I am unsure what exactly it was the incited it but early this year I developed a fascination with Irish musicians. I think it was some combination of finally watching the fantastic movie Once, becoming a member of emusic which has a great regional search capability and most notably tapping into the music blog culture. For a while there I was rabidly hunting down new and old Irish groups as they seem to provide the most consistently fabulous tunes. Regardless of the genre there is something about the lyrical playfulness and intelligent musical crafting that is shared by folks from the green isles.
Of course I have always enjoyed the musical stylings of the widely known Irish acts: Van Morrison, Belle & Sebastian, The Cheiftans, Flogging Molly etc. But my research turned up a few gems I intend to share.
*** Amendment*** Frightened Rabbit are actually Scottish (thanks to NotAgnes at It All Started With Carbon Monoxide for the heads up)
As anyone who has read this blog can gather I Ha-luv Frightened Rabbit. Their album Midnight Organ Fight is one of the strongest released this year. Charging out of the gates with the confidence of a group that has been playing together for years, as these gentlemen have. They recently followed that studio album up with LiverLung a live recording capturing some of their songs better heard with a tinge of spontaneity. I must say after experiencing them in person this fall there is a whole new side of them live so I'm providing you with two live recordings one from that EP and the other from a Daytrotter Session.
Frightened Rabbit Old Old fashioned
Be Less Rude
Before I discovered FR Bell X1 crossed my path. Rocky Took A Lover was the first song I heard of theirs and it was catchy enough to send me looking for more. A little bit like an Irish The Fray their music is poppy and not particularly complex. Their output isn't very consistent some songs like Flame are a little too childish to garner my support however when they hit it they hit it. I saw them this fall when they opened for Stars and their live show is also a little soft but that could have been the poor sound system preventing us from really hearing them.
Bell X1 Rocky Took A Lover
I have long been a fan of Snow Patrol. Their song Chasing Cars was included on a compelation produced by Cities97 (a Minneapolis radio station) a few years ago and I adored it upon first listen. Their lyrics are sincere and romantic and their compositions carry your ear along. Not challenging it too much but keeping you on your toes. I grabbed their newest single last week, Crack The Shutters is ripe for a TV soundtrack and reveals a slight change in Snow Patrol's sound. I look forward to really listening to the rest of the album.
Snow Patrol Chasing Cars
Crack The Shutters
Finally there is the musical empire helmed by Glen Hansard. I first heard him unknowingly when my mother introduced me to the Frames 6 or 7 years ago. The Frames were an alt rock band that was much more popular in the UK than here. Their sound was a slightly less country Old 97's and much like Rhett Miller Glen delivered their lyrics with a truth and unrefined pitch that makes them even more endearing. I first knowingly happened upon Glen when I read about the movie Once. Instead of retelling the modern romance that the movie's making was start here IMDB. After finally watching the movie I needed to hear more and my oh my has Mr. Hansard delivered. From the Swell Season ( the group formed by his new partnership with his co-star Marketa Irglova) to his solo covers (of both Britney Spears AND Justin Timberlake) to his duet with fellow irishman Damien Rice there is plenty of him to be had. The Swell Season are about to release their next album and I am anxiously awaiting it. Low Rising is the first song to be leaked and if every track is as good you may very well see it on 2009's best of list.
The Frames Your Face
The Swell Season Low Rising
Damien Rice (with Glen Hansard) Lay Me Down
So there you have it. My first installment of Irish adoration. I don't anticipate this infatuation ending any time soon and I have lots of other Irish music to share so stay tuned...