It has been some time since I’ve committed genuine thought onto the (web)pages of this blog, and not for lack thereof – more that there has been such an unbridled sea of raw ideas recently to process that I haven’t been able to coherently staple anything together.
Sounds like a positive force, but actually it’s chaotic and very infuriating.
…but so, as happens at such sweeping occasions as the moving of one year into another, people make lists. I’m no stranger to that myself. So with the utmost bias possible, and no little shortage of hilarious internal doubt and counter-argument, here is my list of top ten bands from Northern Ireland this year.
10. A Northern Light
Quite the breath of fresh air, to see a band who genuinely want to see their audience’s earlobes bouncing with love. Americanised, full of DeLonge and very proud of it. Their launch night was easily one of the best RADAR gigs of the year, and providing that the message within their music continues to be purveyed by positivity as 2011 moves into full view, they shall continue to progress on the well crafted foundations that they’ve made. At the risk of laying down a verbal punchline, ‘Show Me What You’ve Got’.
9. Kasper Rosa
In a fashion that surpassed already high expectations the arrival of EP2 proved itself to be one of the best releases of the year, composed from a probable plethora of internal interests by Dave, James, Ryan & Steven – topped off by a masterful turn from producer Clark Phillips. After rocking out in delightful form at the Pigstock Music Festival, Kasper Rosa again packed out the Spring & Airbrake for their release launch, and deftly pocketing themselves a short tour of the UK during the Summer. As well as all that, they also landed a wonderful slot ahead of 65daysofstatic at the Mandela.
8. More Than Conquerors
Coming up strong throughout the year on a veritable string of good will, the four young lads that make up More Than Conquerors have been knocking down doors like dominoes, and as they say, no wonder. A fantastic first release which set them up from the off as an accomplished act flowed into a few high profile support slots with the likes of Ash, and as the year progressed a UK tour with Fighting With Wire. Much has been said about their fairly swift rise through the ranks and I personally can only see 2011 as being particularly exciting for them.
7. Axis Of
2010 for Axis Of consisted of a large jump in profile via touring, solid début festival performances and a fantastic music video to accompany their release of Port Na Spaniagh. Growing on stage from a punk outfit into an energetic tour de force has firmly cemented them in audiences’ around the country and much like Team Fresh, the opportunity is there for them to spring themselves further along from the platform they’ve set themselves up on.
6. Cashier No.9
Effortlessly groovy, and one of the more mature bands within the community, Cashier No.9 have been busy behind the scenes recording their new album between times regaling festival audiences with their sonic wares. A highlight at Glasgowbury as well as topping off the Belfast Music Week in September the band have been solidly increasing their stage presence throughout the year. If the stellar tune that is ‘Lost At Sea’ is anything to go by, I’ll be looking forwards to what sails out from their instruments come 2011.
5. Team Fresh
It’s no surprise that Team Fresh have bounded through this year as they did last, finally releasing their first material in a form that bottles partially some of that energy they bring with them onto the stage. This year also saw them step up to the Mandela Hall on several occasions to acclaim; not to mention once again devastating RADAR. As the new year comes into play hopefully we’ll see another spate of releases and some additional heavyset performances riding along the edge of what may in another world, be riots.
4. Paddy Nash & The Happy Enchiladas
Haven’t heard of Paddy Nash? Well you might not have – but now that the name has been introduced to you, I suggest you give him a listen. With the Enchiladas in tow, Paddy’s album When We Were Brave is one of the most heartbreakingly honest, uplifting collections of songs I’ve ever had the privilege of owning. From one end of the album to the other, the tales of Derry and beyond filter down into you, leaving only the dilemma of whether to put it all back on for another listen, or to just sit back in silence to absorb the power behind one of the great voices of Northern Ireland.
It seems we’ve been spoiled by albums this year, and hopefully next year will be no different – LaFaro’s self-titled balls to the wall affair is nothing short of immaculate. It storms your ears, holds your brain down and then asks you politely to listen, all the while staring you down and daring you to think different. I remember when I first heard it, blaring from a car stereo as the sun blazed down and the fields South of Belfast shot past the windows. Aside from spreading their brand of rock via the airwaves, they’ve also been pushing out into the world with tours of Europe, and the mainland UK with Helmet. What’s yet to really hit home I think, is the potential scale of their audience, who seem preternaturally playing catch up with them. One day hopefully, they will.
2. And So I Watch You From Afar
Striding out into the depths of both America and Europe, the four audio-hallions of the apocalypse have been working hard in 2010 – leaving no less intense a stream of flotsam and jetsam in their wake than they usually do. Then of course there’s the matter of ‘that’ tour with Them Crooked Vultures. We’ve been looking forwards to that moment when ASIWYFA jump into a more public consciousness (and fuck knows what happens when it does, I cannot fathom the unified power-bulb of thousands joining together emotionally at their hands) and it is in sight on the horizon. Perhaps it will come in 2011 alongside more touring, an even more epic gathering of far flung souls and the release of their new album. Excitement, is an undervalued word as the North coast machine rolls ever on.
1. Two Door Cinema Club
Bursting into the Summer months with a fabulous album in Tourist History, which I think has since been worn into oblivion – or at the very least soldered into my brain for ever more – Two Door Cinema Club have surpassed all that you could realistically hope for the lads from Bangor. In amongst their far reaching touring throughout 2010, the band have also clocked up appearances on Later With Jools Holland, the Jimmy Kimmel Show, Le Grande Journal and played the inaugural gig at Twitter HQ.
So there you have it. My little, quite insignificant but none the less hilarious viewpoint on local music over the last year. And, as with everything more fuzzy than it is quantifiable there are many omissions I’d probably prefer to have in there, many which almost didn’t make it, and many which actually didn’t; and of course those which I may have forgotten about because I’ve been known to do that.
Special mentions go out to A Plastic Rose, Colenso Parade, General Fiasco, Fighting With Wire, MojoFury & Pocket Billiards – who have all been up to no good this year in many different capacities, be it blowing festivals away, recording, releasing, touring and generally frolicking around the country plying their individual wares in the maddest way possible.
Also, in light of all the good and the great that has happened this year it is with more than a little touch of sadness that I say goodbye to the Cutaways, Panama Kings & Skruff; three of my favourite bands to create rumpus around my lady parts.
Here is to 2011 being yet another step better.