Wait, it’s July?
It’s either been an insanely quick seven months or we’re just getting old and the passage of time is now a dizzying blur, but there’s one constant that remains the same. Namely, the spectacular array of Irish music from artists old and new that has blessed our ears in recent times.
Now that we’re (just over) half way through the year, there’s no better way to celebrate than by enlisting some of our finest music scribes to take us through the very best records that Ireland had to offer from January to June.
And So I Watch You From Afar | Jettison
To label Jettison the most ambitious project to date from ASIWYFA may raise a few eyebrows among those familiar with the Northern Irish post-rock legends back catalogue, but there’s no denying it.
On their sweeping sixth album, the influential instrumentalists push themselves further than ever before with a supremely epic symphony that builds itself skillfully from piano and string laden beginnings into a wonderfully cathartic explosion of noise that will leave listeners basking in a delirious state of euphoria.
CMAT | If My Wife New I’d Be Dead
More like one of the best albums of the last six centuries, as CMAT herself might say. Ever been on Cú Chulainn, the rickety wooden monstrosity in Tayto Park? If My Wife New I’d Be Dead is a bigger rollercoaster. From Hollywood actress Cybill Shepherd’s entanglement with married director Peter Bogdanovic to the singer’s own ups and downs, romantic and otherwise.
Catchy but never shallow, CMAT’s pop bangers and country anthems carry you along, laughing as you go—until you take notice of how much it hurts.
Fontaines D.C. | Skinty Fia
Having evolved over the course of the past five years from hometown heroes to international headliners, the third record from Fontaines D.C. finds the band thoughtfully contemplating their Irish identity and the residual guilt that haunts the Dublin quintet for leaving home to embark on their current path to glory. It’s a journey that has been building to this exact point over the past four years, with the band’s third album hitting a lot of the sweet spots from 2019’s Dogrel and its 2020 sequel A Hero’s Death, but with more refined touches and songcraft.
Skinty Fia (an old Irish phrase translating to ‘’the damnation of the deer’’) ties itself up with heavy themes of doubt, loss and disconnection but Fontaines have never sounded more assured of themselves as these 10 tracks showcase a growth and maturity across the band, not only thematically but musically to boot.
This feels like what Fontaines have been striving toward since day one, a bewitching mix of the maudlin melodies and murky poetry that informed classic eighties post-punk with the dirty garage riffs and rockstar swagger of bands like Oasis and The Strokes that defined before and after the turn of the century. Fontaines descended from each of these eras in equal measure, and with Skinty Fia they move a step closer towards not just holding a torch to their idols, but keeping a fire burning in their place.
Just Mustard | Heart Under
On their second full-length release, the Dundalk quintet move beyond the shoegaze leanings of their debut album Wednesday towards something altogether more menacing.
Incorporating industrial sounds and the influence of Warp Records style electronic music, the group produce a deftly textured album that, for all its somnambulistic detachment, is somehow one of the most cohesive Irish albums of the
year so far.
Pillow Queens | Leave The Light On
Brimming with the same anthemic hooks and undeniable harmonies that made debut In Waiting one of our frontrunners for Best Irish Albums Of 2020, Pillow Queens’ sophomore outing is a sequel that satisfies.
While the sleeker production of Leave The Light On somewhat lessens the edge that the Dublin ladies possessed in spades on their debut, Pillow Queens’ gift for combining poignant societal themes with some of the best guitar and vocal melodies in the Irish indie scene is ever present throughout this infectious, engaging follow up.
THUMPER | Delusions Of Grandeur
THUMPER more than live up to their name on Delusions of Grandeur, with a psychedelic wall of noise powered all the way up to eleven throughout an electrifying debut that wields the Dubliners trio of guitarists and double drumkits with a vengeance.
Having steadily built their reputation and cult fanbase through extensive touring around Europe over the past couple of years, THUMPER arrive with a highly developed, no frills hardcore rock sound and a fully formed identity on one of the most assured Irish arrivals you’re sure to hear this year.
Ye Vagabonds | Nine Waves
The Irish folk and trad music scene is a movement gathering momentum in 2022, and while there’s plenty of small-town heroes who could be considered the champions of Irish folk, it’s Ye Vagabonds who manage to capture hearts every time.
Ulster Gaeilge makes an appearance in the lullaby ‘Máire Bhán’, while the outstanding solace of Arranmore is made apparent in ‘An Island’. Nine Waves is an album that is defined by peace, beauty and an outstanding reverence for the world around you.