The effect of COVID-19 can be felt in every aspect of the public sector. From hospitality to the health sector, from retail to the entertainment industry; every market has been hit. Unemployment is reaching heights unseen in decades and the level of uncertainty and worry clogging up the air can feel suffocating. Falling into the self-employed category for the majority, musicians are continuing to feel the impact of this pandemic with cancelled shows as well as the lack of accessibility to studios.
Summer is one of the busiest and most exciting times for touring musicians. Festival season poses endless promotional opportunities as well as a guaranteed income over the course of a few sun-filled months. Before all of this madness, the Irish music scene was flourishing; extending its arms into the global scene with exuberant amounts of talent. A small scene and a very interconnected bunch, these musicians are bubbling with outrageous talent and innovative musical thought that deserves to be heard. And with that I think it’s time to lend our ears to these musicians.
Whether you stream your music, or buy it on vinyl or CD, I have compiled a list of some of the most exciting musicians in Ireland today along with some of their most recent releases which will hopefully provide some light in all of this darkness.
‘How To Disappear’ – Paddy Mulcahy
A Limerick-born electronic music producer and composer, Paddy Mulcahy has been releasing dreamy tracks for the last four years. ‘How to Disappear’ provides six and a half minutes of sound creation and development. A choral-like, two chord pattern lures you in as soft keys set the tone of the song. It rises and falls effortlessly and continually. Growing before curling inwards, this piece is utterly mesmerizing.
‘FOOL’ – Alex Gough
It is difficult to discuss up and coming artists without mentioning rising star Alex Gough. The CIT student has burst onto the music scene triumphantly with singles such as ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Step to Me’ gathering thousands of streams nationally. Providing unique live experiences as he raps while drumming, Gough has been compared to superstar Andesrson Paak for his infectious musical energy as well as his multitasking skills. ‘FOOL’ is brash, catchy, and all-consuming. Hugely rhythmic and lyrically confident, Gough embodies the brash nature of authentic hip hop. Reminiscent of Kojaque, artists like Gough don’t come around too often, especially in Ireland.
Arguably one of the catchiest, cleverest opening melodies of the year thus far. The Cork native has a way of luring listeners in with earworms that spin around your brain until you begin to break down and question his lyrics. ‘I know that the world is slowly getting colder, but something in the way you give me the cold shoulder’
‘HowDoILook’ – Pillow Queens
‘I just can’t let my mind wander, it always takes a dodgy street and I get nervous, and just retreat.. It took a while but I don’t mind, how does my body look in this light?’ In this track the four piece all-girl band break down the emphasis placed on self-image and body dysmorphia growing up as a girl in the modern age. This constant questioning of ‘How do I look now?’ is so widely accepted as normal. Linked to our obsession with image and its portrayal, this song conveys a powerful social commentary set against a perfect indie pop background.
‘Full Stop’ – David Keenan
With a spoken word intro gently accompanied by an acoustic guitar, the Dundalk native whispers ‘come back to me now in a waking dream, won’t you’. This sets the stone for the dreamy soundscape as conjured up in this acoustic track. Keenan embodies an old, longing soul, sharing his innermost thoughts in an almost unbearably vulnerable fashion. Keenan’s genius lies in his simplicity combined with poetic talent; ‘Pour your tears into my mouth, take this gift of quiet love’. Needing nothing more than a gentle acoustic guitar backing, Keenan’s songwriting is storytelling poetry at its finest.
‘Knock Me Off My Feet’ – SOAK
The lead single from SOAK’s sophomore album, Knock Me Off My Feet is perfect, anthemic pop. ‘You came again, knock me off my feet. But I won’t stop now, I won’t take a seat’. A love letter to small-town life, this song would soundtrack a coming of age, indie film perfectly. When pop is achieved this effortlessly and perfectly, it’s damn hard to beat. Plenty more to come from this songstress.
‘Seven’ – Just Mustard
Deep, dark and all enticing, this track features crunching, reverberated guitar noise against plucked guitar and bass as well as a syncopated drum rhythm. Lead singer Katie Ball’s breathy vocals draw listeners in, reminiscent of Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell. Ominous and dark, Seven is repetitive as it slowly climbs to an almighty climax.