It's been quite the year for Irish music. John Meagher picks his 10 of the best for 2007
For the country's big names, 2007 was a woeful year. Andrea Corr, Dolores O'Riordan and The Thrills all released albums that charted poorly and barely sold. The Corr and the Cranberry received unanimously terrible reviews, while the reaction to The Thrills' third album, Teenager, was lukewarm. In some quarters, the dismal performance of these artists was treated with barely disguised glee.
Paddy Casey may have enjoyed U2-like success here with Living, but his most recent album Addicted To Company (Part 1) failed to top the chart and the sales figures look like being a fraction of what he's achieved before. Despite a solid second album, Declan O'Rourke didn't enjoy the mass breakthrough that some had predicted. And Ash, who delivered a commercial flop, announced that they wouldn't make albums any more, preferring instead to release songs on a piecemeal basis.
But 2007 yielded some excellent domestic albums, many of them coming from unexpected places. It was also some of the country's better young bands who offered debuts that more than delivered on their early promise.
1. Adrian Crowley
Long Distance Swimmer
The Galwegian has released three previous albums to an indifferent public. This one, unveiled late in the year, is a minor masterpiece, boasting a collection of songs that doesn't contain a single dud and like all truly special music, takes a while to reveal its charms.
Crowley's vocal recalls Kurt Wagner of Lambchop and his lyrics are novelistic in their attention to detail. The album benefits from superb production that allows the songs to breathe. Instrumentation is often understated, but this is no ordinary singer-songwriter fare -- like Fionn Regan, Crowley's strength lies in the nuances. And the album is not without its rock out moments -- These Icy Waters recalls both early REM and Wilco at their most experimental. Domino -- home to Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys -- are rumoured to have their chequebook at the ready.
Burn it: These Icy Waters
2. The Flaws
Sure, there's nothing especially original about this debut from the Monaghan four-piece, but their songs -- inspired by the well-trodden post-punk genre -- are always engaging and frequently thrilling. This is a band that knows how to write memorable tunes. 1981 sounds like an outtake from U2's Boy album, while Sixteen is a synth-rock stomper that The Killers would kill to have written. They won't appeal to the too-cool-for-school types, but that's because Tedxhe Flaws have no interest in staying in an indie ghetto.
Burn it: Sixteen
3. Roisin Murphy
Murphy has prospered since she left Moloko. This second album is not far from the spirit of Madonna's Ray Of Light -- it's premier league electro-pop. The title track is one of half-a-dozen tunes that recall her old band's evergreen Sing It Back -- and her quirky take on pop falls somewhere between Kylie's populism and Bjork's eccentricities.
Burn it: Tell Everybody
4. Dry Country
Very difficult to categorise and a band keen to make music on their own terms, Dry County's innovative post-rock dance album is intricate and densely layered, ideal for consumption in the wee small hours. The album's beauty lies in its vagaries and the band's ability to make fuzzy industrial noise sound so captivating.
Burn it: Delayed By 5
In Love With Detail
This debut is a long time coming from the Dublin outfit, but it's worth the wait. The instrumentation may be conventional -- the classic line-up of guitars/drums/ bass is to the fore -- but the songs constitute an impressive statement of intent. All four members pitch in with the songwriting, resulting in radio-friendly songs that deserved a wider audience.
Burn it: Eustace Street
6. Cathy Davey
Tales of Silversleeve
The Dubliner has come on in leaps and bounds. Her first album suggested talent; this one consummates those gifts. Quirky arrangements, novel observations and hooks aplenty constitute one of the most affecting albums of the year. There's a real sense Davey knows what kind of artist she wants to be.
Burn it: Reuben
7. Stanley Super 800
Louder & Clearer
A shout-out for Cork's best band, their second album offers a winning mix of spiky guitars, shoegazing delights and electro-rock that would be bagging glowing reviews on Pitchfork if it was released by a label-du-jour such as Arts & Crafts. Quite what its hip reviewer would make of the spoken Cork accent that pops up here and there is trickier to ascertain.
Burn it: Gatecrashing
8. Jenny Lindfors
When The Night Time Comes
Resurrection time for this Dublin singer: her early material offered tedious naval-gazing, but there's no sign of that on these accomplished, folksy ruminations. Lindfors, like a young Sandy Denny, favours a less-is-more approach to her soulful songwriting and the gentle instrumentation works a treat on songs as lovely as Lovestage.
Burn it: Lovestage
The Monkey Pole
If the collision of classic riffs and electronica takes your fancy, you won't be found wanting with these up-for-it Wicklow lads. There's nothing fashionable about their brand of guitar and synth rock, but they deliver their spiky, playful tunes with the sort of elan that is likely to appeal to even the most curmudgeonly of music snobs.
Burn it: Binary Love
10. David Geraghty
Kill Your Darlings
Bell X1 may be between albums at present, but multi-instrumentalist member Geraghty hasn't been putting his feet up. This accomplished debut suggests a songwriting ability that might not have been immediately apparent in his main band. Fear The Hitcher, with its intriguingly teasing lyrics and infectious melody, is typical of the album's penchant for songs examining the fallout of unhappy relationships.
Burn it: Fear The Hitcher