HAVVK – ‘Birds On A Wire’

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Formidable Berlin-based Irish outfit HAVVK will release their debut album Cause & Effect later this year and following from ‘Always The Same’, released late last year, ‘Birds On A Wire’ is the latest track lifted from the forthcoming record.

Dark, chilling and compelling, a sense of of impending doom is never far away on ‘Birds On A Wire’. Pulverising drum beats combine with razor sharp guitar licks as Hawk’s stunning, searing vocals soar above to create a thunderous backdrop of pent up rage and and fury unleashed. A powerful, a fierce, uncompromising and compelling slice of searing grunge-filled indie-rock, ‘Birds On A Wire’ is a formidable follow-up to ‘Always The Same’, and it ratchets up the anticipation levels for the album.

You can listen to ‘Birds On A Wire’ below and keep an eye out for the debut album later this year – is a hell of a way to kick off 2019.

Sal Dulu – ‘Xompulse’

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Following up on from a string of stellar singles last year – ‘Duluoz Dream’, ‘Antasma’ & ‘Tyko’ – Dublin-based producer Sal Dulu impresses yet again, returning with the atmospheric ‘Xompulse’.

‘Xompulse’ is a beautiful piano piece punctuated by the classical, jazz and ambient influences ever present in Sal Dulu’s work to date. It is elegant, calming and spacious as we’re lulled into a dreamy opening sequence floating along a graceful reverbed piano that twinkles, ushering a richer, warmer second half as the melody gently shifts to a brighter tone, shimmering like an early morning sunrise. ‘Xompulse’ offers a decidedly calmer side to Sal Dulu’s talent; it is an elegant, tranquil and atmospheric beauty.

You can listen to ‘Xompulse’ below now. The Dublin producer’s other work is available here too, and well worth some of your time.

Munky – ‘You’ve Got Male’

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Having occupied most of 2018 touring tirelessly around Ireland and Britain, Dublin-based post-punk outfit Munky returned home and began work on recording new material towards the end of last year.

With several demos in the bag, the foursome headed off to refine the fruits of their labour in the studio, where they enlisted the producing talents of Girl Band’s Daniel Fox. The Dublin outfit have kicked off 2019 by unleashing the as-yet-untitled forthcoming EP’s lead single; the raucous ‘You’ve Got Male’ and it is a thrilling three-and-a-half-minutes of relentless, searing psych-punk and psych fuzz over rather danceable grooves. An unrelenting, electrifying juggernaut, ‘You’ve Got Male’ unleashes a sprawling barrage of relentless, spiralling guitars and pounding drums from the get go. Searing riffs and danceable rhythms duke it out, cutting through swaying bass lines, while frontman Zac Stephenson’s caustic croons sit up top, airing a disdain for the powerful and hypocrisy that goes hand in hand with neo-colonialism.

A furious first taste of the new EP, ‘You’ve Got Male’ is breathtaking, potent and feverish as it screeches through serrated layers of sonic energy – and is best consumed at high volumes.

Listen to ‘You’ve Got Male’ below:

Submotile – ‘Eastern Sky Sundown’

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Formed in early 2018, Submotile are the Dublin-based duo of Daniela Angione and Michael Farren. Together, blurring the lines between shoegaze, drone, ambient and post-rock, Submotile have created a brand of layered, exploratory and moody alternative rock, all of their own.

In the autumn of last year, the pair released five-track EP, We’re Losing the Light, and Submotile have kicked off 2019 with ‘Eastern Sky Sundown’, the first single from an album in the making. It is all-out bombast from the get go, powered by a relentless surging rhythmic energy, ‘Eastern Sky Sundown’ goes huge on the powerful, layers of guitars, which come in wave after wave interspersed with snappy drums that are matched by taut, twisting chords. Amid this admittedly massive whirring sound of fuzz and distortion, there is a lightness, all down to the understated melody and sweetness of Daniela’s voice. And like that, it is over but you will be reaching to repeat.

‘Eastern Sky Sundown’ is out now and you can listen to it below and along with it, while we wait for more on their debut album, why not try out their We’re Losing the Light EP here.

Introducing: Durty Mick

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Durty Mick is the musical moniker of Kildare musician Owen Murphy who from the confines of his bedroom, armed with an acoustic guitar, microphone and laptop, crafts a home brewed fervently DIY sound.

