Are you sickened by American and British musical hegemony? So is o-two. Let’s look back over some Irish emeralds from years past, with George Morahan
My Bloody Valentine – ‘Only Shallow’
The second Kevin Shields unleashes that ungodly guitar squall on your eardrums, you will likely never hear music the same way again, and that’s only partly for medical reasons. Shield’s dizzying power combines with Bilinda Butcher’s breathy vocal to create a hypnotic and brutal classic.
Van Morrison – ‘Moondance’
With ‘Moondance’, we find young Van at the peak of his musical powers; it has such rhythm and a vital confidence running throughout, that it’s impossible not to get swept up in it. Not even Michael Bublé could ruin it.
Villagers – ‘I Saw the Dead’
Malahide’s answer to Conor Oberst caused quite a commotion with last year’s debut album, Becoming a Jackal. The opening track, ‘I Saw the Dead’, sets a quite romantic, if morbid, tone with swirling pianos and violins and ghostly backing vocals.
The Divine Comedy – ‘National Express’
Neil Hannon occupies a strange place in Irish music; he has an arch intellect and a fun sense of a story to his lyrics rarely seen on these shores. Hannon’s vocal on ‘National Express’ is quite wonderful and makes it one of his band’s most enjoyable listens.
Ash – ‘Orpheus’
Over the past fifteen years, Ash have been delighting us with their pop-punk, but with ‘Orpheus’ they hit the jackpot. There are riffs aplenty and a delectably breezy chorus. The ultimate hybrid of Ash’s clashing sensibilities.
Thin Lizzy – ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’
The track that saw Lizzy enter the big leagues. ‘The Boys…’ flits between Phil Lynott’s lyrical nostalgia and its muscle-bound chorus with seamless ease and has a scintillating climax. One for the ages.
You may prefer Thin Lizzy, Metallica or one of the other thousands of versions out there. However, respect must be paid to The Dubliners, who through fifty years, countless line-up changes and the deaths of Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly, have remained at the forefront of Irish music.
Horslips – ‘Dearg Doom’
That riff soundtracked a thousand drunken nights during Italia ’90 and has found new life today, but beyond a cool guitar part lays a tale furrowing the depths of Celtic myth.
Rubberbandits – ‘Horse Outside’
A well-loved tale of one man and his horse overcoming not one, but three mightily impressive cars, and their equally charming owners, to win the girl of his dreams. Her reward for choosing our hero? A trip to Mullingar. Who could ask for more?
U2 – ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’
Quite frankly, U2 would never be more visceral or ragged. Bono’s sense of empathy is never displaced as he recounts the horror over Larry Mullen’s militaristic beat, and Edge provides the first of his great riffs on this standout from War.
The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl – ‘Fairytale of New York’
Because this song is for life, not just for Christmas. Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl fully inhabit their roles as a couple in crisis and pinpoint the heartbreaking moment when all the hope of their fledgling romance turns to poison entrenched in their veins.