On Saturday morning the news started to filter through that Ireland had lost one of it’s great up and coming musical talents in Conor Walsh.

I first came across Conor playing in a basement on Dame Street. He just sat down in front of a screen projecting the most peaceful of images, and – no introduction – started to play. He did so in the middle of a busy bar on a loud weekend night, and to start with the keys couldn’t quite overcome the chatter and the clinking of pint glasses, but they soon did. And 50-odd people sat in stunned silence and watched him play.

I googled my name and his before writing this to check what I said at the time. I told the now defunct AU Magazine he was “genuinely spellbinding,” and that sounds about right.

Conor was a rarity in Irish music. He was rare in that he seemed so far flung from every trend that’s passed through our shores in the last few years, yet he fit in anyway. His sounds were subtle and cinematic – literally cinematic, at some of his shows – and he seemed like he played for himself as much as for his audience. He was like an up and coming Efterklang, a Mike Oldfield or a Sigur Ros: part of a genre that sits right on the fringes of contemporary music and classical styles; that’s greatest success is so gorgeously straddling both.

A couple of years after seeing Conor for the first time, I asked him if he’d like to take part in a blog project I was involved in, called MAP. I’d seen him a few times in between, and had him firmly lodged in my head as someone to shout about whenever the chance came up.

CWalshByDebHickey-1-of-2

Of course, he came through for me. The idea behind MAP is that artists from lots of different countries offer a track, that is then spread by a blogger in every other country involved. Most people I invite – understandably – have questions about copyright and things like that, or just send over the latest single. Conor, being Conor, told me he’d just finished the latest demo of his new song ‘The Front’, and would I like to use that?

music alliance pact

We’re coming up to the 25th track I’ll have posted as ‘Ireland’ on Music Alliance Pact, and I must admit I’m still really quite besotted with this as a concept. Naturally, many music-lovers are hooked on a combination of big acts, hype bands and the best of our local scene, and what I find so great about MAP is that it’s like having those eyes on a local scene that isn’t yours (and for me, the local scene – the acts I watch develop before my eyes – are the ones I care about most). MAP is rammed full of small-time gems that probably don’t operate on a big marketing budget (by their very nature, they probably wouldn’t be posted here if they did), and with many of the selectors running music blogs that operate with way more dedication and regularity than my own, there’s some serious quality to be found (so if you haven’t downloaded one yet, do – there’s nothing in it for me apart from getting pleasure in other people hearing how great some of these tracks are).

My choice this time around is a rare case of a band contacting me (I hear from a lot of bands and PR, but most emails – for obvious practical reasons – go unanswered), and my loving what I heard – in the past I’ve almost exclusively chased down bands myself to feature here. I don’t know a whole lot about Tuath, and I don’t speak the language (Irish) that a lot of their music is in. As it happens, the track they’ve offered up for MAP doesn’t contain any Irish anyway, but go and check out some of their other material here, too, as it’s exceptionally listenable even to someone who doesn’t understand a word.

Of course, there’s the usual hour-plus listening from around the globe, too. Download away…

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the full 16-track compilation through Dropbox here.

IRELAND: Hendicott Writing
TuathCasting Shadows Over Sun (Shammen Delly remix)
Typically an Irish language post-punk act, what makes this locally-leaning remix from Tuath interesting is in part that it’s so atypical of them. A remix of fellow Donegal act Shammen Delly, this is an atmospheric bit of slow-building, fuzzy electronica that is decidedly not post-punk. Fortunately, it offers great evidence that Robert Mulhern is not a man to be pigeonholed, once again exploring rhythm and texture, simply through an entirely different medium.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
RosalJohn
Rosal are one of our all-time favorite bands from Buenos Aires. Led by singer Maria Ezquiaga, they have been around since 2002 delivering indie-pop gems with fine arrangements and catchy lyrics, such as John, a track from their first album. Rosal just released La Musica Es Mi Eje, which features live versions from their five albums and some great covers.

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
The DelicatesChimera
Exactly the type of song you’d expect to hear come out of Australia in the middle of our long, hot southern summer. The Delicates are five wallflowers from the Gold Coast who play soothing, understated jangle surf-pop with a hint of the type of melancholy that you only get from bands born outside the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis. Chimera will drift in and out of your headphones without much of a fuss but not without leaving you feeling a little lighter in the process.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
Rodrigo OgiAventureiro
Aventureiro is the opening track from RÁ!, one of the most acclaimed Brazilian albums of 2015. Rodrigo Ogi raps about life in São Paulo, its challenges and experiences. For those who do not speak Portuguese this track speaks for itself with its strong beats and flow.

CANADA: Ride The Tempo
P’ARISFocus
The identity of P’ARIS is currently unknown but one thing is for sure, they know how to write a pop jam. This totally channels the essence of fellow Canadians Tegan and Sara.

I’ll ‘fess up: this month, for the first time in almost exactly two years running MAP for Ireland, I was too disorganised (post-Christmas mayhem combined with a new job!) to get a track together. Of course, that’s no reason not to post the glorious selection of tracks put together by my colleagues around the world […]

“I’ve never actually played a game outside Croke Park in the Championship. We play league away games and with our clubs. The fans love a trip. I was on the bench last time Dublin played outside Croke Park in the Championship, in Longford, and the atmosphere was electric. We’re players, though, and we’ll play wherever we’re put. It’s a commercial thing I presume.”

(Below is my feature interview with The Prodigy’s Liam Howlett ahead of the Dublin date of their 2015 tour)  Born out of rave culture – and showing it in being equal parts heady beats and ill-disguised rage – The Prodigy’s greatest achievement is arguably pushing their music into post-90s endurance. While rave culture dragged its […]

Kingdom of Crows have just released their debut album ‘The Truth Is The Trip’, which is available as a free download here. They first came to my attention through a gorgeous cover of Blondie’s ‘Call Me’, and remind me a little of the operatic, dramatised styles of the likes of Placebo and the acts that […]


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