Shaped and influenced by our status as a ‘cool second city’, by dint of both population and location, the music scene in Cork, at present, is the current iteration of a long and eclectic evolution, away from the glare of the larger UK/Irish music industry. From the blues-rock boom of the seventies and the post-punk golden age of the eighties, to nineties indie & house explosions and the current post-genre panopticon of sounds and sights, Cork’s history of musical innovation, and penchant for new ideas, sets it apart, and makes it the rival of any international live market or music community.
In Downtown we are looking at the bands, venues, local media, record shops, and arts facilitators that comprise this community, providing an extensive guide to musical life on Leeside.
Ample column inches have been devoted here and elsewhere to the onstage prowess and unbridled, untouchable magic that resides within the form of psych-rock five-piece The Altered Hours. A wild and wiry fusion of lysergic rock splendour and post-punk precision, the band have been part of the bedrock for an entire scene of Leeside experimentation and progression over the past ten years, with their influence now becoming apparent in a new wave of artists in the city.
Most recent extended-player ‘On My Tongue’ is available via Art for Blind on thealteredhours.bandcamp.com, and on all streaming services.
Having quietly begun at open mics around the city, before becoming a regular fixture on local gig and festival billings, singer-songwriter Elaine Malone has taken her alternative-inflected folk style in a vivid and defined psych-rock direction, with recent single ‘My Baby’s Dead’ enjoying the full benefits of production from Altered Hours man Cathal MacGabhann. Brandishing a strong and soulful voice, Malone’s presence is bolstered with confidence, having opened Quarter Block Party, impressed at Electric Picnic, and been the first live act to perform at Dali on Carey’s Lane.
MANTUA also allows her to explore her creative depths, improvising on stage with voice, guitar, and harmonium.The revenge-flick promo video for ‘My Baby’s Dead’ is available to watch now on youtube.com.
Having earned the attention and respect of the local metal scene with a relentless work ethic and the innovation inherent to the post-genre musical landscape, Northside five-piece God Alone have begun to make good on the incredible promise in their possession. New material progresses from the maturity and commitment displayed on debut album ‘Poll na mBrón’, and all signs point to bigger and better things, especially after winning the Mammothfest Best Band contest in Brighton.‘Poll na mBrón’ is available on godalone.bandcamp.com.
When the history books are written on the development of Irish hip-hop, the name of Ophelia McCabe will be underlined, and in bold text. Alongside pioneers like TemperMental MissElayneous, the artist known as 0phelia helped blaze a trail for women in the national growth of the genre. Living and working in Cork, she performs as a rapper, singer and spoken-word artist, both on a solo basis, and collaborating with a rotating cast of bandmates in improv outfit PakAnimal. Check 0phelia’s pages on social media for more information.
Bishopstown man Matt Corrigan has come into his own in recent times. A child prodigy in music and theatre, Corrigan first came to the attention of Cork’s all-ages scene, honing his craft at the Groundfloor and Camden Palace spaces, before moving on to Cork School of Music, where he and his HAUSU collaborators came together. Working within a group of bedroom-pop innovators and DIY producers, Corrigan’s recent EP, ‘This is Doubt’, is a candid document of a self-realisation.‘This is Doubt’ is available now via HAUSU Records at ghostkingisdead.bandcamp.com, and on all streaming services.
Beginning life as Moustache Latte, in a regular residency in the former Pavilion venue, seven-piece prog-soul outfit Shookrah have leaned into the former aspect of that self-labelling in recent years, with spacey R&B numbers like ‘Gerascophobia’, and cheeky social commentaries like ‘Don’t Wanna Doubt You’ marking them out as a relatable, forward-thinking proposition. In the live arena is where Shookrah really make sense, though, as band favourites like ‘Woman’ take on a new life. New single ‘Notions’ releases September 20th on shookrah.bandcamp.com.
Hailing from Wicklow and based in Cork, singer-songwriter Anna Mieke Bishop’s prowess with guitar, piano and bouzouki, oftentimes in collaboration with Ye Vagabonds’ Brian MacGloinn, has given voice to a tremendous musical vision. Given to the dynamic of broader indie/alternative, the layers laid on in debut long-player ‘Idle Mind’ reveal themselves upon repeated listening, while her way with honest-to-goodness songwriting has landed her everywhere from national radio to This Ain’t No Disco.‘Idle Mind’ is available at annamieke.bandcamp.co.
When first experimenting with beatmaking in UCC, developing a keen knowledge of the jazz canon, there’s no possible way that Corkman Robert O’Halloran, aka Jar Jar Jr., could have known that millions of views on YouTube for videos featuring his lo-fi hip-hop instrumentals awaited. Having long staked his claim to credibility, his first extended-player of entirely original songs takes inspiration from a lazy Sunday in Cork City, and launched with a live performance at Electric Picnic.‘Free Parking on Sundays’ is available on radiojuicy.bandcamp.com.
Having cut her teeth in Limerick’s MusicGeneration programme, learning from members of Protobaby and Giveamanakick, a move to Cork proved to be a catalyst for collaboration for IYMA-winning singer-songwriter Laura Duff. Working with members of Messyng and Ghostking is Dead’s live band, Duff’s accessible brand of pop is fleshed out with a distinctly indie sensibility, realised and brought home on her debut extended-player ‘For Your Company’ which is available across all streaming services.
The former Young Phantom has moved past the alternative hip-hop that brought him attention in 2016, and onto more focused collaborations with a variety of artists. With an eye firmly fixed on a wider audience with newer tunes, and off the success of helping programme the Outsiders Festival at the newly-renovated Cyprus Avenue, expect the renaissance man of Leeside hip-hop to keep making moves. New single ‘Stardust’, with former ApocalypsE collaborator Pharaii, is available on all streaming services.