I used to really despise Dublin. Loathed it. I think it stemmed from not enjoying college which seemed alien, overwhelmingly large and full of exclusive groups and pressures to do certain things like go to Coppers on a Tuesday. Looking back on that time I realise that the angsty-irrational passively dismissive judgement phase was slightly delayed in me and unfurled at this time. I couldn’t stand the people in college which trickled into having a similar disdain for people my age in general. I came to the conclusion that everyone was like this because they were from Dublin, and obviously it was Dublin’s fault. So, I did what most people do at that age; save money and get out of Dublin for a summer. I did this for three consecutive years living in Berlin, travelling around America and melting for three months in Nashville’s extreme humidity. Being exposed to these cities of vast cultural wealth was both a blessing and a curse. In one sense, I was exposed to new cultures and ways of living. However, this foreign freshness worsened my already tempestuous national pride because everything is always going to be more exciting and better than where you’ve come from.
This year marked a breakthrough moment in my relationship with Dublin and Ireland as a whole. What triggered the change of heart? A few things, I suppose. It began when I started to observe older people in pubs. They were hilarious and that enticed me more and more to experience new parts of town. Then I started to actually notice my surroundings and how incredibly beautiful Dublin is with its mixture of old dingy buildings and modest new infrastructures. Finally, I realised that this is a really amazing time in Ireland because we’re full of immensely talented creative people. There are still a lot of idiots, but the musicians, artists and writers across the country are making this an exciting time to be a part of an intimate collective of ideas born from a want to make and do. I went to Kilkenny for the first time at the start of the week and instantly fell in love with the quaint city. Everyone was relaxed, you could walk around the city ten times over but still see new places and also not expect to see the same crossroads you passed through moments before. This year has been one of the most insane, unpredictable and unsettling ones that I can remember in my life. But instead of lamenting on all of the bad things that happened, I’d like to remember 2016 as the year when I finally appreciated coming from Ireland.
Hot Cops – ‘Dumbbo’ (Paper Trail Records)
One of my highlights of 2016 was repeatedly listening to Belfast trio, Hot Cops. Even after hundreds of listens to their songs they always sound new and exciting. When I saw that they had released a video for ‘Dumbbo’ I was incredibly happy, especially after I watched it because it’s a wonderful, wonderful piece of musical film. Frontman, Carl Eccles lays out a tinfoil floor in an open field and playing house with a fabricated character from his imagination. It’s another triumph from Hot Cops, a band that cannot do wrong in my eyes. If you haven’t listened to them or seen them live then do so immediately. It will undoubtedly be your highlight of 2017.
The Notas – ‘Sick In Sin’
A few years ago I went to a gig in the upstairs venue of Whelan’s and saw The Notas open for another band. Their set from that night has been engrained in my head ever since because they were so different to everything else at the time in the Irish music scene and the musicianship and charisma on stage was so captivating. ‘Sick In Sin’, follows a three year gap after the release of their second EP and a stint living in London which has impacted upon the production quality of their new material.
BADBADNOTGOOD Feat. Kaytranada – ‘Lavender’ (Innovative Leisure)
Dungeons and Dragons is presently having a renaissance after essentially inspiring the premise of Stranger Things and now featuring in Canadian musical heroes, BADBADNOTGOOD’s latest video for ‘Lavender.’ The video sees the guys shackled to a table with a deranged dungeon master guiding their game. The band are unsettled by the dungeon master and desperately to get free from the boardgame, which has a hologram of Kaytranada held captive. The end is brutal, but such is the competitive and cut throat world of immersive gaming and the parallel universe it so easily creates for the players. Also, this video for ‘Lavander’ makes you realise that BADBADNOTGOOD are the perfect soundtrack for game night. Monopoly, anyone?
Notable Mention… Soak Up The Human Serviette
The Evaporators – ‘I Can’t Be Shaved’ (Nardwuar)
If Drake listens to it then it must be meme-able. Nardwuar the Human Serviette, and foremost music interviewer, is also in a band called The Evaporators. This single is exactly what you would expect from the high energy legend who has fronted The Evaporators since 1986. Another highlight of my week came from the very end of this video with a cheeky cameo from Insane Clown Posse. Insane, indeed. A fun tidbit to part with this weeks roundup is that as I watched this video for ‘I Can’t Be Shaved’ a suggested video on the side was of an Irish fashion blogger with a conversation video entitled, ‘Getting Rid of My Body Hair.’