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 and more.
After releasing her first collection of poetry in 2020, an EP titled Slip of the Tongue, Imelda is to share her sixth studio album on April 23.
11 Past The Hour features the already-available title track, plus new single Just One Kiss with Noel Gallagher ft. Ronnie Wood. Available now for pre-save, and pre-order digitally and on CD and vinyl, the record is Imelda's first for four years since 2017's Life Love Flesh Blood, which peaked at Number 2 on the Official Irish Albums Chart.
Collaborators on the 11 Past The Hour - which was co-written with Tim Bran (London Grammar, Primal Scream) and string arranger Davide Rossi (Coldplay, U2, Goldfrapp) - include Noel Gallagher, Miles Kane and Ronnie Wood.
"I love the danger in [the album]," Imelda stated in a recent interview. "There seems to be a theme that I like danger. I like rebellion and I suppose, maybe, I needed to do some proper rebellin’ of my own … I love the fact that I’ll just follow how I feel rather than tell myself how it should feel.”
Dublin's answer to 5 Seconds of Summer, Wild Youth are on the cusp of releasing their second EP, which will be out "a lot sooner than people think" according to an interview the band did with Euphoria. Recent singles Next To You, Through The Phone and new track Champagne Butterflies could make their way onto the tracklist.
The band have said they have eleven songs finished, which will be whittled down to five or six for the EP. The indie-pop four-piece have revealed also that they were beginning to work on their debut album in November just gone.
Wild Youth's debut EP The Last Goodbye peaked at Number 5 on the Official Irish Albums Chart in February 2019.
R&B trio Wyvern Lingo will put out their second studio album Awake You Lie on February 26. The group from Bray have shared the singles Don't Say It, Brutal Lottery, Things Fall Apart and Rapture from the collection, which is available to pre-order digitally and on CD and vinyl.
"A recurring image during this album writing process was light, the lack thereof, and wanting to see things more clearly, for ourselves and others," the band have said of the record. "We called the album Awake You Lie because it evokes an image of night-time when someone should be sleeping but can’t, due to restlessness or worry. Things are always clearer in the light of day."
Caoimhe, Karen and Saoirse's self-titled debut album peaked at Number 3 on the Official Irish Albums Chart in March 2018.
Electronica musician Christian Cohle releases his debut album Holy Trouble on February 19, a collection that promises to be dark, atmospheric and psychedelic judging by his 2020 singles including Wallflower and Drown Me Slow.
“All of my music has a spiritual or mythical element to it,” Cohle said of the album. “I wouldn’t say I’m religious, but I definitely regard myself as very spiritual. I find that I’ve been instinctually drawn to it.
“Being a recovering addict, I’ve been sober now for around three and a half years, even just the nature of addiction is kind of a spiritual thing in a sense. It’s like you’re giving yourself over to whatever it is.”
Dublin folk singer Declan O'Rourke will release his eighth studio album Arrivals on March 5, available to pre-order now on CD and on blue and black vinyl variants. The collection is produced by Paul Weller and was trailed by the tracks The Harbour, Andy Sells Coke, In Painters' Light and The Stars Over Kinvara.
"I was coming to the stage where I liked the idea of working with somebody," Declan explained to RTE. "Some of my friends said I was unproducable because 'you know what you want too much. Who would you listen to?'
"[Paul] was there every moment, before, during and long after, discussing ideas about this and that, even down to the artwork. It was hugely impressive."
Folk-pop Dubliner A. Smyth is releasing his debut album Last Animals on February 19, available to pre-order now digitally and on yellow vinyl. The record features the singles Hero, Don't Let Me Down and River.
"We made Last Animals in January , moments before the world was to change forever," the former Vann Music frontman Aaron said of his debut solo release. "Throughout the record I reflect on the effect we as humans are having on our home, little did I know what was to come…. Last Animals is made up of 10 songs, some big, some small, but all with something to say.”
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.
Indie-folk duo Basciville aka brothers Cillian and Lorcan Byrne, will release their debut album Hymns To The Air in early 2021.
