Rounding up the beats and pieces on Cork’s music scene! 

In part two of an extended deep-dive into the city’s music scene, Mike McGrath-Bryan takes a look at everything from singer-songwriters and the city’s emerging hip-hop generation, to ambient music, sound-art and traditional ballads by way of shoegaze…
Rounding up the beats and pieces on Cork’s music scene! 

Greg Dowling and Shane Johnson of Fish Go Deep have been back at Cork venues following the release of their third album. Picture: Jed Niezgoda

SONGS & STORIES

Having gigged, streamed and released a documentary on the anniversary of ‘In The Game’, a collaborative album with Susan O’Neill, Mick Flannery has a busy few months ahead of touring in the US, Ireland and Europe, both on a solo basis and in continued collaboration with SON… Having just played a headline gig at Dublin’s Liberty Hall to support new album ‘Wild Place’, Jack O'Rourke has a headline spot at Monroe’s in Galway on Tuesday September 27 - as part of FOCUS Ireland’s national Rock Against Homelessness event… All The Queen’s Horses was one of your writer’s favourite stories during lockdown - picking up songwriting in his mid-thirties, Cobh songwriter Seán Murphy quickly garnered attention on the songwriting contest circuit, winning Nashville’s International Songwriting Competition and headlining his very first gig - ever - at Dublin’s Whelan’s… Singer-songwriter Cormac O'Caoimh’s wit and wisdom permeates his music, veering between humour and humanity with ease. He’s in Kerry this weekend for the Listowel International Storytelling Festival…

Míde Houlihan is currently working on new material. Picture: Lee Gibson
Míde Houlihan is currently working on new material. Picture: Lee Gibson

Your writer doesn’t know enough about West Cork’s Daithí Shanahan, other than being taken by the warmth and earnestness of May 2021 single ‘The Barmaid’s Lament’, and recent gigging turns out West, including supports for First Class and Coach… Clonakilty’s Sam Clague has been keeping busy after the April release of LP ‘Bird Songs’, including supports for Brigid Mae Power and a solo headliner at DeBarra’s… Eve Clague has similarly been keeping the head down with gigging and a festival appearance at the Only Your Footprints two-dayer last weekend… Míde Houlihan has won hearts and minds with honest, heartfelt singing and songwriting, and is currently working on new material after the 2018 release of her 'Shifting Gears' EP via Cork label Unemployable…

John Spillane continues busily gigging.
John Spillane continues busily gigging.

The city’s singer, songwriter and storyteller laureate, John Spillane continues busily gigging after the release of 2021’s ‘100 Snow-White Horses’ album, and ahead of next month’s ‘In Another Light’ live record, collecting some of his songbook into a career-spanning orchestral affair with the Cork Opera House Concert Orchestra… Podge Lane’s Corkonian-flavoured alt-country has been getting adoring glances of late, with the release of single ‘Paradise’, taking stock of his post-Covid thoughts, being met with coverage from RTÉ among others…

Cara Kursh is working on a new album.
Cara Kursh is working on a new album.

Cara Kursh has been a quiet, steady presence in Cork’s wider arts scene, gigging and performing regularly as a musician and poet, as well as organising the Sling Slang spoken-word night in the latter capacity. Currently working on a new album… Kursh’s other band, Slow Set, debuts at PLUGD this Saturday night, a dreamy, shoegazing take on traditional ballads. Debut EP ‘Go Mall’ has been teased on their Instagram…

Trad and folk-informed proggers Trá Phaidín have been busy gigging over the past while, including supports last weekend in Dublin for Katie Kim’s album launch… Corkonian-German indie-poppers Elbé released single ‘Over the Bridge’ a few weeks back, along with a stellar video from Mint Video man Robert O’Halloran… Beyond the Wash, the indie/new-wavey project of Patrick O’Donnell, promises new material after a busy few years… Veteran ‘ambient Americana’ outfit Boa Morte have a gig in UCC Library on Culture Night, Friday September 23, performing new album ‘The Total Space’ in full...

SPILLIN' AMBIENCE

Howlbux is the collaborative venture of Elaine Howley (Altered Hours, solo, Crevice and more) and Irene Buckley (Cork composer). Their jams, easiest-classified as ambient music, can next be heard live at Coughlan’s on October 27th, with Cork-based songwriter Trick Mist in tow - whose new album ‘The Hedge Maze and the Spade’ is due later this month via Pizza Pizza Records… On the topic of Elaine Howley, your writer was blown away by a set at her album launch by Japanese ambient artist Batoh Labradorite, currently living in Cork. Go to see her when the opportunity presents itself again… A collaborator of Howley’s in Crevice, Roslyn Steer has recently been putting older music and sound projects into the world via her Bandcamp, including ‘Evening Piano’, a selection of pieces recorded on her Granddad’s piano in Doolin, Co Clare designed ‘for spacing out and drifting off’…

Muireann Levis: Single ‘Elsewhere’ well worth a listen.
Muireann Levis: Single ‘Elsewhere’ well worth a listen.

