List: 40 Reasons to Get Excited About Irish Music

Today the US website Flavorwire responded to Rolling Stone magazine’s ’40 Reasons to get Excited About Music’ with their own ’40 Better Reasons…’ It must be said that the Flavorwire article is better, and the reasons selected are better. That said, the RS one is worth a gander at anyway. However, not all 80 reasons apply to music in Ireland. Some do, some don’t. So here’s my 40 Reasons to Get Excited About Irish Music… (note: these aren’t in a specific order, they are all just as important as each other)

Ireland’s “boutique festival” is back for its sixth edition, coming on leaps and bounds from Groove Armada, David Kitt, and Super Furry Animals headlining in 2004. This year there are tonnes of great acts from at home and abroad, with the Frames being the pick of the locals and a reunited Roxy Music the biggest act on the bill.

Taking over from Witnness, Oxegen has quickly become the must visit event for any music lover. Now taking place over three days in July, the 2010 lineup promises to be the most diverse ever, with everything from hip-hop to folk to dance. There’s a very international feel to this year’s showcase with Eminem, Jay-Z, and Muse topping the bill.

A much newer festival than the two behemoths, Indie-Pendence will take place on the August bank holiday weekend this year, and features some of the best upcoming Irish acts. Expect to hear and see Jape, The Coronas, The Chapters, CODES, Yes Cadets, and many more over three days.

The other guy in the “little two”, Castlepalooza takes place in Tullamore in August, and shares many acts with its sister festival Indie-Pendence. Among the biggest draws this year is Mercury Rev, but of the local acts, Fionn Regan is sure to put on a fantastic show.

#5 – HWCH
Hard Working Class Heroes takes place every September and showcases the best in young Irish talent. It’s an essential step for any upcoming band, and past HWCH gigs have increased the exposure of acts such as Ham Sandwich, Fight Like Apes, Super Extra Bonus Party, Halves, RSAG, and Dark Room Notes. Expect to see a lot of exciting new acts this September.

Only two weeks left until the opening night of the 2010 KK R&R Festival, and anticipation is growing. This year’s line-up is the best yet, featuring great American acts – Josh Ritter, Joe Pug, the Duke and the King, and Jason Isbell are all due to perform – as well as dozens of homegrown artists. Local highlights should be James Vincent McMorrow, Jezzebelle, Clive Barnes, and the Sullivan Brothers. Many of the gigs are free, and some take place during the day. Make sure to check out the lineup.

Not only sponsoring Oxegen, Heineken also have their hands in other pies (or should that be lagers?), particularly the Green Energy festival which takes place in Dublin in May. They also sponsor Green Spheres events around the country, and run a wonderful music website, featuring some of Ireland’s best music journalists.

I know I harp on about this a lot, but 2UIBestow is the best music blog in Ireland, particularly when it comes to homegrown talent. Peter Nagle updates daily with reviews, downloads, and wonderful features – all concerned with promoting the best of Irish. A lot of acts have come to my attention because of Peter, and if you haven’t checked out his wonderful blog, I suggest you do so immediately.

The perennial winner of Best Music Blog at the Irish Blog Awards, Nialler9 is essential daily reading for any follower of Irish music. Most of his posts are an eclectic mix of talent, and there’s a lot of worldwide music coverage, but he often has exclusive domestic material, and his inclusions on the monthly MAP mixtape are always inspired.

Irish Times music critic Jim Carroll runs a regular blog alongside his weekly reviews and features in the IT arts supplement The Ticket. While he does not post as often as some other Irish bloggers, his profile as a national journalist brings a lot of traffic – thus generating an outlandish amount of reader interaction. Always a great place to hang out – especially when there’s something controversial.

Ireland’s longest-running music magazine, Hot Press has always been at the forefront of domestic coverage. The internet has probably decreased its readership in recent years, but it still provides great articles and interviews every fortnight. Plus it still costs less than a breakfast roll.

#12 – STATE.IE
Originally beginning life as an answer to Hot Press, the once printed magazine is now an online-only affair, providing music news from all around the globe. It has a large number of fantastic writers, thus providing a great all-round look at the music world.

