The sparkling Collision is the follow-up to last year’s impressive debut EP Works, filled with textured industrial tunes, it’s not so much a leap forward, just a further continuation of the brilliant path these guys are carving out for themselves.
19. Carosel – Star
Filled with Gallic-infused pop goodness, Star is the shimmering debut EP from Paris-based Irish duo Michelle Phelan and Pete McGrane. It’s straight up pop, and not afraid to admit it, but despite the genre, it’s the epitome of cool.
18. Ginnels – Mountbatten Class
Technically a mini-album rather than an EP, I’ll let that slide because one of the releases near the top of this list is also a mini-album, but if it’s less than half an hour, then it’s good by me. This collection of sub-two minute lo-fi indie-pop tunes is definitely okay by me, as it improves on Mark Chester’s impressive debut.
17. Morning Claws – Pet Storms, Ancient Clouds
Yet more fuzzy indie, this time from Belfast five-piece Morning Claws. They make the dreamy electronica kind, which found many new fans at HWCH, and these are a bunch of nice guys hopefully headed for big things. If this debut is anything to go by anyway.
16. A Shadow – Ebb and Flow
Released back in January, A Shadow’s slow-burning but beautiful EP may have missed out on many other year-end best of 2011 lists, but not mine. These are three smouldering instrumental tracks that I kept coming back to throughout the year. Dreamy.
15. Arrow in the Sky – Winter’s Requiem
Blending traditional Irish and Americana, Arrow in the Sky released this beautiful folk EP that sadly went under one too many radars. However, anyone who had the chance to hear it, realised that they had gotten something special. Each of the five tracks is a gem.
14. Alarmist – Alarmist
One third of Halves makes up one quarter of Alarmist, and together with Neil Crowley, Osgar Dukes, and Barry O’Halpin, Elis Czerniak makes yet more gorgeous ambient tunes. Arranged brilliantly, these are beguiling songs, nuanced, and polished, and beautiful.
13. Colin J. Morris – Petrichor
The debut release from multi-instrumentalist film-composer Colin J Morris has been on many an Irish music fan’s most-anticipated list, and luckily for those of us waiting eagerly, it didn’t disappoint. Sparse, droney electronica is the name of the day, but each and every note is perfect, as the perfectionist nature of Morris shines through.
12. EleventyFour – The Joy Imperative
Before you start worrying that only electronica was released in 2011, there were many Irish acts making a big splash in other genres. EleventyFour’s charming lyrics and cutesy music provided Ireland’s answer to Feist, and wrote the best love song about forklifts. Ever.
11. The Salt Flats - Fleetwood Mac Songs
Listening to the self-titled debut EP from Belfast’s the Salt Flats, one could hear Stevie Nicks at every step. That June release just missed my list, but that’s mainly because the foursome decided to record a tribute to their heroes – the splendid Fleetwood Mac Songs EP. It’s hard to make such well-known songs sound like your own, but amazingly they’ve succeeded. Their takes on ‘Big Love’ and ‘Everywhere’ are jaw-droppingly good.