“Directions in music” is the oft-cited raison d’etre of Cork multi-instrumentalist Dan Walsh’s Fixity project, and having teased fun and games with skittish recent single ‘Homeworld’, his seventh numbered release under the moniker sees him continue to play with ideas and engage in collaborations, including appearances from The Bonk/O Emperor man Philip Christie, and Kildare experimentalist Icebear.
Available for streaming, download, and mail order on cassette at https://fixity.bandcamp.com/album/fixity-7. Tapes also available at PLUGD Records on Coal Quay.
Although Mark Waldron-Hyden has been part of Cork’s psychedelia firmament for the past few years, the announcement of solo ‘band project’ Kineograph marks a new start for the Sunshine Cult Records man. Given away with digital pre-orders of the project’s debut album ‘Capricorn’, leadoff track ‘I Could See 3 People’ is fun, gentle kosmiche, underpinned by minimalism and a sense of an artist at idle play.
Available for streaming, download and mail order on very limited handmade CD at https://sunshinecultrecords.bandcamp.com/album/capricorn.
Picking up the weirdness where a string of singles in recent years left off, the new single from the current-day project of Ricky Dineen (Five Go Down to the Sea, Nun Attax) and Liam Heffernan (Mean Features, Glenroe) falls somewhere between their post-punk roots and a mad, spacey take on low, loping country-ish lead guitar, while Heffernan implores listeners to ‘smile like a serious loon’.
Available for streaming and download from Friday December 10 at https://bigboyfoolish.bandcamp.com
Elaine Malone’s second album under the Mantua banner is a hefty affair - two years in the making, an ambient album from Malone’s harmonium-driven project takes its cues from thoughts of environmental decline, the fleeting nature of living, and the influence of Eartheater and Jenny Hval. “I did it to feel a bit freer and unconfined to songs, and to go from the places that I didn’t want to use guitars for”, she told Downtown in last week’s edition.
Available for streaming and download from https://mantua1.bandcamp.com/album/mantua.
Now on his third album, launched last week at the Triskel, where it was also recorded singer-songwriter Jack O’Rourke is firmly in his own creative headspace, provided for by lockdown and a chance to process his folk, blues and chamber-pop influences by the way of stories - stories of sea-swimming, a man’s dreams repressed & long-held, and of keeping grounded in a changing world.
Available across all streaming services.
Clonakilty singer-songwriter Míde Houlihan’s at-times disarming honesty is a big part of why folk fans around the country have taken her to their hearts, but with Non-Believers, a look at the dances we dance around relationships and dating, a tint of lyrical cynicism is matched with a country-rock edge and big, spacious production.
Available across all streaming services.
Your writer hasn’t given Podge Lane the grá he deserves for some smart and snappy alt-country, investing the genre with an indie sensibility that informs his instinct not to lean too hard into its tropes. It’s paid off here, in a deeply personal concept record that, in the artist’s own words, ‘takes place in the morning hours’.
Available for streaming, download and mail-order physicals at https://podgelane.bandcamp.com/album/outer-monologues/.
On the topic of whip-smart indie, Limerick singer-songwriter Laura Duff and Cork-based collaborators’ recent stuff has been an absolute joy to listen to, displaying a keen ear for pop songwriting and biting, fun lyrical prowess on matters of the heart. This four-track EP, collecting said tunes plus another new number, stands to be a late-running highlight of the Leeside musical year.
Available for streaming and download from tomorrow at https://lauraduff.bandcamp.com/.
Seamus Allen and crew returned last month with an extended-player that’s crafted from a seemingly sunny songwriting disposition - a much-needed tonic in The Current Circumstances. ‘These Moments’ moves with a seeming shimmer, while the EP is built around the folkish ‘Known to Move’, while leaves little to the vagaries of frills and showiness, simply marrying Allen’s guitar with keyboardist Emily Naughton’s deftness before stepping into immaculate indie-pop.
Singer-songwriter, rapper and producer Aaron O’Sullivan has some voice to be belting with, and a command of weird, vacillating accents that give debut EP ‘Elegant for a Rogue & Skinny for a Bastard’, a collection of recent singles, a slightly woozy feel - his Cork accent slipping out on occasion from under a vocal affect of exaggerated American origin while the mood shifts between barebones hip-hop and bedroom-pop guitar.
Available across all streaming services.
A quiet but constant component of Cork’s Outsiders Ent. crew of rappers, producers and designers, Po Ki Ching, aka My Twisted Heart, resides somewhere between the influence of fondly-remembered alternative rock/emo evocations and snappy, contemporaneous hip-hop. Built on a singular acoustic riff and Vocoder’d interventions from frequent collaborator Outsider YP, ‘idontneedyou’ sets the tone for MT Heart’s upcoming 'Heart Leak EP'.
Streaming at https://soundcloud.com/outsider-mtheart/idontneedyou-with-outsider-yp and across all streaming services.
Also from the Outsiders Ent stable, Cork microbiologist/musician Kestine Ugbodu has made no bones about wearing his pride for the Rebel County on his sleeve, as per previous single ‘Tale of a Black Irish’, and with last month’s follow-up single and video, he’s continuing to explore the contours, contradictions and condition of being black and Irish - and it’s an uncompromising listen. If it makes you uncomfortable, take some time to sit down and consider why.
