There's a lot of uncertainty going on in the world, but one thing we can all be sure of is that there are some fantastic projects coming in 2021 from some incredible Irish artists.
Take a look at our rundown of homegrown talent releasing new albums, EPs, mixtapes in the coming months.
Dani Larkin - June 18
Northern Irish folk rising star Dani Larkin will share her debut album Notes for a Maiden Warrior on June 18 on vinyl/download/streaming. Each song on the record will act as a chapter in a book of 'mystery and darkness', with the lead single Samson & Goliath about "the first stages of femininity and womanhood" with a hint of folklore. Other tracks released so far include The Red (Maca's Return) and Love Part Three.
Saint Sister - June 25
Choice Music Prize and Northern Irish Music Prize-nominated 'atmosfolk' duo Saint Sister release their sophomore album Where I Should End on June 25, available to download & stream, and on CD, cassette, cream vinyl and green double LP.
The project has been trailed by the singles The Place That I Work featuring Lisa Hannigan, Karaoke Song and Oh My God Canada and was self-written and produced by members Morgan and Gemma.
Kojaque - June 25
Dublin rapper Kojaque will put out his debut album Town's Dead on June 25, the follow-up to his critically-acclaimed Deli Daydreams mixtape. The record's title track and other recent singles Shmelly, Coming Up, and No Hands have all of appeared on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart.
"Many of my friends express the exact same wants, desires and frustrations with living in Ireland," Kojaque, real name Kevin Smith, said of the record. "If so many of us are on the same page then I know that things can change, there just needs to be some sort of catalyst to kick start that change and for me that’s always been art and music. Time and time again, amazing art continues to be made in spite of the struggles and setbacks that are presented when living here."
Town's Dead is available to pre-order on CD, cassette, black vinyl and baby blue vinyl.
Inhaler - July 9
Dublin rockers Inhaler have been hotly-tipped for some time, impressing with a string of festival appearances and being bestowed top honours such as coming fifth in the BBC Sound Of 2020 poll and named as part of MTV Push UK & IRE 2021.
Inhaler's debut album It Won't Always Be Like This will be released through Polydor Records on July 9, with lucky fans in Ireland able to pick up an exclusive green coloured vinyl with alternate artwork, solely available in Irish retailers.
Three tracks from the album - Cheer Up Baby, When It Breaks and Who's Your Money On? (Plastic House) - are Top 10 hits on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart.
Soda Blonde - July 9
Like Inhaler, another group releasing their debut album on July 9 are Soda Blonde. The band (four fifths of chart-topping group Little Green Cars) will share Small Talk, their inaugural record under their new moniker, on vinyl, CD and download formats.
"To put it simply, Small Talk is about life in our 20’s," said frontwoman Faye O’Rourke. "Every part of us is in here, both subliminally and literally. Lyrically, this record is like a collection of my flaws and insecurities. They’re lingering awkwardly by the bar at a crowded social gathering, waiting to integrate with the wider world."
Rejjie Snow - July 9
Irish hip hop trailblazer Rejjie Snow returns with his second album Baw Baw Black Sheep on July 9 via BMG. Lead single Relax is out now.
The collection is reminiscent of a short film in music form, and is inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: "I watch it all the time. I thought of Baw Baw Black Sheep like a soundtrack to it," said Rejjie in a statement. "I put the movie on with my album, and they synced up perfectly. I tried to tap into all of these feelings. The music is really colourful, and the lyrics are often happy, because that was my state of mind.”
James Vincent McMorrow - July 16
Grapefruit Season is the title of James Vincent McMorrow's fifth studio album, out July 16, a record all about how "life is chaos, and the idea of growing up but feeling none the wiser." You can pre-order the album on CD, black vinyl and webstore-exclusive orange wax.
Three singles from the LP have entered the Official Homegrown Top 20 including the Number 8-peaking Waiting, his joint-highest charting song. The record is James' first with Sony Music, and follows 2017's True Care. 2016 record We Move peaked at Number 1 on the Official Irish Albums Chart.
