Add Sarah Crean’s “Show Me Nuance” to Your Sad Girl Summer Playlist

Photo by Aoife McGrath

By Ella Bowler

It’s that time of the year again; you’re curating your Sad Girl Summer Playlist. What’s the atmosphere we’re going for? How about synth-y, haunting and summery? Starting with banríon’s “end times,” followed by Patricia Lalor’s “Felt Something Finally” and Sorcha Richardson’s Red Lion—and what else? Sarah Crean’s “Show Me Nuance.” 

Noted as “one of Ireland’s most exciting upcoming artists and producers” by Hot Press, Crean is coming to us with her new single, “Show Me Nuance,” swiftly after the release of her debut album Call for Refinement in the summer of 2021.

Influenced by artists such as Men I Trust, Japanese Breakfast, and Mac DeMarco, Crean is hoping to use this single, co-produced by Adam O’Leary, as a launching pad to propel herself further into the indie-pop genre. This is a brisk pivot from her album’s influences, which included Joni Mitchell and Lykke Li

Call For Refinement is a seven-track album, all of which were released independently through self-funding and recorded from the comfort of her home. Crean says that writing, producing, and releasing Call For Refinement cemented her confidence as an artist, and believes that confidence shows in her new single’s sound. Living somewhere between Lalor and Richardson, “Show Me Nuance” perfectly encapsulates summer sadness: a lightness in the melancholy and a self-perpetuating motion. 

The track itself is an almost playful focus on the difficulties of losing all sense when having romantic feelings for someone. The track begins by stating how you would go to ridiculous bounds for them, seeing your love interest through a heavenly but unrealistic lens: “If I saw you blacked out at a crossing / I’d join in any way I could / Is there something in my water / Have I lost my train of thought / I’m sober but your smile it evokes.” 

However, as the track progresses and the chorus interjects, the focus shifts to coming to your senses and allowing self control to return. 

“I think there are similarities between what I’ve written about in this song and what I’ve written previously, but there’s a much louder and much more refined confidence to this portrayal and I’m really quite fond of it. Even though there’s a level of uncertainty to how one should cope with the back-and-forth discussed in the song, there’s an allowance for patience alongside it. In my previous works, I think there was more of a rush inflicted upon myself to figure things out immediately. With this song, I’m still figuring those aspects out and looking at that process in a much more light-hearted way rather than berating myself for it,” Crean says in a press release. 

“I’m genuinely most excited about getting to perform these songs live. Between the album and the new single, I’m beaming everyday at the thought of playing them with a full band,” she adds.

Crean’s debut headline gig takes place on March 30th at The Workman’s Club Cellar, with support from Robbie Stickland. Get your tickets here, and listen to “Show Me Nuance” below.

SOAK Introduces a Nostalgic New Sound with “last july”

Photo by Sam Hiscox

By Ella Bowler

SOAK announced a new album and lead single for their record If I Never Know You Like This Again, out May 20 via Rough Trade. 

The queer Northern Irish musician released their sophomore album Grim Town in 2019. With their initial sound adhering to Japanese Breakfast and Lana Del Rey in order to capture the angst that comes with youth’s departure, it has transformed to live somewhere between The Cranberries and Pillow Queens, as SOAK leans into a nineties-nostalgic-rock sound in their latest single release, “last july.” 

“I hate the idea of getting older and forgetting, or having a family and not being able to perfectly explain a memory or feeling. I always want to remember exactly how I felt at a certain moment,”  they state in a press release. “This record is the most accurate picture of me. I felt no pressure at all, it was almost like I was ranting as I was writing. When I was looking to the past, it was as though I had a big lottery ball of all my recent memories and I would just randomly select which one I wanted to unpack. It helped me to process that.” 

A “last july” music video was also released. Directed by Ellius Grace, it presents a dreamscape montage of nostalgia; Watson and their partner running through a house, holding hands and dancing.

Watch the music video below and pre-order If I Never Know You Like This Again here.

Watch Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra’s New Video for “Empty Envelope”

Video still: Hollie Gilson

By Clare Martin

Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra have released the music video for “Empty Envelope,” one of the most haunting and underrated Irish tracks of 2021. The video, which was filmed and edited by Irish artist Hollie Gilson, stars the band’s songwriter and guitarist Sarah Deegan, who strides through the scenes in a black duster straight out of the Matrix.

