5 upcoming Irish artists who you need to be listening to!
Acts like Fontaines D.C. and Inhaler are lighting the Irish beacon right at the peak of the Indie Rock mountain yet they have paved the way for a new wave of fantastic Irish talent to develop at a rapid pace. We've selected just five of our favourite emerging acts for you to discover and we've even took the potentially dangerous liberty of mixing a couple Northern Irish in list too so feast away!
With her thoughtful lo fi atmospherics and instantly warming vocal tone, Belfast Singer-songwriter Lucy Gaffney is quickly becoming one of the most promising solo female Indie acts across the UK. Straying between realms of folk and Indie, the honesty and personality of her songwriting never changes. The fact that she appears on Spotify's 'Most Beautiful Songs in the World' is a good indicator of the atmospheres she creates. Her tracks are always luscious, filled with softly padded drums and guitar lines that are dreamy yet still purposeful. We must declare a slight bias as although Lucy's heritage lies in Belfast she also has a close connection with Liverpool where she wrote and recorded some of her earlier singles including a couple with The Coral's James Skelly. However, these two cities have forever intertwined and it is quite fitting for an artist with such a lucid, intertwining sonic palette as Lucy.
Her debut EP 'Easy Come Easy Go' arrived last month and it is the perfect entry point to discover the different aspects of her sound. The title track leads with an introverted vocal tone creating late night bedroom vibes similar to Beabadoobee and Abbie Ozard. Yet, the instrumentals inject a more expansive and uplifting feel that drag her soft vocal delivery higher. It as if the music quickly transforms her introspective mental state into a more care free and open place, allowing her to take a deep breath and let stress slide away. It is always a sign of great songwriting when the instrumentation perfectly matches the lyrical themes of the song and this is exactly the case here. The rest of the EP dives deeper into emotive journeys.
The intimately romantic details of 'Heartstrings' have exactly the effect the name suggests and the personal 'Falkner St' drifts into a serene acoustic love confession that really showcases the depth of range in Lucy's voice. Although her vocals are considered and gentle, creating really blissful landscapes throughout the EP, the four-track selection is far from an intimate acoustic piece. It is full of bright Indie instrumentals that elevate the emotive intensity of each song. Certainly one for lifting your mood into a care free Sunday daydream.
Since their debut single ‘The Cheek’ in 2020 Dublin Rock quartet SPRINTS have been prolific, releasing 9 tracks in two years. From the abrasive guitar tones and dancy drum rhythms of ‘Drones’ to the thick Irish twang on the spoken word delivery in ‘How Does The Story Go?’ each release has slowly peeled back the veil on what defines them. They haven’t showed any signs of slowing down in 2022 and heave leapt into the new year with an angsty rip roarer ‘Little Fix’.
The new single is a beautifully raucous hit of fuzzy Rock expression. The spaced out energy of the warped guitar intro is soon met by a high-octane Surf Rock vibe. The splashy ride cymbal rhythm combines with a guitar riff that has notes of Dick Dale for a slightly retro coastal feel that has been ramped up to a rapid speed. The agitated spoken vocals of Karla Chubb then take over, drenching the track in an angtsy Irish flavour. The chorus sees a more expressive and resonant vocal display comparable to The Mysterines merge with the Surf vibe to provide a moshwrothy atmosphere. A more rigid and repetitive Psych breakdown later in the track proceeds an electrifying guitar solo. The solo arrives with the same tightly rolled Surf style but is a lot more cutting in its delivery as if it has been bubbling away throughout the track waiting to explode and offer a final layer of viscous energy to see the song out. Perhaps the best true Rock band coming out of Ireland right now.
In contrast to the prolific schedule of sprints, Indie lads Sunburn have been pretty quiet lately. Their two singles ‘All I’m Missin’ & ‘Jump The Gun’ from 2020 were the perfect summer festival soundtrack. It may seem like a cliche but they rang of Catfish and The Bottlemen. This comparison isnt to suggest they were an Indie stereotype, they sounded far from average! Yet it is the slightly self deprecating lyrics, bittersweet vocal tone and occasional soaring rock diversions that are reminiscent of Van Mcanns writing.
For fans it was a disappointing 2021 which saw no new music arrive but their next single is finally here! ‘Rainy Day’, recorded with Philip Magee, who has produced for the likes of The Script, Kodaline, and Miles Kane, was released last week and it didn’t disappoint. The vocals stand out as they manage to pull off that careful balance of being super smooth yet still packing enough bite to make you want to belt out the words. Despite the song's lyrical subject the music is uplifting. The chorus is swamped with sunny harmonies that merge seamlessly with the crisp guitar tone. The intensity also strikes a fine balance, dancing between infectious Indie party energy brought by the drums and the more easy going vibes of the vocals. The track's ending is joyous and anthemic, leaving you with the perfect antidote to those miserable rainy days.
Galway's introspective singer-songwriter Cormac Looby drapes his characterful Irish accent over heartfelt Indie Folk songwriting. Since 2020 he has been gathering critical attention from the likes of BBC Introducing and BBC 6 Music due to the personality and character that radiates out of his music. Even though his songs are often stripped back in style they carry an earthy richness to them that always makes you feel connected to his singing.
His previous release 'Patriot' showcased his deep Irish routes as his somewhat solemn yet warming vocals blend with bittersweet Folk violin melodies. Out of this list he is probably the artist with the most authentic appreciation for his homeland and although not all his tracks are as nailed to the mast as 'Patriot' they all show signs of his love and appreciation for Irish musical heritage. His new track is his most vibrant, leading with a warm and sophisticated brass hook. Deep piano notes and the constant acoustic strumming provide a base for Cormac's vocals to shine once again. It is also probably his most uplifting release to date with the self affirming lyrics of "I can't be anyone else" and a higher tempo rhythm running throughout. For those reading this list for their love of Ireland and its music then Cormac Looby is the one!
Introducing Belfast's new scrappy Garage Rock quintet The Continentals made up of Nate Donaghy (Vocals) Palko (Lead Guitar) Ethan Layhe (Rhythm Guitar) James Dawson (Bass) and James Bothwell (Drums). Their debut single may only be a few weeks old yet it has already showed signs of huge promise. With five members they have the power to make a Rock sound that is dense, full of powerful energy and instrumental subtleties. Musically, their debut release 'Make It Last' is an intentionally cluttered direct hit of youthful spirit. It channels the Punkier side of Oasis' discography in a similar style to other young acts like Bedside Manners.
Their next live show, supporting Jam Pact (A tribute to The Jam), indicates their appreciation for the rebellious 70s era and their music reflects this with a modern twist. All the spirit that you would want from a young band resides within them yet they add in a few more melodic hooks along the way that have nods to The Buzzcocks. So if you like full on high-energy Rock and Roll that has been cut sharper and seen through 21st century eyes then these lads look set to be the perfect solution.
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