Harmless Noise

A music blog from Ireland.

Harmless Noise
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Dublin 2013. Harmless Noise is 3 years old. I’m currently working on a creative non-fiction novel about the role of work. Posting is sporadic but good music nags me into maintaining this site on a fairly stable basis. Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook are here. Nay.

Environment :: Gigs are frequent and people seem to care. Music just keeps flowing and there are healthy pickings for online music writers. Ireland’s reputation as a musical country has been simmering away for years – now it’s on the boil and there’s a wonderful consistency of fresh new sounds filling every inch of space. Do you like dancing ’til your heart feels fit to burst? Or are you all about the heady, instrumental panorama? Gigs in the purest sense of the word, under pubs with just a select crowd or do you go to shows, in big chilly spaces packed with bodies? Is it the gleam of metal you listen out for? The deep drone of electronic mines, dank hip hop, the shimmer of pop? Folk’s dusty shuffle? All these and more make up the sound of modern, eclectic Ireland.

Harmless Noise is :: a music blog, maintained by Nay McArdle, provoked by a lifestyle of albums, gigs, coffee, photos, videos and artwork, laptop screens, interviews, arguments and all the other bits of being a freelance (photo)journalist in Dublin. I started Harmless Noise in November 2009. Over time I’ve done full-scale music photography and journalism, contributing to Hot Press, AU Magazine, Thumped, RTE, The Irish Sun and entertainment.ie.

Harmless Noise is not my job but the work I put in here is the same standard as anything I’d do professionally. It takes time to get around to listening to all the suggestions I receive but, at the same time, the attention-span window for releases keeps growing smaller, and it shouldn’t have to. The music I write about on Harmless Noise is strong and sustainable, solid material that stands out well in this particular climate of upheaval. It’s music that at best, develops and rewards with repeated listens.
 At the very least, it sounds good.
I write to match my mood– there’s no preference towards any genre or specific conditions for consideration, other that than the music was made in, or by someone from, Ireland.  If you have an ear on something, drop me a link.

•    Light blogging has just started up over on Tumblr for good new stuff to be shared as it comes.
•    The main site harmlessnoise.ie focuses more on singular features and the content archive holds interviews, reviews, videos and free music.
•    Opportunities to work with people are always cool, so if you’re a fellow blogger, a photographer, DJ, student or just interesting, get in touch.
•    Twitter is where discussions often take place around current music links, to the point that Twitter has far superseded blog comments.
•    Facebook users are welcome to post on the Harmless Noise page. It’s also updated with every new post.

Background :: My name is Naomi.  and I was born in 1981 and lived in Dublin until my family moved to London in 1987. I grew up in a strong Irish community and music from home always got a special mention: an anecdote, a fact, a story about an instrument or fabled session, things that all made Irish music seem richer, connected to the personal sense of belonging to a place, although I still whined about being bored when dragged out to Finsbury Park for the Fleadh. My Granda used to send over parcels that included a stack of Evening Press cuttings about neighbours and personalities, flattened inside some Hot Press magazines bound with rubber bands. I noticed the rock bands with their ridiculous hairstyles and remembered names. Fatima Mansions seemed romanticised by the words I heard Cathal Coughlan singing, and when I encountered those council flats years later, I knew why they were an important part of the city before I was there. And so on with many more voices.
I returned to Ireland in 1996 and it was 2005 when I enrolled in Marino College as a mature student to study Photojournalism. I’d always been interested in the news and, with two children who’d be adults before 2020, it seemed like an exciting career to aim for. In retrospect I don’t think it was very wise to plan on running around burning rubble in Beirut as a middle-aged war photojournalist. I guess, psychologically, I was looking for adventure. Instead, got some work experience, an internship, then jobs, then no job. But music all the way, never far in the background of my life.

So now I write about bands. Damned if I have a clue about where the music industry is headed but good music is a staple and has to out somewhere. I’ve documented the trends of Irish music as a blogger since 2007, first for Hot Press until 2009, then on Harmless Noise. I free It can be (really) tough doing this and I don’t have much of a plan on the grand scale, I think music is working on a small scale in Ireland, and have gone in search of it.

Music is not my job: that’s writing. Music is my lifestyle, the huge defining factor that allows me to connect culturally and socially with everyone I meet. As a hard-of-hearing person, I write what I feel (but try to avoid abstract or silly concepts) about realistic songs I think readers will relate to. In the linked article, I explain that headphones and gigs present sound in a perfect form, and being able to appreciate music is a fluke of nature, and I am so thankful to have evaded the worst curse deafness could inflict.


What’s special? :: The music. The fact that it’s all Irish is down to where I live and maybe I’d have ended up as a blogger if I’d discovered local music anywhere else. But the chips fell on Dublin, bastion of the world’s gig scene, lol. It’s a prolific, vibrant and very accessible environment for music fans. We have fun, at venues sure but at home too, on a general basis…and the odd insane house party.

Thanks for reading! Contact me if you like :: on Twitter or nay@harmlessnoise.ie

Thanks to  Anthony Mackey for the logo design and web design by Opposable Thumbs and all the good people.


The only non-silly photo of Nay McArdle in existence.


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