While these aren’t Irish websites, many local acts are using them to stream their songs and offer up free downloads. A song uploaded to Soundcloud can easily be embedded onto any other website, and Bandcamp offers an easy way to download tracks. Two of the best recent examples have been the free giveaways of Cast of Cheers’ debut album Chariot and the Holy Roman Army’s Desecrations EP.

A wonderful remedy for overpriced tickets on eBay, toutless is a message board which allows users to post up Tickets for Sale as well as Tickets Wanted. This wouldn’t be too interesting in its own right, except for the fact that toutless forbids any kind of profiteering, and tickets must be sold at cost price or lower. Check it out, you could find yourself a bargain.

#15 – CLUAS
Now ten years old, Cluas is Ireland’s longest running music webzine. It has many sections, but the best of which is always its live reviews. The writers attend a lot of gigs around the country (but mostly in the capital) and provide fantastic feedback.

Run by two diligent writers, GoldenPlec features more competitions than the Olympics. There’s always plenty on offer, and is a great draw to the site. Missed your chance to buy a ticket to a gig? There’s probably a competition on here somewhere to win them. And to get you to stick around, there’s news, reviews, and lots more.

A great website with music news, interviews, and competitions. However, I must say that the best thing to come out of Thumped is their regular newsletter which rounds up the best of these. Always welcome in my inbox, I highly recommend subscribing to it. And when you’re done there, pop over to the forum for a chinwag.

#18 – MUZU.TV is essentially the Irish equivalent of YouTube, and thus hosts a heap of local music videos. They’re easily uploadable and easily embeddable, allowing even the most technophobic bunch of musicians to share and show off their live performances.

A wonderful idea, where bands come to play on a balcony overlooking Dublin. It’s no Woodstock, but the stage has hosted many great acts, and the site’s videos have had over 10 million views from around the world.

Established in 2005, the Choice Music Prize is the brainchild of Jim Carroll and an answer to the UK’s Mercury Music Prize. Every year it selects ten of the best national albums, and then whittles them down to one eventual winner at a glitzy awards ceremony in Vicar Street. This year’s winner was Adrian Crowley’s Season of Sparks which beat off more commercial acts such as Bell x1 and the Swell Season to take home the €10,000 cheque.

The object of scorn from many music snobs, the Meteor Awards is Ireland’s biggest music awards ceremony, and far more credible than the Brit Awards. It showcases the best in Irish Pop, but aside from Westlife winning every year, the Best Male and Best Female categories always give great exposure. Wallis Bird was named this year’s Best Female and has increased her profile greatly as a result.

The first annual Irish Music Television Awards were held last October, and the follow-up ceremony is due to take place around the same time this year. It features a number of diverse categories highlighting the best in Irish music video production. The two big awards on the night are the Best Overall Video and the Best Director prizes.

Presented by Sunday Tribune journalist Una Mullally, Ceol ar Imeall is a late night music show on TG4, which perhaps did not get as much attention as it deserved due its late-night timeslot. A fantastic show which hopefully will be moved to an earlier time when it returns for a second season.

Recorded in a church in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Other Voices is the rawest music show on Irish television. Featuring both interviews and live performances, it highlights local and international acts, as well as established artists alongside smaller names.

When TV3 bought Channel 6 and renamed it 3e, Irish music suffered a huge blow with the demise of Nightshift. However, 6′s music presenters Michelle Doherty and Elton Mullally moved to RTE2 to cover alternative music on the bizarrely titled When Under Ether (I know it’s a PJ Harvey song, but they could’ve just called it “Music”.)

#26 – 2XM
There was a lot of fuss kicked up when it was announced that BBC 6 Music was to disappear. Luckily Ireland’s equivalent is staying around. 2XM is home to many great DJs, and caters to a much more varied market than its parent station 2FM. Highlights are Aoife Barrys’ ‘Sweet Oblivion’, ‘The Analogue Hour’, and ‘Wired for Sound’.

“The home of Rock in Dublin”, and my favourite Dublin station, Phantom FM plays a lot of Irish acts in its rotation. It’s the original home of When Under Ether presenter Michelle Doherty, but there are countless other wonderful DJs, catering for all tastes (as long as it’s rock).

