Part Two 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.
40. The Guggenheim Grotto
Dublin pop duo the Guggenheim Grotto impressed me greatly with their marvellous second album Happy the Man. Their debut was an accomplished album, but the follow-up was amazing. It was released in America last year, and won great acclaim, with the band’s music appearing on many television shows.
39. Julie Feeney
2009 was a great year for Julie Feeney. She was nominated for a Meteor Award, and her second album pages was selected by the Choice Music Prize panel as one of the best albums of the year. She had previously won the Choice Award back in 2006, which shows her to be one of the most consistent artists around.
38. Kitty and the Can Openers
Kitty and the Can Openers are one of the most captivating live acts I’ve seen. They’re a Belfast band, fronted by the fantastic Ciara O’Neill, who write wonderfully twee pop tunes. You might have seen them supporting someone in the past year or so, but they’re so good, they really should be doing their own headline tours.
37. Planet Parade
Selected in the Irish Sound of 2010 Poll, Planet Parade are a great upcoming band. Hailing from Kildare, they’ve supported some fantastic acts and played every Irish venue possible. It won’t be long before they really take off.
36. The Last Tycoons
I reviewed the self-titled debut from the Last Tycoons earlier this week, and found it to be the perfect cross between Nick Cave and the Rolling Stones. There’s a hell of a lot of other influences in there too, but this alt-country/rock band is a welcome breath of fresh air to the usual singer-songwriter stuff which emerges every year.
One of the most eclectic artists around, Chris Morrin released his debut album Pleasant Square back in 2008. Anyone who has heard it, will tell you that ‘I Found Jesus’ may be the catchiest Irish song ever. He plays endless live shows, both here and abroad, and is a fantastic entertainer.
34. Mark Geary
Mark Geary has been on the scene for two decades now, and plays a wonderful electronic folk (screw you Ellie Goulding). He’s a much more dedicated musician than most, and gives his all at his live shows. I first saw him on Other Voices a few years back, and have been hooked ever since.
33. Valerie Francis
Another Choice Music nominees, Valerie Francis’s Slow Dynamo was one of the best Irish records of 2009. A real grower of an album, with tunes that work even better in a live arena. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
32. Declan O’Rourke
Hailing from Ballyfermot, Declan O’Rourke is one of Ireland’s most accomplished singer-songwriters. He released the excellent debut album Since Kyabram in 2004, with the follow-up coming three years later. At this rate, we should expect the third album to drop sometime this year
31. The Dirty 9s
Sounding like something out of Kill Bill, the Dirty 9s have just released their debut album Stop Screaming, Start Dreaming. The Dubliners are a fantastic live band, who pack a fantastic punch. Definitely one to watch for the future.