In spite of the fact that Ireland is broke, its music scene has never been healthier. Or generous. Seemingly every day, there is something new on offer from Irish bands that stops me in my (browsing) tracks. Obviously Bandcamp and Soundcloud have made things easier for bands to put whatever they want out there, but it is the sheer quality of the music that is astounding. Already this year, we have had albums from Yeh Deadlies! and Sleep Thieves that have outdone a lot of international releases – in my eyes at least. And with blogs such as Harmless Noise and Swear I’m Not Paul, among so many others, upping the Irish music ante, Nialler9 might start looking over his band soon.

Do I need to back up my claims? This afternoon, my listening has consisted of three Irish bands, all who have just put out new releases online, to little acclaim, bar a blog post here and a Zane Lowe shoutout there. First things first, And So I Watch You From Afar. I saw them live before I had ever heard of them, in Baker’s Place, Limerick city, almost two years ago. Despite slightly alarming alcohol levels, they left me speechless. There were about 50 people there that night and I doubt any of them left the room without exclaiming the Northern Irish instrumental group as the best live band they had seen in a long time. I didn’t. A year later, they played the same venue again and this time, there was no space to be had anywhere. The floor was heaving with sweaty teenagers. And the show was as tight and loud as before. And there was crowdsurfing. If you have ever been to the now defunct Baker’s Place, you will realise just how outlandish the concept of crowdsurfing in there is. Their new album, Gangs, is out on April 29 on the wonderful Richter Collective. I have blogged already about the first release from the album, ‘Search:Party:Animal’, but after Zane Lowe played the track on Tuesday, he exclaimed: “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, that was so outrageously, brutally brilliant. That was unbelievable. I didn’t think they’d get better than last time. That is like one of the best pieces of music I’ve ever heard, ever, in my whole life.” And he was right. Here it is again.


And So I Watch You From Afar – ‘Search:Party:Animal’

But Irish music doesn’t just stop there. Spies have just made their second EP available to stream – and to buy for a paltry €3 – over at their Bandcamp. ‘Barricade’ continues where they left off with ‘Liars Call me King’: big vocals and a big sound. It sounds like Editors covering Morrissey. Except, y’know, much better than that sounds. When you consider this is only their second release, you realise things look very bright for them. They play Whelan’s on April 23, when they launch the single.

And now back to the Richter Collective. Enemies released their debut album on the label last year. We’ve Been Talking slowly won over fans throughout last year and for Record Store Day on Saturday week, they are releasing a standalone 7″ single. The Coco et Moi EP is another slice of instrumental precision, but not quite as loud as ASIWYFA. But it certainly packs a punch. Horns and Foals-esque math-rock sensibilities will leave you just as exilerated as the Northern Irish group. Stream the two songs below. And go buy it (and everything else) over at Richter Collective.

Enemies – Coco et Moi / Robert Reid by Richter Collective

And there you have it. Three great Irish bands who are as worthy of your time than anything the rest of the world can throw at you. Ireland may be in the financial doldrums at the moment, but I wouldn’t trade the country for any other in the world.AND I HAVEN’T EVEN MENTIONED SQUAREHEAD YET!!!!