Listen up! 2013 is sounding great
So now that we've deleted 2012 from our contacts and unfollowed it on Twitter, it's time to send a friend request to 2013. Or something. The first thing that needs to be said about the year ahead is that the inclusion of two Irish bands in the BBC's uber-influential Sound of 2013 poll is just the shot in the arm that the domestic scene needs. All's well that starts well.
Malahide four-piece Kodaline, led by singer Stephen Garrigan, is one of the groups being tipped for big things this year by Britain's national broadcaster. Their combination of fuzzy anthemic crescendos and slightly psychedelic lyrics call to mind U2 and The Beatles circa 'Strawberry Fields'. It's a familiar sound maybe but one which is perfectly suited to large indoor arenas and festival fields.
The second great green hope chosen by the Beeb is Dublin quintet Little Green Cars, who have already picked up considerable airplay for their song 'The John Wayne', the artful video to which has garnered a fist-bumping 146,000 views on YouTube.
There are echoes of Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons in their sweetly sung harmonies and propulsive Americana-tinged country-rock. So, expectations are high for their debut album Absolute Zero when it sees the light of day this spring. And with the average age of the band just 20, Stevie Appleby, Faye O'Rourke and Co have it all in front of them.
Outside of the BBC list, teenage songstress Soak – aka Bridie Monds-Watson – from Derry is someone I'm looking forward to hearing more of in 2013.
At the chilled out, ambient end of the spectrum, MMOTHS continues to inspire, his hypnotic soundscapes following in the quiet footsteps of Sabres Of Paradise.
Last year this column interviewed former Plague Monkeys and Tycho Brahe singer Carol Keogh about her online Fundit campaign to raise the dosh required to record her debut album, Mongrel City, with her current band The City Fathers.
Happily, Carol reached the target and is busy in the studio readying the record for release later this year. If the demos are anything to go by, it will be a project well worth the wait – and proof that social media really can make all the difference to artists forced to operate on a budget.
I'm also excited by the forthcoming album by former Stars Of Heaven and Revenants mainstay Stephen Ryan – last seen on stage with The Dinah Brand – who I hear is mixing the new material as we speak.
Having spread their magic over Vicar St and the Pepprcanister Church last year, trad superstar collective The Gloaming ( Martin Hayes, Caoimhin O'Raghallaigh, Iarla O'Lionaird and Thomas Bartlett) will no doubt be raising the roof off a theatre/ church/cathedral near you very soon. The capital's sacred houses also host the flagship shows of the Temple Bar Trad Festival which runs from 23-27 January.
As for the live rock scene, the calendar boasts a steady stream of bona fide marquee names stopping off on their world tours. Rihanna may not be welcome in the farms of Norn Iron but her show in the Aviva this June is one of the highlights of the summer season.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, one of the greatest live bands of all time, will shake the denizens of Ballsbridge from their slumber when they play the RDS in June where they'll be popping their Psychedelic Pill. Air guitars at the ready.
In case those living beyond the Pale were feeling a little left out, Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band take their mammoth Wrecking Ball tour to Limerick's Thomond Park, Cork's Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Belfast's Ulster Hall in July. Since he rocked the RDS last summer, Bruce has helped get Barack Obama re-elected, saw his official biography hit the shelves and was judged the person of the year by Uncut Magazine.
The return of the iconic/dog-eared Slane Castle concerts after a hiatus sees Bon Jovi turn back the clock in June and Eminem bring his Shady brand of hip-hop to Lord Henry's manor in August. Let's hope Marshall turns up this time. . .
Also mooted to return after a break in 2012 is the Oxegen Festival in July, which will be hoping that the rain stays away for once. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Electric Picnic, so no doubt something extra special is being planned.
So, 2013: potentially not a good year – but a great year.