The Scene in Six Sounds: Ireland
By James Hendicott
As a lover of all things musical, it’s always a pleasure to explore the music on a world level, distil scenes down to just a few tracks, and put them out on show. As a resident of Ireland, however, the Emerald Isle’s scene is particularly close to my heart. With traditional Irish sounds up to its ears, a vivacious pub scene and a host of eclectic, lovable Indie, these are possibly the hardest six sounds I’ve had to choose to date. There’s not a boy band in sight; I eventually settled on this selection.
The Unsung Heroes: Bell X1
Okay, so unsung might be a slight exaggeration, but R.E.M. and Talking Heads influenced indie stars BellX1 have failed to make even an inkling of an impact across the water in the UK, though they are starting to mingle with the stars in the US. Tracks like ‘The Great Defector’ could only be Irish, yet manage to be cutting edge, too.
The Off-the-Wall Inspirationals: And So I Watch You From Afar
A Belfast instrumental only act who assault any stage they land on with such insane vigour it’s impossible not to love them, big-brother fearing rockers And So I Watch You From Afar are Northern Ireland’s rising stars. Selling out an improbably large local venue for their debut album launch, before heading off on tour in a van with a political history that made them fear for their lives is only a small part of the story: one to watch.
The Ones Everyone Knows: U2
Okay, so they’re hardly Ireland’s best-kept secret, and Bono’s political ranting may have reached the point where there’s barely an Irish soul who’s not irritated by it, but not including U2 would just be wrong. A recent series of nights at Ireland’s national stadium showed they still have the local fan base they picked up in the ’80s, and the good sense to play the tracks that it all started out with. Here’s one for the road.
The Delicate Tearjerker: Damien Rice
Singing in an emotionally wrought style that could bring the stoniest of men to tears, Damien Rice’s seminal album ‘O’ brought him international acclaim and a series of festival slots that had huge audiences collectively reaching for the tissues. He belongs on every romantic film soundtrack, providing a warm but relatively cheese-free route to the heart.
The Underground Electro Heroes: Super Extra Bonus Party
Despite having one of the dumbest names in the business, Super Extra Bonus Party manage to produce a live show that incorporates the harshest elements of the Prodigy (minus the offensiveness) along with guitar parts that any rocker would be proud of. A growing reputation for great collaborations and tuneful, accessible electro is just starting to cause a major stir.
The Traditional Music Kings: The Dubliners
The Dubliners feature heavily in our ‘Music and Travel’ guide to Dublin, mainly because they started something that everyone else has long been following. You’ll still find them, true to their roots, performing in the corner of the legendary O’Donoghues pub, and stirring the soul with a selection of tracks you’ll be surprised to find you know a lot of. The Guinness will be flowing.
James Hendicott is a travel and music writer living in Ireland, and your guide to Celtic punk in the Music+Travel Worldwide from Museyon Guides. More of his work can be found at hendicottwriting.com. And be sure to tune in next Wednesday, for a new local playlist.