The Quiet Club, composed of legendary sound-artists Mick O’Shea and Danny McCarthy, have been busy with their ‘Site of Sound’ series of performances over the past few weekends, across landmark church buildings in the East Cork region… Ballydehob native Muireann Levis has also been keeping busy with site-specific work, overseeing local boating and auditory experience 'Inbhéar', an exploration of the local waters of her youth. Ambient single ‘Elsewhere’, released as a split 7” with Howlbux earlier this year, is also worth your time and ears…Cork-based label Krim Kram has also kicked into gear this year, issuing noise and experimental music on digital and CD formats, including from Dublin artist Kevin Kirwan’s Dressing project…

Automatic Blue: 2021’s LOOK COOL DEAD is an important alt-pop listen.
Automatic Blue: 2021’s LOOK COOL DEAD is an important alt-pop listen.

The HAUSU collective of musicians, designers and other creatives have been consistently creating some of the most interesting indie, pop and electronic in the city in recent years - current circumstances, though, have seen them begin to set their sights beyond Cork… Matthew Xavier Corrigan has returned his stylistic basics under his own name after winding down the Ghostking is Dead project… Arthur Valentine’s 2021 indie-pop EP ‘Splitscreen’ released alongside its own videogame of the same name - and a videogame score also of the same name. August single ‘Focus’ has already become the label’s most-viewed video… Actualacid’s long-mooted album, ‘Boredoms 400’, has been hinted at by the label online… 2021’s ‘LOOK COOL DEAD’ is a sometimes-difficult but important alt-pop listen from Automatic Blue…The label’s sister project, Important!, also releases a number of anonymous extended-players in monthly drops online - including work from one project that’s identified itself as being from Cork - singer-songwriter FhaBlo.

Elsewhere in self-identified bedroom pop shenanigans, Cork-based noise-making Kerrymen Messyng alternate between steady gigging and periodic sportswear drops: the sometime former junior footballers are set to release GAA jerseys in white and purple, each carrying sponsorships from local record-slingers PLUGD… Messyng members have also been making solo impressions, with Donagh Sugrue creating as An Eldritch Abomination among other monikers, and JJ Lee being no slouch in the pop department… On the topic of pop, Letterbox Kid’s drawly untangling of modern malaise goes down with easy charisma, while on the other side of that dynamic, Lloyd John impresses with heartfelt and deeply personal work, with debut studio EP ‘Homesick’ following a brace of sold-out shows in Cork and Limerick…

BEATS & PIECES

He’s single-handedly blazed a trail for himself over the past few years, but having delivered the goods at Open Ear festival on Sherkin Island, and sold-out a run of shows in America and the UK earlier this year, autistic rapper Craic Boi Mental has recently announced a break from music. Get your ears around his ‘Autistic Legend’ album online… The Outsider Ent lads have kept a steady head of steam throughout the crisis and afterward, including singles and videos from members YP, Kestine, My Twisted Heart and Olympio. YP and Olympio also play the MusicCork showcase gig at Cyprus Avenue on Wednesday, September 21…Said gig will function as a veritable showcase for a new generation of Cork hip-hop and R&B, including appearances from DJ Safarii, Minnie Marley, Yesunia and London-based singer Jena Keating...

Jena Keating plays the MusicCork showcase gig at Cyprus Avenue.
Jena Keating plays the MusicCork showcase gig at Cyprus Avenue.

Stevie G is one of the pillars of Cork’s music community, and your writer isn’t just blowing smoke for a colleague. Aside from his spot as a columnist here, a tenured DJ at Cork’s RedFM, and his wide array of music-related social work in the city, his This is the New School gigs to date have placed attention on young rappers, singers and producers, including some of those in the previous part, as well as the likes of King Koko, Sam Healy, and Meghan Murray… Also working in the social and community sector with his music these days is Spekulativ Fiktion, helping run things up in Hollyhill at GMC’s Kabin studio, and equipping young people with the skill and confidence required to perform and compose music, as well engaging in other media… Also mentoring new talent is Coco the Producer, up at the M5 Sound Studio on McCurtain Street, where the likes of JRilla, Reabrizy and Goldie Bronson have been honing their craft on the mic. Goldie’s next single, ‘Voices in My Head’, drops on the 30th…

