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Rory Sweeney’s favourite songs of 2023

Rory Sweeney’s favourite songs of 2023

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Best of 2023 | Best albums | Best songs | Irish albums | Best Of Podcasts | Guest lists |


Rory Sweeney is a Dublin producer, DJ and sound artist who is one-third of the Irish/US Experimental rave collective Bitten Twice, and who has collaborated with Curtisy, Pippa Molony, EMBY, Ahmed, With Love; Julia Louise Knifefist, XXXX In Stereo, E The Artist, Svhyms and more.

See his previous features on the site.


Alyxis

Leader

God this song is so exciting aggghhhh. Been a favourite of mine this year and I’ve played it out at nearly every show this year since it came out. It reminds of the industrial reggaeton of early Kamixlo and of the futurist Midi oriented sounds of Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones, such a class weirdo vibe.

Alyxis is part of a new wave of boundary pushing electronic and club music producers in Ireland, like Sloucho, Spooklet, Rhoshi, SVHymns, Plus One, Small Crab and Ultrapollen. They deserve the world and I hope to see them completely take over the Irish music scene next year.


Elaine Malone

Open Season

The Whole Elaine Malone record was pretty class, but the opener ‘Open Season’ is for sure my favourite. A super trippy, formless and dynamic song that constantly surprises me, this one has been on heavy rotation for me.


Sloucho

Slow Feet


My favourite song to play out in the club recently, Sloucho’s second release through legendary Cloudcore label is an absolute club banger. A relatively stripped back Dembow riddim filled with incredible use of dub Fx and vocal samples. Probably not the best song he’s released this year but the one that’s been on the heaviest rotation for me for sure.

This year has been Sloucho’s year in my opinion, such an exciting artist. I can’t wait to see the heights they reach next year. He easily has the best live show going in Ireland as well.


Zelooperz

See Me Cry (ft. Jessie Robinson)

Zelooperz for me is one of the defining rappers of the last 10 years, his off the wall vocal inflections, absurdist lyrics (often freestyles), and boundary pushing instrumentals have had a massive influence across the whole of the musical world, in particular the flows he invents have totally changed the game.

This one, self produced, is a beautifully understated track with subtle reflective lyrics talking about addiction and his upbringing. Its a nice departure from his usual formless absurdism and the Jessie Robinson vocals and instrumental are absolutely incredible.


Curtisy x Dxmp

I’m Done

A huge wake up call to Ireland, this is the risk and personality our music needs. Curtisy’s honest and hilarious lyrics, paired with his speedy flows and chaotic vocal delivery makes it easily the best rap verse of the year, no question. Dxmp’s beat is insanely creative, never heard a beat like it. At times it reminds me of Sporting Life from Ratking, at others it sounds like a grime version of the Slum’s NYC sound. Great video from Cian Bolger. Beautiful and raw DIY energy that brings a smile to my face.

“Where the f*** is all of me homies, I’m feeling wobbled I need ya to hold me”

“Just read the report, quarter of weed what I keep in me shorts, don’t wanna say what I keep in me backpack”


Asa Nisi Masa

Under The Skin

For my money the best Asa Nisi Masa song to come out this year (and that’s saying something). An aggressive and cathartic shoe gaze instrumental is beautifully complimented by Jack’s gourgous group vocals. I remember listening to it 30 times in a row the first time I heard, bonus points for the spitting white noise in the built into the end of each riff.


Nickcantsleep

COMEONHOME


Refreshingly trippy and contemporary trap music. Nice to hear Irish hip-hop that feels up to date with current music. This one was on heavy rotation recently. Nick’s sung rapped mumbled vocals are incredible and the beat has a synthy video gamey vibe that I loveee.


Lankum

Go Dig My Grave

What’s there to be said about this album that hasn’t been said already. Probably the best album to come out of Ireland in recent memory. Really feels like a significant moment in cultural history witnessing this coming out. Was at their show in Vicar street in May and it was easily one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to in my life.

It was a toss up between whether to Include this song or ‘Master Crowleys’ but I had to pick this one cos it changed a lot for me as an artist.


SVHymns

Throughthedark

SVHymns is the shot in the arm Ireland has desperately needed, his production is futuristic, risky, addictive and incredibly raw, think Oli XL meets Sickboyrari meets early Arca. He’s not the finished product just yet and his sound is ever evolving and morphing, if he continues on his path and keeps his head straight, hell be a star for sure. This whole list could have been his music and the music of his collective euro world.

My favourite one of his from his insanely prolific year was the opening track on blissseeker, ‘throughthedark’. The song is based around an incredible flip of the Silent Hill 2 soundtrack, with incredible sound design, production, synth work and a killer rap verse from sv himself to booth.


Colin Stetson

When We Were Near that what wept for the Sea

Colin Stetson is probably the best artist alive for my money. His music seems to encompass everything at once emotionally, and this song in particular has soundtracked many a happy / sad / confused cry this year. Great music to get you out of bed or to put you to sleep. In a world where late era capitalism and the internet has left us dissociated and isolated, Colins music is so undeniably human and emotive.

Hearing his breaths, his fingers hitting the notes, him falling out of time and coming back in quite dramatically only adds to the magnetic quality of the record and his music.


Aoife Wolf

A Ringing In The Ear

This ones been on near constant rotation since the summer. Aoife’s grungey spooked out psych folk is one of the most addicting I’ve come across in a while. Her voice is dreamy and haunting, the lyrics on this one really grabbed my soul, and brought me to a place. Julie McLarnon’s production is warm, droney and psychedelic, with a distinctly analogue feel that elevates the song to another realm.

Was lucky to work with Aoife on some music recently, and she came on stage as part of my performance at Haunted Dancehall and Vicar Street.

‘The Wetlands’ is also an absolute banger and I would encourage anyone who enjoyed this to give that a listen swell


Glimmerman

One Hundred and Sixty Times

Absolute anthem. Made with real sincerity, heart and attention to detail. Club music that works on headphones and bangs on a system. In a world where underground club music has massively broken into the mainstream, its beautiful to hear club music with such purpose and club literacy.

Have been a fan of Glimmerman for a few years but this one really took me off guard. Rest of the N-Face compilation is class too. Labels like Woozy, Ethereal Skies and N-Face deserve massive props for pushing the boat out musically in Ireland, and pushing for more experimental and bass oriented sounds. 


Rainy Miller & Space Afrika

Maybe It’s Time To Lay Down Arms (feat. Mica Levi)

God I love this song and album sooo much, has to be the best one to come out this year for me.

The album feels like it was made specifically for me haha. It sits somewhere between the foggy music concrete electronics of Micachu, the auto tuned trap of yeat and Travis Scott and the moody trip hop of Massive Attack.

This song is a highlight for many reasons, Rainy’s incredible crooned autotune vocal hooks, the ever shifting and changing beat that feels unpredictable yet totally works as a progression. The Mica Levi feature is great too to boot (Mica Levi is my fave artist of all time).

Almost put ‘The Graves at Charleroi’ on here, which brought me to tears many times and you should totally check out.


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Best of 2023 | Best albums | Best songs | Irish albums | Best Of Podcasts | Guest lists |


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