NEWS emerges this week of Irish artists taking international steps and solidifying their base at the same time, whilst a summer of festivals looks set to wash away memories of the previous two years of lockdowns.
A number of Irish artists of late have made their way to tastemakers’ Partisan Records. Fontaines D.C. and Just Mustard have both built sizeable global followings off the label’s backing, and are now joined by alternative folk singer Aoife Nessa Frances.
Her first release on the label, ‘Emptiness Follows’, accompanied the news in the past week that Frances would sign with the UK/US label ahead of her debut headline world tour. She gives us a psychedelic swirl of dreamy folk vocals and arrangements that live in  the margins of tangible and ethereal. She said: “The movement and colour of the music, the harp constantly flowing throughout, are emphasising profound importance in acknowledging an eternal kind of love. I wanted my voice to be close and upfront and vulnerable like Serge Ginsberg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson.”

With all the makings of the next great Irish songwriter of this decade, we can only wish Frances the best with her new partnership.
Waves are also being made in the hip-hop realm of Irish culture. Singer and rapper Denise Chaila announced this week, following a string of dates supporting Ed Sheeran, that she would headline King John’s Castle in her hometown of Limerick on Saturday, August 20. One of the standout acts of the Covid era, Chaila led the charge in highly produced socially distanced shows and is now reaping the rewards.
Meanwhile, the summer is shaping up to be an exciting one in its own right. Brand new festivals and long-running favourites continue to tease line-ups ahead of ticket sales for what is poised to be an exceptional three months of music. Wicklow gathering ‘Beyond The Pale’ announced their arts programme this week on top of an already stacked line-up. With electronic acts Bonobo, Four Ten and Orbital already announced as headliners, further announcements this week informed the public of Irish artists James Vincent McMorrow, Skinner, Carrie Baxter and Stephen James Smith.

The dreamy folk vocals and arrangements of Aoife Nessa Francis sit in the margins of  the tangible and the ethereal

The dreamy folk vocals and arrangements of Aoife Nessa Francis sit in the margins of the tangible and the ethereal

Micro-festival Another Love Story also announced its return this year. Organisers took to social media to discuss what lies ahead: “We are especially excited to underline our commitment to providing a platform for independent artists from near and far, and presenting a coherent blend of sounds and atmospheres to perfectly soundtrack the weekend at the Manor.”
They’ve delivered on their promises, with native talent abounding in the form of Anna Mieke, David Kitt, John Francis Flynn, Robocobra Quartet and many more in attendance.
A special shout-out this week, ahead of the spotlight section of the column, goes to the independent artists who showcased this week at the Great Escape in Brighton. One of the premier music industry festivals, the Great Escape played home to over 20 Irish artists who put on shows in front of the world's industry, such as Dark Tropics, Sprints, Bicurious, Conchúr White and more.
Track-wise, we have two brilliant artists emerging this week. First off is Wastefellow, the electronic and pop producer from Wicklow, and his new track ‘Post Credits Scene’. Hazy pop vocals and low-key production are the backbones of one of the more unique tracks of the year. Deeply emotional and affecting, it deserves your utmost attention.
And we also have the newest from REWS with her single ‘Breath Into Me’. A dynamic live act that transfers that energy into her recordings, REWS’ latest track transmutes inner turmoil into external alternative rock. Fierce and raw with sprinklings of dark pop laid between the lines, it’s her best in years.