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The Thin Air’s Top 50 Irish Releases of 2020

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In years to come, when someone asks me what The Thin Air was and represented, I’ll likely direct them to features like the one you have just opened. Much like other publications of our ilk – Nialler9, The Last Mixed Tape, Goldenplec and others – we spend 52 weeks of the year relentlessly championing what truly makes Irish music special and, very occasionally, genuinely world-beating. We all do it in different ways, and to slightly different audiences, but the impetus and desire to shine a light on what we have is one and the very same.

Although they’re almost never without their complications, annual end-of-year lists are always a unique opportunity to take stock not simply of the rich, diverse, and ever-evolving music community across the island, but also the bigger picture. Indeed, it becomes clearer with every year: that which defines and sets Irish music apart is a huge nexus of creative independents who invariably do it – and do it well – for the sheer love of it. Sure, money is always good (everybody should be paid for doing what they love after all) but when the arse falls out of it as it has this year, we push forward with eyes firmly fixed on the horizon.

As a whole, the following rundown of our top 50 Irish releases of the year is just a small snapshot of that unchanging and undauntable spirit. To the musicians, promoters, venues, managers, broadcasters, PR representatives, music writers, photographers, illustrators, and industry crew hanging on, working hard, taking countless knocks but dusting themselves down and going back at it, we commend you. May these songs rouse within you new visions of much better days – of gigs, festivals and experiences – soon to come. Fucking onwards.

50. Bitch Falcon – Staring At Clocks

49. Patrúin – For MASI

48. RSAG – Chroma

47. The Velvet Vortex – ベルベットボルテ 渦

46. Malojian – HUMM

45. Stano – Anthology

44. Kobina – For Nora

43. Paddy Hanna – The Hill

42. Still, Life – Cork’s Lockdown Sounds

41. Brontis – Peak Grot

40. Queef – Presence

39. Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death

38. Senior Infants – Sorry Excuse Me Can I Get Through There

37. Local Gods – Aghavrick Acid

36. UD – Fruitless Grapevine

35. Joshua Burnside – Into The Depths of Hell

34. Arborist – A Northern View

33. Gemma Dunleavy – Up De Flats

32. Kean Kavanagh – Dog Person

31. Sinead O’Brien – Drowning in Blessings

30. Alpha Chrome Yayo – Sunset Heat

29. Shammen Delly – The Peoples Temple OV Big Tom

28. Declan Synnott – Old Lavender

27. Nashpaints – Blindman The Gambler

26. All Times Now Nothing – Tears Voyeur

25. Olan Monk – Love/Dead

24. Trá Pháidín – blúiríní beaga

23. Katie Kim – Charles / VV11

22. MuRli – Till The Wheels Fall Off EP

21. Ten Past Seven – Long Live The Bogwalrus

20. Shifting – It Was Good

19. Arvo Party – Love Above All

18. Hilary Woods – Birthmarks

17. Natalia Beylis – The Steadfast Starry Universe

16. Fixity – 6

15. Mark Waldron-Hyden – Future Life Continuity

14. Son Zept – B

13. Roslyn Steer – Someone’s Yesterday

12. Kilian O’Kelly – Luzhny’s Layer

11. Various – A Litany of Failures Vol. 3

10. Nealo – All the Leaves Are Falling

9. Silverbacks – Fad

8. Brigid Mae Power – Head Above The Water

7. Bleeding Heart Pigeons – Stir

6. Denise Chaila – GO Bravely

5. Myles Manley – Cometh The Softies

4. The Bonk – Songs For The Mean Time Vol. 1

3. Pillow Queens – In Waiting

2. Aoife Nessa Frances – Land of No Junction

1. Rising Damp – Petrol Factory

is the editor of The Thin Air. Talk to him about Philip Glass and/or follow him on Twitter @brianconey.