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The Sound Un/signed Collective - The Best In The West

Updated on July 7, 2013

The city of Galway, which is well renowned for its rich history of Irish traditional, bluegrass and folk music, has exploded with a massive underground alternative music scene in the past number of years. Creative musical misfits from all regions, along with natural born Galwegians, have gathered in the Tribal City to promote their sound and to make Galway their musical hub and home, creating a vibrant live rock atmosphere which has grown stronger thanks to the clubs and promotions who work passionately and tirelessly to promote up and coming Irish acts.

This comprehensive list showcases the best in the west from all rock genres, whether it is punk, metal, hard rock, folk or alternative, there is an act in this list for all different kinds of music lovers. This list will compile, in no particular order, ten of the best who are established, and/or about to break into the mainstream market. Each band and artist come complete with videos and links to their material for your listening pleasure.

THE HARDCORE PRIESTS OF YEMEN

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The Hardcore Priests of Yemen are a seven piece Funk/Ska/Trad band who have developed a small but vocal cult following, not just in the west of Ireland but also nationwide and further abroad. They combine rich, layered, vibrant, well crafted melodies, a melting pot of musicians and styles who carve a unique sound that consists of reggae beats, trad undertones and funk licks that are universally catchy. Their live performances have a party atmosphere, and are visually creative as the band positively continue to push the boundaries of live performance by mixing visual art, with eye catching costumes and interactive games for the crowd, most notably their wheel of fortune competition they had recently, where the winner’s prize was having the band play for free, in the winners front living room. They are a band for the future, a band for the people.

E.P's - 'Revenge of the Clashman', 'Cabinets Of Curiosity'

Albums - 'Cardboard Circus'

WE TOWN CRIERS

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Hatched in the foothills in Roscommon, We Town Criers are what hard indie rock music is all about, this four piece band rock, the guitars rock, the bass rock, the drums rock, the vocals rock. It’s an attitude that they possess that provides them with the cutting edge many in their genre lack. Their lyrics are hard hitting and venomous at times, the guitar riffs crunch like a rock machine or completely wail like a banshee. Their bass lines are drilled with venomous funk, driving home their music, their drumming cleverly laces these elements together to create a sound not heard in rock since the golden era of indie of the 90’s. They have such a refreshing sound; they keep to the roots of rock and are not afraid to flaunt it. They have the creativity to mix up their tempo and style for each track. No We Town Criers song is identical, they can tap into pure indie, with melodic guitars and vocals before powering into a hard rock number that blows the listener away, their attitude can change even midway through a song. The have some great guitar licks and riffs that ever last in the memory. Their live performances surprise audiences, literally surprise them. When you go to see them live they could start of with a a melodic thoughtful ballad like ‘Weight Of Mind’ before crashing into their hard rock anthem ‘Grind’, completely wowing their listeners. They are here to shake up the rock music scene. They are We Town Criers.

E.P – ‘Wake Up’

Album – ‘Swingbeast’ (Soon to be released)


FIA RUA

Fia Rua
Fia Rua

Eoghan Burke, otherwise known as Fia Rua, is an acoustic singer songwriter hailing from the west, carving out his unique sound of folk, but not as we know it. Where a lot of folk tends to follow a certain style of rules, Fia Rua breaks these rules, un-wielding atmospheric ballads that contain mantric choruses and upbeat rhythms, to the point it could almost be derived as acoustic rock. His emotional qualities portray extreme depth, themes that touch on all aspects of life, with a social running commentary of the mindset of the Irish, a tongue in cheek dark portrayal of mortality and pathos. He is haunting and can paint many a picture in the minds eye with his songs, bringing a touch of mythology of old Ireland to his work whilst singing about tales that sound like they come from urban society. There is a mundane, entertaining feel to his powerful lyrics and voice, his live shows captivate audiences, he manages to sweep the audiences away with his music, putting them under their spell, letting them float along to his songs like the ebb of a flowing tide.

