February may seem like a quiet month but there are plenty of new albums, singles and videos out right now to keep us entertained! Irish music blog Harmless Noise rounds up the best new releases of the year so far.

A warm welcome is a very nice way to start the spring, and there’s no better than Berlin-based Nina Hynes’ fabulous voice on this new song The World. Check it out on Nialler9’s blog. It’s got a great, inviting chorus that makes me want to handclap along, and the trumpets sweep me up every time I listen. It’s taken from the album Goldmine, and has just been released as a single to buy on iTunes for 99c.

This video for Clu’s Moonrunner is my favourite thing recently. I’m so hooked on the song, which packs a punchy beat despite being totally laid back. Gemma Dunleavy’s vocals make the track her own and the VHS effects emphasise the video experience, bringing all these good bits together perfectly. Moonrunner is one track that should really do well this year.

Two weeks ago I Am The Cosmos put their debut album Monochrome out as a free download, which was a very nice surprise. It’s a real treat to hear how well this pair, Ross Turner and Cian Murphy, work together. You can luxuriate in the Cosmos’ tunes, drifting off on waves of Eighties nostalgia. This will be the soundtrack to the summer and I’m certain the band will be booked solid for gigs all year.

Nanu Nanu are an ‘alien pop’ art project whose effect-laden songs with synths and strong beats probably do sound like music from space, if we humans are the aliens. In the past month they’ve played twelve places around Ireland, with Si Schroder and Trumpets of Jericho, as part of the Certain Three tour for emerging artists.

Creativity is like a glue that holds Nanu Nanu together, and they have a hands-on approach to all aspects of their work from artwork to costumes and media. They got some help with animation for their latest video, and as you can see Pocket Of Gold is an immaculate production that shows how far Glitterface and Mirrorman are prepared to push the shiny, sleek image they’ve been cultivating.

A very impressive debut album from Croupier last summer earned the Wicklow band plaudits for their take on math rock. They gave all manner of fairground attractions a whirl for this video of The Crooper and it’s great to see a stand-out track from the album being given the proper YouTube treatment.

The huge news on music fan’s ears the past few weeks was definitely the release of My Bloody Valentine’s mbv, a trifling 21 years since releasing Loveless in 1991. For this band, who built a global reputation on making vagueness a sound, there was one question that needed an answer: was the long-awaited album any good? To great relief, mbv turned out to be well worth the mindbendingly slow wait.

2013 is off to a pretty good start considering we also have {Awayland}, the second album by Villagers. It hears the music become more of a band affair, as the first single The Waves hinted back in the autumn, although Conor O’Brien’s voice still steals the show. This is a really nice video shot in the Attica studio out in Donegal where both albums were recorded, that’s owned by guitarist Tommy McLaughlin. The song is called My Lighthouse, a notable moment on {Awayland}.

 

Record labels come and go, a fact that almost every music fan has to come to terms with. It’s quite sad sometimes when a label swears off future releases, especially if you really enjoy the type of music they put out, because the roster of a good label can be as valuable as a dependable friend who gives great music tips. Quarter Inch Collective is the latest independent record label in Dublin to come to the end of its trajectory, after a bright surge of new music over the past three years, each marked with a Quompilation album of gawky Irish bands doing funny and weird cover versions of popular songs, that were then put up for free download.

I have the albums in their cassette tapes that I can’t play, but I like the comfort of owning physical copies that can be looked at lined up on a shelf, knowing that when music has moved on they’ll be the only real way to know that Quarter Inch Collective was here. You can stream and download all of the tracks on Bandcamp. A perfect example for sharing now is the zoney Arrow Shower cover of Cheryl Cole’s dance hit Call My Name.