Flitting between Dublin and Berlin, The Cope is the duo of David Anthony Curley and Joe Furlong (fans of James Vincent McMorrow might be familiar with Furlong, as he is MD for the Dublin musician/songwriter) and their mission is to cause a little bit of blurred disruption within the funk/house Venn diagram.
Their collective aim, the pair have said from the start of their collaboration, is unambiguous: to make music that makes people dance their socks off. The Cope’s debut single, True Romance, holds true to the duo’s aims: a dramatic calling card that increases momentum from the off. In other words, it’s an electropop floor-to-the-ceiling nightclub banger of real quality. Tip? Best pack a few extra pairs of socks.
Caoi de Barra
Side projects have become part and parcel of many musicians’ lives since the arrival of Covid-19 and one of several Irish artists to ease out of a well-known music act into a solo and less anticipated space (where non-fans might not be familiar with their name) is Caoi de Barra.
Usually with Wicklow trio Wyvern Lingo (currently on hiatus), de Barra recently released her debut EP, Thicket, which highlights a different portion of her creative intellect: think soulful, winding, Buckley-esque songs (with strings by long-time collaborators Glasshouse Ensemble). Armed with “my tiny guitar” (says de Barra), expect a few Wyvern Lingo songs in the mix.
Can there be anyone more assertive than Dubliner Cruel Sister (aka Faith Nico) and her mantra of deciding to produce all of her music “because I knew I was the only one who could make the sound I wanted.” The sound Nico speaks of is terrific, by the way, and arrives via a route that nods sleepily to My Bloody Valentine, barbed dream-pop and fuzzy shoegaze.
The songs currently streaming online fuse all manner of guitar notes and notables, from Hank Marvin (Too Much’s sly if perhaps an unwitting hint to The Shadows is a hoot) and Kevin Shields (Chihiro’s blasts of wall-to-wall guitar are equally life-affirming and death-defying) to a sandblasted Voice of the Beehive-like pop tune (My Forever). All three tracks will feature on Cruel Sisters’ debut EP, girls my age, a five-track humdinger scheduled for release on September 9th.
Another success story from County Westmeath? It certainly seems that way, as songwriter Amy Michelle cuts through the fog with a fashionably sharp scythe, opening up gaps in the ether that highlight cool creative sensibilities. Michelle came to our attention via the posting of cover versions on YouTube (one of which was Fontaines D.C.’s Roy’s Tune) but she swiftly established her signature styles on original material that runs twisty rings around the likes of 1975, Phoebe Bridgers and Billie Eilish.
For all her talent, however, she remains relatively unknown, at least for this year. That should change in 2023, not only through her being signed to UK-based indie label Method Records, which works closely with Sam Smith, Slowthai, and Disclosure, but also across a batch of songs (so far, there are about six on streaming platforms) that trace a line from soft to jagged and back again without barely any pressure.
For Kildare’s Lea Heart, it all started with a family piano that had lain semi-unused for years until the first pandemic lockdown arrived in March 2020. With time on her hands, boredom stretching out in front of her, and various ambitions needing to be achieved, Heart set about sharing her music on TikTok.
Within weeks, her viewing numbers on that video-sharing platform rocketed from zilch to over 100,000, and what we started hearing from then to now was a sequence of perfectly attired contemporary pop songs (including A Million Goodbyes, Waiting for the Nights, Mood, Older, I’ll Get Over It, IDK Why, and Perfect Opposites) that have brought her justified attention from major record labels. The future for Heart? Linked in ways to the people behind Picture This (as well as to that band’s primary songwriting duo, Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy) 2023 looks like a safe bet.
From Bangor, Northern Ireland, The Florentinas (Paddy Boyd, Jacob Kane, brothers Luke and Jakob Swann) have a pop/punk/rock heritage behind them that less talented and confident bands could have been hijacked by. Thankfully, experienced ears have been listening, including publishers at BMG (a deal was offered after a label A&R watched the band perform in a practice room at Belfast’s Oh Yeah Centre) and managers at Belfast-based artist development company Third Bar (co-founders Davy Matchett and Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody called around to Boyd’s house, had a chat and asked if the band would be happy if Third Bar became their managers).
Think taut, guitar-driven pop/rock tunes swirling around in a tumbler with a slice of lemon adding a zingy/tangy twist to the end results. Songs such as It’s Not in Vain and Sandcastles (to date, the only tracks on streaming platforms) make their marks well and truly felt with the kind of panache symptomatic of Northern Irish pop/punk.
Newcastle, Co Down, psych-pop songwriter Ruairí Richman changed his BIMM course in guitar to electronics and virtually overnight his songwriting templates changed. As can be gleaned from his decidedly psychedelic-inspired Lemonade Shoelace name and the title of his debut single, Autopilot Paradise, whatever drugs are being prescribed are certainly working.
Leaving behind the inner workings of the guitar, Richman delivers synths, keyboards and sonic swirls that reference the likes of Tame Impala, Flaming Lips, Air and other deft exponents of airy psych-pop. Other songs (Do Whatever Makes you Happy, Hopscotch in the Sky, I Think my Heart is Set on You) similarly up the ante with pulsating melody lines and brazen sound-texture tactics that wouldn’t sound out of place on some of Pink Floyd’s 1960s albums. A debut EP is in the works — keep your ears peeled and your minds wide, wide open.
Australian band Lime Cordiale (essentially the sibling duo of Oli and Louis Leimbach) started as a music act in 2009 and have since then created something of a stir in their home territories. While each brother is proficient on instruments you might not automatically associate with rock/pop — Oli on clarinet, Louis on trumpet — guitar and synths are the twin names of their game.
The band’s latest album, 2020′s 14 Steps to a Better You, is chock-a-block with agile, head-bopping songs that are all cunningly dissimilar but which, the brothers say, “go down as easily as an ice-cold beer in a heatwave.” Which is, now we come to think of it, something we have been very much used over the past few weeks, right?
Priya Ragu is gradually making a name for herself outside her Swiss-Sri Lankan community, but it has been hard-earned. She has said that she never wished to compromise her creative spirit for the sake of being a pop star and so she has waited until the time was right to fuse R&B with her Tamil heritage and influences. The results are suitably multidimensional/cultural with tracks such as Chicken Lemon Rice and Kamali oozing shuffling tabla beats, synths, Tamil folk and soul/dance. Added to the music styles are Ragu’s signature and passionate song narratives, which focus on spirituality (she meditates every day) and female empowerment.
Named after a character from Final Fantasy, yeule (Nat Ćmiel) moved from their native Singapore to London some years ago to chase the dream of cyber pop into a corner and massage it. Suitably achieved, yeule went a few steps further: they self-describe as a cyborg and as such present a futuristic form of dissonant, deliberately experimental pop music that (aside from Bjork, perhaps) has few comparisons. In other words, it’s a safe enough bet you won’t be seeing too many (if any) Dermot Kennedy fans crushing the barriers to get up close and personal.