Ten Standout Irish tracks of 2021

Ten Standout Irish tracks of 2021

It has been an exceptional year for Irish music.  The breadth and quality of music across all genres has been breathtaking and the fact that 2021 began with lockdown and isolation makes it even more remarkable.

And so it is difficult task to select ten tracks, and even more so to rank in order so instead these tracks are listed alphabetically by the artists name.  A cop out I hear you cry?  Yes, you may be right!

 

Ash Red – ‘Philby’

The trio from Cork covered Rory Gallagher’s ‘Philby’ from his 1979 album Top PriorityThis is a snappier, speedier, sharper version of the original while at the same time still retaining that impressive electrifying guitar. The vocals are delivered with a confidence and self-belief, and indeed the twist Ash Red have put on ‘Philby’ works beautifully. 

 

Cherym – ‘Listening to my Head

Cherym from Londonderry could be from California. Seriously their infectious songs, the speed of delivery and raucous sound is straight from the sunshine state. They signed to Alcopop! Records at the beginning of 2021, and ‘Listening to my Head‘ was released back in May ahead of their EP Hey Tori.  This track exudes enthusiasm and energy. Its a 3 minute fireball of a song which leaves you breathless. The guitars, drums and perfectly harmonised vocals are all in synch to produce a ridiculously tight sound.  It was inspired by the Netflix show ‘Dirty John’ and as the band explain:

“It’s written from the point of view of Betty Broderick, wife of Dan Broderick, a successful business man who used Betty to gain his success, tormented her life, left her penniless in the divorce settlement, took full custody of their children, and abused her throughout their relationship.”

 

 

Enola Gay – ‘Salt’

The Belfast punksters have had an exceptional 2021, with online slots at SXSW and ESNS, continued support from BBC 6Musics Steve Lamacq including a joint DJ set in London and the release of their debut EP Gransha.  ‘Salt‘ eptimoses the pounding bass of Joe McVeigh while the vocals of Fionn Reilly are urgent and passionate.  An extenstive UK tour is booked for Spring 2022 and numerous festival slots are already scheduled in.  These could prove to be the springboard to take Enola Gay to the next level.

NewDad – ‘Ladybird

At the end of October NewDad released ‘Ladybird‘ the first single from their forthcoming EP due out in 2022.  Julie Dawson explains that the song was inspired by the film of the same name and recognises the struggles we feel in relationships, particularly when we are apart and the anxieites that can ensure.  NewDad also have gigs scheduled for March and April in 2022 to support the release of the new EP.

 

Pillow Queens – ‘Rats

The talent in Pillow Queens was there for all to see when they self-released their debut album In Waiting in 2020.  Now signed to Royal Mountain Records and with the second album ready to go 2022 is looking even more exciting for the Dublin 4-piece.  The single ‘Rats‘ delivered a rousing track which was an instant crowd favourite at their 2021 gigs.

 

Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra – ‘I Didn’t Love You When I Said I Did And I Don’t Now’

Dublin-based Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra released single ‘I Didn’t Love You When I Said I Did and I Don’t Now’ and reflects on the the universal experience of the moment you realise a relationship is past the point of no return.

The immediate thing that strikes you about this track is Sarah Deegan’s voice.  The range, emotion and beauty in the vocals are devine and this single provides the perfect vehicle to demonstate this talent.  Comparisons with the likes of Liz Fraser and Dolores O’Riordan are completely justified.  The song begins as a ballad but builds into something more powerful and more emotional as it progresses.  With a number of gigs already completed by the end of this year, Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra are another band ready to more forward into 2022.

 

Slyrydes – ‘The Boy In The Debs Suit

This track strikes at the very gut.  Refering to a missing boy whose leaflet has a photo of him in his Debs Suit, the frantic nature of the track plus ever increasing panic in the voice of singer Marc Raftery perfectly echoes the shock of a missing boy.  Slyrydes released this as a double A side vinyl with equally raucous ‘I Claim To Be Intelligent‘ towards the end of the year on Rough Trade, and with the debut album all recorded the Galway punks have much to look forward to in 2022.

 

Sprints – ‘How Does The Story Go?

Sprints had a productive lockdown with online gigs and the release of their debut EP Manifesto.  The Dublin 4-piece are signed to Nice Swan Recordings and also completed their first headline tour.  With EP number two scheduled for a Spring 2022 release, Sprints will not be slowing down anytime soon.  ‘How Does The Story Go?‘ is one of their standout singles of the year and confirms Sprints are a One To Watch for 2022.

 

The Clockworks – ‘Throw It All Away

The Clockworks released two singles in 2021 ‘Feels So Real‘ and ‘Throw It All Away‘.  With a support slot with the Pixies announced for their US tour in 2021 it must have been so disappointing to have it cancelled due to the pandemic.  However to be invited demonstrates the trajectory The Clockworks are on.  ‘Throw It All Away‘ contuinues James MacGregors lyricism which is both observational and relevant to us all.  It was accompanied by a sumptuous lyric video.

 

Turnstiles – ‘Omniscient Delusion

Turnstiles began the year by releasing their self-titled debut EP.  With a short tour in North of England followed by their first live appearance in London, the Galway band have finally been able to play their first gigs in England.  The EP was an extraodinary way to to start the year, blasting the cobwebs off.  ‘Omniscient Delusion‘ is typical of the thought-provoking lyricism delivered in an umcomprising punk style and to see this live with a highlight of 2021.  Lyrics such as “We are the first generation of instant information” seem so obvious but at the same time so smart. I mean what a pure description of modern culture, in just eight words.  ‘Omniscient Delusion‘ presents the negatives of social media and our 24-hour instant information environment. Some people think their opinions are the most important, others are not what they seem, and some choose to bully and belittle.
“If you think you know it all, it’s just omniscient delusion”.

 

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