There is a decidedly mellow, late-night, nocturnal vibe to his sound as his ponderings delivered in a despondent world weary vocal tone accompanied by lyrics of everyday observations draped with a prowess for intuitive songwriting and storytelling. Latest release ‘Beige Slave’ captures all this perfectly – and more acutely than any written description. A gentle acoustic guitar-driven number, it revolves around some ruminating sounds, chilled out rhythm, acoustic plucks and strum while Murphy shares his flowing musings. Previous single ‘The Degenerate Manifesto’ is cut from the same cloth, expanding on the loungey, laid-back murmuring backdrop for Murphy to express his contemplative reflections. Both tracks have the right amount of home brewed, rough around the edges sound – a little hiss here and a touch of reverb there adds a distinctive character.

There is a touch of King Krule to Durty Mick but that is in no way a bad thing. An innovative, interesting and exquisitely crafted exploration that rewards again and again with repeated listens.

Tune into Durty Mick below – his debut album Damage Limitationist is out next week.

Martha Ffion – ‘Kennedy Hair’

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Last year, Martha Ffion released my favourite record of 2018 with her long-awaited debut LP Sunday Best; a beautiful record filled with gleaming guitar-pop, wistful-ballads, swooning sixties inspired indie-pop and touches of folk & country.

The Irish-born, Glasgow-based singer-songwriter is back with a wonderful new single ‘Kennedy Hair'; a super catchy slice of bittersweet indie-pop. Working with the excellent Lost Map Records again, ‘Kennedy Hair’ the first release in the label’s brand new PostMap Club – a series of postcard releases and other exclusives – references It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia while critiquing post-Brexit politics. As evidenced throughout her debut, Ffion’s prowess for observation is second to none. Lyrically she is clever, witty, and often times a sharp tongued, while her ear for a melody is only rivalled by her powers for observation, making for an incredibly infectious, lush and beautiful song. A phenomenally catchy slice of swooning, bittersweet indie-pop, it will be bobbing around your head all day, and you will be all the better for it.

Listen to ‘Kennedy Hair’ below and find you more about PostMap Club here.

Martha Ffion also appeared on the latest episode of NPR’s ‘World Cafe’ for music and a chat, you listen to that here too.

The Innocent Bystander – ‘Neon Lights’

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The Innocent Bystander is a new project from Dublin-based producer/songwriter Mark Healy, which grew from an ambition to “make guitar music that takes nothing from the Blues” – and the result is an interesting and personal take on a classic indie sound.

Towards the end of 2018, we were introduced to the latest in a string of well received singles – ‘Waster’, ‘Electrocute’ and ‘The Complacency League’ – with latest offering ‘Neon Lights’. Shifting along a powerfully danceable groove, ‘Neon Lights’ is spiky slice of irresistible guitar-based electro-pop, complete with seductive synth-work and a ridiculously catchy, sing-a-long chorus that will worm its way into your psyche and tumble around your head all day. This sparkling delight of irresistible neon-bright sounds has been perfectly paired with a visual companion; namely an excellent, decidedly urban, neon-bright and retro-futurist video which you can watch below.

The Innocent Bystander play a headline show in Whelan’s Upstairs, Dublin tonight (as in January 25). Doors @ 8 pm / tickets €14 – more info here.

The Innocent Bystander are currently working on a debut album, There’s Music Still Left in These Streets, expected in 2019.

Introducing: DefByMisadventure

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Originally from Co Tyrone, DefByMisadventure (aka Marius Magfhogartai-Marius) is an Irish producer based in the UK – Preston to be precise.

DefByMisadventure has a clear preference for head-nodding and lavish explorations of genres and styles but the hip-hop influence looms largest on the horizon, as evidenced by introductory tunes ‘Chevynova’ & ‘Versacered’. Both tracks are smooth, cool as fuck hip-hop inspired electronic tunes, with popping beats, slick samples and swaggering grooves, and all permeated entirely with an elegant air of chicness. Moving along an uptempo, stuttering snappy beat combo, ‘Chevynova’ swaggers on its way with sultry sax-solo sample and vocal snippets adding a final veneer of allure to this infectious production. While the bumping beats remain, ‘Versacered’ offers a more chilled and elegant side to his approach. Fueled by a bouncy beat and infectious rhythmic groove, it bobs along a rippling of chiming synths, popping percussion, as it moves along on its merry way with quite a swagger. Two sublimely cool tracks to introduce you to DefByMisadventure’s wares.

