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April Music Roundup: Our Favourite Tunes This Month

It feels like we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as the pandemic goes. Gigs are being rescheduled for autumn and the vaccine rollout finally feels like it’s gone from a snail’s pace to that of an ambitious tortoise. That’s not to mention the grand stretch in the evenings; any tune sounds better when you’re listening to it at 8 p.m., sun still peeking over the horizon.

We also have to give it up for the Irish artists who continue to release ambitious, compelling music right now. Their songs give us hope and have made these dark days just a little bit brighter.

Check out our favourite music released in April below, or listen to them on the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page. 

The Altered Hours — “All Amnesia”

Silvery, reverb-drenched guitar and stabs of synth welcome you in on “All Amnesia,” the latest release from Cork band The Altered Hours. Between the occasional shake of the tambourine and lead singer Elaine Howley’s haunting voice, the track gives off a distinctly psychedelic vibe. The Altered Hours recently signed to Dundalk’s Pizza Pizza Records and will certainly appeal to fans of labelmates Just Mustard. — Clare Martin

Biig Piig — “Lavender”

Biig Piig’s new single “Lavender” is hazy and sultry, the kind of song you could imagine playing as you flirt with a stranger in the corner of a dive bar. Moody, warbling organ hovers in the background while Biig Piig (aka Jessica Smyth) divulges to the listener: “I want a dark room and dim lights / I wanna feel the bass hit, through my thighs.” Fans of Brooklyn dream pop band Crumb will love the hypnotic atmosphere and buzzing guitar woven throughout “Lavender.” The song proves just as heady as the flower it’s named for. — Clare Martin

Dani Larkin — “The Red (Maca’s Return)”

Over the course of “The Red (Maca’s Return),” Dani Larkin’s voice swings from that of a traditional balladeer to a conspiratorial whisperer. Fervent, moody guitar gains speed during the track, like dark clouds gathering to signal a storm. By the end, she’s joined by a chorus of voices chanting “the red,” mirroring the frenzy of battle. With her artful sonic storytelling, Larkin once again proves herself a talented songwriter. — Clare Martin

Elkae — “Girls Like You Like Me” 

“Girls Like You Like Me” is the latest single from Dubliner Laura Keane, who performs under the name ELKAE. The track builds into a pulsating, disco dance-floor eruption of queer emotion as Keane’s soulful voice sings about, “Girls who were breaking my heart, girls whose hearts I’d broken, the girls who were my friends.” For the final chorus, Keane enlisted a whole host of prominent female voices from the Irish music scene including Lydia Ford, Chloe Agnew, Zapho, Toshín, Karla Chubb (Sprints), Sinead McConville, and Taylor Mas to create a sense of unity that, according to Keane, ‘’can be quite unique to the gay scene at times.” — Ellen Pentony

Elkin — “Tuesday”

Elkin’s latest single “Tuesday” focuses on a dissatisfying breakup. Over undulating synth, Ellen O’Mahony and Carla Ryan sing in autotuned voices about how “You chose the chain / a neutral space for when you made your exit.” There’s disdain dripping from every word as they retort, “Babe… it’s a fucking Tuesday.” — Clare Martin

Fears — “Fabric”

Bouncy, liquidy synth starts off Fears’ third single from her upcoming album Oíche, mimicking the waves of the Irish Sea that feature in her previous music videos. “I try to run and I feel like I’m in slow motion,” Keane laments before the drum machine kicks in, creating a minimalist dance beat that’s impossible not to bop along to. — Clare Martin

Jack Rua and Saint Taint — “Contact”

“Contact” is the first single from Irish glam-pop artist Jack Rua and American producer Saint Taint, whose collaborative EP I Don’t Party Enough Anymore is out on the 7th of May. Drawing obvious influence from the hyper-pop production of Charli XCX, SOPHIE, and Dorian Electra, the track combines deep bass, distorted synths and electro-drums with Rua’s soft, whispered vocals as he sings about the perils and thrills of online hook-ups, and craving physical touch during the pandemic. — Ellen Pentony