E.P. – ‘Drops’

Album – ‘Falling Time’

Record Label – Curagh records

ILENKUS

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Ilenkus are a 5 piece prog/post metal band from Galway, waving the flag for the Irish metal scene in the west of Ireland. What is most striking about this band is their industrial hard hitting sound, which amazingly, is unique compared to a lot of heavy metal bands in Ireland today. Their music, which can be hard and brutal, is also quite captivating. They are a band of contradictions that seam together, the vocals can be demonically angry yet powerfully thought provoking, the guitars are brutally loud and pounding yet creatively constructive, intelligently layering each track, unceasing and relentless with well crafted riffs and solos. The drumming and bass, like in so many good metal bands, glues their sound with powerful progressions and loud harmonies. Their tempo can be extremely fast, before crunching into riffs that are laced with angry rhythm. What seem like the quintessential metal band on the surface, their music unveil a band that is so positively different from so many others in their genre.

ALBUM – ‘Rule By Thieves’

Label – Saviour Your Scene Records.

MUSIC FOR DEAD BIRDS

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Music for Dead Birds are the most prolific underground act in Ireland today who have been releasing material and gigging consistently since 2007. Their music is somewhat beautifully erratic, dark to the point of madness, yet enriching and poetically masterful. Their simplicity is their greatest weapon and they wield it boldly. Their combination of wonderfully strange guitar hooks, erratic drum progressions and biting haunting lyrics feeds directly to the soul of the listener. Their fuzzy lo-fi sound leaps from the stereo with clear concise boldness and ease, there is clarity flowing in all of their work, and moments where you become so captivated by their sound that certain songs grab you and do not let go, forcing you to replay the track again and again…and again, like in the case of ‘The Candle-maker’s Sister’ on their album ‘The Pope’s Daughter’, a song with lyrics that are so to the point, they becomes hypnotic. Their absence from mainstream music shrouds them in mystery and intrigue. They are in a win/win situation. If they become highly successful they will become one of the greatest acts in the world of lo-fi music, right now though, they are one of the greatest underground acts in the country.

ALBUMS – ‘And Then It Rained For Seven Days’

‘The Popes Sister’

Label – Rusted Rail

DEREK ELLARD

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Derek Ellard is a contemporary singer/songwriter originally from Co. Tipperary, who is now based in Galway. The man is down right creative, unleashing a body of work that is starkly truthful and emotional, with masterful guitar playing, a style of playing not heard since Manchester’s Stephen Fretwell broke onto the music scene. Ellard’s musical influences can be heard in his tracks, yet he is boldly individual. His playing technique is clinical and his lyrics are resounding yet creatively metaphoric. His live performances draw an audience into his world, highlighting all of the ecstasy and woes he has encountered in his journey throughout life so far. His work on a loop station at his gigs, which has grown ever more popular amongst singer/songwriters, adds enough depth to his lyrics without taking the piss. Some artists feel they need to add every single note and bang they play into a loop station until it becomes an orchestral mess, Ellard however, only uses loops to enrich his stories and interweaving guitar picking style, which jangles melodically with purpose. One of the hardest working musicians in Galway right now, here’s hoping Derek Ellard will release an Album or E.P, sometime in the near future.

VIOLINS IS NOT THE ANSWER

Violins is not the answer are a hardcore punk band with healthy does of Ska throughout, whilst the punk scene is relatively small in Galway, compared to other music scenes in the city, Violins Is Not The Answer are still a fantastic punk band, meaning that they could grace any punk gig, festival or circle in the land and reign supreme. Not much is written about them, there isn’t really any promotion on their part, and where profiles of bands are often laced with detail about their music and work, Violins Is Not the Answer seem to prefer to let their music speak louder than words. They appear at underground venues and cause havoc, the crowds go mental and then they disappear into the night. It’s a formula that’s boded them well and has kept them in demand since their formation. What’s brilliant about them is their ability. Once listeners get past the sheer brutality in your face style, there’s a colourful vibrancy that flows throughout their tracks. They are keen students of punk who know exactly what they are doing, and have this amazing capacity to throw all elements of punk into their music, from their grind hopping guitar riffs, surprising Ska intros to some of their tracks, relentless quick bass lines and furiously fast drum progressions to their gunk-esque honest lyrics, Violins Is Not The Answer are a punk band on the up and up. And for any grammar Nazi’s out there, say the band name out loud and you’ll realize the cleverness behind the title.