Don’t expect any slick Y2K aesthetics here, though. Gilson bathes the shots in warm golden light, punctuated by violent pops of red, whether in Deegan’s beret or the titular empty envelope.

As for the song itself, Deegan quite literally dreamed it up. She dreamt of receiving an empty letter, and thus the hazy, shoegaze-y single was born.

“It’s about the cyclical nature of bad decisions. ‘Empty Envelope’ examines the process of burning everything down to rebuild from the ashes,” she says.

Thankfully, there’s more to come from Deegan and drummer Danni Nolan, as the pair are finishing off their debut album.

Watch the music video for “Empty Envelope” below, and maybe treat yourself to the accompanying Unsent Letter Kit here.

Frustrations Boil Over on New Sprints Single “Little Fix”

Photo credit: Ste Murray

By Ellen Pentony

Sprints are back with another noisy banger. Taken from their upcoming EP A Modern Job, their latest single “Little Fix” is a thumping rant, taking aim at a world that continues to look the other way. 

Like on previous singles “Swimming” and “The Cheek,” lead singer Karla Chubb doesn’t hold back, delivering blunt truths about misogyny in the music industry with biting, rapid ferocity: “So tell me doctor / how do you fix / a problem they don’t seem to think really exists.”

Chubb notes that the track is inspired by her experience of “insecurities, imposter syndrome and gender stereotypes….the, sometimes, self applied pressure that as a woman in music I can’t just be good, I have to be great.”  

Sprints have an exciting 2022 ahead. They’re playing the prestigious SXSW in March, while their new EP A Modern Job is out via Nice Swan Records on March 22.

Listen to “Little Fix” below and pre-order A Modern Job here.

NewDad Get Blunt on Latest Single “Say It”

Photo credit: Bella Howard

By Ella Bowler

Likened to the moodiness of The Cure, Pixies, and Lush-era Snail Mail, indie rock band NewDad bring us the new single “Say It” and announce the release date for their second EP Banshee, coming February 9 via Fair Youth Records. 

Evoking opposing emotions to the melancholic “I Don’t Recognise You,” “Say It” conjures a sense of urgency, highlighting the development of NewDad’s style. Lead singer Julie Dawson’s vocals are ever the lynchpin of the song, capturing a bitterness and aggression not felt in previous tracks: “No, you don’t like me at all / You just want to see me fall for you.” The blunt lyricism precedes a breakdown of gunshot snares, with NewDad sounding as ambitious and experimental as ever. 

On the single’s release, the band say:

“It’s about unrequited love, about when someone is with you but not really, it’s supposed to capture that frustration you feel when you’re giving someone your all and they’re giving you nothing in return. The fast pace of the song makes it feel like I’m venting which works considering the feelings of irritation and bitterness I’m talking about when you don’t want to like someone but you can’t help it.”

Banshee is the band’s sophomore EP, after they made a splash with their debut Waves in March 2021. The band recorded and co-produced the EP in Belfast with Chris W Ryan (who they previously teamed up with on Waves), while John Congleton (Lana Del Rey, Phoebe Bridgers) took up mixing duties. 

“This EP is definitely bigger, having more time in the studio definitely meant we got to experiment more and layer more into each track so there’s an overall bigger sound! The main themes of this EP are restlessness and anxiety, during lockdown that’s how myself and most people were feeling so that’s what inspired a lot of the writing.” says NewDad on the EP. 

Listen to “Say It” below:

The band have confirmed more live dates for spring and summer 2022.  This March, the band will play SXSW, and they’ll be appearing at All Points East this upcoming August. NewDad will return to Ireland and the UK for their biggest tour to date.

Check out NewDad’s upcoming tour dates here.

banríon Ushers in the New Year with Melancholic “end times”

By Clare Martin

Anyone else feel lately like they’ve arrived at the end of things? Like the fire has already gone out, and we’re just gathering around the embers hoping for some lingering warmth?

At the very least, banríon (Róisín Ní Haicéid) understands this emotion, capturing a sense of sad wistfulness on her new track “end times.” She swaps out the listless indie rock of her full band EP airport dads for just as languorous, but slightly gentler, folk on her latest release. The Dublin artist self-recorded the song, which was produced by passerby (aka Diarmuid O’Connor).

“This city is gonna die soon / We’ll all move away,” Ní Haicéid sings, reminding us of every friend who’s emigrated, and how we can hardly blame them considering the state of things.

