Release day baby. And it’s a monster one. While there were some incredibly impressive albums released on Friday, singles are stealing the limelight along with a surprise EP from one of Ireland’s grooviest hip hop acts.
Tebi Rex – Brackets EP (Independent)
Nialler9 premiered the video for Tebi’s latest single Aaaagh on Thursday, a track that explores alcohol. In so many ways. But they surprised us all by announcing a whole EP late that same night, featuring previous singles White Boy of the Month and I Got My Whole along with another new track You Thot. The Kildare duo are developing their sound even further with their trademark humour filled social commentaries. Aaaagh features a guest verse from rising Wexford rapper Awkward Z who should definitely be checked out.
Kevin Morby – Sundowner (Dead Oceans)
A crafty songwriter who constantly swaps his electric for his acoustic and back again. The Kansas City native gifts us with a warm, stripped back reflection on enforced loneliness. While his previous records were rock heavy, this album gives us a more intimate interaction with Morby. He still gives us a taste of his characteristic electric tone throughout the album however. Favourites from this LP include Campfire and Wander.
Paddy Hanna – The Hill (Strange Brew)
The Dublin indiehead gives us his third album and while sounding absolutely nothing like his first two, still manages to capture the madness of Hanna’s songwriting. His style is not for the casual listener, constantly experimenting and pushing himself to new extremes along with producer, Girl Band’s Daniel Fox. Swapping out the strings from his last record Frankly, I Mutate for more vocal harmonies and coos, The Hill is littered with Italian motifs and synths. Check out the singles from this record, Sinatra and Colosseum.
Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison (Concord Records)
Following the success of The National bandmate Aaron Dessner on the production of Taylor Swift’s Folklore, Berninger announces his own arrival to the solo world with his Serpentine Prison record. While elements of The National are present throughout the album – felted piano, reverby electric guitars, Berninger’s own vocals – it is very much shows Berninger’s abilities to write without the band he’s had iconic success with. Produced by the legendary Booker T. Jones, Serpentine Prison is a tender reflection on the state of the world. Distant Axis and Silver Springs featuring Gail Ann Dorsey are standouts.
In the singles department, Sharon Van Etten has re-announced herself to the world following the success of her 2019 album Remind Me Tomorrow with the lush Let Go, a single dripping in quality vocals and uplifting, yet subtle electric guitar.
Lana del Ray has also made a bit of a come back with her new single Let Me Love You Like a Woman, the first track from Chemtrails Over The Country Club which is due for release at some stage. That’s still a bit of a mystery. Nevertheless, the new single sings about the best possible love. It is a total treat.
Declan O’Rourke has announced he will soon be releasing a new album in February entitled Arrivals, produced by none other than Paul Weller. Treating us with its first single The Harbour continues to showcase O’Rourke’s ability to tell a story with his distinctive fingerpicking style and baritone vocals.
Elsewhere in the Irish scene, Inhaler have put out the electric When It Breaks. The Dublin four-piece very much securing a sound with their latest release. Yenkee (a.k.a. Graham Cooney) reflects on a move to an unfamiliar city in Life In ¾ Time, featuring a pretty infectious groove. Folk artist Elise has put out a very drum and bass heavy track Cowboy, complimented by her gentle fingerpicking and vulnerable vocals.
Waterford’s TOUCAN (a.k.a. Conor Clancy) has treated us to a down tempo, harmonious cover of Bill Wither’s Lovely Day, recorded while all his band mates were in isolation over the lockdown. An impressive example of production given half the parts were recorded on phones.
His county colleagues Backroad Smokers Club have also put out Colours of the World. The cult funk band are building up to their much anticipated debut album having developed a very loyal following on the live circuit across the country over the last few years.
Check out the playlist below featuring more releases from TSHA, Gabrielle Aplin, James Blake, Orla Gartland and Rejjie Snow.
Tadhg Williams – Music Editor