Jack Ward — “My Angel Rocks 4th & Back”

Starting with a slow build, Limerick native Jack Ward’s new single is an infectious old-school track that bursts into life with rising synths and a thick, driving bassline. The track is inspired mostly by Vengaboys, Omar-S, and the late SOPHIE, with Ward saying he wanted to “encapsulate the idea of taking a classic, rave-focused breakbeat groove and look at working pop elements in melody and structure throughout the song.” — Ellen Pentony

Jehnova — “ressa”

“ressa” is the first single from Avenoir, Jehnova’s collaborative album with producer lod which is out now. The track opens with a low-fi, dreamy vibe you’d expect to hear in the elevator of an ocean-view hotel before being interrupted by a thick old-school hiphop beat and a barrage of introspective lyrics that vent the frustrations of living in lockdown over the past year. — Ellen Pentony

Kestine — Reflection EP 

“What’s your purpose?” a bored pencil pusher asks Cork rapper Kestine at the beginning of his new EP Reflection. “Shit. To be king,” he replies nonchalantly. Kestine establishes himself as one of the most confident, enthralling voices in Irish hip-hop in the span of the six tracks. The jazz-infused “U.N.I.T.Y” serves as both a lament and a rallying cry for Black people the world over, while “Melanie” touches on the heartbreaking reality of sexual assault and victim blaming. Kestine’s not afraid to shy away from harsh truths of life, and we’re all the better for it. — Clare Martin

KK Lewis — “First Bus Home”

Dubliner KK Lewis’ single is a beautiful blend of bedroom pop and R&B sensibilities. “So I let the birds set the tone / While we wait for the first bus home,” Lewis recalls in her honeyed, placid voice as birdsong fills the background. The dreaminess of her new single feels as lulling as the gentle hum and rocking of the bus. — Clare Martin

Loah — “The Body to the Soul (Eva Gore-Booth)”

Sallay Garnett, better known as Loah, has announced her new mini-album of poetry from the 1920s set to music with her first single “The Body to the Soul (Eva Gore-Booth).” While Loah provides the rich vocals and pensive piano, the song’s lyrics come from Eva Gore-Booth’s poem “The Body to the Soul.” The Irish/Sierra Leonean artist breathes new life into words written a century ago. — Clare Martin

Maria Kelly — “Martha”

“Throughout “Martha,” Maria Kelly recounts what it’s like to be torn between two places, both physically and emotionally. “I wonder what I’m missing / I wonder what could have been,” she sings, and later muses over acoustic guitar, “Can’t swim / can’t drown / I’m not where I thought I’d be now.” Her piercing lyrics and gossamer vocals elevate the single beyond your average alt-folk release. Kelly’s voice possesses an intimacy and emotional intelligence that could break your heart. — Clare Martin

Melanin Tee — “Who’s She?” 

Galway native Melanin Tee blends humour with gut-punching insults to announce herself as a force to be reckoned with on “Who’s She?” Having established herself as a YouTuber and talented dancer, Melanin Tee showcased her lyrical prowess on her debut single “INTIMIDATION,” a collaborative track with fellow Galwegian Celaviedmai. “Who’s She?” is her first solo release, establishing Melanin Tee as another exciting voice in the emerging Irish hip-hop landscape. — Ellen Pentony

ÓDÚ — “Men Like Me” 

Bray singer/songwriter ÓDÚ’s new release is bound to brighten your playlist. Part synth-pop, part funk, “Men Like Me” dances into your ears buoyed by a bouncy beat and neon synth. ÓDÚ pulls out all the stops, from her gorgeous voice to the squealing electric guitar on the bridge. It’s a delightful pop production that’ll burrow its way into your brain so you find yourself humming it days from now. — Clare Martin

Pretty Happy — “Sea Sea Sea”

