AS festival season well and truly kicks into gear, it's a quieter news week for the music industry. After all, your favourites are all out performing on stages around the world for the foreseeable.
However, they haven’t stopped a series of excellent new tracks, albums and videos being released this week that showcases a healthy, vibrant scene ahead of their summer performances. Join me on a deep dive into some of my favourites.
First on the list this week is long-time Northern Winds' favourite, ROE. The songwriter from Derry made her mark with electro-pop ballads and performances at Glastonbury and supports for the likes of Snow Patrol. Now she makes a permanent stand with the release of her debut album – or at least the first part of it. A six-track release of driving and dancey indie-pop recorded in the wilderness of Donegal, ‘That’s When The Panic Sets In’ features new single ‘Scared Of Being Lonely’ and previous releases ‘I Dare You’ and ‘A Temporary Thing’.
With a now full-bodied sound and stompy, anthemic rhythms, ROE’s debut LP attempt looks like an evolutionary release that brings her talents into full flowering. On the release, ROE stated: “At 1am inside a supermarket in Reykjavik in 2019, a decision was made to postpone my debut album. Part I of That’s When The Panic Sets In is the first glimpse of the artist I became after that conversation.” The musician adds: “These songs are a documentary of my innermost thoughts and insecurities over the past couple of years. It feels like a lot to hand them off to the world, but there’s also some kind of huge relief in that. Like this is who I am and what I’m capable of.”
Also in the release column, this week is Sinead O’Brien with her debut ‘Time Bend And Break The Bower’. Part poetry, part post-punk, O’Brien’s electrifying spoken-word delivery over gothic rock beats and acoustics is singularly impressive. Based in London, her debut is out now on Chess Club Records and it's a magnetic one. Particular interest should be given to the focus single ‘Like Culture’, which O’Brien says is part memory, part experience, but it’s never nostalgic. “I worked from memory, splicing and intercutting it with scenes or mantras from my present,” she says. “I look ahead and behind, banging the two together. Part of this stems from a poem I wrote in Paris in 2012 called ‘Limerick, Slightly With You’.
“I wanted to create a really gritty piece where the dance floor and nightlife come as the saving response to that panicky call of youth. You feel the urge to live emotionally, the need to seek connection, and contact. There’s desperate love, there’s wanting, kissing in the booth, on the floor. But it’s also about who you become in that setting, how that unfolds.”
And in less creative but equally interesting news, an announcement came this week on the release of Fanify, a new music promotion app, which is based in the South. Created by the team behind services such as Apservices, Gecko Governance and Lockup Studios, Fanify promises to “(a) find and track Fans – the capital F indicating people who really engage with a band or artist’s content; and (b) to continue to re-engage them over time, solidifying the fan-artist relationship.”
With streaming services becoming more controversial and less artist-friendly by the year, many creatives are turning towards direct-to-fan experiences and platforms to enhance their careers. One can only imagine the positive impact such a platform could give for such a dense and vibrant creative scene like Ireland’s going forward.