10. Rams’ Pocket Radio – Dieter Rams Has Got the Pocket Radios
Sounding more like an artist who’d play the Bait Shop or the Peach Pit, Peter McCauley makes a fantastic brand of pop-rock. He released a couple of EPs this year (Dogs Run in Packs also made my list), but this was the best of them – including the stellar title track, and the NPR approved ‘Coal, my lips are sealed’.
9. Versechorusverse – VCV
Listening to the VCV EP, it’s difficult to align the acoustic stylings of Versechorusverse with And So I Watch You From Afar. The latter band’s Tony Wright has stripped everything write down for his solo output, and his exit from the band might not be the worst thing ever, if these soaring, sweeping, yet soft melodies are anything to go by.
8. Late Fragments – Debut
Dublin pop-rockers Late Fragments are probably at odds with a lot of the music on this list, making finely crafted chart-worthy tunes, but their reception at Electric Picnic lets you know that despite the straight-forward nature of the songs on their fundit-fused debut EP, they’re definitely getting the appreciation they deserve.
7. Bouts – Bouts
Bouts’ debut EP lives up to it and the band’s name, sounding like a pounding but energetic twenty minutes in the ring. Built around some fantastic rock riffs, and containing much indecipherable shouting, the EP will provide you with one of the most vigorous aural workouts all year.
6. Overhead, the Albatross – Lads With Sticks
I’m a sucker for a bit of properly used punctuation in band names – none of this Get Cape! nonsense thank you very much. And I’m also a sucker for gorgeous post-rock, which is what OtA serve up in spades. Reminding me of Alcest, this bunch of Dubliners are one of Ireland’s best kept secrets.
5. The Manhattan Syndrome – And We Left It Behind
Piano-led goodness like a poppier National, the Manhattan Syndrome were one of the best finds of 2011 (thanks 2UIBestow!) The best thing about this EP is the variety in the tracks, ‘Cold Company’ is one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard in a long time, with it’s uplifting melody, while ‘Carnival’ slows down the pace, and ‘Hollowheads’ ends it all a bit darker. One to watch.
4. Tenaka – EPhemeral
Recruiting Ian Maleney to work his magic behind the production desk, Tenaka came back with a new EP which improved in every way on his debut. There’s a host of guest stars, but it’s Ronan Carroll’s inventive instrumentation that shines above it all. The guest vocals just add to the appeal. And thank God, Tenaka is finally getting around to releasing a full length album, because these EP puns are like an EPidemic!
3. Spies – Liars Call Me King
Spies could have included two covers of songs from Neil Young’s Arc on this EP, and it still would have made this list thanks to that thunderous title track. Like a more charming Interpol, these five Dundrummers know their way around a riff.
2. Come on Live Long – Mender
June’s two-track self-titled EP was a nice introduction to CoLL, but by no means did it prepare for the brilliance that was to come in November with their captivating four-track follow-up. Who do they sound like? Everyone, and themselves. Melding so many different influences, they come out like Ireland’s answer to the Arcade Fire, except far more consistent to Win Butler and the rest of the gang. I find something new with every listen, and with the amount of times I’ve spun it, that’s still surprising. I think I may be an addict.
1. The Holy Roman Army – Lazerians
Their third release in three years finds Carlow brother-sister duo the Holy Roman Army at their best yet. A much brighter release than debut album How the Light Gets In, and unlike their last EP, all brand new self-penned brilliance, Lazerians is a thing of rhythmic beauty. Where Laura’s voice shone through on the covers that made up Desecrations, it’s the intricately-crafted instrumentation that sells Lazerians. That said, the highlight of it all is the beautiful ‘Electricity’ which brings together both in one of the songs of 2011. It’ll be hard to top this on their new album next year.