Caoilian Sherlock - ‘Sucker for Love’ (single)
A familiar face on Cork’s music scene both on-stage and as a facilitator in various capacities, Caoilian Sherlock is also unfortunately an example of the way the ongoing crisis has affected musicians - his debut album’s release and touring has had to be knocked back to next year. If you’re stuck for some lovelorn pop, recently-released single ‘Sucker for Love’ ought to tide you over in the meantime, an irresistible slice of self-pity.
Yenkee - ‘Life in ¾ Time’ (single)
Having set sail for London in search of broader horizons, Graham Cooney, the man behind Cork indie-pop project Yenkee, has reached deep into the alienation and detachment of someone in a new place in recent single, as well as the guilt of leaving one’s hometown, in recent single Life in ¾ Time. For all of its thematic heaviness, it’s also a real mover, landing somewhere between current genre minimalism and broader, more nostalgic influences.
The ever-prolific Matt Corrigan, better known as Ghostking is Dead, continues to unleash small tranches of his brand of deeply idiosyncratic bedroom-pop throughout lockdown via Cork collective Hausu. This time around, he’s joined by Leeside-resident Kerrymen JJ Lee and Donagh Sugrue (the latter using his An Eldritch Abomination moniker), each providing their own rearrangement of Corrigan’s skittering, shimmering summer single Birdsong.
Foolish Mortal - ‘Ghost Wipe’ (single)We’ve missed the Halloween cutoff point for most effectively covering the latest single from Foolish Mortal, featuring Corkonian musical polymaths Laurie Shaw, Mark Waldron-Hyden and Dan O’Sullivan. That doesn’t stop this fuzzy, two-and-a-half minute stomper from being one of the best things your writer has heard in the city all year, though, shot through with humour and the effortlessness one can rightly expect from the band’s constituents.
Dylan Howe and company in Rowan have aimed high with their upcoming ‘No-One is Safe Here’ EP, due for release on November 20 and recorded at Attica Studios in Donegal. Most recent single ‘I Had a Dream’, taken from the record, is a piano-driven, string-laden statement piece, progressing from the outfit’s indie-friendly folk, and recalling the peak of earnest ‘00s alternative on the way.
Luunah - ‘Luunah’ (album)
Although Sarah-Beth O’Mullane has been involved in local music in some shape or form the past few years, either on a solo basis or with an eclectic range of collaborators, she’s seemingly come into her own at the front of five-piece Luunah. Released on Halloween eve, the band’s debut album, produced by Brian Casey, is a reflection of that confidence: a polished piece of alt-pop that resonates with that buzz of happening upon something good.
Some emotions just need big songs to fully encompass their enormity, and there’s fewer more taxing or impactful experiences than grief for a loved one. Cork chamber-pop outfit We March have managed to do just that with Bones, the leadoff single from upcoming album Fight or Flight. Lurching between tempo changes around a central lyrical motif, Bones balances a well-worn noirishness with accessibility.
Sara Ryan - ‘Breathe’ (single)
The title track of Sara Ryan’s debut full-length, also released this year, sees the Christy Moore-endorsed singer-songwriter explore the importance of maintaining a centre in difficult times, a moment of meaningful levity in a long-player that sees Ryan tackling some hefty subject matter with a grace and earnestness that’s helped her make strides in Irish folk.
Sara Ryan - ‘Breathe’ (single)
Lockdown hasn’t been an impediment to the overarching vision that Cork-based alt-rock soloist Mechner has consistently had for himself over the years - 2020 has seen the release of the ambitious ‘Club Idem’ project, a short mystery/drama story told over the accompanying videos to a series of five singles. The concluding part of the saga is a fitting end-credits soundtrack that brings the curtain down on hints of post-punk, shoegazing and electronics from earlier in the series.
