#8. Magic Pockets – Volcano of the Bleeding Skies (Penske Recordings)
No Spill Blood synth-man Ruadhán O’Meara has been functioning solo as Magic Pockets for a while now, and debut long-player Volcano of the Bleeding Skies sees O’Meara expand on his role amid his other band’s spiky, punk chaos, spreading his neon-lined wings and flying headlong into the infinitely-scrolling grid. It’s not entirely retro-futurist funtimes, however – some serious grooves lie underneath the pads and swells, as best exhibited in Darkest Place, while the title track makes for some seriously dreamy drone at its outset. An excellent adventure.
Joint #1. The Altered Hours – In Heat/Not Sorry (Art for Blind/Penske Recordings)
From their beginnings as a roughshod folk collective in Cork City, the Altered Hours have been chameleonic over the years, playing and experimenting with genre classification and tropes. Over the course of a clutch of EPs and singles, the band have become more than the sum of their parts, and no better evidence exists of this than debut album In Heat/Not Sorry. Blurring the boundaries between shoegaze, post-punk, psychedelia and garage-rock, the five-piece have unleashed a carefully-considered, yet inspired full-length that stands out as the best all-round Irish rock (if such a glib term really applies here) record of the year.