Sunday, 6 May 2018

Irish Playlist #027: Susie Blue, Maria Kelly, Gavin Glass, Central Hall & More

Susie Blue - She's A Keeper
Susie Blue - Photo: Megan Doherty Photography

Info: We stretch our latest Irish independent playlist out to 12 tracks to begin May, featuring some brand new Irish acts and some pleasantly familiar faces, with a handful of great music videos thrown in for good measure.

We open with one of our favourite solo artists of recent times, Derry's Susie Blue and her spell-binding latest single 'She's A Keeper', it draws all sorts of early 90's lo-fi rock nostalgia flooding back, with a bit of 80's pop balladry thrown in for good measure. This could definitely be one of my favourite tracks of 2018 so far, with some absolutely gorgeous guitar riffage thrown in to the final moments.

Fragile, delicate and tender tones drop like beads of rain down a window on Maria Kelly's latest single 'Dark Places', despite its cold demeanour, the track is somehow lifted to a hopeful outcome, something Kelly does time and time again with great ease, but intricately. This is a piece of music that creates a very powerful sense of isolation and introspection, it's hard not to let your thoughts wander away with themselves, needless to say the music video written and directed by Kelly herself captures all and sundry.

Maria Kelly - Dark Places

I'm really enjoying the new single from Waterford band Central Hall, mixing funky beats with some zinging guitar face-melters, the four-piece go hook-heavy on 'Social Awareness' and pull you all around the place with the stop-start motion of the track.

Belfast rock troupe Gnarkats remixed by fellow Northern Irish maestro Arvo Party? Yes puhleeeease! 'Enigma' gets the sci-fi treatment, all of the descriptives spring forth; post-apocalyptic, dystopian, nightmarish. David Lynch's Dune springs to mind, and the whole universe is falling apart.

We stay in Belfast for the new single 'For A Little While' from singer-songwriter Stephen Jones, aka Glass Wings. The build-up is great here, looping guitar picking and the subtle drone of strings all pave a path to an uplifting and impassioned finale to take a unique approach to the genre.

The hugely promising talent of Wexford's Rachel Grace shines through on her latest single 'You Don't Know', which is taken from forthcoming EP Routes. Grace's vocal is dexterous and spirals through a wide array of styles, from rn'b to soul and pop, an ear-catching latest serving from an act we can expect to see and hear a lot from over the coming years.

I'm going through a big indie-pop n' rock phase at the moment, and all thanks to the rising quality of output from Irish acts. 'Higher' is the debut single from Cork trio True Tides who are currently Dublin-based, it has a classic winning indie-pop formula, but the band aren't afraid to deviate from any strictures with a notable and very energising shift occurring at the 2:16 mark. It's feel-good and all the pieces are put together so well to achieve that mood. 

True Tides - Higher
True Tides - Photo: Ruth Medjber

A chap who is kind of killing it in the Irish pop zone right now is A.Smyth, his third single, 'Coming Back To You', Smyth glories in attaching his indie-rock background into his music. Thankfully he also applies a notable variety in each of his singles to date, with the current track eliciting the joy of mid 90's North American pop-rock.

A.Smyth - Coming Back To You

It can be a little bit intimidating sometimes as a music reviewer when it comes to describing the music of producers, especially house-hold names on the Irish music scene like Gavin Glass, but ya just have to put on your big boy pants and get on with it. Glass' latest single 'Thirty Somethings' was one I had the pleasure of catching live last summer. I find it quite relatable for reasons I shall not go into here! The theme deals with reaching a point in life when you are supposed to have your shit together, but external forces and your own despondency from fighting against the tide lead to personal helplessness and apathy. Musically there's hat doffs to early-noughties Irish indie-rock, a little bit Bell X-1 circa Music in Mouth and also I can't shake Liverpool band Space out of my head when I hear that little warbling effect that backdrops the chorus.

I always need some grunging hard-rock in my life, and the latest slice is delivered by Cork trio Mindriotmt's new single 'We Owe You Nothing', sitting somewhere on the spectrum between early Foo Fighters and Metallica, it opens with a brooding bass-line which almost immediately makes way for the metal crash, bang and whallop. Of course I'm at my happiest when they devolve into the chorus' nuclear meltdown and the heavy bass and guitar riff are bang on the money.

Dublin pop-rockers No Audio Dialogue whipped out a new single recently in the shape of 'So Scared', staying true to their 90's rock roots it has a high-energy swagger, packing an upbeat snappy punch into just 2 minutes and 10 seconds. 

Wexford-based Dubliner Alice Lynskey has released her debut single 'Devil In Me', comparisons have been made to Lana Del Rey, and while I get that in terms of the genre, I feel like her vocal stands apart from such an allusion. There's a really solid balance between contemporary pop singer-songwriter material and an older classic chanteuse sound รก la a more restrained version of Connie Francis. Either way, Lynskey has left herself with plenty of scope for expanding her sound in different directions following this impressive debut.