New artists of the week: Great Irish acts to love in 2019
Plus songs to hear from The Scratch and God Knows
This is the last New Artist of the Week column so, with that in mind, I wanted to tip the hat to some newer Irish acts I’ve been keeping an ear on. Consider this a tip sheet for Irish artists who are earmarked for greater things, but who are still early in their endeavours.
The idea that Irish music is in “a golden age” is a perennial favourite of writers, critics and industry alike, but there’s certainly a range and depth to the music on this island that is unparalleled in our history, buoyed by an increasingly refined baseline for production.
Hip-hop has been exploding nationwide for several years. Hot on the heels of Soft Boy Records’ Kojaque, Mango x Mathman’s Dublin grime and Diffusion Lab’s recent success with Jafaris, the likes of Waterford MC Pat Lagoon’s link-up with producer Rikshaw are pushing things forward, while Cork and Limerick’s fertile scenes are giving us Denise Chaila’s poetic energy and outsider rap from Craic Boi Mental. Cuttin Heads Collective and The Unseen’s association of acts – including Mankyy, Post-Punk Podge, Clerk 5, Hazey Haze, Aswell and Spekulativ Fiktion – are brimming with confidence and excellent output. Back in the capital, Nealo, a former hardcore punk singer turned rapper, is making conscious realist hip-hop that is resonating with the disenfranchised millennial youth.
Those artists’ activity are spurring on others to go for it. As part of Nealo’s live band Innrspace, Rafino Murphy aka Uly has released some stunning lo-fi guitar jams that recall Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Young Dublin singer April is making gorgeous bedroom R&B with little more than a laptop and a mic. The Cork- associated label Hausu is developing a roster of DIY alternative and R&B acts such as Ghostking Is Dead and Arthur Valentine, while Cork’s Meghan Murray has recently appeared making sophisticated R&B pop.
Smudging the space between genres are Limerick’s Rumi with lilting electronic R&B, Kilkenny producer Jellypelt’s house-centred synth-funk, Kerry man Junior Brother’s oddball folk, Dublin youngster Skinner and his gruesome guitar music, the Arabic-inspired dance from Moving Still and the neo-psych rock of Dublin’s Fat Pablo.
Following in the rocking footsteps of Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital are Dublin band Odd Morris, while the best new band in the country, Limerick’s Powpig, are currently juggling gig offers galore and their imminent Leaving Cert exams.
Ireland’s house and techno scene is as blazing as the hip-hop scene but with more international recognition. Northern Ireland is leading the charge with producers such as Jordan, Hammer, Bobby Analog and Cromby on the up, while southern acts Kettama, Tommy Holohan, Brame and Hamo, Long Island Sound and Mix & Fairbanks are already breaking outside of the country.
Those 36 acts are just a smattering of what’s keeping me excited and writing about new acts on Nialler9.com. They deserve and need your love and financial support.
YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS
The Scratch: Old Dog
The Scratch mix trad, punk and furiously fast acoustic guitars and have grown a small but fervent fan base for their unique Dublin music. On new song Old Dog – a sarky metallic and melodic song filled with great colloquial lines and brimming with the band’s singular energy – they’ve reached their apex.
Crown: God Knows
The Rusangano Family MC’s solo single was recorded with French producer and singer Awir Leon in Funkhaus Studios in Berlin as part of the People collaborative festival run by The National’s Dessner brothers and Justin Vernon. Crown shouts out his peers in Irish rap, with an appearance from Rusanago’s Murli to boot. “I see kings and queens of all walks of life making moves, regardless of the cards they’ve been dealt, and that’s inspiring,” God Knows says of the track. Catch him this afternoon playing the Dublin is Sound all-ages gig in The Grand Social as part of Musictown Festival.