Guest post – 500 Words of Summer – Lauren Murphy
OTR’s 500 Words of Summer series continues with music writer Lauren Murphy rewinding five years to how the Irish music scene looked in 2005. I was sorting through shelf upon shelf of dust-smothered CDs in my parents’ house recently, when …
OTR’s 500 Words of Summer series continues with music writer Lauren Murphy rewinding five years to how the Irish music scene looked in 2005.
I was sorting through shelf upon shelf of dust-smothered CDs in my parents’ house recently, when I came across one particular album that brought back a lot of memories. Back in 2005, the Irish music scene was a very different place. Just five years ago, it was undergoing something that was midway between a regeneration and a revolution, and the “Faction One” compilation seemed to encapsulate all that was good about the burgeoning scene at the time.
Compiled by indie label Faction Records, the tracklisting displayed a healthy mix of styles: Director, Humanzi, Republic of Loose, Cathy Davey and The Immediate were all featured (the latter pair contributed excellent non-album tracks – “Cannonball” and “Never Seen” – both worth seeking out), as well as stellar offerings from the likes of The Marshal Stars and DC Pakt, bands who sadly never got around to realising their full potential. The subsequent years saw more established acts like Jape, Michael Knight and David Kitt build on their solid foundations, and release excellent albums to audiences who seemed more open to creative musicianship than ever before. It was an exciting time, having a choice of four or five Irish acts to sate your gigging requirements every week.
Of course, age was a factor; any 19 or 20-year-old music fan that suddenly has the time (and the income) to attend gigs regularly will go through a transitional phase of-sorts. It was more than that for me, though. My change in taste saw me gradually gravitate away from gloom-mongering singer-songwriters, and towards bands who were making exciting, original music right on my doorstep. It was like a spring thaw after a long, dreary winter.
Having access to those bands was key. I must have seen The Immediate seven or eight times in the space of nine months or a year, but I still remember the first time, at a gig that coincided with Faction One’s release in the now-defunct Voodoo Lounge on Dublin’s Arran Quay. I thought they were pretentious art school twits, swapping instruments just to show off – although I could grudgingly admit that the songs were intriguing. Being exposed to them playing support slots around the city meant that I was gradually won over by their quirky style and subsequently their superb album. I’d never seen a band so young, so different and so original – and unbelievably, they were Irish.
The cream of the Irish music scene is still rising to the top, but even more importantly, it’s never been so diverse. Ireland has long been seen as the preserve of rock and folk music, but what about the expanding hip-hop, electronica and post-rock scenes? We’ve already caught flashes of international acclaim through the eyes of Villagers, Fight Like Apes and And So I Watch You From Afar in recent times, and although U2 and Enya may arguably remain our biggest musical export, there are plenty of potentially world-beating acts just biding their time on the lower rungs of fame and fortune. Sure, it’s a great time to be an Irish musician – but there’s never been a better time to be an Irish music fan, either.
The credits: Lauren Murphy is from Dublin, writes about music mostly for The Ticket and has an unhealthy obsession with The Smiths