Happy St. Patrick's Day: 10 Irish Artists You Need to Hear
Published Mar 17, 2014As the Irish population in Canada steadily rises and St. Patrick's Day draws near, we're reminded of the bounty of music that Ireland has to offer. Despite having a population that's considerably less than Toronto's, the Emerald Isle still manages to produce a wealth of diverse acts, spanning the length of the musical spectrum. Here, we've picked 10 choice cuts by artists that you might not have heard.
Fast, complicated, hectic and often ridiculous; math rock is an odd genre, but if you're going to do it, you may as well do it like these guys. Take Battles, strip away their avant-garde tendencies, add some heavy rock, and you've got Adebisi Shank. There's no denying that this music is outrageous but there's something in the concoction of frenetic drums, monster riffs, dance-floor laser bursts and post-rock vastness that just sticks with you.
Currently studying jazz performance in Switzerland, Exit Introvert, a.k.a Chris Guilfoyle, is a talented guitarist and drummer who happens to have a penchant for ragga jungle. You can hear subtle elements from his jazzy upbringing throughout his music, but for the most part, it's deliciously abrasive drum patterns with playful tones and IDM sensibilities propping up the beat.
With a voice that's impossible to peg, but somehow manages to be completely nostalgic, Katie Kim stirs the dust on many a wandering path. Her ambient folk/pop instrumentals features subtle piano loops, walls of echo, off-kilter strumming and harrowing tones. Katie's songs drift into vales of tragedy, but never depressingly so; rather, her compositions are beautiful and stirring.
Lethal Dialect's beats are dark and brooding, his lyrics are strikingly raw and torn straight from the concrete and he still manages to sound unequivocally Irish — that's no easy feat. Granted, it's initially disconcerting to hear someone spit in a thick Dublin accent, but once you get past that you can hear the undisguised candidness that sets him apart.
Some artists take years to achieve that blithe sound in their music; others just nail it straight away. Lumigraph is in the latter category. With only a handful of releases behind him, Lumigraph has still managed to smash any preconceptions of techno to smithereens. Operating somewhere on the outskirts of abstract dance music, his raw approach to the medium is refreshing to hear.
While Mmoths has chosen an electronic route for his musical path, he's not someone who's going to pack out a sweaty rave. Give him some time on your headphones for a rural train journey though and he won't fail to impress. This is warm, poignant ambience, with just enough pulse to keep your head bobbing and thinking at the same time.
As a member of the Macronite crew — a group of DJ's and producers that have been tearing up Ireland's southwest for a number of years — Nubus is a deft hand at an ever-widening range of musical styles. Playing music since the age of 5 and producing from age 14, Nubus found a home on Limbic Records in 2012 and an outlet for his own style of drum & bass. Since then he's grown in scope, and experiments with everything from soft piano wanderings to orchestral breakcore and downtempo xylophone loveliness.
Differing greatly from Lethal Dialect, this young slip of a rapper is the best thing to happen to Irish hip-hop since House of Pain closed up shop some 18 years ago. His flow is unruffled, his lyrics are intriguing and on the whole he wouldn't sound out of place in the Odd Future collective. Snow is still relatively unknown, but he's already performed with Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$ and DOOM — not bad for a kid from North Dublin.
Clocking in at an astounding average age of 17, this four-piece rhythm and blues band have soul beyond their years. When they emerged in 2010, people were gob-smacked at seeing the young pups perform with such untold tightness. Back then they were limited to cover versions of classic tracks from the likes of Bo Diddley and Billy Boy Arnold; now that they're producing their own material, while still retaining their previous prowess, they're even better.
Multi-instrumentalist and print enthusiast Dunk Murphy, a.k.a Sunken Foal, confidently straddles the border between indie and electronica with his open-ended take on music production. A breeze through his back catalogue will bring you down avenues laced with ambient tones, scattered beats and electro-acoustic charm.