Many thanks to Turnstiles' 4-string hero and writer Jake Tiernan for this article detailing 5 key Irish bands at the forefront of Ireland's recent post-punk revival. Fontaines DC, Just Mustard, Silverbacks, Pillow Queens and Girl Band.
1. Fontaines D.C
Let’s get the obvious choice out of the way. 2019’s Dogrel propelled the Dubliners to the forefront of Ireland’s so-called post-punk revival. The blend of minimal yet massive instrumentation and colloquial poetics earned the band a Mercury Prize nomination and the genesis of a mainstream following. However, the recently released A Hero’s Death has proved them more than just a BBC conducted hype train. Its lush sonics combine the darker side of The Beach Boys with the lighter side of The Doors and lyrically, exhibited Grian Chatten’s flourishment into a literary hero for a new generation. They’re obvious for a reason.
2. Just Mustard
Just Mustard are precisely what the name suggests. Taking the 90’s shoegaze aesthetic but inflecting it with modern industrial tones and stripped back production, the Dundalk band cemented their loyal following with 2018’s Wednesday. If follow up singles, Frank and October, are anything to go by, album no. 2 is going to be absolutely colossal. John Doran once exquisitely described My Bloody Valentine as sounding like “a mermaid falling into a black hole”. Just Mustard sound like the mermaid clawing its way back out.
In a scene that is, at times, guilty of taking itself too seriously, Silverbacks are the band in the corner, cynically observing the whole affair (think Pavement’s relationship with the grunge scene). It’s not just sarcastic commentary coming from their corner though, it’s some of the most innovative and charming music of the year. Their debut album ‘Fad’ is essential for fans of Television, LCD Soundsystem and Parquet Courts to name a few. The song writing is diligent, with angular and jaunting guitars, ravelled by a rhythm section intent on moving some feet. If the likes of Fontaines D.C and The Murder Capital don’t do it for you, Silverbacks just might.
4. Pillow Queens
Having recently spent a week listening to their upcoming debut album, In Waiting, I couldn’t leave this band off the list, although their spot would be earned off the strength of their previous EPs alone. They’re the most accessible band mentioned here, but that’s no slight. Their debut is a joyous compilation of huge sing-a-long chorus hooks, with driving into the sunset instrumentation. It’s feel-good but it’s not shallow. That’s a difficult balance to strike but they’ve done it with apparent ease.
5. Girl Band
It all starts with Girl Band. When the present becomes the past and we look back at this whirlwind of Irish guitar music, we will have to start with Dara Kiely, Daniel Fox, Adam Faulkner and Alan Duggan. Nothing can quite prepare you for your first time hearing the noise that these four have created. Personally, I remember hating it. But later that day I found myself listening once more. This time, not quite hating it, but not understanding it either. Yet, over the course of the next week, something kept bringing me back to the noise and the absurdity, until, I loved it. At times it’s hard to believe they’re getting those sounds from nothing more than a guitar, a bass and a drum kit. It’s chaos orchestrated. If post-punk has been revived, Girl Band are the medics, defibrillators by Fender.