The best rising Irish stars playing The Great Escape

For St Patrick's Day, we've picked out some of the most exciting Irish acts hitting Brighton this year

The last few years have been big for Irish music. Fontaines DC went from cult heroes to superstars in the space of three consistently excellent albums, while Lankum, CMAT and SPRINTS have all blown up massively (and deservedly) off the back of critically acclaimed albums. So who’s next? Well, as with most things, The Great Escape is a good place to start. One of Europe’s most established festivals for new music, the Brighton convention contains many hidden gems, a lot of whom seem primed for big things.


Amble - Mariner Boy (Official Video)

The trio’s songs are filled with lived-in narratives that draw as much from their transatlantic counterparts as they do from Irish traditional folk. Haunting and heart-stirring in equal measure, Amble‘s widespread acclaim already feels inevitable.

For fans of: John Prine, Glen Hansard, Cian Ducrot

Anna Mieke

Anna Mieke - Ornament (Official Video)

Wicklow’s Anna-Mieke Bishop creates atmospheric, delicate indie folk soundscapes that emerge like figures from a fog. Meticulously crafted but immediately affecting, her music feels specifically Irish with an eye on the wider world. Gorgeous stuff.

For fans of: This Is The Kit, Lankum, Joanna Newsome

Big Sleep

Big Sleep - Two Cents (Official Video)

Not to be confused with American trio The Big Sleep, Dublin-based Italo-Irish band Big Sleep share a producer with NewDad and Just Mustard, which says a lot about where they’re coming from. Their jittery and delicately funky indie pop is irresistibly catchy, particularly on winning single ‘Tutti Frutti’. They’re already gathering accolades from all the right places so not one to be… ahem… slept on.

For fans of: Silverbacks, Yard Act, Arctic Monkeys

Caleb Kunle

Caleb Kunle - All in Your Head (Official Music Video)

Ireland’s Nigerian population has boosted more than just the national football team and local cuisine, as evidenced by the widespread adulation for Kunle’s superb neo-soul. Born in Lagos, raised in Laois and now residing in London (Los Angeles next?), Kunle’s sound represents his diverse journey while embracing the greats of soul music. ‘All In Your Head’ sounds like it could be dropped into any time in the last 60 years and still be a hit.

For fans of: Leon Bridges, Curtis Harding, Gabriels


Cardinals - Unreal (Official Music Video)

Cork has a rich indie pop history (Frank & Walters, Power Of Dreams, Sultans Of Ping FC) and Cardinals have already proved themselves worthy to share in that legacy. The jaunty noise of latest single ‘Unreal’ provides an immediate dopamine hit, while ‘Roseland’ weaves folk rhythms and frantic accordions into a chaotic aural soup. Fascinating and unpredictable, the band’s future looks incredibly bright.

For fans of: The Wedding Present, Sultans Of Ping FC, The Jesus & Mary Chain

Cruel Sister

Cruel Sister - LENNY

So many artists claim My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth as influences yet sand off all the corners and wind up sounding like mildly edgy chart pop. Cruel Sister (aka Dubliner Faith Nico) retains all those lovely blankets of abrasive fuzz while adding a sweetness that calls to mind the Sugarcubes or early PJ Harvey. Melodic but uncompromising.

For fans of: PJ Harvey, Bikini Kill, Sugarcubes


Lord of the Fish - Emileo

Some voices stop you in your tracks like a dazzling light. Emileo has been compared frequently to Bjork but there’s something so startling and original going on here that comparisons feel inadequate. Sinead O’Connor herself recognised Emileo’s phenomenal talent, selecting her for a scholarship at Dublin’s BIMM musical institute.

For fans of: Bjork, Tori Amos, Aurora

Rachael Lavelle

Rachael Lavelle - Big Dreams (Music Video)

Another who feels almost impossible to define, Lavelle has a voice that feels like it’s being beamed directly into your tear ducts. Her art pop gives no quarter, instead employing any methods necessary to tear your soul apart and gently piece it back together. Lavelle also works as a funeral singer, which feels entirely appropriate, given the deeply affecting quality of her otherworldly voice. Absolutely unmissable.

For fans of: Joni Mitchell, Beach House, Bjork

Really Good Time

Really Good Time - Retreat to the Cubicle (Official Video)

Dublin quartet Really Good Time describe themselves as “Vertigo-era U2 covering Viagra Boys”. If by that they mean “loud and a lot of fun” then they’re right on the money.  They’re the loudest, funnest band to come out of Ireland since Silverbacks and that’s saying a lot. New single ‘Retreat To The Cubicle’ is a monster that deserves to be played dangerously loud.

For fans of: Silverbacks, Parquet Courts, Shame

Sarah Crean

Sarah Crean - The Subtle Art of Past (Official Video)

Standing out in a field of confessional indie folk singer songwriters is like meeting a blind date at Glasto with the description, “I’m unwashed and wearing a band t-shirt and wellies”. Sarah Crean distinguishes herself with aplomb, thanks to lyrics that feel deliberate and relatable, a truly enviable voice and a melodic knack that places hooks on an equal footing with emotional heft.

For fans of: Japanese Breakfast, Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief


Uly - cold water (MV)

If you’re a fan of Sally Rooney adaptations, then you might recognise the smooth, subtle sounds of Uly. Dubliner Rafino Murphy has contributed his lo-fi bedroom pop to both Normal People and Conversations With Friends but his credentials extend much further. Understated, melodic and funky, like Prince gone DIY.

For fans of: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Prince, Maxwell

Get tickets to see all the above acts play The Great Escape between 15 and 18 May

Catch Sarah Crean, Amble and Big Sleep at The Road To The Great Escape in Dublin on 13 and 14 May