Having had form for distinct but poppy alternative over the years, most notably with Neon Atlas and The Grey Merchant, there’s a lot that’s immediately familiar about Kieran Ring’s debut solo mini-album, produced alongside fellow Leeside indie veteran Kevin J. Power, and completed with the help of Cork production maven Declan O’Shea, now based in Berlin. Although there’s a certain nostalgic feel that permeates the whole record, there’s more than enough turns in mood and form over these seven tracks to keep things engaging.
A longtime flag-bearer for house and techno in his own right, away from his genre-adjacent place at the helm of Cork event/multimedia producers Generic People, Ant O’Brien has been building a solo body of work in recent months. His latest effort, the opening track of new genre compilation ‘The Future Sounds of Ireland’, does its title justice, putting a solid, housey foundation and a circular, almost inquisitive melody under a build to soaring synths.
Craic Boi Mental - Craic Magic (album)
While there’s no denying the West Cork man’s natural gift for smooth beats and earworm hooks transcends the ‘comedy’ label that’s been placed on him, rapper/producer Craic Boi Mental’s debut album proper sees him lean heavily into lyrical introspection, and the result is a heavy but compelling listen. In a nice nod to hip-hop producers of old, he’s also bundled in all the instrumentals, a rewarding listen in their own right.
Craic Boi Mental - Craic Magic (album)
Cork-based Francophone rapper Joe Fellaga uses the parks and landmarks of Cork city to stunning effect in the video for Philtre d’Amour (French for ‘Love Philtre’), celebrating and revelling in a positive, affectionate portrayal of Black couples and relationships in Ireland. Although your writer’s Junior Certificate French fails him in terms of lyrical comprehension in this case, the production and Fellaga’s flow both come across the language barrier with an effortless cool.
The Gauze - ‘Sleeper’ (single)
The first single from the new collaborative project between Ruairí Lynch (aka producer Bantum) and Dominic Murphy (also of Cork post-metallers Ealadha) starts as the duo means to go on: sweeping, synthy ambience gives way to glitching beats, carrying delayed, baritone vocals to their conclusion. Bearing hallmarks of both collaborators’ ‘other bands’, but exploring new territory, it bodes well for The Gauze’s future endeavours.
Conceived of as a lockdown project for Worn Out guitarist Alex Heinrich, and dealing with the mental-health complications that emerge for some in isolation, ABYSM’s recent extended-player expands upon the sludgy, doomy tumult laid out in debut single ‘Lith’.
It’s riff after riff, delivered in crushingly slow and deliberate fashion over five to eight minutes per song: long enough to establish upon its initial impact, but with no one idea ever growing repetitive or hanging around too long. One of those lockdown projects you hope to see on stage when live music returns from the void.
The Grief - ‘Descent’ (EP)
The doom-metal project of For Ruin man John Murphy and the Quinn brothers of West Cork black-metallers Corr Mhóna, The Grief trade in a brooding, considered and reverent take on the genre that pays homage to influences like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride.
Second EP ‘Descent’ sees the band conclude a two-part release of sessions recorded last year in Murphy’s own ‘The Barn’ studio in North Cork, and mastered by Dan Swano, renowned for his mixing work with Opeth, Katatonia and Insomnium among many others.
Definitely, absolutely, one-hundred-percent nothing to do with either rapper Spekulativ Fiktion or earthbound spacefarer Arthur Itis, Cork-based duo Celebrity POWER Couple are engaged in a deeply experimental strain of tomfoolery. Having shared stages with the likes of Limerick’s Post-Punk Podge and Japanese rock legends Electric Eel Shock, they’ve seen fit to inflict an extended-player on us, from which utterly cacophonous leadoff single ‘Acrobats in Assless Chaps’ is taken.
Keep Sketch - ‘You’ve Got a Nerve’ (single)
Strident and unpretentious alt-rock is the name of the game for three-piece Keep Sketch, whose debut single ‘You’ve Got a Nerve’ surfaced early in October. There’s a lot to like here for fans of the genre, with crisp and polished production giving structure to a song that flips neatly between pop-punk influence and indie-friendly hookplay.