In this first of a series in which we’ll be discussing bands from outside the regular US/England (more specifically, London) basis for discovery of new music, we’re going to showcase some artists from Ireland who will be making waves in the coming year.
– Belfast’s And So I Watch You From Afar emerged in 2005 and have since grown to become a cult phenomenon as a result of their relentless touring, stellar live show, and a catalog of tracks that are both brutal and uplifting. In that time, their music has evolved from largely instrumental post-rock (aside from the odd chant or “WOO!”) comparable to the likes of Russian Circles, to a much more “danceable”, optimistic, yet undeniably still heavy sound with their most recent release, 2013’s All Hail Bright Futures. The album also featured more daring ventures into the realm of chanted vocals and instrumental experimentation (brass anyone?). Guitarists Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy leap around every stage they play, dancing on effects pedals to manipulate their sound to make the guitars sing, soar, resonate and punch, often all at once. The rhythm section comprised of Johnny Adger’s monstrous bass tone and drummer Chris Wee’s seemingly inhuman abilities make for a loud and raucous live show that could fill any audience member with joy, or at least give them a sore neck and ringing ears. With a new album expected to be dropping in the first half of the year and extensive touring almost certainly to follow, ASIWYFA are a band you’d be foolish to ignore.
– Dublin noise rock outfit Girl Band create music that defies convention to the point that even if the visceral controlled chaos weren’t to your taste, it would be a challenge to not at least appreciate the sheer gumption of it all. The guitar and bass combo of Alan Duggan and Daniel Fox creates a wall of sound that leaves jaws slack and heads shaking, in awe at Duggan’s use of effects pedals and Fox’s occasional use of a beer bottle as a slide for his bass. Dara Kiely’s vocals are reminiscent of The Fall’s Mark E. Smith or the anguished, a-tonal drawl of Slint’s Brian McMahan. It’s vitriolic, it’s aggressive, even bordering on sarcastic in its nature. All of this combined with the steady rhythms provided by drummer Adam Faulkner and the almost lax statures of the band members as they perform makes the listener or audience members wonder whether they should laugh or cower in fear. Having recently signed a deal with Rough Trade and announcing an appearance at SXSW in March which could well be paired with other US dates, this is a band you will struggle to avoid, love it or hate it. Girl Band don’t care what you think, you’re going to hear them from a mile away regardless.
– Synth-pop as a genre can sometimes have a tendency to sound slightly mechanical, pristine, or “too perfect”. The lack of “human” error or rawness can make it feel lacking. Richie Egan (a.k.a. Jape) has been making music for a long time, whether it be as bass player for math-rock pioneers The Redneck Manifesto or more recently with his purely electronic, Malmö, Sweden based project Dimman. In this time Richie Jape has succeeded in creating a sound that assumes both synth-pop grooves and sensibility while still keeping his feet firmly on earth and maintaining a distinctly “human” sound, full of sincere emotion and just the right amount of rawness. Tracks such as ‘The Oldest Mind’ from 2011’s award winning Ocean of Frequency feature ambient and pulsing keys that resonate and jingle alongside the subtle acoustic guitar work to create an ethereal backdrop accompanying Egan’s tender yet assertive vocal work, (“I don’t know why. Something went wrong. I was so sad when I should have been so happy”). The song ascends to a pounding groove while maintaining its definitive emotive quality, and that’s essentially what Jape’s offers; music to dance to that works just as well as a reflective experience. The new album This Chemical Sea is out now and singles ‘Séance of Light’ and ‘The Heart’s Desire’ suggest that this will be an album that will appeal to listeners across the board.
Other Worthy Mentions:
- We Cut Corners – Guitar and Drum duo writing addictive and emotive rock songs with some of the most clever lyrics you’ll hear these days
- Enemies – Math-Rock four piece currently writing a new album
- Le Galaxie – Disco House live outfit who want to make you dance. Just signed to Universal Music Ireland with album Le Club due in April.
- All Tvvins – Electro-rock duo of Conor Adams (The Cast of Cheers) and Lar Kaye (Adebisi Shank)
Next up in this series: some of the most interesting music Australia has to offer.