St. Patty's Day

TRACKING: Katie Kim – “The Feast”

SOUNDS LIKE: Fiona Apple, PJ Harvey, The Knife
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Hundreds of years of traditional Irish folk have led to unique, experimental artists like this

Kate Sullivan, aka Katie Kim, will turn 30 the day before St. Patrick’s Day, but her ethereal, angelic voice doesn’t give that away. She alternately sounds like she could be 12 or 90, and manages to pull off the illusion with minimal vocal effects. She’s released just two albums, the most recent of which, Cover and Flood, alternates between dark, haunting melodies and beautifully low-fi pop. Nine of the 20 songs on the album clock in at less than two minutes, and the immediacy works extremely well.

All of what’s wonderful about Katie Kim is showcased in “The Feast,” a song that begins with a simple three note tune but builds rapidly to a thudding, eerie conclusion. The song calls to mind old Irish folk songs, the darker sounds of PJ Harvey and, oddly, Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer.” It’s a great introduction to a singer who should be generating more attention stateside.

TRACKING: Cashier No. 9 – “Oh Pity”

SOUNDS LIKE: Stone Roses, Pavement, The Byrds
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: If they ever get around to putting out new material, you can say “I like the older stuff”

Cashier No. 9 built a pretty decent following in the UK, largely on the strength of their wonderfully catchy 2011 album To the Death of Fun. A mixture of the revamped 60s sound of Manchester and the sound of their native Dublin (think Van Morrison mixed with Stiff Little Fingers), Cashier No. 9 combine a 60’s mentality and sound with great, energetic live shows. To the Death of Fun’s shimmering, happy sound is a product of the cloth it’s cut from; Jellyfish’s Jason Faulkner sits in on several songs, and Hugo Nicolson, best known for producing Primal Scream’s legendary album Screamadelica, mixed the record.

“Oh Pity” sums up the band’s sound well. A steady, unwavering bass line with multiple guitars, background vocals, and sneaky percussion (the glockenspiel will be the thing your ears keep going back to) the songs coasts along on the clouds. Without knowing anything about the band, there’s little chance you’d recognize them as Irish, but you’ll certainly see that they’re a ton of fun.

TRACKING: The Cast of Cheers – “Trucks at Night”

SOUNDS LIKE: Two Door Cinema Club, Bloc Party, Foals
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because as good as Two Door Cinema Club is, there are other great Irish indie rock bands out there

Discussions of modern Irish indie rock tend to begin and end with Northern Ireland’s Two Door Cinema Club (no, The Frames are not indie). While that band is deserving of the praise it receives, it seems to leave little room for other great Irish indie bands to build a following stateside (we seem to only allow one non-U2 Irish band to get popular here at a time). One band breaking through the clutter is Dublin’s wonderfully named The Cast of Cheers. While at times they certainly sound like TDCC (and have opened for them on numerous occasions) there’s more going on here as they infuse lyrical inventiveness (or gibberish, depending on how you look at it) with a sound that ranges from straight on hard rock to early Talking Heads-style pop.

“Trucks at Night,” the most recent single from their stellar 2012 album Family, is, appropriately, a quick driving pop gem, a punchy fun song on an album that’s full of them. It’s music that seems to be written to be played live in front of large crowds, but will also make you tap your feet if it comes on the jukebox at your local Irish pub.

TRACKING: Laura Sheeran – “Forever Love”

SOUNDS LIKE: The Knife, Bjork, Sinead O’Connor
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:  It was one of the best songs to come out of Ireland last year

It’s St. Patrick’s Day week, and as such we’ll be tracking some of the best music out of Ireland that you might have missed.

Though only 26 years old, Laura Sheeran has already made quite a name for herself on the Emerald Isle; she fronts several acts, including the “alien synth pop” band Nanu Nanu. She’s also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, playing instruments as diverse as the bowed saw, accordion, and ukulele.

“Forever Love,” the first single from her 2012 album What the World Knows, is short on instruments and big on atmosphere. A subtle, eerie dirge that’s strongly reminiscent of The Knife with peaks that call to mind early Sinead O’Connor, this is not a song you’re likely to hear at the Irish pub this Sunday, nor should you listen to it alone in the dark.