THERE’S plenty to celebrate for this year’s Samhain, as the darker nights of the year indicate a brighter future. 

At the time of writing, for the first time in nearly two years, fully functioning indoor events, nightclubs and live music will have returned to full operational capacity in Ireland, with November being the first full month of back- to-business.

Following a rough 72 hours that featured a heavy amount of government backtracking, politicians in the South announced a series of guidelines for nightclubs, live events, bars and restaurants. Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, announced to the media that full live gigs with standing capacity of up to 1,500 were permitted, nightclubs will operate at full capacity (albeit with ticketed events only permitted – don’t expect this one to hang around for long) and normal late hours are to resume. Not perfect yet, but it's the largest step we have taken so far towards a return to normality.

While this spells great news for this year's upcoming Sound Of Belfast Festival, which includes sold-out performances from Joshua Burnside, the NI Music Prize, and more, it also means that planned events for the end of the month are free to go ahead. And whilst I am more than looking forward to incorporating a regular gig guide into the column, I’ll restrict myself to two recommended events. 

For those in The Maiden City, iconic music hub Bennigans will host a special co-headline performance from some of the North’s best independent talent. Problem Patterns – a phenomenon of the Riot Grrl genre – will be joined by Derry rockers Parker and grunge-poppers American Guinea Pig for a Halloween extravaganza. And for those reading the Big Smoke, a short trip up to Sailortown in North Belfast is essential. Local favourite boozer The American Bar will play host to several headline performances from Malojian, with the highlight being his Halloween performance. A cult favourite with a sizeable dedicated following, the grunge rock meets folk songwriter tunes of Malojian will have tickets selling quick, so jump on before it’s too late.

Yenkee’s ‘Dolly’ is utterly unique

Yenkee’s ‘Dolly’ is utterly unique

On the subject of cult bands, we’re also able to sadly report the end of an era. Dublin rockers Bitch Falcon have announced that they are calling it a day after an eight-year career together. Famously a riotous live act, they’ve performed all over Ireland, England and Europe, headlined some of our most iconic venues and represented the country at several international showcase festivals.  The band will play their farewell show in Whelan’s on December 11 – looks like it’ll sell out soon.

The track spotlight in this week’s article shines on different ends of the genre spectrum.  First off, we have Cork-based indie-producer favourite Yenkee with ‘Dolly’, Combining his signature lo-fi production and beats with a swaying country swagger and a retro vocal performance that makes this one of the more unique releases of the week. This is a guaranteed bop-crafter that continues this tradition. 

And from the South West come the raw musings of Junior Brother. He destroyed us emotionally with his 2019 album ‘Pull The Right Rope’, and his new single ‘Life’s New Haircut’ is sparse and rugged, showcasing his unique singing all the more poignantly, this new track has acoustics that boom like percussion. Hair-raising stuff.  And finally, we have the latest from Aislinn Logan, who returns with the dreamy synth-pop of ‘Contender’. With hints of New Order present in the 80s-styled production, Logan’s new single is the last to come from her upcoming ‘So It Is’ EP, due out on November 11.