Streaming at https://youtu.be/IE_NN4TWoqw and across all streaming services.
Rappers and producers Shy Son and Drewbious Prime are The Bodysnatcherz, and having released their debut album ‘DARK ISH’ earlier in the year, they continue serving up raw, nearly lo-fi hip-hop with the Ronseal-titled ‘The Jazzy Stuff’. While this could just be your writer’s limited frame of reference, there’s a lot here to remind one of mid-Noughties Irish boom-bap, and while there’s a good dose of lyrical honesty at hand, moments of brevity and humour lift the whole record.
Available for streaming and download at https://thebodysnatcherz.bandcamp.com/album/the-jazzy-stuff.
A relative upstart on Cork’s slowly re-emerging hip-hop scene, Cork-based rapper and conceptual artist Salamay’s debut extended-player arrives with a seemingly fully-formed artistic vision, fitting smooth, confidently-delivered tunes like ‘Rochelle/Trust Issues’ between grainy, interpersonal interludes. One to keep an eye on for hopeful live excursions, wider events notwithstanding.
Available for streaming and download at https://salamay.bandcamp.com/releases, and across streaming services.
If there’s one thing your writer can be sure of these days, it’s that by the time one of these big round-ups is due, West Cork wordsmith Craic Boi Mental is on something new. Having explored adult autism and his own grá for crisp sales-character Mr. Tayto, he’s released his first single completely as Gaeilge, following extensive use of the cúpla focal throughout his entire body of work.
Streaming at https://youtu.be/2TzCNbx3UaA and across all streaming services.
The “belligerent bass music” project of Corkman Gabhánach de Nógla, An Galar Dub marries the sub-eating low-end of dub and the skittishness of drum & bass to jarring effect here, reframing the wrath of Kilkenny rapper Captain Moonlight’s broadside against the Irish far-right and their kin elsewhere as a distorted layer of aggression. A study in contrast and collaboration.
Available for streaming and download from https://angalardub.bandcamp.com/track/captain-moonlight-rise-of-the-untermensch-an-galar-dub-remix.
Being a child of the North Cork hinterlands himself, a soundtrack for an audiovisual piece built around found sounds and footage from the area was always going to be hard to resist. Neatly divided into twelve works corresponding to months on the Celtic calendar, and varying from snatches of more traditional electronic forms to found sounds and shimmering, droning synths, it’s an evocative work from a group of artists that’s found ample room to manoeuvre under the radar.
Available for streaming and download from tomorrow at https://thedepartmentofenergy.bandcamp.com/.
It’s been a long road back from the back-shelves of Cork metalheads’ memory for City Weezle, the brainchild of Leeside-resident Tipp man Simon Fleury and remote collaborators, but after over a decade, the Weezle will be unleashed for its second lap through town. Though the Mike Patton-inflected madness has been toned down to accommodate a wider range of influences, it’s a no-less exciting proposition.
Available for download, streaming and mail order physicals from tomorrow at https://cityweezle.bandcamp.com/.
It looks like we may very well go from vinyl boom to vinyl bust if the major labels don’t cop on with over-ordering reissues and seasonal gift items destined to be ripped apart by cheap needles. Even more impressive, then, that Cork hardcore four-piece Worn Out are on track to issue genre heads with a crisp, hefty slap to the face in the form of debut extended-player ‘Waste’, releasing on a white 10” record as well as digital formats.
Available for download, streaming and mail order limited vinyl from tomorrow at https://wornoutnoise.bandcamp.com/album/waste.
On the topic of bands that have travelled a long road - Cork hardcore lads Bailer have gone from packing out Fred Zeppelin’s, to touring Russia, to getting to play the Download Festival this year in Donington, in the UK. Possessed of a cast-iron self-belief, and with a bag of riffs to match, it’s a boon to see the band’s hard work reaping dividends in the hardest of times.
Available for download and streaming from https://bailerofficial.bandcamp.com/album/disposable-youth. Black-and-orange splatter vinyl is available early next year from Distroy Records.
For your writer’s money, the original version of Cork melodic black/death metal four-piece For Ruin’s debut full-length is one of the finer examples of the genre to emerge from the island, making an impact immediately upon its initial release in 2007. This new edition treats an underappreciated long-player to a complete and total remix, preserving the original sessions while adding new vocals and synths to facilitate the vision of guitarist/vocalist John Murphy - and unveiling five unreleased tracks from those same sessions.
Available for streaming, download and mail order on digipak CD with bonus tracks from https://forruin.bandcamp.com/
From reaching into the past, to putting a definitive full-stop on a band’s body of work, Cork black-metallers Gealach announced their disbanding in September of this year by releasing their debut and final long-player. A slab of no-fringes black metal with touches of polish and - dare I say? - melody, The Elatha Ancestry features contributions from Leeside genre veteran Liam Hughes (Soothsayer, Days of Night).
Available for streaming, download and mail order cassette at https://gealachireland.bandcamp.com/album/the-elatha-ancestry.