My favourite songs of the past month – all in one place.
“Are you on ten yet?,” Kendrick asks on this Black Panther soundtrack highlight, goading and amping up his fellow MCs Schoolboy Q, 2 Chainz and Saudi until they are at full hype and Schoolboy drops the line ‘Not even Kendrick can humble me’. It’s one of many highlights from the soundtrack curated by Kendrick that is way better than it has any right to be.
AE Mak began as the duo of Ellie McMahon and Aoife McCann and together, they cultivated a harmonic-driven art pop project over a few songs that suggested more ambition to come. McMahon has since left the project, leaving Aoife McCann to channel a new vision under the name along with Daniel McIntyre, Dylan Povey and Peter Kelly. ‘Glow’, the first song from the project since then is a song born of an argument with a friend. McCann channels that frustration into a dynamic electronic pop gem that paves a way forward for the AE Mak project.
Kojaque – White Noise
The Dublin rapper Kojaque was happy to skulk around posting tracks on Soundcloud and Youtube for a good few years building his craft but last year, he embraced a public persona and a fresh ambition. His just-released Deli Daydreams EP is conceptually about a week of a deli worker and the theme adds a gritty weight to his tunes. White Noise rages with anger and societal frustration at class divide set to some mournful strings taking in “weekly standups in the streets with Síochána” and aiming vitriol at a country “that leaves abortions to the backstreets.”
The Black Panther soundtrack’s car-chase highlight is built on a hi-octane beat with Kendrick, Yungen Blakrok and Vince Staples leaving their rhymes on the track like burning rubber. One that I keep coming back to.
The tightrope-walking singer Janelle Monáe has spent the last few years building her successful acting career with appearances in Hidden Figures and Moonlight. Her success in her new field meant that it was easy to forget the magnetic musician on display when she appeared. For the lead single of her forthcoming Dirty Computer album and accompanying ‘emotion picture’, Monáe offers the closest thing to the music of her hero and mentor Prince, with a sleek funk pop jam that oozes with class and sex appeal.
Beach House – Lemon Glow
Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s breakthrough third album Teen Dream melded dream pop sensibilities with wistful melodies to much acclaim and they’ve pretty much been riding those soft coat-tails ever since. Their new song dispenses with much of that warmth in favour of a creeping sense of disquiet. ‘Lemon Glow’ still offers Beach House’s trademark solace, but it comes with a dose of The Fear.
Caroline Rose – Getting To Me
In 2014, Caroline Rose was pegged as an Americana folk-rock youngling with a debut album I Will Not Be Afraid, that was in thrall to past predecessors. Four years later, Rose, the self-described “queer feminist” has put her real experience into her invigorating new album Loner, which she says is equally inspired by Kate Bush, Justin Timberlake and punk from the ‘70s. I
Loner is a dark-edged album of manic and millennial modern pop, drawing on indie-rock, surf music, synth hooks and bright production, which Rose herself was responsible for. ‘Getting To Me’ is a nice way in to the release.
Paddy Hanna – Ida
Dubliner Paddy Hanna has grown from a nervous indie musician to commanding performer. ‘Ida’,from new album Frankly I mutate, produced by Daniel Fox of Girl Band, is a sweeping slice of string-assisted retro pop music and is the latest in a line of finely-penned songs. The evidence confirms Hanna’s suitable leap into classic singer-songwriter territory.
Dublin singer-songwriter Ailbhe Reddy has been developing her sound for over two years now and ‘Nothing to Doubt’ is the first time we’ve had some electronic tones in her singer-songwriter style. The track was produced by U.S. producer Willie Weeks.
Wyvern Lingo – Snow II
The Bray trio have just released a fine debut album that confirms their ever-expanding folk R’n’B sound with harmonious intent and a keen eye on real-world events. ‘Snow II’ is an album highlight that shows the girls can keep things subtle, nuanced and memorable.
French production and visual duo Guillaume and Jonathan Alric aka The Blaze made a splash with the best music videos of last year and some deeply affecting emotionally-charged electronic music. Their newest track ‘Heaven’ is ably matched by another warm and tender narrative of family and community in a utopian-like day in the sunshine.
Rejjie’s debut album finally arrived and it goes heavy on the soft glow rooftop down R&B-tinged rap tip. ‘Annie’ featuring Jesse Boykins III is a late album highlight freshly released on Dear Annie.
Kildare natives Gary O’Reilly and Rob Smyth released their new EP Bavarian Nights on Friday, inspired by a particular brand of beer. The EP features four fantastically disco-tinged tracks with ‘Hooly’ an obvious standout.
Yuno – No Going Back
American artist Yuno is one of Sub Pop Records’s latest recruits and makes, writes and produces all of his music, has a hand in his his own press shots and directs his own music videos. His debut track channels a Tame Impala-esque sound with electrifying guitar riffs throughout and dreamy vocals.
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.