Irish Alternative Bands Are On The Rise
In 2016, Ireland is simply awash with absolutely excellent alternative bands. I cannot remember another time in Irish musical history when the country was producing such a rich variety of rock music. It was a true struggle to confine this list to just ten, as there’s a bugger load of other bands around the island that could equally have made an appearance. In the end, I went with ten of my favourite Irish alternative bands. Give ’em a listen and then make sure to leave a comment letting me know I’m a total idiot because I didn’t include such and such a band.
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*Disclaimer. You will find no Girl Band on this list. That’d be a bit obvious, no?
A post rock (with a touch of post metal) trio from Cork, Ealadha (pronounced All-ah) take the exploratory nature of the aforementioned genres and distill them into shorter and more direct songs. The result is a hypnotic, epic yet accessible sound that aims for, and often reaches, the transcendental. Their debut EP Limit of our Sight was released at the tail end of June and over the four tracks there is a wealth of ideas that will hopefully be explored in more depth on a potential debut album.
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Indie rock trio FONDA are based in Limerick and have band members from as far afield as Galway and Glasgow. They’ve just made a bit of a sizable splash with their latest single ‘Dreaming’. Theirs is a direct and simple approach, that prioritises melody and traditional song writing over virtuosity and showmanship. Keep an ear out for the beautiful harmonies between lead singer Liam O’Connor and bassist Laura Kelly. They’re set to release their second EP before the end of the year.
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Galway’s Drown may or may not be named for the Smashing Pumpkins song of the same name. As yet it us unconfirmed. We’ll keep you updated. However, they do have a rather wonderful manner of melding noisy, feedback ridden guitars and crashing drums with melodic post punk synths and vocals. Check out their track ‘Descent’ below. It’s like some kind of demon offspring of Joy Division and Sonic Youth.
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I wonder are the lo-fi fuzzed up tongue in cheek Dublin quintet THUMPER named after the rabbit from Bambi? I’ve never seen Bambi. Perhaps I should remedy that. I digress! Regardless, these guys imbue their music with a wonderful DIY energy that is reminiscent of Superchunk at their peak or FIDLAR before everything got polished on their last record. They really upped their game on their latest EP Magnum Opuss. Here’s hoping there’s more where that came from. Course there is.
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The fact that Limerick trio Slow Riot‘s most recent EP is called Cathedral tells you all you need to know about them really. Their take on post-punk is at times grand and soaring, but they can also strip it back to a rawer and more driving approach with ease. Also, they love Twin Peaks which is always a plus in my book.
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Hailing from Belfast, Junk Drawer are purveyors of a wonderfully off kilter alternative rock in the vein of Pavement or Pixies. Their’s is a style that mixes roughly hewn riffs with a engrossing sense of melody. As you listen everything seems somewhat off but in an entirely good way. Slightly fuzzy guitars bang up alongside lethargic vocals and sporadic overdriven solos. Also, they’ve a subtle self deprecating humour that is in evidence in the naming of their EPs Their Self Loathing Debut (Mostly) and For The Cult Fat Guy.
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This Cork based quintet are crushing. Melding the playfulness of Faith No More, the chug of Melvins, and the melodic sensibility of Queens of the Stone Age, they take a serious approach to creating music but are self aware enough to know that the whole idea is also a big joke. Their debut EP Sex Tape was released earlier this summer and it is quite possibly the best piece of balls to the wall alternative rock I’ve heard all year. Epic.
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Probably the most commercially viable band on the list, Dublin’s Otherkin play a rambunctious good time strand of indie rock but with a bit more punch than most indie bands can muster in 2016. They’re two EPs deep into their career and signed to Rubyworks Records. Their most recent EP The New Vice saw them take their no nonsense to new heights of catchiness and swagger. Hopefully a debut album is on the horizon.
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Fuzzy chugging proto grunge riffs, thudding bass, raw Kat Bjelland-esque vocals, and noise influenced solos. Dublin’s Bitch Falcon cram a lot of all these things into their songs. Our favourite track is ‘Syncope’ which apparently means either: “temporary loss of consciousness caused by a fall in blood pressure” or “the omission of sounds or letters from within a word, for example when library is pronounced.” Check them out playing the track for Press Record.
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A Belfast trio that play a wonderfully cathartic version of alternative rock, Hot Cops have just released their latest single ‘Dumbbo’. A track that calls to mind the weirdo off kilter melodies of Pavement but with a more ominous atmosphere, ‘Dumbbo’ shows a band growing into their sound with confidence and aplomb. Check out their track ‘Passive Passive’ for a hint at what happens when the band get a bit more aggressive.