The Crayon Set - July
Alt pop five-piece The Crayon Set will release their third album Downer Disco in July, which was preceded by the single Don't Step Back To Far which combined melancholy lyrics with vibrant snyths.
The band's Robert Baker said of the track: "Lyrically it is about feeling down and losing a sense of yourself and your role in the world. A bit depressing, but you could dance to it…”
A press release for the album announcement stated that the record "will combine sadness with sunshine, speaking on more introspective, serious topics that will play above a pop-disco fusion."
Villagers - August 20
Villagers, the chart-topping project of Conor O'Brien, releases its sixth album Fever Dreams on August 20, and you can pick up a dark red vinyl exclusively in Irish retailers. The set was preceded by lead single The First Day, a Number 8 hit on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart.
With three Number 1 albums in the 2010s, Villagers are one of the top ranking acts for most chart toppers on the Official Irish Albums Chart in the last decade.
Salvation: Inspired by The Cranberries for Pieta - October 1
The music of The Cranberries will be celebrated this October with Salvation, a collection of covers in aid of suicide prevention charity Pieta House.
The compilation features Sinéad O'Connor, Kodaline, Roe, Aimée and Walking on Cars, while lead single When You're Gone by Pillow Queens became the group's first Top 5 hit on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart.
The legendary Sinéad O'Connor is currently prepping the release of her eleventh studio album - and first since 2014's I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss which peaked at Number 1 on the Official Irish Albums Chart.
Sinead has pencilled in a "late 2021" timeframe for the album, which will be supported by a four-date Irish tour in June and July. Sinéad will also release her memoirs titled Rememberings this year, on June 1.
Ireland's 2021 Eurovision representative Lesley Roy is looking to release an EP centred about her contest entry Maps, which peaked at Number 3 on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart.
Speaking exclusively to OfficialCharts.com, Lesley told us: "I definitely think there’s a cohesive four songs that could be on an EP that would make sense sonically and lyrically after Maps. I’ll have to look down and see what songs need some tweaks, what production needs working on and vocals need to be retaken. I need to get rolling on what that EP would look like."
Irish chart legends Westlife will put out their 12th studio album in late 2021 with new record label East West, part of Warner Music. Westlife were signed to Sony during the original run, and under Universal for their comeback album Spectrum in 2019.
"We have found a record label that share the same energy and high ambitions as the four of us," said Kian, Mark, Nicky and Shane. "In what will be a very busy year, where there will be some surprise announcements and of course new music!"
Songwriters to the stars and artist in her own right RuthAnne told the 4Play music podcast that she has "been working on a second album which will be coming out in 2021", part of her new deal with AntiFragile Music. Recent singles Remember This - which OfficialCharts.com/Ireland premiered the video for - and F.L.Y. will feature on the project, said to be a mini album according to an interview RuthAnne did with RCC.
Fia Moon's self-confessed "pretty emo" debut mixtape will be released in 2021, and features the singles Falling For You, XX and Better Days, the latter of which topped out at Number 13 on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart.
Speaking to Golden Plec about the project, Fia said we can expect "the story of heartbreak and healing and finding yourself again" on the six-track mixtape, which "explores the memories of past loves and the connections with them that remain".
Irish pop-rock group and teen heartthrobs Picture This are hard at work on their third studio album, scheduled for release this summer. Official Irish Homegrown Chart Number 1s Things Are Different and LA House Party are expected to feature, with current standalone singles One Night, Winona Ryder, Troublemaker, If I Build A Home On The Moon and Unconditional up for inclusion.
Crumlin folk musician Paddy Casey is no stranger to chart success, scoring a Number 1 album in 2004 with Living. It's been nine years since Paddy's last studio album, so he is making up for it with a double album which is coming "soon" according to his Twitter account. Lead single Won't Take Much is available now.
R&B singer Aby Coulibaly is One to Watch, and she'll be releasing new music in 2021. "I plan to release a project at some stage [in 2021]", the Dubliner told That Blogger Music, and her Official Irish Homegrown Chart hit Long Nights is a safe bet to feature on the tracklisting.