#28 – BEAT 102 103
Little known in Dublin, Beat 102 103 (or Beat FM) caters to the south-east. It’s mainly a pop station, and plays the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce, and the Black Eyed Peas, but is also known to play local acts – particularly on ‘Irish Beats’ with Rob O’Connor.

This year’s international Record Store Day takes place tomorrow, April 17th, and offers music fans the chance to get their hands on some rare material. It also provides a great outlet for independent record stores, such as Road Records, Tower Records, and many other music shops outside the capital to get punters through the doors. For a full list of RSD records, check out this great article on thumped.

The cleverly titled independent record label is host to a large number of cheap and cheerful albums and EPs. There are dozens of great discounts to be found, as well as exclusive new releases and re-releases of classic albums. All the albums can be streamed beforehand, and free downloads of a track or two are always available to sample.

Situated on Fade Street in Dublin, Road Records is one of Ireland’s finest independent record stores. Home to a range of vinyl, as well as the wonderful Record of the Month club, there is something in here to suit everyone’s tastes. It’s open seven days a week, and is a must-visit for any collector.

Just off Grafton Street (not the one upstairs in Eason), Tower Records is a fantastic music shop in its own right, but really comes to life when it hosts one of its many fantastic in-store performances. Many leading Irish acts have played in the back of the shop, and a lot of great music can be heard for free while browsing the shelves.

#33 – O2 ARENA
Formerly the Point Theatre, the O2 is Ireland’s largest indoor music venue (as far as I know), and hosts all the big global names. I saw Paul McCartney there last year, and Iron Maiden and Stevie Wonder are set to take to the stage at the docks this year. It looks fantastic since the revamp, and the sound has improved greatly too.

The Grand Canal Theatre just opened last month, but is due to host a large number of concerts, as well as many other events, over the coming months. The little brother of the bigger O2, it’s a very plush venue, and is sure to become a favourite on the live scene.

A medium-sized venue, and one which comedians Dara O’Briain and Tommy Tiernan return to time and again, Vicar Street is also host to semi-intimate gigs from some of Ireland’s best loved musicians. Bell x1, the Frames, and the Cranberries are all fans of the venue, and it has also held some of the world’s biggest names – James Brown, Steve Earle, Nick Cave, and Jeff Beck have all played in Vicar Street at one time or another.

#36 – WHELAN’S
Whaln’s, together with the Village and its upper floor is one of Ireland’s best music venues. Hundreds of artists have taken to one of its many stages since it first opened its doors over twenty years ago. Many acts who are since gone, such as Mic Christopher and Jeff Buckley, have performed in this intimate venue, which hosts a different musical event every night of the week.

A temporary venue each year in Cork, the Marquee is the temporary home of many global superstars. It began in 2005 with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and in 2010 will provide a roof for an eclectic group containing Paul Weller, Christy Moore, Snoop Dogg, Westlife, and Madness.

#38 – DOLAN’S
Dolan’s Warehouse is home to traditional Irish music many days of the week, but often showcases more contemporary artists. The musical home of the Cranberries, Dolan’s in Limerick is Munster’s best music venue, and has been for many years.

Connaught’s finest music venue is often a stop for artists when doing a mini-tour of Ireland. Many acts play Dublin and Belfast and then stop off in Galway. The city is fantastic, and this venue is one of its jewels. A fantastic small venue, it will see the likes of Richard Hawley and Dinosaur Jr come through its doors in the coming weeks.

Where would Irish music be without the actual musicians? There’s so many great established acts, as well as many more coming up through the ranks. It would be unfair to single out just one. But maybe not fifty…

Related posts:

  1. List: 10 Reasons not to buy RATM this Christmas
  2. List: My Top 50 Best Irish Music Acts Right Now
  3. List: 50 Best Irish Acts Today – 2010 Edition, 40-31
  4. List: 50 Best Irish Acts Today – 10-01
  5. List: 50 Best Irish Acts Today – 2010 Edition, 50-41

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