Saturday, 3 February 2018

Irish Playlist #019: ROE, Slow Riot, Nocturnes, State Lights & More

ROE - Wasted.Patient.Thinking

Info: Another bag full of great Irish independent music releases await in the above playlist, the first week of January was understandably quiet but since then the floodgates have well and truly opened. Irish acts are lashing out the choons and I think we're facing into another bumper year for quality music, be, the, hokey.

We start off with the hugely talented ROE from Derry, (Roisin Donald) who describes her music as grumpy electro-pop, and her single 'Wasted.Patient.Thinking' which has all of the spunky attitude of an early Pink single, along with highly-strung synth zingers that fire up in the air like fireworks, it's a really funky and grooving pastiche of a single. Please stay grumpy.

We waxed lyrical at the debut single from happylone. 'colours' which came out toward the end of last year. It was an amazing debut and one that we still come back to. New track 'ur eyes' maintains that buzz and excitement from the mysterious electronic ambient trio, such a nice balance between chillwave and happiness, appropriately.

Limerick's post-punk four-piece Slow Riot just released their double A-Side, 'Burn In The City / Voyeur', hard to choose between the two but I've plumped for the former here. A rich blend between contemporary mood-driven indie á la Interpol and some Smithsian jangle-pop guitars. A lot of indie bands have been taking a stab at this style over the years, but few hit the nail on the head like Slow Riot do, it's more innovation than homage.

Martha Ffion - Take Your Name

Whilst it doesn't happen as often as I'd like, I really love getting to dip into music by Irish artists plying their trade abroad, thankfully there has been a few already in the first month of January (as opposed to probably 3 or 4 for the whole of 2017). We get different perspectives and palettes drawn from different environments. One such act is Martha Ffion, already on the radar of The Last Mixed Tape two years ago, it would be lovely to have the Glasgow-based chanteuse brought over to Ireland for some live shows. Her latest single with accompanying video (above), 'Take Your Name' ticks multiple classical boxes with a most cordial modern flourish. Hints of Dusty, Astrud Gilberto and no-frills care-free dream-pop, Ffion drips sunshine both vocally and musically, it's the best of both worlds.

'Rapture' is the second singe which Sligo frontman Pearse McLoughlin as Nocturnes has released bi-lingually in both English and as Gaeilge, as 'Lúcháir', agus tá sé comh hálainn leis an céirnín cheana 'Humans / Duine de Chruach'. The Irish language doesn't lend itself easily to translation from English when it comes to the fluidity of the lines, verses and chorus'. McLoughlin makes it as smooth a transition as possible, and this is achieved by shrouding everything in his trademark ethereal and atmospheric musical glow, much like Sigur Rós and their invented language 'hopelandish', those of us who are unfamiliar with the medium language can bask without understanding. I like this concept because on the one hand you can connect lyric with music in English, but allow your mind to wander further when you are strictly focused on the music via the Irish version. 

Feuds - Nothing To Happen Next
Feuds - Photo: Day Twenty Three Photography

Feuds provide an outlet that would be sorely missed on the Irish music scene were they not in existence. The Wicklow alternative-garage rock quartet create a space where you can just drop of the edge of the world from, exemplified by latest single 'Nothing to Happen Next'. An appropriate title, as their lackadaisical and slow-burning sound is so disarming it makes you want to just bask in the track and beyond without thinking about the outside world. 

Jack Spoke - The Well
Jack Spoke - Photo: Aron Cahill

Another artist we should all be keeping our eyes on over the next 12 months is Dubliner Ciarám Hoyne, aka Jack Spoke. The singer-songwriter has just released his debut single 'The Well', and for a debut it's incredibly impressive. An affable individual, Jack Spoke pours all of his darkest moments, intensity and poetry straight into his music which is beautifully accompanied by violinist Tomas Pujol Owens. We can lazily compare his baritone vocal to Nick Cave or namesake Jack Lukeman, but this is a track that should be released far into a musical career, not right at the beginning. It's vivid, beautiful and stark, but most importantly, it carves a memorable story on both heart and mind that won't fade easily.

If I was to pick 5 Irish bands who, to use what some might consider an off-putting phrase, excel at a broader pop-rock sound that edges toward 'radio=friendly' and will appeal to the masses, State Lights would be right up at the top. Last year I had the privilege of witnessing the Dublin four-piece perform an unplugged version of one of their tracks in The Sound Feed studio, and it was such a joy to behold, but in addition their in-between recording moments of messing around with snippets of covers were so impressive if unintentionally so. The band know their music and are faultless in executing their original material. Although they don't necessarily touch on the sound, I imagine them as Ireland's Simple Minds or Tears for Fears, and this idea is cemented by the joyous nature of new single 'Peace Will Come'.

Dublin indie-rock band Electric Shore have been working tirelessly on the live circuit since the release of their 2016 sophomore EP Glass. Now they're back with new single 'Too Different', a punchy and anthemic affair which builds on the more atmospheric leanings of their previous releases. The Meath act possess a subdued yet engagingly confident swagger in their music, in essence they know how to kick out the jams, 'Too Different' sees a lighter side to their music however, a melodic jingle whose rhythmic beat lulls you into new waters.

I've really enjoyed my first introduction to Antrim lo-fi singer-songwriter Ciarán Lavery via his new single 'To Chicago', mood and music-wise he has his small toe in the Tom Petty pond. With a number of albums already under his belt and a significant following, Lavery's new single is taken from forthcoming LP Sweet Decay which is due for release on 13th of April. 'To Chicago' has an amiable and deft undertone, it's rhythmically a very warm piece which, despite its restraint, passes its message and feel onto the listener with great ease. 

Together for over 11 years, Dublin traditional folk and roots unit I Draw Slow share new single 'Same Old Dress Will Do' ahead of their next live appearance at Whelan's on the 10th of February next week. Following a No.2 position for previous album Redhills, the quintet took the trip to Nashville for a debut US show in 2012 and have cemented their position on the American folk scene since. 

I Draw Slow - Same Old Dress Will Do