Listen to both ‘Chevynova’ & ‘Versacered’ below now:

Ten Tracks of 2018

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Whittling down your favourite tracks of any year is an arduous task and this year, a particularly good one musically, has proven equally if not more difficult.

That said, in the interest of posterity, I condensed it down to ten and there is a nice extended 30-track playlist below too.

So, in no particular order, here are my favourite ten (then 30 below) tracks of 2018. Enjoy!

Omaloma – ‘Bubblegum’

Welsh artist Omaloma aka George Amor (Serol Serol & Sen Segur) has carved out special space on the musical landscape with a series of blissful, spacey psych-pop singles; ‘Ha Ha Haf’, ‘Aros O Gwmpas’ and ‘Eniwe’ in recent years.

This year, Omaloma added ‘Bubblegum’ to this burgeoning list of stellar singles. A first on vinyl, released as a 7″ single, ‘Bubblegum’ is utterly divine and marks the pinnacle of the project thus far. Sung in English and Welsh, ‘Bubblegum’ is a four-minute sojourn to a spellbinding interstellar paradise. It coolly swaggers as it moves on by, leaving us in a dream-like state, with an alluring blend of slinky, synth-pop with psych brush strokes, woozy synth lines and Amor’s soft, soothing bilingual vocals. Instantly lovable, it breezes gracefully by with a seductive soulful underbelly and charm to woo you.

ilu – ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’

Dividing their time recording between Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, Ilu are a Welsh Psych/Krautrock outfit crafting epic, spacey, interstellar hymns – of Spiritualized proportions. Backing up these lofty claims is stunning debut single ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’. Propelled along Krautrock, motoric grooves ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’, spacey synths and heavenly harmonies envelop spiky post-punk guitars and bass rumbles which coalesces into one coherent, unstoppable sound. Sizzling danceable grooves are woven tightly into their mammoth tones and grinding churn, which is all punctuated with a beautiful yet melancholic sense of longing. As far as debut singles go, they don’t come much bigger or better than ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop'; an immaculate palate of sonics, sounds and textures.

Accü – ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’

Accü is the multifaceted, genre blending solo project of Cardiff-based musician and producer Angharad Van Rijswijk. Accü’s debut album Echo The Red is one of 2018’s very best and lead single ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is quite something. An offbeat exploration of imaginative experimentation and colourful, kaleidoscopic sounds, ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is a spellbinding cosmic sojourn to psychedelic space. Fusing elements of frayed electronics, squelchy synths, soft-edged psych-pop it tips along a tidy drum beat with reverb-laced vocals swaying through a cascading sequence of crackling, frazzled electronics. Moving with a dreamlike, otherworldly aura; ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is colourful, imaginative and fearlessly exploratory off-kilter pop.

Silverbacks – ‘Dunkirk’

Dublin-based outfit Silverbacks have delighted and excited at every turn thus far and none more so than with ‘Dunkirk’. A sprawling three-minutes of post-punk underpinned by an insistent, nagging bassline and increasingly manic, winding guitar lines, metronomic drumbeat and Gang of Four calibre bass lines. It is the ideal backdrop for Daniel O’Kelly’s stream of conscious musings of a dystopian future where Dunkirk, despite its history, has become a built-up holiday destination for young families. ‘Dunkirk’ is Silverbacks at their finest and signals strongest their evolution beyond their early Pavement-esque beginnings, to a coveted plain where parts Talking Heads, Television, LCD Soundsystem and Gang of Four can all coexist and flourish.

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Eoin Dolan – ‘Quiet Christmas’

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Anytime Eoin Dolan pops up with new material, it is a good day and a short four months since the release of the superb, sci-fi-tinged Superior Fiction EP, the Galway musician / singer-songwriter is back a brilliant festive flavoured single, ‘Quiet Christmas';

With ‘Quiet Christmas’ we find Dolan in his usual fine form. It is a bouncy wee tune that sees Dolan’s knack for crafting sci-fi-tinged surf pop that finds a space where sadness and beauty can coexist simultaneously. Melodic and catchy, ‘Quiet Christmas’ blends a jolly, jaunty and heady indie-pop energy with woozy, sinuous melodies and twinkling effects with sleigh bells and festive feels. And as per usual, it is a marvellous tune, a Christmas cracker if you will…..

Get acquainted with ‘Quiet Christmas’ below: