Support Cork and give the gift of music this Christmas

With gigs back in the swing of things, and the vinyl revival somehow withstanding an inflationary bubble, it’s a good time to look out for presents for the music-lover in your life - Mike McGrath-Bryan casts an eye on gift ideas.
Support Cork and give the gift of music this Christmas

Gifts for Christmas: Pro Musica staff members (left to right) Brian Dunlea, Aaron McCarthy, Teresa Welch, Kinga Pelowska, Garrath Burke-Weigt and owner Eileen Madden.

GIGS ARE BACK IN EARNEST - GRAB A TICKET!

For the last two Christmases, your writer has spent the opening part of these gift guides explaining the lay of the Covid-era land for gigs as it stood - thankfully, we’re back at a point where gigs are back on the regular - although vigilance around Covid-19 and its symptoms is still required so long as people are still catching it!

With that being said, a ticket for early 2023 is the perfect gift for the gig-goer in your life. Cyprus Avenue has a few highlights in the first quarter, including Dublin post-rockers Overhead, the Albatross (Friday January 27), Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré (Wednesday February 1), and legendary US punk frontman Henry Rollins’ spoken-word show (Monday March 27) - tickets for all of which are on cyprusavenue.ie, alongside appearances later in 2023 from the likes of Aslan and Steel Panther.

Aitch at Marquee 2023 tickets are on sale.
Aitch at Marquee 2023 tickets are on sale.

Meanwhile, the Marquee has started to announce its bevy of mainstream names for next year, with UK rapper Aitch (Wednesday June 7), popstar Olly Murs (Friday June 9), and the bauld Christy Moore (Saturday June 17) among the artists already confirmed for a trip under the big tent on Monahan Road, maintaining its place just outside the city centre next year amid the docklands’ ongoing development plans - tickets available on ticketmaster.ie.

 Indiependence 2023 tickets are on sale. Picture: Glen Bollard
Indiependence 2023 tickets are on sale. Picture: Glen Bollard

Heading into next summer, Indiependence 2023 is on sale for the August Bank Holiday at Deer Farm in Mitchelstown, including Northern Irish band Two Door Cinema Club, Irish DJ and Other Voices presenter Annie Mac, radio-friendly pop-rockers The Coronas, dance-pop duo Belters Only, Leeside singer Cian Ducrot, Dublin outfit HamsandwicH and Waterford party-rockers King Kong Company - weekend tickets on sale at ticketmaster.ie.

SPEND OR DONATE THE PRICE OF A TICKET

Over the course of the lockdown, this gift guide has suggested donating the price of a ticket to your favourite local artists, in response to streaming gigs and other Covid-era socially distanced events they pursued to keep things going. In the by-and-large absence of streaming gigs in recent times, may we suggest donating the cost of a gig ticket to a charity of your choice?

Sexual Violence Centre Cork has partnered with Cyprus Avenue to pioneer and pilot its Ask for Angela scheme, setting structures in place to allow staff to discreetly facilitate gig-goers in escaping risky or fearful situations, expanding this programme to national festivals with its SafeGigs programme, as well as providing counselling and other services to survivors of sexual violence in the city from its Camden Quay centre - visit sexualviolence.ie for more information and to donate.

Meanwhile, MusicGeneration Cork City provides musical education, workshopping and performance opportunities for children, teenagers and adults all over the city, working with Cork-based musicians and facilitators to teach in its schools, libraries and community centres. Among their projects are rapper/producer GMC’s Kabin studio in Hollyhill, traditional musician Jessie Cawley’s Creative Tradition initiative, and the Cork Academy of Music. They’re also planning wider actions in 2023, including ‘Here Comes the Sun’, a post-lockdown recovery programme for young people - visit musicgenerationcorkcity.com for more information and to donate.

KEEP IT ON WAX

We said it last year, but the vinyl boom is still in very real trouble - major labels continue to massively overproduce on catalogue and new releases, at the continued expense of labels and DIY artists kept waiting for months on end for vinyl turnaround. Despite this, the city’s record shops have managed to keep things simmering along over the past 12 months - and are on standby to serve record collectors and casual fans alike.

Support Cork's record stores.
Support Cork's record stores.

Having staked a claim as arguably the city’s best small venue with an intriguing selection of intimate gigs, and serving up a wide selection of bespoke coffees and teas, PLUGD Records on the Coal Quay remains the backbone of the city’s musical culture, toting an exquisitely-curated selection of vinyl, tape and CD, from the newest Irish releases to a world of independent music, new and old. The shop’s website, plugdrecords.com, also continues to allow expatriate Leesiders access to the city’s favourite record-slingers.

MusicZone continues to flourish at its home at Deanrock Business Park, in Togher, balancing its ongoing support for local and indie releases with major-label releases, reissues and Record Store Day stock, as well as pre-orders, special offers, vinyl accessories, and a range of hi-fi equipment to suit all budgets. A note to gift-givers - they also specialise in the seemingly now-specialist CD format - perfect for in-car listening, and for physical music collectors that have grown wary of the vinyl bubble. Order online at musiczone.ie, with free postage for orders of 3 LPs and over.

Bunker Vinyl, on the basement levels of Camden Quay, continues to be a strong, city-central place for a wide mix of music fans, and an ideal starting point for new and returning collectors alike, with a mix of Irish and international music, new and secondhand, as well as cleaning and turntable accessories. Proprietor John Dwyer’s expansion of the shop has paid dividends - and we can’t say enough about his way of engaging with people who drop in for a chat and a browse, a friendly and knowledgeable record-slinger with a lifetime’s worth of music stories!

Records & Relics on Lancaster Quay has long packed a whole array of secondhand records, alongside a wide selection of vintage fashion and pop-culture ephemera - they’re running their now-traditional 3-for-2 offer all throughout the month of December too - perfect for checking off some long-desired gems or serving a loved one up with an old favourite.

MacCurtain Street’s Thirty-Three RPM is a family-run record shop, with a comprehensive selection of secondhand records, and a standout offering of international genres alongside an eclectic serving of music from across the genre spectrum, predominantly on vinyl, and stocking a number of pre-loved and reconditioned record players for the vintage touch.

And if you can’t put your finger on what your loved one is after - all of these music emporia, of course, offer gift vouchers to the value of your choice!

INSTRU-MENTALITY

Pro Musica on Oliver Plunkett Street holds the mantle of the city’s premier instruments, effects and paraphernalia shop - across two floors, there’s everything from drum kits, guitars, ukuleles, keyboard and wind instruments, to pedals, amplifiers, home recording gear, and sheet music.

It’s a can’t-fail stop for the music lover in your life - be they young or adult learners, seasoned performers, or someone that’s dusted off their musical aspirations over Covid - with knowledgeable staff ready to help out with any requests in store, and a huge selection available at promusica.ie.

GIFT CARDS FOR BANDCAMP

The Covid crisis’ knock-on effects put in sharp focus the importance of direct sales of music and merchandise to our artists, especially in the light of ever-diminishing returns from the big streaming services. Ye know the spiel as well as your writer does by now: Bandcamp.com provides a one-stop shop for digital downloading and paid streaming, mail-order merchandise, subscription options, and now, live streaming.

They also held up their end of the hard-times bargain with #BandcampFriday, where they waived its share of revenue for the first Friday of the month, every month since March of 2020 up to November 2022, with all money going to artists, labels and/or their designated causes - a real show of good faith.

If you or a loved one wants to dive in, but doesn’t know where to start, the service offers online gift cards, which can be emailed to anyone, including one’s self to print out, and give physically. Take a look at bandcamp.com/gift_cards for more info.

FIVE OF LEESIDE’S BEST IN 2022

With so many options for new music in shops and on Bandcamp, it might be a bit overwhelming to pick and choose artists for different tastes and palates, if you’re still after something for the music head in your life— here are five Leeside releases that can be bought in hard copy or given digitally as presents!

God Alone - ETC: The long-awaited debut full-length from Northside noisemakers God Alone saw them get sorted by US metal label Prosthetic for a vinyl pressing — and the end result is the best way to do justice to a phenomenal slab of alternately heavy, groovy and technical rock that sits halfway between the band’s blackened, shoegazing roots and a lithe, lean math-rock future.

Available at PLUGD Records and Bunker Vinyl in red/black and red/white ‘splatter’ vinyl.

Pretty Happy: Echo Boy
Pretty Happy: Echo Boy

Pretty Happy - Echo Boy: The second EP from Mayfield noisemakers Pretty Happy couldn’t be more Corkonian if it tried — from a title that’s earned them a spot in this paper’s good books forever, to the modern, muscular and hefty post-punk that’s a seemingly direct descendent of the city’s genre tradition. Released by Foggy Notions Records, headed up by former No Disco presenter Leagues O’Toole - who can be seen reading a Holly Bough in the video for leadoff single ‘Boots’!

Available at PLUGD Records and Golden Discs on Patrick Street.

Actualacid - Boredoms 400: The kind of album that really does remind one of the occasional futility of music journalism - Corkman Jack Corrigan, a Sligo cousin known solely as Stuntt Mane, and HAUSU Records collaborators have conspired to take music’s modern aspects apart, and put them back together in the wrong order, to glorious effect. A nightmarish, oversaturated, post-capitalist slamming together of psychedelia and hip-hop — it must be heard to be adequately described.

Available at actualacid.bandcamp.com, with physical tapes due early in 2023.

Elaine Howley - The Distance Between Heart and Mouth: The Altered Hours frontwoman’s debut full-length finally saw the light of day this year, and it’s a breathtaking piece of work. Self-described ‘Casiotone pop’ that blurs the lines between ambient, experimental, and R&B, Howley dials in to the intensely personal as she negotiates the anxieties of congruence between intent and action, scanning the AM airwaves of her childhood for signal amid the noise, and getting to the heart of what really matters. A truly special record.

Available digitally at touchsensitiverecords.bandcamp.com - vinyl appears to be sold out everywhere!

Telefís - a hAon/a Dó: It doesn’t seem fair that your writer began this year looking forward to an interview with Cork post-punk legend Cathal Coughlan about a project he was pursuing with producer Jacknife Lee, only to end it having to talk about him in light of his untimely passing back in May. His shadow looms large over the music of the city, and always will, in the influence that subsequent waves of rockers and aesthetes have found in his music with Microdisney, the Fatima Mansions and on a solo basis. Telefís will be remembered as his last work, and across two records that bookmarked the year, his fearless articulacy and snarling disregard for conformity and convention are met with the healing of time, and the benefits of hindsight.

Available on physical formats at PLUGD Records and MusicZone.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more