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.