Ten Notable Irish Songs of 2021 – God Is In The TV
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 started with Lockdown and Isolation makes it even more remarkable.
And so it is difficult to select ten tracks, and even more difficult to put them in order, so that these tracks are rather alphabetized by the name of the artists. A cop can I hear you cry? Yes, you might be right!
Ash red – ‘Philby ‘
The Cork trio took over Rory Gallagher’s’Philby‘from his 1979 album Priority. This is a livelier, faster, and sharper version of the original while still retaining that awesome electrifying guitar. The vocals come with a confidence and self-confidence, and indeed the turn Ash Red put ‘Philby‘works wonderfully.
Cherym – ‘Listen to my head‘
Cherym from Londonderry could be from California. Seriously, their infectious songs, speed of delivery, and hoarse sound come straight from the sunny state. They signed with Alcopop! Records at the start of 2021, and ‘Listen to my head‘was released in May before their EP Hi Tori. This track exudes enthusiasm and energy. It’s a 3 minute fireball of a song that takes your breath away. Perfectly matched guitars, drums, and vocals are all in sync to produce a ridiculously tight sound. It was inspired by the Netflix show ‘Dirty John’ and as the group explains:
“It’s written from the perspective of Betty Broderick, wife of Dan Broderick, a successful businessman who used Betty to succeed, tormented her life, left her penniless in the divorce settlement, a took full custody of their children and abused her throughout their relationship.
Enola Gay – ‘Salt’
Belfast punksters have had a stellar 2021, with online slots on 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’embodies Joe McVeigh’s pounding bass while Fionn Reilly’s voice is urgent and passionate. An extensive UK tour is booked for Spring 2022 and many festival slots are already scheduled. These could prove to be the stepping stone to take Enola Gay to the next level.
New Dad – ‘ladybug‘
At the end of October, NewDad published ‘ladybug‘the first single from their upcoming EP which will be released in 2022. Julie Dawson explains that the song was inspired by the film of the same name and recognizes the struggles we feel in relationships, especially when we’re apart and the anxieties that can ensue from it. NewDad also has concerts scheduled for March and April 2022 to support the release of the new EP.
Pillow queens – ‘Rats‘
The talent of Pillow Queens was there for everyone when they released their debut album themselves. Waiting in 2020. Now signed to Royal Mountain Records and with the second album ready for release, 2022 is shaping up to be even more exciting for the Dublin 4-Piece. The only ‘Rats‘delivered a catchy track that was an instant favorite with audiences at their concerts in 2021.
Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra – ‘I didn’t love you when I said I love you and I don’t love you now ‘
Dublin-based Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra release single “I didn’t love you when I told you I love her and I don’t love you now” and reflects on the universal experience of when you realize a relationship has passed the point of no return.
What immediately strikes you in this track is the voice of Sarah Deegan. The range, emotion and beauty of the voice are divine and this single provides the perfect vehicle to demonstrate that talent. Comparisons with people like Liz fraser and Dolores o’riordan are completely justified. The song starts off as a ballad but turns into something more powerful and emotional as it progresses. With a number of gigs already completed by the end of this year, Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra is another group set to take it further in 2022.
Slyrydes – ‘The boy in Debs’ costume‘
This piece strikes deep in my guts. Referring to a missing boy whose flyer features a photo of him in his Debs Suit, the frenetic nature of the track and the ever-increasing panic in singer Marc Raftery’s voice perfectly echo the shock of a missing boy. Slyrydes released this double-sided A vinyl with an equally hoarse ‘I pretend to be smart‘towards the end of the year on Rough Trade, and with the debut album all recorded, the Galway punks have a lot to look forward to in 2022.
Sprints – ‘How is the story going?‘
Sprints had a productive lockdown with online gigs and the release of their debut EP Manifesto. The four musicians from Dublin are signed to Nice Swan Recordings and also completed their first headlining tour. With EP number two slated for release in Spring 2022, Sprints won’t be slowing down anytime soon. ‘How is the story going?is one of their most notable singles of the year and confirms that sprints are one to watch for 2022.
The wheels – ‘Throw it all away‘
The Clockworks released two singles in 2021 ‘Feels so real‘ and ‘Throw it all away‘. With a support window with the Pixies announced for their U.S. tour in 2021, it must have been so disappointing to cancel it due to the pandemic. However, being invited demonstrates The Clockworks’ trajectory. ‘Throw it all awayJames MacGregor’s lyricism continues, which is both observational and relevant to all of us. It was accompanied by a sumptuous lyrical video.
Turnstiles – ‘Omniscient illusion‘
Turnstiles started the year with the release of their eponymous debut EP. With a short tour of the north of England followed by their first live appearance in London, the Galway band were finally able to play their first concerts in England. The EP was an amazing way to start the year, causing the cobwebs to explode. ‘Omniscient illusionis typical of uplifting lyricism delivered in umunderstood punk style and seeing this live with a 2021 highlight. Lyrics such as “We are the first generation of instant informationâSeem so obvious but at the same time so clever. I mean what a pure description of modern culture, in just eight words. ‘Omniscient illusion‘presents the negative aspects of social media and our 24 hour instant information environment. Some people think their opinions are most important, others are not what they seem, and some choose to intimidate and belittle.
“If you think you know everything, it’s just an omniscient delusion.”