Inspired by Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and James Blake, Hymns To The Air features Memory & Other Drugs about "stepping from the edge into a warm abyss", and Calvary which addresses "connections between physicality and memory" and "blurring the lines around a physical connection and elevating it beyond what it was."
Alex Gough has had a busy January 2021, releasing the vinyl edition of his debut album Forever Classic and performing as part of Eurosonic Festival 2021. Not content on just releasing one project during the month, the Waterford native will be dropping a live EP on January 29th titled BONUS FEATURES (Live at The Clinic). We're loving the DVD screensaver-mimicking branding too!
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 and named as part of MTV Push UK & IRE 2021.
Inhaler's debut album will be released in 2021 through Polydor Records, and the band have been spotted in Dublin shooting the cover art. Speaking to the BBC about when the album can be expected, the quartet were tight-lipped and "sworn to secrecy", but shared: "We're very excited to talk more about the album when we can - but for now we're still tinkering on it and making it the best it can be. We're in no rush, it's not like we've got a show to get to!"
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".
2020 was an incredible year professionally for Robert Grace, whose popularity skyrocketed on TikTok, resulting in his breakthrough hit Fake Fine reaching Number 1 on the Official Irish Homegrown Chart, hitting the Top 20 on the main Official Irish Singles Chart for good measure.
God Is An Astronaut
Described as the band's "most ferocious" album to date, God Is An Astronaut's ninth studio album and tenth overall release Ghost Tapes #10 will feature "luminescence and harsh, deep reflections" that will "transport the listener to a trance-like mindset". Sounds heavy.
The County Wicklow experimental rock group have teased the album with the singles Burial and Fade, and it is released on February 12. The seven-track collection can be pre-ordered digitally and on CD, and has FIVE vinyl pressings: black, gold, white/black splatter, gold/black splatter and its white/gold/black splatter Die Hard edition.
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 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."
Purveyor of sad-bangers Tim Chadwick announced last year that his new EP Timothy would be released in early 2021. If 90s-influenced soul-crushing pop falls under your remit, then this will be the EP for you.
Timothy will address embracing yourself and finding your feet in the world, with first single Only Me about wanting "nothing more than your own freedom and then having no idea what to do with it."
Biig Piig garnered critical-acclaim in 2020, scoring famous fans such as Annie Mac, Huw Stephens and Dan Hegarty, plus her track Don't Turn Around was featured on the soundtrack to the football video game FIFA 21, hailed for its popular playlists. That track also became her first to chart on the Official Homegrown 20 in July last year while Feels Right followed suit in December 2020.
While Biig Piig (real name Jessica Smyth) is unsure of putting out an album in 2021 - "I'm still trying to work out what that means for me" - she "100%" has plans for some kind of project this year.
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.
MORE: One to Watch - Lyra
“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.
Hope, Amongst Other Things is the name of Somebody's Child's new EP, set for release in 2021. Songs we've heard so far from the indie artist's upcoming four-track collection are Top Drawer Romance and Lost, the latter of which has been performed on Virgin Media One.
Somebody's Child - real name Cian Godfrey - hopes his new material will be relatable to listeners; Top Drawer Romance reflects the end of a break up: "What I cherish is that even though I’m not going through those feelings right now, someone out there is", while Lost addresses not knowing what the future holds.
"The song taught me a lot in hindsight," Cian said of Lost. "I think I was probably suppressing a lot of emotions that were manifesting in situations that weren’t really relevant to what was going on inside."
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, her second chart hit following I Did To Myself from her 2020 Freckle Season EP.
The alt-pop singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist has tackled insecurity in both Pretending and new single More Like You, 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."
Northern Irish folk rising star Dani Larkin will share her debut album Notes for a Maiden Warrior in spring 2021. 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.
February 19 will see Dublin's Sal Dulu release his debut album Xompulse, a collection of "nostalgia-soaked electronica" from the hotly-tipped producer. Each of the albums 10 tracks are each an idiosyncratic 'dream', with the broader concept being about the liminal space between dreams and reality. Expect a mix of "dusty electronica, downtempo hip-hop, jazz, and late-night ambiance" on the upcoming record, which features the singles Girl, B and Alien Boy 96.