Strong week for mainstream and cult favorites

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It’s been a good week of release news for Irish artists this week, with mainstream and cult favorites dropping new tracks for a reopening world.

Previously hailed in this column for its production credits, bandleader Chris Ryan’s lead project is one of Ireland’s most prolific jazz outlets. Robocobra Quartet, whose mix of jazz and punk is as striking as it sounds, has released its first new music in three years. This was accompanied by the announcement of their third album, due out on First Take Records later this year. Their two new tracks, “Heaven” and “Night,” are stream-of-consciousness-inspired punk tracks in which all distortion is replaced with alternate time signatures and brass. It’s a welcome return for one of Belfast’s iconic outfits.

Country-pop songwriter CMAT is also on the move. With her album dropping tomorrow, the singer released a surprise single last week called “Every Bottle Is My Boyfriend.” With a rockier swing on the hook and lyrics that embody an alcohol-fueled fear of tomorrow, CMAT displays the variety one would expect on their debut album “If My Wife New I’d Be Dead.” Speaking on the track, the songwriter said: “It’s a song about being chaotic with defiance because being that, an agent of chaos, is something quite defiant for a girl . He almost didn’t make the album. But then I managed to shoehorn a line on the GAA and felt happy that it was representative of my drinking habits.

And at the more gloomy end of the spectrum, we have Dundalk shoe watchers Just Mustard announcing their second album coming this week. Produced by the aforementioned Chris Ryan at Attica Studios, the disc will land on Partisan Records, who the band signed to last year. Home to the likes of Fontaines DC, IDLES and more, we can only expect the best for the quintet. A new track and debut single from the LP “Still” suggests the band haven’t lost any of their bite during lockdown, with acoustics and percussion immersed in hazy darkness.

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The music world is a smaller place after the death of musician and producer Buncrana Aengus Friel

In sadder news, this week the music community said goodbye to a longtime and beloved member. Buncrana musician, producer, songwriter and technician Aengus Friel sadly passed away this week with tributes pouring in across the country. A mainstay of alternative circles and locations in Donegal, Derry and the North Coast, Friel’s passing was marked by tributes from Séamas O’Reilly, Belfast and Junk Drawer. Friel was buried on Saturday and we are a smaller world without him.

In the live music announcements, we’ve had several shows over the past few days. Dublin’s Artists Against Homelessness is set to return live after several years of hiatus during lockdown. Previously curated by Fontaines DC, this year rapper Kojaque is taking over the reins. Joining him on stage is a mix of artists such as Nealo, Damien Dempsey, Negro Impacto and more. Previous attempts have raised €60,000 for FOCUS Ireland, and tickets will go on sale this weekend for €30. Next month we can also expect many folk, country and bluegrass musicians to descend on the Irish countryside to take part in this year’s Ards International Guitar Festival. From April 7-10, the festival will feature some of Ireland’s and the UK’s finest guitarists, film screenings, artist clinics and a photography exhibition by Dig With It Magazine founder Stuart Bailie.

And now, the best indie releases from the past week. Bobbi Arlo’s soft, sticky take on alt-pop is magnetic, a trend that’s continued in new song “Parasite.” Written alongside British songwriter Mikey Gormley, it has all the hallmarks of a contemporary dance floor filler.

And to complete the trip we have Drogheda MC Offica with his new track ‘Sharingan’. One of the top rappers in the country, his new track is full of fire and bite and will come from his debut mixtape due out later this year.

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