THE Irish music industry looks to continue to return to its normally hectic self with the continued easing of restrictions. With dance floors officially open and standing gigs returning in the north officially from October 3, we’ve seen a slew of new tour dates and headline shows announced.
Close to home and with a high level of prestige is the year’s NI Music Prize. With the iconic Ulster Hall returning as the event’s official host, the full line-up and award nominees have also been announced in recent days – expect an excellent run of performances from nominees Amy Montgomery, TRU, Dani Larkin, New Pagans with guest performances from Ryan McMullan, ASH and Sasha Samara.


Further down the line come announcements that double as both releases and events. Galway dream-rockers NewDad dropped their new single ‘Ladybird’ last week alongside the announcement of their biggest headline show to date, downstairs at Whelans in Dublin. I’m not sure which side of the release I like more.
Then we have the latest from Pillow Queens. The Dublin indie rockers announced a full run of dates that encapsulate their first world tour. With dates in Europe, the USA and Ireland (including a headline show at Dublin’s Vicar Street), they’re sure to continue making waves. This announcement came alongside the release of a new EP of covers of tracks from artists such as Wild Pink Damn Dempsey, Merpire and SOAK, and covering tracks from their critically acclaimed debut ‘In Waiting’.
Speaking of SOAK, the Derry native returned to Belfast for a prestigious event. With regional rep (and Andersonstown resident) Francesca O’Connor at the helm. Independent Venue Week has now had a growing foothold in the North for over two years. To celebrate this event, a short ceremony was held in Belfast’s Oh Yeah centre last week, where the Mercury-award nominated artist took the helm as this year’s artist ambassador. Taking over from rapper Jordan Adetunji, SOAK will now serve as this year’s artist spokesperson and will conduct a small tour of independent venues in January and February of 2022 – this will include venues such as the OYC and Bennigans in Derry.
And our final tour announcement comes from country-pop songwriter CMAT. Alongside the announcement of her debut album ‘If My Wife Knew I’d Be Dead’. This album was also accompanied by the release of ‘No More Virgos’, an ode to the singer's past partners; this album will be available on vinyl via AWAL Recordings, and will be toured on Cork’s Cypress Avenue, Limericks Dolan’s Warehouse and Belfast’s Limelight 2.


COLLABORATION: ROE teams up with Ciaran Lavery

COLLABORATION: ROE teams up with Ciaran Lavery

And as always, we’ll end this week’s column with a spotlight on some of the best independent releases of the last week. First up is the debut project from Odd Morris, the EP ‘Cityscape the Ballet’. A gothic landscape of skyscrapers and brutalised post-punk, it's an encouraging first release for the quartet that sees them firmly entrench themselves in the guitar-music revitalisation of Ireland.

Then we have a fantastic collaboration between Gemma Dunleavy and MuRli, whose garage/dance/rap tracks is one of the more forward-thinking tracks in the country at this time. Then, from the North, we have another collaboration between ROE and Ciaran Lavery. Described as indie-folk meets indie-pop by the artists themselves, this is a natural partnership that bore one of the better songs of both artists’ careers.