Some of the ace faces of the Irish scene tell Jonathan deBurca Butler about their musical highlights of 2017.
“I loved getting to The National in Vicar Street because the last few times I’ve seen them it’s been at festivals and they seemed more relaxed at Vicar Street. The venue was really nice and there was a really good crowd. I went with
Jenny Huston who was my gig-going buddy for around a decade and we hadn’t got to go to one for a while so it was fun.
“I loved the Lorde album Melodrama. Her voice on this is outstanding and she’s only 21 but her lyrics are great. There’s great storytelling. It’s just a really good coming-of-age album. I think In ‘The Louvre’ is probably my favourite track froma fantastic album.”
“So many great new releases this year. The Curious Hand from Seamus Fogarty is a real gem and Lankum’s Between The Earth and Sky got me through a few long journeys. I also loved the Aldous Harding album Party and Moonshine Freeze by This Is The Kit. Also on the list are Adrian Crowley’s Dark Eyed Messenger, Sam Amidon’s The Following Mountain, Ghostpoet’s Dark Days and Canapés, Moses Sumney’s Aromanticism, and Unfinished Business from Paul Brady. Honourable mention too for the self-titled release from Témé Tan. I could go on all night, and I often do.
“My favourite gigs this year were Kamasi Washington at the National Concert Hall and Bob Dylan at the 3Arena.”
“This is cheating but I have two songs of the year. Rejjie Snow’s ‘Flexin’ and ‘Winter In The Sun’ by Fontaines D.C. Energy-wise, ‘Flexin’ is like a cross between ‘Voodoo People’ by The Prodigy and NWA’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’. ‘Winter In The Sun’ is just a great rock tune from a band that will only get better. My best album was Dark Days + Canapés, album number four from Ghostpoet, and in my opinion his best. Lyrically clever, tunefully moving; it’s an album that I can’t use enough superlatives about.
“There have been many great gigs this year; Radiohead, Fangclub,
Depeche Mode, Run The Jewels, Rusangano Family, but ONUKA’s set at the Eurosonic festival in the Netherlands has stuck with me. I’d just never seen anything like it; words only go so far. Seek them out, you’ll see what I mean.”
“My favourite moment of the year was probably at Longitude Festival on a beautiful Saturday evening in July. The Weeknd was on stage and I went to see him after I’d finished my own gig, which itself was great fun. Longitude is a very young festival and the crowd are not as cynical as elsewhere, and ‘I Feel it Coming’ was a special moment. It’s such an anthem and one of my favourite tracks, even though it was came out late 2016.
“My favourite tune of the year was probably ‘Unforgettable’ by French Montana. This combines a lot of my most loved musical genres and there’s a hint of latin and afro grooves amongst the soulful hip-hop anthem, which understandably was huge everywhere in 2017. I played this at pretty much every gig, no matter what style, throughout the year.
“The best gig I saw this year was probably Bon Iver at Cork Opera House during Sounds from a Safe Harbour. I’ve flirted with Justin Vernon’s music over the years, but seeing him in this setting, with any number of collaborators from the festival, the penny finally dropped with me. Special mention to King Kong
Company’s live show which is the most vastly improved in the country. Seamus Fogarty’s recent album The Curious Hand stands out as the most inventive Irish folk album for years.
“The genre is undergoing a resurgence and its thanks to the likes of Fogarty and a few others such as Lankum and Ye Vagabonds.
“One of my favourite albums this year was Fionn Regan’s The Meetings of The Waters which was I think disgustingly overlooked. I think it’s amazing. James Vincent McMorrow was fabulous too and Seamus Fogarty.
“I think Perfume Genius’s No Shape was wonderful, just his voice, and I got to see him
recently and he was just fantastic.
“I’m going to be a little selfish for my gig of the year but it was a showcase that we actually put together for three Irish bands over in London; Talos, Jealous of the Birds and
Rusangano Family. There were over 50 reps from the music industry at it plus lots of expats who turned up at the Irish Centre in London to see these guys and as the night went on to see the faces on those in the audience; there was a sense of revelation about what they saw.
“They couldn’t believe they were hearing this coming from Irish bands. It just wasn’t on their radar. So it was a memorable night. I was really tired putting the whole thing together but by the end of it all, I was like, ‘this is why I do this job’. “
Excluding all artists I worked with at BIMM this year, the song I loved the most was ‘Slip Away’ by Perfume Genius.
“I am naturally drawn to the production, melody and rhythmic elements of a track before anything else and I think that’s why I really connected with it. That’s not to say it’s not lyrically rich but it’s just one of the most exciting sounding tracks I have heard in a long time, with some really beautiful fresh, exciting production.
In terms of live events this year, Whelan’s One to Watch, Hard Working Class Heroes and Music Cork tied. Streaming has broken down so many borders but live music is still the heart of the industry and it’s so great to see so many exciting new Irish live acts every year.
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