Cork trio Pretty Happy are the kind of grimy art-punk weirdos we need more of in Ireland, bringing more unabashed catharsis than the polished, studio-ready types that have flooded the charts in recent years. Their latest single “Sea Sea Sea” explores queer identity and the pigeonholing of gender, while also being a rollicking good time. The band channel influences like Pixies, Talking Heads, and Sonic Youth in their music, but their love of twisting language around brings us a bit closer home to the likes of Girl Band. — Clare Martin

Ra Gerra — “Pressure”

Ra Gerra comes from the minds of Limerick rapper and singer Mawuli Boevi, better known as MuRli, and Dublin electronic artist and producer Seán Arthur, who performs as Kobina. The duo have teamed up for their second single “Pressure,” which puts you on edge from the start. Its angular, unsettling beginning is propelled forward by the beat building in the background, channelling the feeling of having to persevere despite the world crashing down around you. — Clare Martin

Scenes From A Break — “Silly Little Games”

Sally Ó Dúnlaing, who records infectious pop as ÓDÚ, has joined forces with songwriter/producer Luke Foley for their new music project Scenes From A Break. The duo’s first single, “Silly Little Games,” is a rapturous introduction, buoyed by sparkling piano and balmy guitar. Foley and Ó Dúnlaing recorded the entire track remotely, with Astakalapa (Darragh Nolan) on production duties. Despite being recorded in disparate locations, the track radiates the same warmth as an in-person performance. — Clare Martin

Smoothboi Ezra — “Stuck”

“‘Stuck’ is a song about being in a relationship with someone you care a lot about but you know it’s not going to work out,” Smoothboi Ezra explains. “It’s an unsaid mutual agreement that you can feel the relationship ending but you’re both waiting on the other person to end it.” The song has tinges of Phoebe Bridgers to it, filled with a similar emotional intimacy and guitar-grounded sound. The production is delicate and stunning, with layered vocals and a slow-burn of percussion. — Clare Martin

Soda Blonde — “In the Heat of the Night”

“In The Heat Of The Night” is the second single from Soda Blonde’s highly anticipated debut album Small Talk, set for release on July 9th. The track evokes a nocturnal atmosphere, using lazy synths and a slow but rhythmic bassline as the backdrop for a heated, adrenaline fuelled late-night argument. The band’s songwriter and lead vocalist Faye O’Rourke says that it’s about “conflict and getting a kick out of it. The thrill of the fight.” — Ellen Pentony

Tebi Rex ft. ROE — “Hanging With Trees” 

Derry native ROE sings sweetly over the intro to “Hanging With Trees,” eventually joined by Matt O of Tebi Rex. Their voices climb together gracefully before the hilariously iconic line, “You’re in her DMs but I’m in her Discover Weekly, so we are not the same,” followed by a chest-rattling beat drop for the ages. Max Zanga’s lyrics are as blistering as ever, with a laugh-or-else-you’ll-cry edge to them: “Eating my emotions / That trauma shit / Tasty.” — Clare Martin

TOYGIRL — “Water”

“Water,” the latest release from genre-defying group Toygirl, is a hypnotic track that blends experimental electronica with elements of hard rock and punk. Soothing, dreamlike synth chords subtly distort into a Grimes-esque, glitching breakdown that then transitions into a thundering rock anthem. Cian O’Leary Hegarty’s drums are a particular standout on the track, acting as the driving force underneath these varying elements. Toygirl create a really unique and immersive experience that firmly establishes them as ones to watch on the Irish music scene right now. — Ellen Pentony

The X Collective — “WB”

Ele Breslin (Zapho, The X Collective co-founder) and Chloë Agnew (Celtic Woman) happened to meet at a songwriting camp, and the track that would become “WB” was born. The pair recruited three other talented women from The X Collective to bring the bravado-filled track to life: Tosin Bankole (lead vocalist of Toshín), Gemma Bradley, and Senita Appiakorang (fka Shookrah). The result feels like “Lady Marmalade” with a dash of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” steeped in ‘90s R&B. — Clare Martin

Listen to the whole playlist below.

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