Album - 'Green Diesel And Poitín'

RACE THE FLUX

Aw...Race The Flux, what can be said about them that’s not being said already, superlatives are running out for the might of this bands march into the mainstream music market. This talented 4 piece gathered in Galway to cause pure rock havoc. Since the release of their Dutch Buffalo album, the band have exploded into the hearts and ears of many a rock connoisseur throughout the land, and the masses have responded judging by attendance of their gigs, having recently packed out The Cellar Bar in Galway on the Western leg of their album launch, playing a full set of their album to cries of encores and chants of ‘Race The Flux’ at the end. and with support from the mighty Belfast band ‘Axis Of’, it proves their worth in the rock market. They are electro rock that combine metal, prog rock, hard rock, synthesizers, brutal funk bass and drumming that makes heads spin with glee, they are also, judging by the rave reviews and critiques of their work recently, becoming one of the best live bands in Ireland. Their lyrics are operatic; their emotions are raw and unblemished, adding pure depth to their work. Whilst bands like Redneck Manifesto & And So I Watch You From Afar, pack out venues with a menacing instrumental sound that can sometimes become repetitive , Race The Flux have left these acts lagging in the distance with their ability to write songs over a similar canvas, then turn that canvas on it’s head, and add to it, add to it more, place in guitar solos to break the mould further, and add lyrics, awesome lyrics, they do everything right, extremely well. The world better get ready for Race The Flux, because they’re ready for the world.

Album - 'Dutch Buffallo'

DARKEN THE DISTANCE

Darken The Distance are one of those wonderfully strange rock groups that are hard to come by. This is probably due to the fact that any band who try their sound fall short, or try too much, or add too much, or become too experimental... yet DTD do it with aplomb. They have matured and progressed musically in the short time since their formation in 2011, coming on in leaps and bounds, continuously adding new creativity and structure to their sound, to the point it is rich and alive with many aspects and genres of music rolled into a cleverly mastered catalogue. There was a big progression in one year since the release of their Peddler E.P. in 2012 and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ which they released in March 2013. While the former cranks into a satire of work, similar to the likes of Morrissey, The Divine Comedy and Blur’s material from the mid 1990’s, Eyes Wide Shut portrays the bands leap in maturity, you hear Jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, indie, experimentation similar to Pink Floyd Albums. It is easy to say from listening to their material that they are pure lovers of music, and revel in the craft of building their songs, all bringing their own unique blend of music and ideas to the table. Darken The Distance are a band the promise fantastic potential in the future. There is talk of working on their first album after the summer, and if ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is anything to go by, it’s going to be a cracker.

E.P.'s - 'Peddler' 'Eyes Wide Shut'


KA TET

Kat Tet are a rock trio hailing from Ballyhaunis and the third band on the Sound Un/Signed collective list to feature Ronan Connaughton on drums, who also plays with We Town criers and Race The Flux respectively. They are true pioneers of hard rock, a blast back to the amazing rock sound that was to be found in the 90’s from the likes of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and a young Queens of The Stone Age. They play as a unity, as the name of their band suggests, focusing on coming together as one source. Their rock is unforgiving and extremely cool, pure hard rock for a generation of rock fans crying out for a band who can take on the role of rock pioneers for Ireland. Their beauty lies in their unity. Not only is their melodic loud rock music pleasing on the ear but also their three part harmonies. They mesh these elements together seamlessly, and do so with lyrics that are unforgettable at times, writing lyrics like the great bands from the 70’s did. When it comes to being an all out rock band, they give a nod to their inspirations before them and continue on the recipe, adding their own ingredients to make them distinctly unique. Having already gaining massive radio play from the release of their singles, ‘Let My Lady’ and ‘Bob And Charlie’, including being heard on Irish national radio station Today F.M. and with their album 'Arcadia' soon to hit the headlines, Ka Tet are a band to watch out for, because if you don’t watch out for them they’re gonna hit you hard with their sound. You don’t have a choice either way.

Album - 'Arcadia'

THE FLIRT SESSIONS

While there are a creative amount of bands playing around the city of Galway, there are also promotions in the city who work tirelessly and passionately to help bands along the road to greater success, 1 in particular springs to mind.

'The Flirt Sessions' is a radio show hosted by Bryan Rabbitte and John O' Connor on Flirt F.M. 101.3 every Tuesday night at 10 P.M. Their award winning show promotes Irish acts from around the country, most notably some of the Galway acts who appear on the list. They invite bands and artists to appear on the show to perform an acoustic session and have recently began a very successful monthly live showcase in Munroes backstage venue, having recently being noticed and advertised by The Galway Independent. To check out upcoming live events and their highly entertaining radio shows, click on the links below.

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