10 new Irish artists you should be listening to right now

Fresh Eire: new Irish bands Thumper, Kneecap, Sprints and more
(Image credit: Press)

U2 have just shared a new documentary, The Answer have just released a new album, Stiff Little Fingers are in the middle of a UK tour, and there's a new Therapy? single out as a taster for their forthcoming 16th album, but, to paraphrase the estimable Alan Partridge, there's more to the Irish music scene in 2023 dan... sorry... than this.

Here are 10 new Irish artists you should be listening to right now.

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"I don’t have to know everything to be able to tell you that something’s shit... You don’t have to be Usain Bolt to run a race, and you don’t have to understand the theory of everything to understand that, morally, someone’s an asshole." So says Sprints' Karla Chubb, whose brilliantly incisive lyrics deal with sexuality, mental health, politics and the myriad irritations of life in modern Ireland. Now signed to City Slang, the band's debut album is expected this year, but in the meantime, singles The Cheek,  Manifesto, How Does The Story Go?, Modern Job, Little Fix and Literary Mind offer a brilliant introduction to the Dublin quartet's sound.


'From the West Coast of Ireland, this alternative indie rock band brings sombre themes to life with their easy-going sound, raw vocals and thrumming backing' is the blurb used to introduce NewDad on bandcamp. Which is shorthand for saying that the Galway quartet are part of the new wave of Shoegaze, with songs such as Ladybird (from last year's Banshee EP) and the excellent I Don't Recognise You a seductive mix of shimmering, reverb-heavy guitars and blissed-out vocals from Julie Dawson. The IT Crowd star-turned-Hollywood actor Chris O'Dowd is a fan, and shows up at London shows. 


With song such as Get Your Brits Out and Fenian Cunts, and a merchandise line (and hometown mural) featuring a police Land Rover in flames, Belfast's Irish-language hip-hop trio Kneecap aren't afraid of making provocative artistic statements, a stance which has earned them criticism from politicians across the political divide in Northern Ireland. They remain wholly unrepentant. "We don’t want to be fighting or advocating violence, we want people to be thinking,” Móglaí Bap told The Guardian last year. "We’re not an army. We’re just three boys from Belfast making a bit of art."


"M(h)aol’s debut album has the power to break down walls and kick over statues; it needs to be put on school curriculums and broadcast from rooftops and vans; its lyrics need to be printed out and xeroxed and made into pamphlets and distributed on every street corner." The words of Louder's Alice Clark, reviewing M(h)aol's debut album Attachment Styles last month. The quintet describe the album as "a record about social connection, queerness and healing", and fresh from their debut US shows at SXSW last week, M(h)aol will tour Ireland in April and the UK in May.


Thumper self-identify as 'a noise-pop sextet from Dublin, delivering bubble-gum psych through a wall of sonic death', and how could anyone resist that? The band's excellent Delusions of Grandeur debut, released in March 2022, was one of the best Irish rock albums of last year, and their incendiary, all-action live shows are an absolute riot. That the band's new single is a cover of Natasha Bedingfield's 2004 Unwritten is an indication of how little they care for rock orthodoxy.

Problem Patterns

Newly signed to Alcopop! Records, already home to Derry punks Cherym, Belfast's queer feminist punk quartet Problem Patterns have attracted praise from Bob Vylan and Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, among others.

Formed in the wake of a high-profile Northern Ireland rape trial, the four piece - Ciara King, Beverley Boal, Bethany Crooks and Alanah Smith - switch roles and instruments while tackling everything from political distress to personal conflicts. Last year's fierce, furious single Y.A.W. (an acronym for Yes All Women) was provoked by the rape and murder of Sarah Everard by serving London police officer Wayne Couzens and features lyrics such "Who do we call for help when the help seems like a threat to me" and "She shouldn’t have to be your girlfriend / She shouldn’t have to be you lover / A woman’s worth should not come down to how much you wanna fuck her." Expect a debut album later this year.

Meryl Streek

There's a scene in Dead Man's Shoes, Shane Meadows' brilliant 2004 psychological thriller, where (co-writer) Paddy Considine's character Richard sits staring at a drug dealer until the subject of his gaze asks, 'What the fuck are you looking at?' The answer he receives? "You, you CUNT". Apply that same energy to a state-of-the-Irish-nation companion piece to Gallows' Grey Britain delivered by a one man Sleaford Mods and you'll have a rough idea of where Meryl Streek's debut album 796 is coming from. An utterly fearless new voice unlikely to ever become absorbed into the Irish music establishment. 

Lemonade Shoelace

The presence of Lemonade Shoelace, aka Ruairí Richman, in this list is completely unrelated to the fact that he hails from the same Northern Ireland seaside town as this writer, and everything to do with the fact that his self-produced sun-burst psychedelia is the sound of pure joy.

The winner (among 30,000 applicants) of the 2021 Vans' Musicians Wanted competition, as a teenage skateboarder the Newcastle, Co. Down musician got his early kicks from Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers before falling in love with Tame Impala, Super Furry Animals, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Radiohead and more. Speaking of the influence of his hometown, Richman says, "Living so close to both the sea and the mountains is an absolute treat, and it has definitely seeded its way into my music in many forms. There’s something magical about the place." Look out for his debut EP Do Whatever Makes You Happy, due on April 28. 


With the success of Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital, UK A&R scouts have been turning their attention to the Dublin music scene, and Gurriers have every chance of becoming the city's next break-out stars. Raised on metal, punk, indie and alt. rock - the first band guitarist Mark MacCormack and drummer Pierce Callaghan ever saw was Rammstein - the quintet have an energy, edge and aggression that sets them apart from their more mannered post-punk peers. "One day you'll wake up and my face will be all over your television," vocalist Dan Hoffs sings on current single Approachable: we can only hope.

Sinead O'Brien

Produced by Speedy Wunderground boss Dan Carey (Fontaines D.C., Squid, Black Midi), Sinead O'Brien's darkly seductive debut album, Time Bend and Break the Bower, marked the Limerick-born, London-based poet/fashion designer/post-punk vocalist as a singular new voice. "There’s no limits for me with this. I want it all." O'Brien told the Irish Times last year. "I. Want. It. All. I hope that doesn’t sound greedy; it’s just ... why not?" Why not indeed.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.