP is released next month and the music so far has had a pleasing ethereality to it with harmonies to the fore alongside harp tones.
Thursday Oct 1 – 10.50pm @ The Grand Social
The kind of sophisticated pop music that Maud In Cahoots make has a lot in common with Scandinavian pop music, The sisters Maud and Zoe Ní Riordáin and band have also showed some interesting initiative by placing their songs in a theatrical show context. The new single ‘Cure For The Crazy’ is their career best track.
Thursday Oct 1 – 7:30pm @ The Grand Social
Dundalk musician Shane Clarke’s sweet vocal tones are what makes his elemental guitar and keys music work so well, lending his songs a delicate disposition. A debut album is on the way shortly.
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.