miscellaniac on 03/15/2013 at 11:00AM
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I present a mix made up of artists who currently reside in Ireland, have Irish roots, or simply a pronounced Irish influence. As you'll discover, not all Irish music sounds like what you would hear at a parade or a sports pub (aka. a spub, like a spud - Irish!). For more overtly Irish-sounding tunes, I recommend this Magically Delicious Mix featuring "Irish Hearts" by Fred van Eps.
Patrick J. Touhey “Drowsy Maggie” - OK, this is one of the few exceptions to my preface, but this is such a gorgeous traditional folk song. Irish-American Touhey played the Uilleann pipes (Irish bagpipes) and this recording is from 1919.
Dublin Duck Dispensary "Irish Rebel Song" - Now I really am starting to look like a hypocrite. But, Bobby Aherne's lo-fi solo act is one of my faves and he happens to be from Dublin and to also have produced this dreamy song that sounds like it could have emanated from the recent crop of Northern New Jersey bands like Big Troubles, Ducktails, and Julian Lynch.
Nora O'Connor "Two Way Action" - O'Connor is a first-generation Irish-American (and native Chicagoan), performs with Andrew Bird and The Blacks, has toured with everyone from Mavis Staples to New Pornographers, and also happens to be a renowned bartender, doula, and ordained reverend. (Yeah, what have YOU done today?) The eclectic warmth of all of these endeavors melts through in this track.
Sláinte "Julia Delaney" - Another one to slip past my preamble, Sláinte is a legit Irish band from Tacoma. Pronounced "slawn-cha" it is Gaelic for "cheers" or "good health." This is definitely one you can get jiggy with (sorry). Combines the good parts of a jam band with stunning traditional instrumentation that would kick the crud out of an Irish Spring commercial.
Solvents "Yr. Ghostwriter" - Bandmembers Emily Madden and Jarrod Bramson met when Bramson played rhythm guitar in Madden's father's traditional Irish folk band. The spark that crackled into Solvents lays its melodic residue all over rich violin and vocals.
Crete Boom "Evil Brother" - Formed by Dubliner brothers Seo and Colm Cahill in 2005, they often seem to waver between American rootsiness and rockabilly swagger, but this song is what it might sound like if The Clancy Brothers ran an indie label.
Lucy Foley "Making Circles" - Foley is a native Irishwoman, but currently resides in Brooklyn. Displaying vocal nuances reminiscent of Suzanne Vega on Nine Objects of Desire, Bjork on Debut, and Siouxsie Sioux in general, layered over wurlitzer and saxophone, Foley is an artist who will hopefully pop up more on everyone's radar.
The Rosen Sisters "Gravel Walk" - Amberly and Ariana Rosen, sister violinists, have performed all manner of folk musical traditions (including Irish) since the ages of 3 and 4 respectively. Their incredible range of education and experience is too lengthy to recount here, but their specialties include fiddle-dancing, performing in Off-Broadway shows, and teaching Suzuki workshops in NYC.
Cian Nugent "Grass Above My Head" - From Shankill, Dublin, Nugent conjures his eclectic musical influences to generate a sound that makes me want to tie myself to a dandelion and float around on Nebraskan plains during a thunderstorm.
Hogan Grip "Stance Gives You Power" - Swirly wirly Irish beats from the likes of DeclanQKelly and Tony Higgins (junior85) out of Galway. They chose their name after reading Power Golf by Ben Hogan and the rest is history.
Nature "Step Up To The Dubplate" - From golf to baseball, there are already more sports references in this blog post than I would have anticipated. This singular track is from well-toured jazz quartet, Nature's, first studio album, out on Acustronica last year. The dub here could refer to musical genre and the fact that Nature is from Dublin.
So Cow "Inis Meain" - Trying to pick my favorite So Cow track is like trying to pick whether I like inhaling or exhaling better. But, this song won the lottery because of its title, which is the namesake of one of the Aran Islands in Galway Bay on Ireland's west coast. And you can dance to it.
Kill! Kill! Death! Death! "Cold Mountains" - The name of the band sounds like a dalek with a foggy memory, but this lo-fi Dublin quartet could probably never forget to rock. This morsel is brought to you by the Cachalot Midinette label, from a comp that is available right here on the FMA!
Squarehead "I Love You" - If you were lucky enough to catch these Dublin lads at SXSW this week, then it was probably like being in the studio when they played this song live on WFMU DJ, Liz Berg's, show back in October, where they also did an interview alongside So Cow. They count among their influences The Beach Boys and The Wipers.
mackay/watt/estel "john" - A supergroup consisting of Estel, Mike Watt (Minutemen, Stooges), and Steve Mackay (Stooges). Estel formed in Dublin in 1999 and have shunned the mainstream as thoroughly as possible. "john" sounds like a Throwing Muses/Explosions in the Sky mashup under zero-gravity, with Mackay's sax reassuring us mid-orbit.
Bell X1 "The Great Defector" - "Tell me about those rabbits, George" croons Paul Noonan, but he is much more talented and functional than Steinbeck's poor Lenny. This Dublin/County Kildare band's seventh studio album (co-produced by Doveman), Chop Chop, will be released on June 28th. So you have a little over 3 months to get caught up on their heavenly body of work leading up to now.
Niamh de Barra "The Man In The Picture" - I'm inclined to compare Dublin-based de Barra to similar-sounding musicians, but she feels more like a folklorist who likes to loop violin as a narrative device. Scottish netlabel, Black Lantern, put out 2012's Below the Sea, the album where this pretty little song lives.
Laura Sheeran "Suspension Belt" - Born in Galway and now residing in Dublin, 24-year-old Sheeran is a self-taught musician and composer, fascinated by the dramatic mechanics of melody and sound. With a nice handful of theater and short film scores under her belt, Sheeran is also quite generous with her solo albums, providing free downloads for many of them.
Villagers "Set The Tigers Free" - Villagers' frontman Conor J. O'brien performed a solo acoustic set for KEXP back in 2010, and this is one of the songlings from that mighty performance. From Dun Laoghaire and Dublin city proper, Villagers are currently on tour throughout Europe promoting their January 2013 release, Awayland.
Ma La Pert "You Could Still Die Then" - Last but not least (in terms of quality, but also because this track is longer than an inter-borough subway commute), is the bizarre lovechild of Tony Conrad (super rad, math-y experimental artist, filmmaker, and composer) and avant-garde composer/vocalist/Irishwoman, Jennifer Walshe. They also claim to have used a katzenklavier in this piece, which frankly (and to wonderful effect) does not seem that far off. Thanks, ISSUE Project Room!
Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!