A music blog from Ireland.
Get listening: today, 8 March, is International Women’s Day. Pointless celebrations (pancake day, really?) often annoy me but I stand behind International Women’s Day because it’s an important global event that highlights progress. It marks a point each year on which to reflect on the role women have played in our lives, in history and in shaping the on-going state of affairs in the world. Last year I wrote in detail about the origins of IWD and some of the tragic situations that have been under its banner. I also spoke about modern Ireland, the huge differences in our society today compared to the 1980s, looking at the rise of the working woman, the lack of female politicians and the slow move towards gender equality. You can read about that here if you fancy a few minutes of hard facts.
Today I want to celebrate some of my favourite new songs that were penned and performed by women and the bands they play in. Before you scoff, know that as a blogger, I notice how many women are into music, on the floor, behind the scenes and in front of the stage. The numbers are low. If you’d like to make one small gesture for Irish women today, encourage a natural talent. Share some great music. Listen or lend a CD, invite them to a gig, offer an earbud to sit and share a song. Irish music has something for everyone and ladies have gotta pull their weight and get involved.
Below are tracks that I drew up in a list fairly quickly. We have the duos, bands and solo artistes. I’m sure I don’t need to point out that these are just a selection and there’s gold out there for anyone who goes looking. They’re not free to download here but many are free online. Listen to the individual tracks or hit the music player tab below for the continuous mix.
Ocho – still in the gestation phase it seems, Ocho have been promising to release an album for a while. Stace Gill’s vocal blew me away with this song last year…the full-length will be a must.
Yeh Deadlies – this was my favourite song of 2011. It never fails to make me wish for endless loved-up afternoons.
Low Sea – A duo of drifters who seem unconnected to any of the boring, gritty realism of everyday, Low Sea make dreamscape sounds to drift away from here.
September Girls – Loved this song Hells Bells since I first heard it last year. It’s fuzzy and unfettered with a deliberate retro aim, conjuring up summer daydreams from vaseline-smeared Panavision reaches of the imagination.
Sleep Thieves – Synths, romance, life and dance. This is an old track of Sleep Thieves but has remained my favourite since I first heard it.
Grand Pocket Orchestra – the oddest band of hard workers have returned with a second album that blows away everything else they’ve done so far: it’s tighter, stronger and more focused. I just can’t stop listening to this song lately.
Little Xs For Eyes – a standout track from Little Xs’ debut album last year, the band are buoyed on harmonies and bright, shiny pop songs full of goodness.
Tieranniesaur – with a myriad of instrumentation, there was only room for normal-sized arms in this power-packed pop band.
Logikparty – a world class no wave band in their own right, Benni Johnston’s incandescent role in Logikparty is the secret punch that takes their songs to an extraordinary new level.
Veroa – Clodagh Kerley’s expansive sweeping vocal marked this trio out as a force to be reckoned with. Since releasing their first EP last year the band have gigged regularly. Amazed there were any roofs left on the venues.
Laura Sheeran – I keep coming back to A Wake on Laura’s debut album Lust of Pig…. Everything from her voice, to the arrangements of the music and a weird, dark sensation that steeps all her songs, make her a major contender. She’s also one of the most prolific artists on the scene with a constant outpouring of new material.
Katie Kim – having just released her second album Cover & Flood, Katie Sullivan knows she’s found unshakeable strength in her creative endeavours. Something about her style just tells me that of all new Irish music that could last to make its way into the future as iconic, this would be the one.
The Danger Is – Niamh Farrell made great headway in 2011 with the release of her eponymous EP, followed by Navigate early this year. This track: earworm. It just won’t budge.
Sive – Sadhbh O’Sullivan first popped up a few years ago with the sweetest little Xmas video. In the time since, it’s been a steady run at songwriting and the gamut of genres. For something different, try this.
Cathy Davey - not sure where I first heard this but the vocals are spinechilling. It’s a gorgeous rendition that seems absolutely timeless, sounding as though lounge singers could have silked this one out in 1930s clubs. There’s no doubt that Cathy’s still the premier lady of independent Irish singers.
Elaine Mai - It’s been steady progress for Elaine Mai working up a solid rep as a solo artist outside of bands and yet, with a voice like this, it’s easy to hear why she’s being warmly embraced at every turn.
Riona Sally Hartman – beautiful, stylistic jazz sounds pour forth in a honeyed stream from Riona, who made my year with her enthralling, low-key performance at CFCP in the summer.
Jennifer Evans – with such a captivating voice (earmarking sound musical appreciation), Jennifer Evans’ debut should be released this year. It’s hard to place bets on greatness when there’s only a smattering of evidence but sometimes a scatter’s all you need.
Meljoann – now flown to Brighton, the tracks from Meljoann’s Squick album still sound out regularly on my playlists.
Catscars – One of the best albums of 2011 was Robyn Bromfield’s Construction, twisting a very unusual form from sweet melodies, beats and feral vocals.
Tempermental Miss Elayneous – releasing her debut last month to take her irascible rap into the mainstream, this struck me as the stand-out track from TMM’s EP of the same name.