10 for 12: acts to keep an eye on
There is an abundance of promising young artists creating wonderful music in the Irish music scene, but predicting which ones will succeed is tricky, writes JIM CARROLL
THERE ARE 10 acts on this list but, in fairness, there could easily have been at least 10 more. We’re currently experiencing a boom in new Irish music, a boom that shows no sign of slowing down in either quantity or quality. The number of acts making a splash or capable of making a splash grows with each passing year.
Of course, when it comes to predicting which acts are going to make headlines in the year to come, there has to be a few caveats. Any list which sets out to highlight trailblazers in the coming year is going to come with riders, conditional clauses and, at the very least, a few get-out-of-jail-free cards for the person doing the predicting. Yes, you’re about to read said riders, clauses and ass-covering excuses.
For a start, it’s very possible that the Irish act that goes on to set the musical agenda for the next 12 months with a fantastic new album is an act we already know very well. Acts who did great things at home in 2010 and 2011 may go on to do similar feats out foreign in 2012. Acts may return with a brilliant second or third album and watch as the world finally catches up with them.
For instance, we’re very excited about the new tunes we’re hearing from The Cast Of Cheers, a band Irish audiences know all about since their self-titled free debut album Chariotlanded here in 2010. But, to foreign audiences, the now London-based band are a brand new proposition and are thus seen as “new”. Likewise, Delorentos’ new album Little Sparksis easily the best, boldest and brightest thing they’ve put their name to thus far in their career and catches them in a whole new light.
No act emerges fully formed and ready to take on the world from the rehearsal studio, garage or bedroom at the first time of asking. It takes time for an act to develop their chops and smarts. We’ve seen this with James Vincent McMorrow – he talked in an interview with The Ticketa few months ago about spending four or five years working at his craft before trying to start recording an album, which then took another two years to come together.
The same goes for We Cut Corners and others. A great debut album does not happen overnight.
As you can see from our list of 10, some of the acts highlighted (such as Little Green Cars and This Club) have been around the block already, yet are only now really ready for their close-up. Most of the acts are ones we’ve profiled in the New Music section in The Ticketas they’ve emerged and developed. What they all have in common, though, is that they have yet to release debut albums and have grand plans for the year ahead. We think they’re 10 to keep an eye on as 2012 develops. See you back here in a year’s time to assess how they got on.
LITTLE GREEN CARS
One of the highlights of last September's Electric Picnic was watching Little Green Cars take to the stage in the Electric Arena like they were to the manor born. But it's taken these kids a few years to get to this stage, which has turned out to be time well spent. In 2011, a fantastic debut single ( The John Wayne) and a deal with the well-regarded Glassnote label (the US home for Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club and Childish Gambino) pointed to a young band flying high with sparkling harmonies and soaring jangles.
The more we see and hear of Girl Band, the more intrigued we are by what's on offer. The three tracks that have found their way online to date - Twelves, Second One and Elastic - sound like the work of three totally different bands, which is always an interesting proposition.
Live, such waywardness works a treat with the band, formed from the ashes of former next big thing Harrows, following a very idiosyncratic star with elements of post-rock, fuzzy hardcore, strident punk rock, indie pop and 1990s shoegaze in the mix.
It's early days to be sure, but they've already got the cut and shape of a band with real potential.
COME ON LIVE LONG
Formed in 2010, the Dublin-based five-piece haven't lost any time getting into the swing of things with two EPs to date. It's their second EP Mender and, in particular, the magnificent opening track Elephants and Timewhich has piqued our interest, with its superb electronic swagger, strong percussive punctuation and winning harmonies. The trick for Come On Live Long now is to write a half-dozen other songs that follow in Elephants' footsteps because, live, it's tracks like these that really connect. All to play for here.
This Club used to be called Hoarsebox but a change of name, sound and direction has paid huge dividends for the Dublin four-piece. Their biggest and best move in 2011 was debut single I Won't Worry, a chirpy blend of tropical pop and party-friendly hooks which became a radio hit in the process.
There's a debut album in the works for 2012, produced by Dennis Herring (Wavves, Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse). One for fans of sunnysideup indie grooves.
For most teenagers, getting your Leaving Cert results is enough to be going on with for one day. But along with his Leaving Cert last August, Newbridge kid Jack Colleran also collected a recording and management deal, as the music industry awarded him honours in all subjects.
What's remarkable about Colleran is how his tracks - which are awash with significant emotional heft and sonic genius - sound so simple, effortless and next level. Have a listen to Blistersor Summernow and don't be surprised if Colleran turns up soundtracking ads, films and TV shows in the next 12 months, as well as getting club and festival crowds swaying along.
Another one-man band - and another indication that Irish electronica is in fine fettle at the moment - Toby Kaar was ubiquitous in 2011 with a rake of high-profile live shows up and down the country. The pick of his appearances for us was at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival where the Corkman's exuberance, energy and enthusiasm was one of the highlights of the weekend.
When it comes to tracks, the Bath University student has been prolific on the remix front (including redos for Funeral Suits, Sacred Animals, Nouveaunoise and Ten Past Seven), but we look forward to hearing more Kaar originals in 2012 as he moves onwards and upwards.
Another band who have undergone subtle changes in style and sound in recent times, Funeral Suits's debut album, which is due in May, is set to benefit hugely from how recent tracks such as Colour Fade and Health have captured their new (Jackeen) swing. One of the many Irish acts playing the Eurosonic new music fest in Holland in January, Funeral Suits have developed an interesting palette of sounds from harmonic indie pop and beguiling shades of art-rock to epic, graceful widescreen wig-outs. Facebook.com/funeralsuits
Now signed up with the Fence Collective in Scotland, who will release his debut album God Damn You Mountain in spring 2012, singer-songwriter Seamus Fogarty is a no-nonsense operator with a fine handle on strong, melodic, powerful folk, country and blues.
The Mayoman's hook-up with the Fence crew came about through support slots with James Yorkston and appearances at the collective's Home Game festivals, but chances are you've also come across the well-travelled Fogarty at a venue near you over the years. One to watch with interest in the coming months.
The Washington DC-born Dublin-based performer spent much of 2011 on a writing and recording mission.
Thanks to an Arts Council bursary, Evans could take the time to further polish and hone her fantastic bluesy soulful songs and spooked sound.
Such homework meant that those who caught her live shows supporting Halves and The Ambience Affair late in the year were wowing about how the material had developed and the artist had matured.
Evans' debut album is one many will be seeking out in 2012.
Here's a performer who is finding out that her atmospheric blend of melodies, harmonies, beats and loops are working wonders in a live setting.
Support slots with Julianna Barwick, Emeli Sandé and Sam Amidon as well as a bunch of festival dates in 2011 (and her version of No Diggity) introduced the Galway woman to more and more people. Her debut album is one we're definitely looking forward to hearing over the next 12 months.