The only thing more annoying than January is the insufferable moaning about the greyest month of the year. With half the country talking about Dry January as if they’re on barefoot Lough Derg pilgrimage, and the other half financially banjaxed after Christmas, something has to give.
Well, if one of your worthy New Year’s resolutions is to go on a deep dive of emerging Irish music, Whelan’s Ones To Watch is a good place to ease yourself in.
The eighth edition of the Dublin city centre festival takes place in one of Ireland’s most famous music hubs, and runs until this Sunday, after kicking off last night.
If you’re hesitant about leaving your January lair, the actual figures might shift you off the couch – it’s 50 acts over three stages over four days, and it’s only a tenner for a four-day ticket. It’s €5 for a day ticket, but they’ve pointed out that there’s a free pint of Hop House 13 if you’re not on the dry – making it essentially free.
There’s a variety of indie-rock, folk, hip-hop and electronica on offer from now until Sunday, and here’s a top 10 to get you going…
Alien She: Formed at a feminist meeting, Dublin trio play skeletal post-punk with dirgy psychedelics creeping in every so often.
Roe: Derry teenager Roe is playing Dutch showcase Eurosonic this weekend, and she’s also squeezing this one in. She can turn her hand at melancholy guitar pop on the likes of Fake Ur Death, to biting electro-pop on Playground Fights.
Slow Riot: Limerick act have plenty of Joy Division and Interpol albums in their collection, and they mine this melancholy post-punk well for inspiration.
Little One: Minimalist indie-pop and post-rock shimmers from a Dublin act with just a hint of The xx, with cathartic builds and releases.
Dowry: Fiddler Ena Brennan takes a distinctly avant-garde approach to her craft, incorporating loop pedals and scratchy horror tropes. Banish any preconceived notions about the instrument – think Mica Levi or Warren Ellis of The Bad Seeds.
JyellowL: Spoken word artist and rapper artist JyellowLis one of the Irish MCs pushing the conscious hip-hop scene forward but he can still do bangers – see White Benz.
Bicurious: Dublin instrumental act Bicurious could be loosely described as post-rock or even math-rock, with an added looseness sometimes absent from these strands of why-so-serious guitar bands.
Bobby Basil: One half of Dah Jevu, MC Bobby Basil is from the Anticon/Def Jux school of abstract hip-hop. He’s now working with Wastefellow, one of the most inventive Irish electronic producers around.
Segrasso: If you’re an ageing 90s alt-rock/grunge victim Segresso press all the right slacker buttons. But they should hit the bullseye even if you’re not me.
Van Panther: Maybe the most leftfield act on the bill, Van Panther is a trawl through Limerick singer-songwriter Kieran Ralph’s head – whimsical indie-pop with inventive electronics and arched-eyebrow lyrics.