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Best New Irish Bands

If you’re looking for some new Irish music to spin this St. Patrick’s weekend, this six-strong roster of new Irish bands are making definite waves in Western Europe, and are just starting to drift into the American musical consciousness. Give them a listen, and we bet it won’t be long before you’re adding them to your celebratory roster of Pogues, Snow Patrol, and The Script tracks.

Named after Daniel Todd’s role at a coffeehouse he used to work at (he was actually cashier no. 5, but the band thought 9 sounded “more rock and roll”), these indie-electro-shufflers include James Smith on guitar, Stuart MacGowan on bass, and Steven Quinn on drums. They hail from Belfast, and blend The Rolling Stones and the best of shoegaze into their Belfast-based album-rock songs via their 2011 album, To the Death of Fun. “Lost at Sea” brings back Beatles/Tony Sheridan-era skiffle; “Oh Pity” adds in Beach-Boys worthy harmonies; and “Goldstar” clangs and chimes with indie-pop flair.  This distinctive approach has landed them spots on Radio 1, as openers for Noel Gallagher, as a nominee for a Choice Music Prize (Irish Album of the Year), and, oh yeah, on just about every one of this year’s UK festival rosters.

Neil, Alan, David, and Carl make up Dublin band The Stand, who brought their alt-rock music over to NYC for a little inspiration (“we felt cocooned in Ireland, and had to break out of that,” says singer/bassist Neil Eurelle); within two years, they were selling out the city’s famed Bowery Ballroom, with journalists in every corner. Now that’s how it’s done. Their latest set, 100,000 Ways to Harvest Hope, is an album with a theme of positivity, nicely framed within the quartet’s energetic, feisty melodies that recall The Waterboys or perhaps early-era U2, back when Bono and the boys actually had to be a bit more scrappy in order to get attention. But don’t call these guys punks – there’s far more depth to their music than what you might expect at a poorly-lit cellar gig. “100,000 Ways…, as the title suggests, is an album of bright light,” Eurelle explains, “a record to lead us into this new decade on a positive note – leave the shite from the previous decade behind and start fresh. The intention is to encourage everyone to wipe the slate clean and take hold of whatever they have and make the most of it.”

We interviewed Autumn Owls for our first issue of Pyxis Mag back in January, and they just keep gaining momentum (read our interview with them here.)  Also hailing from Dublin, they mix earthy folk rock with more experimental, ambient sounds that make songs like the pensively poetic “A Thousand Blind Windows” and the strummy “Jigsaw” stand out on sets like their debut EP, Insomnia Lodge. Their newest single, “Acrobatics of a Patchwork Heart,” starts with hushed vocals reminiscent of an indie-rock version of Bryan Ferry before it evolves into a precisely-shaken pop number with noisy atmospherics and hook after hook. It’s a good insight toward what is looking to be another cohesive album for the band. “It was important to me that all the songs sounded like they were part of one mood,” comments the band’s singer/guitarist Gary McFarlane.

These Irish mod-popsters from Mullingar have taken their guitar-riff-anchored songs and cracking vocals, and thrown them onstage in support of the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, The Frames, and Razorlight, among others. Their debut set, Friendlier Up Here, was tracked in France with The Swell Season’s producers, and included guest spots from the likes of The Waterboys’ Steve Wickham and Paul Weller band keyboardist Helen Turner. Lately, the band’s spent the past two years building their own studio, at which they’ve already hosted Shane McGowan and The Cranberries’ Noel Hogan; but no worries, fans, they have more music of their own on the way, too, including their latest single, “In Loneliness Lives Love,” which they’re premiering this month.


Bangor and Donaghadee, Northern Ireland are the dual homes of this electro-emo-pop band, who just released their debut EP, Four Words to Stand On, a little over a year ago, with ginger Alex Trimble on lead vocals. Since then, they’ve recorded a full-length set, Tourist History, that’s been making a lot of noise since it dropped in 2010, and they’ve popped up on stages everywhere from Lollapalooza to Coachella, Reading and Leeds to Isle of Wight to the Far East, with an equally busy sched planned for this upcoming summer that will include a headlining spot on the NME 2012 tour.


And finally, meet the Aluskas, an Americana-influenced folk-pop trio from Dublin who consist of two brothers, Anthony and David Byrne (no, not that David Byrne – he probably gets that all the time…) and bandmate Philip Tinsley. First single “Backwater Woods” begins with a “Revolution”-ish riff, and then careens into a trotting rhythm and honky-tonk vocals; it’s easy to picture The Aluskas playing in your local pub, and that’s probably why they sound so approachable. “We love great American rock n’ roll music, everything from Elvis to The Byrds,” says Anthony ‘Ant’ Byrne. Currently prepping their new album, Draw! for spring of this year (“think ‘gun fight,” David Byrne says  in regards to the album’s moniker, “it’s quite an apt title because we took our band name from an old pistol called an Aluska”), they prepared with an eclectic approach. “We already had a backlog of songs,” explains Tinsley, “which made it easier to pick tracks that were complimentary to one another.” “But the change in musical styles keeps the record feeling unexpected,” chimes in Ant – “for me, the biggest crime any band could commit is being boring.”