Part Four 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.
20. And So I Watch You From Afar
ASIWYFA are not for everyone. They released a double-album of instrumental tunes last year which divided opinion. Some people loved it and some people hated it. I was nearer the first camp. They released their Letters EP earlier this year, and I must say that it’s an improvement on the album. I’m always a fan of prolific artists (are you listening Damien Rice?)
Conor O’Brien’s the Immediate are the most missed 00s Irish band. Their album In Towers and Clouds is a masterpiece of Irish rock. Thus a lot is expected from his follow-up project, Villagers. 2009′s Hollow Kind EP was a fantastic introduction, and with the imminent release of their debut album, 2010 may be O’Brien’s year.
This bunch of Dublin youngsters smashed onto the scene with their debut album Trees Dream in Algebra, and the fantastic single ‘This is Goodbye’. They’re signed to a major label, so major things should be expected from one of the shining lights in young Irish rock.
Less electronic than CODES, 202s are a wonderful new Irish rock band. Their self-titled debut was one of my most listened to records of 2009, with a wonderful bunch of instantly memorable songs. Their live act is pretty solid too. It’ll be exciting to see what they do next.
Kilkenny one-man-band Jeremy Hickey was an extremely worth candidate for last year’s Choice Music Prize with his gorgeous Organic Sampler (p.s. the bonus disc is just as good). Although he hasn’t released a follow-up yet, he’s been trying out some new stuff live, and his experimentation is bound to produce some alchemic goodness.
15. Ultan Conlon
Ultan Conlon has been on the scene for many years, releasing his debut EP in 2002, going on to form the underrated UltanJohn, and even playing with legendary guitarist John Marytn. His single ‘The Universe Tune’ was released earlier this year, and should have gotten much more attention. He’s still vastly underrated, but if he continues making music this good, the limelight can’t be far away.
Richie Egan seems to be reporting about new endeavours and live shows every day on twitter. The winner of last year’s Choice Music Prize, he can now easily move on from all those Jack White references. A lot is expected from the follow-up to Ritual, but if his entire catalogue is anything to go by, it’s sure to be brilliant.
13. The Cast of Cheers
One of the golden children of the class of 2010, this Dublin four-piece released their debut album Chariot for free to the public. A brave move, but it has paid off, as many people (including myself) have waxed lyrically about their excellent 33 minute rock sucker punch.
12. David Geraghty
It wouldn’t be fair to lump David Geraghty in alongside the main Bell x1 category, as he’s a wonderful solo act in his own right. Bell x1 is mostly Paul Noonan’s vehicle, but we always knew that Geraghty’s guitarwork was one of the band’s best features. His second album Victory Dance improved greatly on his debut Kill Your Darlings, and was my favourite Irish album of 2009. There’s a lot more to come from him on his own terms.
I first saw Dublin sister-act Heathers on TG4′s Pop4 a few years ago, and was enchanted by their Gaelic take on Tegan & Sara pop. Their single ‘Remember When’, taken from 2008′s Here Not There is currently being used by Discover Ireland on their television and cinema adverts and is everywhere at the moment. 2009 was not a lean year for them though, they’re not just recycling old tunes, as they gave a wonderful guest spot on Ireland’s own Gorillaz, Super Extra Bonus Party’s ‘Comets’. A fantastic tune.