IRISH music old and new comes together for us to celebrate this week, as a host of institutions and artists announce new projects and tracks.
Firstly we have Music Generation, the leading music education programme on the island, calling for established professional musicians to apply for a role within the organisation. MG has been a powerhouse in giving children and young people access to high-quality schooling since its inception, and applicants are invited to create meaningful work, communities and development within the minds of the next generation of Irish musicians. With the application process occurring online, the deadline for interest is April 30th.
Meanwhile, in Galway, artist collective Citóg Records have long been an example of sustainable independence within Ireland. Events organisers, fundraisers, patrons of art within their community and a consistent release schedule for half a decade has made them an essential component of the west’s thriving creative eco-system. And if this is the first you have heard of them, then you’re in luck as they’ve just released their latest project – a short film titled Amhráin.
An initiative born of Galway’s ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ programme, Amhráin is both a showcase of Irish tradition and music (with performances from the likes of Field Trip, Dylan Murphy, Katie O’Connor and more) and a love letter to the city of Galway. Crowd-less shows were filmed in iconic locations such as The Cornstore, Book & Candle and the Galway Arts Centre, and serve to illustrate the melting pot of influences and talent that rest on the west coast.
Artists themselves are not to be outdone either this week. Several interesting things found themselves in our collective lap this week, but few have stuck out as much as Orla Gartland’s ‘Zombie!’, which tackles the repressive elements of toxic masculinity. Released ahead of her much desired debut album (due out later this year, something to keep an eye on), Gartland channels pagan energy through spangly acoustics and handclaps, culminating in a zingy chorus that's as addictive as it gets. Something of a badly kept secret is her prowess as a songwriter, but some interesting production tricks that push the vocals on the track right to the front allows for Gartland to shine centre stage as one of Ireland’s finest creative exports. One for the indie-rock fans.
Another fantastic release this week comes from Robert John Ardiff, whose second solo album ‘The Corridors Of Love’ has received rave reviews and acclaim. An artsy blend of indie, alt-pop and crafty songwriting, the album was inspired by Deborah Levy’s book The Cost of Living and tackles the anxious activity of existing in one of the forgotten corners of the world. A sepia-tinted maze of inside jokes, universal truths and social commentary, Ardiff is stark and raw in Corridors but never preachy. One for weekend listening methinks, particularly ‘Black Dog’.
And the last standout of the week belongs to the eerie retro folk of SHIPS and their first track since 2017, ‘Ode to the Ward’. Winners of the RTÉ CHOICE award back in 2017, the duo’s first return to the release column is well worth the wait – a beautiful mix of bright vocals, yearning electronica and bewitched string arrangements that pay tribute to their home in Swords. Sounds as if it was recorded on a film camera and like it could soundtrack a walking scene from Lord Of The Rings.
We end this week’s column with a look at some other tracks and EPs released by independent musicians this week. The spotlight first shines on producer Amerik and their new EP Bouquet. Enlisting the services of Gareth Dunlop, Travi The Native, Little Rivers and Pete Wallace, the producer generates a dreamy world of soft electronic and pop music for intrepid listeners. Limerick trad-rapper Strange Boy returns with news of a debut album and a new single ‘Waiting’. One of the most unique voices on the scene, this is an artist you want in your wheelhouse of you're trying to flex on a friend with your playlist.
Then finally we get the well-defined neo-soul and synth of WAVES, a collaboration between NEOMADiC and singer Shiv. This left-of-centre track is perfect for your late-night commute from whatever establishment you dare to entertain – and will send you off with good vibes.