Cork beatmaker Gaptoof had a busy Covid period, including overseeing beatmaking battles on his Instagram Live, a compilation of which, ‘LEFTONSTREAM’, is available on his Bandcamp, with proceeds to mental health charity Jigsaw. He also recently joined his Soft Boy Records crewmates for an excursion to Electric Picnic earlier this month… Pseudonymous beatmaker CLM came through with one of the local records of lockdown last year, with their ‘Working From Home’ beat-tape, a slab of unpretentious, sample-heavy, instrumental hip-hop… Having won the ears of millions online for his jazzy, lofi beatmaking and cheeky use of acapellas from the late, great US rapper MF DOOM, it’s fitting that some of the instrumentals made by Cork beatmaker JARJARJR, that put a new spin on the Villain’s laid-back flow, find their way to wax earlier this year in the form of LP ‘Fallen Angel’… On the topic of jazzy stuff, The Bodysnatcherz served up an EP of exactly that this time last year, fine stuff from a duo comprised of rappers/producers Shyson and Drewbius Prime…

Veteran rapper and singer Ophelia McCabe, aka 0phelia, has brought back her improv band PakAnimal for gigs at the Crane Lane over the course of the summer… Cork producer Ian Ring continues to do big things under his own Boku name, and working with Limerick collective Narolane - GodKnows, MurLi and Denise Chaila - on members’ various solo and collaborative projects… Salamay’s been getting column inches in recent times via Hot Press and District mags for recent singles, with ‘Rochelle (I Know You Don’t Like Rappers)’ being a reflective spot of self-examination… Fermoy vocalist Connor Kane also showcases at MusicCork on the 21st, having self-released his first few singles and demonstrating a knack for hip-hop with alt-pop leanings…

EXPERIMENTATION AND ELECTRONICS

Now based in London, ambient composer, DJ and music journalist Kelly Doherty is in the process of writing more music as Gadget and the Cloud, as well as running Satellite Towns, a nightclub designed specifically for queer Irish emigrés… Eamon Ivri, aka Lighght, has been keeping a low profile as of late, after the March release of full-length dance album ‘Seodra’ through US label Doom Trip…  Emanating out of North Cork’s countryside, label and collective Department of Energy have steadily been releasing music, zines and sound-art work, as well as running gigs at Dublin’s Unit 44 venue… On the topic of labels, the GAO GAO!! netlabel, listed on Bandcamp as running out of Cork, seems to be home to a plethora of ambient, experimental and ‘post-nightcore’ sounds…

Shane Johnson and Greg Dowling of Fish Go Deep. Picture: Jed Niezgoda 
Shane Johnson and Greg Dowling of Fish Go Deep. Picture: Jed Niezgoda 

Ant of Cork electronic outfit Generic People is no slouch on visuals and snappy stage presentation, and on September 28 at the Haven Cafe on Bachelor’s Quay, he’s running a workshop on the topic for the Electronic Music Council. Catch him DJing regularly around town, also, including a spot at the Dean hotel… Fish Go Deep have been back at Cork’s venues on their rounds as the city’s undisputed kings of house music, following the release of exploratory third album ‘This Bit of Earth’ on their Go Deep label, and Irish music excavators Allchival’s reissue of their 1997 Vol. 1 EP…

Cian and Jake of ‘sad dancey metallers’ God Alone have also delved into longform, improvised techno under the name SHAMS…Cork-based Gabhanach de Nógla, aka An Galar Dub, has been cranking out low-end decimation for years now, and August extended-player ‘ollamh’ maintains his pace and belligerence. His entire discography - all 75 releases as currently on his Bandcamp - is currently up for download as a digital bundle for just under €4… Tapping into the 2000s UK garage and pop of her childhood for inspiration, producer, engineer and singer Blakkheart’s ‘You Can Run’ is a bijou of a tune…

GIVE THANKS

Last but far from the least, a special mention for the second and final Telefís album, out next month on CD and early next year on wax via London label Dimple Discs - the last songs written and sung by Cork post-punk icon Cathal Coughlan, in collaboration with producer Jacknife Lee, before his untimely passing earlier this year. Your writer had the privilege to speak with Coughlan about the project’s first record back in January for this parish, and it will always be one of the honours of his career. Be sure to spin The Fatima Mansions' 'Blues for Ceaucescu' on Monday...

  • Errors and omissions for this year’s edition of the September Scene Guide - apologies to doom-metallers Partholón after last week - can be sent to your writer on Twitter - @mike_mcgb.



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