The song radiates a certain warmth, though, that brings to mind the lovely, hopeful moments keeping us here. “Light to be found in the end times / Didn’t think it’d be so beautiful / Or we’d still have stuff to say,” she murmurs at the end, staving off impending darkness.

Listen to “end times” below.

Pride Profile: Emét

By Sophia McDonald

A Derry native, Emét’s soft folk is definitely worth adding to your chill-out playlists. His covers of indie favourites Phoebe Bridgers and Father John Misty show his penchant for emotively charged tracks, something he has brought to his own music. Returning to the scene this year with his ‘Cheers & All The Best’ EP, Emmét McGonagle is back after a two year hiatus during which he earned his MA in Magazine Journalism. His new moniker, Emét is a product of the pandemic, when new music was written and recorded in Belfast’s Half Bap studios. Having been featured on KEXP in Seattle as well as at home on Irish radio stations, Emét’s tranquility is a well needed balm to your everyday woes.

Contemplating the ups and downs of life, his music is a comfort to listen to, stirring emotions of reflection, nostalgia and melancholy. Acoustic guitar melodies and harmonies benefit from Emét’s elegant pacing. Flowing along winding narratives, his use of place names and expansive crescendos will bring a tear to many an eye. Veering into Damien Rice territory and hinting at a reserved Leonard Cohen, Emét is ingenious in his use of guitar, brass and drums and pairs them wonderfully with his trusty acoustic tunes. 

Pillow Queens announce Banríon and Smoothboi Ezra as support acts for upcoming Irish tour

Everyone’s favourite queer sweethearts Pillow Queens will be joined by even more queer greatness in the form of Smoothboi Ezra and Banríon on their upcoming Irish tour. Starting in Belfast on December 2nd, singer-songwriter Ezra will join the Queens in Dundalk, Derry and Galway, before closing the tour at the second of two sold out gigs in the Button Factory. Indie-alternative quartet Banríon will support the other half of the tour, playing in Cork, Listowel, Kilkenny, Limerick and night one at the Button Factory on December 17th. While the majority of the tour is sold out, you can still grab tickets for the Cork gig at Cyprus Avenue here.

Pride Profiles: Smoothboi Ezra

Photo by Leon McCullough

To celebrate Pride, we’ll be highlighting a different Irish artist from the LGBTQIA+ community each day in June as part of our Pride Profiles series.

By Hannah Quearney

Listen If You Like:

Sidney Gish, Clairo, Declan McKenna

Who They Are:

Meticulously balancing hope and melancholy, Smoothboi Ezra has established themselves as a songwriter wise beyond their years outside of the Dublin or greater Irish alternative scene. After harnessing their own brand of stripped-back-to-the-bones indie rock, standing in the shadows of the likes of Snail Mail or Soccer Mommy, the producer has masterfully springboarded themselves from ‘fledgling’ to ‘fledged’.

Bringing together the best elements of alternative subgenres: the steady beats and thriftiness of modern lo-fi, the sparse instrumentals of indie folk, to the confessional lyricism of recent indie rock release — Ezra has managed to transcend genre and remain entirely true to themselves in the process, the way they’ve always have done.

Their most recent EP Stuck waxes lyrical on the intensity experienced in adolescent relationships — although, they insist that you make of it as you will. While boasting a fuller sound in comparison to their earlier releases, both eras of the songwriter’s discography are united by the thread of sonic vulnerability.

Listen to the EP’s title track ‘Stuck’ below.

Pride Profile: Jack Ward

To celebrate Pride, we’ll be highlighting a different Irish artist from the LGBTQIA+ community each day in June as part of our Pride Profiles series.

By Ellen Pentony

Listen If You Like:

SOPHIE, Four Tet, Daft Punk

Who He Is:

Limerick producer Jack Ward is creating genre-traversing electronic music, blending elements of traditional house and techno with pop melodies and structures. On his latest release “My Angel Rocks 4th and Back,” he uses an old-school 90s beat as its driving force before bedding in 80s inspired synths and a funky bassline, the combination of which is reminiscent of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love). This fun twist on a classic house sound embodies the producer’s style, which he says is most influenced by Vengaboys, Omar-S, and the late SOPHIE. Aside from producing his own tracks, Ward is collaborating with some of his fellow artists, so you can expect to hear more of his signature style popping up in the near future.