Irish Women in Harmony
2020 saw female voices stand up and stand together, the shining example of which was the formation of Irish Women in Harmony. The brainchild of renowned Donaghmede songwriter RuthAnne, the collective featuring the likes of Lisa Hannigan, Erica Cody, Pillow Queens, Moya Brennan and Stephanie Rainey put their talents together to showcase what Irish female artists are capable of, all while raising money in the process.
The group's first release (in aid of SAFE Ireland) Dreams was Ireland's best-selling vinyl single of 2020 and became the first - and only to date - Number 1 on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart by a female act. A Top 3 festive release Together at Christmas followed, and an album is in the works.
"We're doing an album, explained RuthAnne on The Late Late Show. "We're working on a plan right now where maybe a few of us can be in the studio socially distanced. There'll be some originals on it and a few more covers [by] Irish females."
Psych rock newcomers Thumper are prepping their debut album, and have gone down an unconventional route to perfect, my teaming with pop producer Phil Magee (Kodaline, Gavin James) who will mix their upcoming record.
"Somebody with different sensibilities will hear something that you don't hear and highlight bits that you wouldn't think were that important but ended up bringing it all together," frontman Oisín Furlong told GoldenPlec. "[He will] bridge the gap between how gnarly the recordings are and something a little more palatable to people beyond our band."
Expect recent singles Topher Grace and Ad Nauseum to make the final cut.
Electronic producer Elaine Mai is prepping her debut album for a 2021 release, and the campaign got off to a flying start - lead single No Forever ft. MayKay reached Number 8 on the Irish Homegrown Top 20.
Speaking to Nialler9, Elaine said of the currently untitled album: "All of the songs from my upcoming album relate to a central theme of home and belonging. This can be interpreted in many different ways, from feeling uplifting and reassuring, to more sad and mournful."
Spending time perfecting her craft between Dublin and Berlin, Lucy McWilliams showcased her bright future in 2020 with Fair Play, a Number 15 hit on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart in April.
Currently studying at music school BIMM Berlin, Lucy wants "to release a project at the end of the academic year in 2021". Her two single releases put her on the map, and now she wants to use her upcoming collection as a way to navitage her next path and to find herself as an artist.
Powerhouse songstress Lyra has had a successful start to 2021; she performed her latest single New Day to ring in the New Year on RTÉ One, and then that track became her first Top 50 hit on the Official Irish Singles Chart.
The Cork native will look to continue her momentum with the release of her debut album, released through Universal Music Ireland. Recording started in January 2020 in Los Angeles with Lady Gaga's producers, and while Lyra's not been able to pop back over the Atlantic, the album has progressed via email.
“Obviously [it] takes a bit longer, but at least it’s getting done," Lyra told The Irish Times. She's keeping calm and carrying on; with a polished Late Late Show performance and animated movie soundtrack song under her belt, it's a method that's certainly worked for her so far.
Orla Gartland's debut album is on the horizon, and its lead single has already enjoyed chart success; Pretending entered the Official Irish Homegrown Chart at Number 8, with follow-up track More Like You peaking at the same position.
The alt-pop singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist has tackled insecurity in both tracks, but from different perspectives. The former talks about "pretending to be a little bit more f**ked up than [you] are, to seem more interesting", with the second centred around "yearning to switch lives with someone who makes it all look easy."
Ham Sandwich have taken their time to follow-up their 2015 Number 1 album Stories from the Surface, but the wait is almost over.
The trio from County Meath play their new album live on their 2021 tour set for November and December, so the accompanying record will be with us before the year is out.
.....aaaaand we’re back!— HamsandwicH (@Ham_Sandwich) May 4, 2021
We’ve booked in some new dates across Ireland this winter and we can’t wait to play our new album live to you all.
Are we playing next to you? Check out dates for more info.
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Artwork by the amazing @JacobStackArt pic.twitter.com/Fzj2S8Qeo9