Outsider (Photo by Paudie Bourke)
Inspired by musicians such as Joy Division and The Jesus & Mary Chain, Ireland’s Outsider makes music that strikes you with its depth. Certainly, Outsider writes poetic lyrics and sings them with passion, but he also crafts melodies that dance and soar through you.
Outsider took his name from Colin Wilson’s 1956 book, The Outsider, “which examines the psyche of great artists and their place in society,” reads his bio. His real name is Seán Ó Corcoráin. Seán is a terrific talent and a wonderful person, and Parklife DC’s Mickey McCarter had the absolute pleasure of chatting with him recently about his debut full-length album, Karma of Youth, released April 17 by OK! Good Records.
Lankum (Photo courtesy Rough Trade Records)
The droning guitars and eerie pipes of the Irish folk band Lankum have led some to describe their music as apocalyptic. On the evening before the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic as a US national emergency, the band darkly joked, “Thanks a million for taking your lives into your own hands.”
Frontman Ian Lynch added, “We kind of feel like the band on The Titanic.”
Hozier performs at The Anthem on Nov. 18, 2019. (Photo by Matt Ruppert)
Something happens in the mind when music washes over us, replete with that familiar sense of a life lived — of politics, of being a human, a lover, part of a family — balanced with the urge to dance and lose ourselves, if only for a moment. It feels like something real and honest, yet still somehow something almost frivolous.
I am reminded well of something Hozier’s music has long done — it treads the tenuous line between the sacred and the profane. The crowd singing along, and if I close my eyes, I can smell the scent of incense, see the stained-glass smiles of saints. Is this so different? Are the people on the rails not worthy of sainthood? Aren’t we all, in our ways, very nearly worthy? At the very least, do the sacrifices demanded of so many not reach into martyrdom? Not so much in the theistic sense, but the realistic one.
God Is an Astronaut performs at Rock and Roll Hotel on Sept. 14, 2019. (Photo by Marc Caicedo)
“Buying records cheers me up…whenever I feel low, I buy some new records.” Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz
The ability of music to lift us from pain born of tragedy is one of its enduring qualities. Recently, God Is an Astronaut (GIAA) showed us how despair and grief can be relieved — if only temporarily — with soaring melodies, a huge backbeat, and the sort of musical intimacy between player and listener that gives solace at the Rock and Roll Hotel.
Fontaines DC performs at U Street Music Hall on Sept. 11, 2019. (Photo by Mickey McCarter)
Stage performance defines a band — eager audiences arrive at a concert to determine if your songs are meant to be delivered live. In the case of young Irish band Fontaines D.C., the answer is a resounding yes, as seen in a sold-out show at U Street Music Hall recently, where the band dominated with pacing, presence, and something to say (which is best heard live).
Fontaines D.C. (Photo courtesy Ticketfly)
Fontaines D.C. is a band with a name that sounds like it could come from Washington, DC. Rather, these impressive post-punk lads hail from Dublin, Ireland, and they make a return appearance in DC on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at U Street Music Hall.
Glen Hansard performs at the Lincoln Theatre on June 3, 2019. (Photo by David LaMason)
When I listen to Glen Hansard’s music — especially songs from the new album, This Wild Willing — I can picture a man who has two feet planted firmly in the past but is stretching out across this temporal divide to grasp the future. His music often straddles the line separating old folk tradition and modern tones and feeling.