Forget what you know about Irish music and treat yourself to the good stuff, from under-appreciated gems to rising talent
Back when I was growing up in Ireland, Paddy’s Day was the day when you could pick back up whatever you’d given up for Lent, just for one blissful day. Every year without fail, the thing you’d given up was chocolate, mainly on my parents’ insistence. Attempts to substitute chocolate with things like “school” or “giving things up” were met with resistance. So it was that any chocolate that came into the house went into a tin, and on Paddy’s Day the tin was fished out of the cupboard. You’d stare at the contents, trying to find the best possible use of your free pass. Too much pressure for a young mind, if you ask me.
What’s the point of all this? Well, the point is that Paddy’s Day – in my mind at least – is about a bit of a treat. Not sure where the connection is. Maybe St Patrick treated himself to something nice once he was finished getting rid of the Irish snakes and any evidence that there ever were Irish snakes. Whether he did or didn’t, here are 14 songs from Irish bands and artists that are our treat to you, this fine St Patrick’s Day. Whatever merriment you get up to today, do it with a song in your heart and a skip in your step.
Revelino – ‘Happiness is Mine’
A real shouldabeen. Saw them open for Neil Young and Pearl Jam in 1995 and they made quite the impression. Briefly resurfaced in 2020 to finally release their stunning debut album on vinyl.
The Frank & Walters – ‘After All’
Jangly indie pop that crawls into your brain and won’t ever leave, a bit like The Housemartins if they were from Cork.
The Devlins – ‘Someone To Talk To’
Ever so briefly the next big thing in the 90s, courtesy of an appearance on the Batman Forever soundtrack. This has lovely poppy traces of bands like Del Amitri, The Rembrandts and Aztec Camera.
Kynsy – ‘Cold Blue Light’
Such a ridiculously promising talent, expect big things from the Dubliner. Each new release is another step forward but this brooding track remains her attention-grabbing calling card.
Melts – ‘Maelstrom’
The most appropriately named song ever. The debut from the rapidly rising Dubliners was one of our favourite albums of 2022. Like a storm in your head that won’t go away.
Sprints – ‘Literary Mind’
Abrasive and catchy all at the same time. Bags of attitude and bags of hooks in a 90s alt rock shopping trolley.
Fontaines DC – ‘Dublin City Sky’
The post punks du jour slow down and get maudlin at the end of the night and the result is just gorgeous.
Silverbacks – ‘Drink It Down’
“That wasn’t Jesus, that was just some f*cker in a dressing gown.” Up there with the likes of Behan and Joyce.
Wilt – ‘Open Arms’
Cormac Battle’s other band, formed during Kerbdog‘s hiatus. So many 90s alt rockers would have traded all their check shirts for a moody ballad as good as this.
Power Of Dreams – ‘Talk’
A band who deserved to be revered alongside the greats of late 80s/early 90s indie. Back in action since 2010. Their reunion at the Luminaire featured the most middle-aged Irish men crying since Italia 90.
Lankum – ‘The Young People’
A sad, droning, stirring ballad from one of the most exciting voices in Irish trad.
CMAT – ‘I Don’t Really Care For You’
Irish country has long been a thing but CMAT makes it cool.
Villagers – ‘Nothing Arrived’
Remember when every new band was four guys with acoustic guitars that sounded like they were born in a Starbucks? All of those guys combined couldn’t have written anything nearly as good as ‘Nothing Arrived’.
Whipping Boy – ‘When We Were Young’
You know a song’s special when you’re 16 and it’s already making you nostalgic for your youth.