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Deep Down South: New Years and Noisy Block Parties

To say that 2015 sees a massive year ahead of Cork City’s music scene is an understatement. An ever-changing, ever-adapting beast that has taken several setbacks in stride over the past few years and seen bands and venues lost, found and regrouped, built to the point where the real capital is in many respects set to become the intriguing prospect it is.

This year alone sees new records from post-hardcore hunks Terriers (below), alt-rock cornerstones Hope is Noise, death-pop merchants The Vincent(s), and the debut album from much-loved psych-rock outfit The Altered Hours (pictured), adding to their already-varied and exciting discography. The long-awaited return of “heavy pop” hawks Elk is on the cards, with an album confirmed for release through Out on a Limb. The Hard Ground and The Shaker Hymn, two very quickly-established folk-influenced outfits, both have new releases on the way, the former finishing their ‘Triptych’ trilogy and the latter their sophomore full-length. And before the year is out expect Elastic Sleep to capitalise on their phenomenal momentum, and for nascent electronic sensation Talos and a returning Young Wonder to have left their mark. Metal is emerging from a very quiet time for the genre in the city are threatening to wreak havoc this year, with doom/post-hardcore quintet Soothsayer, eight-man negative hardcore outfit Kawtiks, post-metal trio Ealadh, and hardcore band Horse all either releasing tracks late last year, or promising more this year. Meanwhile, young bands like Afropop trio Unwinding Cables, psych-pop boys The Careers and a mini-resurgence in pop-punk with bands like Wasted Space and The Audible Joes are delivering, and in impressive fashion to boot.

Venues are lining up quite nicely to provide for gig-goers: The Pavilion returns from its slumber in March, with the upstairs venue being run by the promotional and booking crew behind Coughlan’s, itself the city’s breakout venue of 2014. The Crane Lane Theatre packs a punch, with January 24th seeing grunge revivalist veterans Paradox launch their new album ‘Chapters’, ska vets The Beat on February 5, alt-country duo The Handsome Family on March 27 and 28, and May 25 bringing us heft in the form of Torche. Rescued from oblivion, beloved small-bar venue Mr. Bradley’s will continue to play host to gigs and DJ nights, while the Cork Community Print Shop plays host to local metal promoters Pyre, opening their account for 2015 with Limerick tech-metal titans Shardborne, with Ealadh and new band Mannequin Republic supporting. 2015 also sees multi-disciplinary arts space Camden Palace Hotel locked in a fight for its future, as the building on Camden Quay has been placed for sale by bailout bank NAMA. The Save Camden Palace campaign seeks to raise awareness of the independent arts centre’s activities, including three venues, twelve visual arts spaces, a dance studio, a new recording studio, an online radio station, a cinema, a photography darkroom, and more. Get to and sign the petition. This column will have the scoop on upcoming awareness-raising activities.


Festivals and events are building up nicely, too: while, it goes without saying that Indiependence tickets and announcements should be impending any time now, focus at the moment turns to the weekend of February 6-8 when North and South Main Streets become a festival, and the Quarter Block Party unleashes music, art, theatre, and good vibes, taking local venues and retail businesses and turning them into space for an all-day blowout. Presented by arts collective The Makeshift Ensemble and promoters Southern Hospitality Board, names thus far confirmed include O Emperor, Adultrock, Women’s Christmas, Cian Nugent and Naive Ted, while local announcements include non-traditional-venue shows from Christiana Underwood, Twin Lights and Roslyn Steer among others. Other events include Banter with Jim Carroll, an open conversation with the Irish Times’ music scribe, and Vinyl Love 777, an event hosted by Stevie G that sees seven hours of Cork music folk playing seven of their favourite sonic sevens. As if that weren’t enough, fans of something a wee bit heavier can crack on during the same weekend to Fred Zeppelin’s for Noisefest, a two-day event hosted by upstart promoters Hear the Noise, with some absolute lashers on the bill. Northern math-metallers Murdock and Galway mathcore nightmares Ilenkus headline a night each, and bands like Harboured, Here We Stand, and something called The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back are also confirmed for support across the weekend.

In related musical miscellany: the greatest record shop in the world, PLUGD Records, is having a sale, with 25% off absolutely everything, across all formats. Get in immediately. On a personal note, your author (as well as beginning this column and distributing TTA in Cork) has been working in conjunction with local film company Gobstar Film and streaming radio service Room101 to develop a multimedia music project known as RebelStream. Over the course of autumn/winter 2014, we’ve soft-launched a regular sessions programme on YouTube produced and co-curated by Gobstar, video interviews and a weekly, strictly-local radio show with Room101 on Monday nights at 8pm, and in the coming weeks, expect, a site aimed at younger/newer members of the Cork scene, that brings our assembled multimedia content together with a new online publication, including encyclopedia-style entries on Cork bands & venues, interviews, playlists, and more. We’re a work-in-progress at the moment, so bear with us and we’ll have official launch dates and such in the coming weeks.

This isn’t even the half of what’s going on in Cork at the moment. As the weeks go on, this column will have more info on the various nooks and crannies of Leeside musical life, from shape-note singing, to dark disco, to world music nights and beyond, with gig and record news, streaming exclusives, links to local radio and podcast content and more. Our town’s had a few quiet years overall, but we’ve got through it, and come out better on the other side. Now it’s time to be proud, and show the world what our various scenes and communities have to offer, what the hard work and perseverance was for. We hope this column can make the spotlight the people behind it all a little bit brighter. Mike McGrath Bryan


Contributor, distributor & occasional Cork correspondent for The Thin Air, as well as, Cork's Evening Echo and others. Likes some things, dislikes other things. Tweets, Instagrams and Snapchats at @mike_mcgb.