Part Five, and the final part of my countdown of the Best 50 Irish Acts today. The only requirement for entry is that the artist must have played live or released something in the past twelve months.
10. Mick Flannery
‘Tomorrow’s Paper’ from Corkonian Mick Flannery’s second album ‘White Lies’ is about as good a singer-songwriter classic as you’re likely to hear. In fact that whole album is utterly brilliant. A vast improvement on his debut Evening Train, he’s an artist who keeps going from strength to strength. He tours endlessly around the country too, so be sure to catch him when and if you can.
9. Adrian Crowley
Winner of this year’s Choice Music Prize, Adrian Crowley is finally getting the adoration he deserves. His first album came out way back in 1999, but it seems like the 2010s will be his decade. My own favourite artist Ryan Adams loves him, and if that’s not praise, he’s due to appear high up on the bill at Electric Picnic 2010 as one of Ireland’s biggest names.
8. The Swell Season/The Frames/Glen Hansard
These are all lumped in together as they’re whatever Glen Hansard decides to do after polishing his Oscar when he wakes up in the morning. He’s focused mainly on the Swell Season in the past few years, but with the Frames still gigging (and also set to play this year’s Electric Picnic), there would be no better time than 2010 for some new material from Ireland’s greatest rock band. Until that happens, however, we still have Glen and Marketa churning out gorgeous duets, as well as reissues of the Frames’ breakout albums to keep us going.
7. The Holy Roman Army
Fellow Carlovians, the Holy Roman Army appeared on the scene last year with their amazing electronic record How the Light Gets In. Their song ‘Stagger Gently Home’ was a captivating track, and after appearing on Nialler9′s MAP gained attention all over the world. They are similarly amazing live, and have really honed their live act since I first saw them early last year. They’ve also followed up that debut album with a fantastic covers EP, Desecrations, which can be downloaded for free here.
6. Oliver ‘Ollie’ Cole
Ollie Cole is best known for being the frontman in Irish pop-rockers Turn. They made some incredible albums during their time together, with Forward being the standout. However, on his own, Cole is proving to be even better. He released his debut solo album We Albatri last month, and is one of the country’s most charming live performers.
5. The Chapters
The Chapters are a bunch of the most down-to-earth musicians in Irish music. After a rocky start with label bankruptcy and the like, the band finally signed with 3ú, who unleashed ‘Videotapes’ on the world last summer. Since then, the band has been engulfed in success, releasing the fantastic debut album Perfect Stranger, and going on to appear on radio on TV both here and across the pond. They’re set to be one of the biggest draws at this year’s Indie-pendence on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
4. The Divine Comedy/The Duckworth Lewis Method/Neil Hannon
Like the Frames and the Swell Season for Glen Hansard, these two bands are Neil Hannon’s babies. In 2009, Hannon joined forces with Pugwash’s Thomas Walsh to record the greatest ever Irish concept album – about a fundamentally British game. It was one of the year’s most captivating and charming albums, featuring the utterly brilliant ‘Jiggery Pokery’. 2010 sees Hannon back in his old work clothes, with the Divine Comedy due to release their tenth album Bang Goes the Knighthood on May 31st.
3. James Vincent McMorrow
In my review of James Vincent McMorrow’s recent debut album Early in the Morning, I called it “the best album to come out of Ireland in a decade”. Yes, it’s that damn good. The songs from it have been used in an advert for Barnardos as well as on hit US television shows Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill. However, this is only the start for McMorrow, who will definitely be the breakout Irish star of 2010.
2. Bell x1
Bell x1 are my favourite live band. Any chance I can get to see them, I take it. Paul Noonan is a fantastic entertainer, and the band are always on form together. The public knows this too, and they easily could have played 365 days at the Olympia or Vicar Street last year. They’ve come a long way since the days of Juniper, and release wonderful singles as well as enchanting albums. They’ve also gained a huge following in the US, where they’ve appeared on primetime television shows – including many great live performances.
1. Fight Like Apes
A bizarre bunch of folks, fronted by the brilliant vocalist MayKay, Fight Like Apes released one of the most-anticipated Irish albums of the 00s, And the Mystery of the Golden Medallion to much fanfare in 2008. It was every bit as good as expected, and was released worldwide last year. Their live show is even better, playing festivals all over Europe last summer, including a standout performance at Glastonbury. They represented Ireland at the Eurosonic Festival last January, which has just been released as the free album Live at Eurosonic. Download that fantastic set here. Ireland’s greatest act right now.