We gave our own thoughts on the top Northern Irish songs to be released in 2015 already but we know that we are not the only ones with an opinion. Naturally we tracked down and hounded a host of contributors and participants from around the Northern Irish music scene and asked them to tell us what track really stood out for them in 2015.
Edward F Butler and Katharine Philippa – Futures Full
Two very intense people came together to produce an equally intense and raw track that allows all these gorgeous rhythms and beats to flow out and into the world. I absolutely adore Katharine Philippa, her style, voice, intensity; she’s an incredible talent, a true artist. Ed is really hitting his stride now, and I’ve been a fan since he applied to our Scratch My Progress talent development programme. I remember thinking the track he submitted was the most unique thing I had heard from a local artist in a very long time, it had shades of James Blake to it and Ed’s voice is very powerful.
Charlotte Dryden – Oh Yeah Music Centre
Ryan Vail & Ciaran Lavery – The Colour Blue
When the announcement for ‘Sea Legs’ came along I was instantly curious about how the artists could mesh their styles together to create something that would be new and fresh while staying true to their individual styles.
The result was one of the most beautiful records of this or any other year and lead single ‘The Colour Blue’ is a delicately crafted, intimate piece of brilliance.
Lavery’s vocals are as usual a joy to listen to and while Vail’s trademark minimalist electronica is really at its most minimal here, you can definitely hear his influence on the track, setting it aside from previous work by either artist and elevating it up a notch to produce a ridiculously polished finished product.
‘The Colour Blue’ is a melancholy reflection on love that instantly transported me back to the first time I heard ‘O’ by Damien Rice. It has the tone, technique and emotion which would see it seamlessly fit into that much heralded album no bother at all, it’s that good.
John Cartwright – Stendhal Festival of Art
exmagician – Kiss That Wealth Goodbye
There have been so many releases I’ve loved by Northern Irish artists this year (Pleasure Beach, Silences, Girls Names, Jealous of the Birds to name a few) but the single that stood out for me is Kiss That Wealth Goodbye by exmagician. It’s smart, jangly and came right out of nowhere. These guys have clearly been working hard behind the scenes since Cashier No.9 and it shows with this perfect bit of pop. It’s been a pleasure hearing this track come on the office radio in Generator NI!
Grace Loughrey – Generator NI
Girls Names – Zero Tryptich
Girls Names’ stunning comeback single in March functioned as a bridge between the sleek, streamlined krautrock of The New Life and the torrid post-punk that was to come on their third album Arms Around A Vision. 11 minutes long and released on a single side of clear vinyl, it was an uncompromising return and the undoubted highlight of their visceral live shows throughout the year.
Chris Jones – Belfast Telegraph
More Than Conquerors – Red/David C Clements – My Dear Mother
My choice of single of the year is a tie between two bands heading in different directions. On Friday 2nd October I watched More Than Conquerors play their farewell gig in Mandela Hall. ‘Red’, released back in March, really stood out for me – an epic and haunting song, which MTC played with all their hearts as they really went out with a bang. David C. Clements supported MTC that night. His new song ‘My Dear Mother’, is a beautiful, rythmic song that grows and grows over 3 and a half minutes, showcasing DC’s massive potential. I can’t wait to hear his debut album in 2016.
Matt Bishop – NI Music
Molarbear – Highclops
2015 has been a cracking year for Irish music and it was intensely difficult to pick just one track to ramble about. But here it is, track of the year for me was ‘Highclops’ by Belfast based sludge/noise quintet Molarbear. In terms of raw power and pure heft, there really is nothing else that comes close to a 3 guitar band. Molarbear combine dirty riffs with insistent, punchy drums and thumping bass lines to create a sound that wouldn’t be out of place at a Neurosis or Sleep concert.
Seán Ó’Neíll – RedBeard Promotions
Strength – I Like Compressions
They don’t smoke, and they don’t speak French. But give them old broken drum machine and they’ll make some mighty music.
A band who have taken their time in rising from the ashes of Red Organ Serpent Sound, Derry groove makers Strength have been crafting a rather strange formula of lo-fi experimental clatter which eventually clamoured together into the unorthodox and hypnotic ‘I Like Compressions’.
The first in a string of singles set be released by the band over the coming months ‘I Like Compressions’ is a tasty little earworm that has an offbeat charm which is hard to resist.
Peter Cinnamond – BBC Radio Ulster
Hot Cops – Decay
For me, it’s impossible to look past Hot Cops with “Decay”. From the very first moment I heard it, it was clear this was a very special song. Not quite fitting into any genre, “Decay” is a raw, poetic explosion of sound; as haunting as it is huge. Lyrically it’s one of my favourite songs ever, and not just in local terms. Remarkably, I believe we still haven’t seen the best of Hot Cops yet; but for as long as this song remains in their setlists, be assured, the reaction will remain the same. Beautiful.
Taylor Johnson – Encore NI
Gasoline Outlaws – Stand As One
Throughout Northern Ireland’s metal and rock community produced a plethora of powerful and passionate songs. Whether it was the most extreme metal or melodic hard rock dozens of bands released albums, EPs and singles. To chose one track from among these jewels of noise seems unjust; and ask me again and I’d probably chose another one.
But, cornered and threatened to be forced to listen to that waste of oxygen called Justin Bieber I made my choice. It’s by the Gasoline Outlaws and the song is ‘Stand As One’.
Why? Well this country is enjoying relative peace, yet there are still numpties and bampots who wish to perpetuate division, whether it is on the airwaves, in the Assembly, or through violence.
And, we had the horror and tragedy at Paris’ Bataclan concert hall. The Gasoline Outlaws in ‘Stand As One’ serves as a reminder that we can, as members of the so-called human race, work together, live together, laugh together, cry together and make sure that our children learn the ways of peace not the path of divisiveness.
Jonathan Traynor – Belfast Metalheads Reunited
Silences – The Sea
Although Silences have been bubbling away in one form or another since at least 2012, this year was the moment when the band finally delivered on all that early promise and delivered a single that marked them out for greatness. “The Sea” is a soaring example of what can best be described as ‘emotional indie’ of the kind that made Kodaline so beloved. It picked out quite a bit of blog love back in April, and deservedly so.
Christopher McBride – The Metaphorical Boat
Rachael Boyd – Esoteric Path
This year has been incredibly rich in local musical talent and achievements. Every month there has been at least one new release that has left me so excited, with the likes of Robocobra Quartet, Matua Trap and Malojian simply blowing me away. However, as the year draws to its close there is one local track that I personally believe excels above all else. I honestly listen to it every day, and it never fails to leave me feeling elated.
‘Esoteric Path’ is the latest piece composed by post-classical / electronic multi-instrumentalist Rachael Boyd. An intricately beautiful track with loops that appear disarmingly simple at first, slowly building up to its peak with a perfect combination of strings, electronics and delicate vocal samples. After a short break from being active within the music scene it is so wonderful to see Rachael Boyd return with a song that was obviously crafted with a great deal of care and love. Get comfy, lie back, and let yourself drift off into the daydream world that Esoteric Path lays out before you.
(If, like myself, you find yourself falling madly in love with Esoteric Path I would highly recommend checking out the subsequent remix by Oaks!)
Nikki MacRae – Hidden Machine/Through The Wall
The Couth – Pretty Lady
Jonny McKee – Shizznigh Promotions