Of the 150+ acts lined up to play this year’s Electric Picnic festival less than 40 could possibly be boxed off as ‘household names’. So, Kendrick Lamar, Ben Howard, George Ezra and Dua Lipa aside, who are the acts you should put a tick beside as ‘must sees’?

And of the host of rising Irish stars, who are the ones are shining so brightly you’ll need blacked-out Ray Bans when they take to the stage?

Long renowned as the ‘stage-to’ when it comes to Irish music festivals, Electric Picnic has worn the mantle of #IrishGlasto since the sad demise of Oxegen back in 2013. The star attraction of our Summer fest calendar, EP’s pulling power is on a par with the its Euro counterparts like Reading & Leeds, Primavera, Roskilde & co. No surprise then that each year, artists from across the full musical spectrum pitch up to purvey their wares on the much trod boards of Stradbally.

When it comes to the cream of the local crop though, EP is second to none in helping them rise to the top. In addition to the 2FM Play the Picnic and Other Voices stages, the legendary Body & Soul area returns again to celebrate its 15th landmark year as the innovative hub of the annual Summer hootenanny. Similarly, the Laois-based extravaganza will also play host to some of the hottest ‘on the cusp‘ acts from across the globe. Too many to mention, we give you a mix of the best from both at home and abroad.

Dalkey-native Sorcha Richardson has spent much of the past decade living amidst the clangour of NYC. Now back in Ireland, the Dubliner has spent much of this year gigging with stints at Castlepalooza and Longitude in the mix, along with an upcoming support slot to Saint Sister. At the recent all female We’ve Only Just Begun fest in Whelan’s she was the name on everybody’s lips, so bagging a coveted spot at EP was surely inevitable. With a lot of mileage clocked up on the fest circuit and a new album on the cards, 2018 is looking like a bumper year for the Irish singer/songwriter.  For fans of Daughter, Wildwood Kin, Wyvern Lingo.

The name Gundelach first graced these pages back in Winter 2015 when the Norwegian wove a compelling web in the form of his single Spiders.

Nearly three years later and the Oslo-based curator of club and dance has released a debut album Baltus, partnered on a handful of singles with fellow Norwegian rising star ARY, and played several festivals across Europe; and all that before landing square in the middle of EP 18. Signed to UTA and under the wing of renowned Norwegian manager Glenn Larsen, Kai Gundelach’s star is firmly on an upward trajectory. Norwegians aren’t shy when it comes to their music, and festival goers can expect a strong delivery replete with trademark otherworldliness and arpeggiators.

Hak Baker started in the music game as a a fourteen year old member of the B.O.M.B. Squad grime collective before going solo and taking his music in a completely new direction.

These days the young Londoner is better known for his disarmingly honest lyrics paired with unadorned sounds, delivered with a canny mix of spoken word and boy next door storytelling.

Baker’s line in musical chat is a jumble of influences, taking in everything from ska to reggae and jazz. Bordering on genreless, when paired with the Eastender’s facetiousness and fact-laden story lines his songs veer into colourful musical diary territory. Although his sound delves deep into late 70s, early 80s soundscapes, it remains firmly in the present tense. Living life is front and centre of his schema. Revellers will party hard with this ebullient hard drinking, hard partying MisFit’.

22 year old Londoner Nilüfer Yanya purveys sleek, mellow, soulful indie with a jazz edge delivered with the same cool aplomb as her 80s predecessor Sade. Drawing on much introspection and seared with raw honesty, the young woman’s songs have a ‘nude’ no frills quality, all the more intensified by the rich, dark quality of her no-nonsense vocal delivery.

Already flagged by Guardian Music as ‘one to watch’ in 2017, Yanya gained serious musical currency when she was longlisted for the BBC’s Music Sound of 2018. Watch her ‘In Session’ with our FOTN neighbours BBC Music Introducing.

Nilüfer dropped her four-track Do You Like Pain EP in February from which the track ‘Thanks 4 Nothing’ was released as a single. Direct, no-shit guitar driven jazz-indie fusion. As cool as Winehouse was at her age!

DervSwerve has been channelling our next featured act for over a year now.

Motions, Dublin duo Tom Daly and Dave Nulty, have taken a slowly, slowly approach to their music, drip feeding a small collection of carefully chosen singles before releasing their acclaimed debut The Late Night Calls EP back in February of this year. With support in spades from the doyens at 2FM and its alt side-kick 2XM, it came as no surprise to see these alt-rockers made the final cut of the now legendary 2FM Play the Picnic stage.

Motions produce a slick mix of gritty alt-rock with an atmospheric underlay of moody electronics, perfectly complemented by intense gravel-flecked vocals and life-stained lyrics. Fresh from a sold-out headliner at the Workman’s, expect a well honed performance flush with tight guitar riffs and powerful vocal delivery.

For lovers of sophisto-alt-rock with more than a passing hint of blue-eyed soul.

Shout outs also to two other up and coming Irish acts to have made the lineup – Cork lads The Elation who’ve been featured here before and Ratoath newbies Electric Shore who’ve honed a brand of electro tinged alt-rock to which we’re quite partial.

Gwenno Saunders, who goes by her first name, is a solo artist from Cardiff whose lyrical delivery is spliced between her native Welsh and her second language, the Cornish of her linguist and poet father Tim Saunders. Also a respected DJ and radio presenter, Gwenno, a firm favourite of BBC 6 Music, has been championed by fellow Welsh radio presenter Huw Stephens garnering a healthy dose of airplay on his BBC shows for both Radio 1 and Radio Cymru respectively.

Gwenno’s writing chops are exceptional – the apple didn’t fall far from the tree – but it is the marriage of both keen multi-lingual poesy with her idiosyncratic take on art pop/soft rock that make the Welsh woman’s compositions so special.

With a vibe akin to Cerys Matthews does Fleetwood Mac, Gwenno’s most recent album, ‘Le Kov’ – which means “the place of memory’ – is a masterclass in soft focus, blurry latter-day psych. The album, which is an exploration of Cornish identity, explores topics such as the protection of minority languages and post-Brexit isolation. Don’t expect a full on singalong, most Irish people can barely string three lines of Amhrán na bhFiann together never mind pick up the chorus of a full-technicolour Cornish post-punk psych. What you can expect is a bewitching colour-fest delivered with exquisite vocal precision.

A band that should really need no introduction is Fontaines DC.

Masters of ‘real-life’ rock, their music is intrinsically Dublin with a delivery that mixes Liberties garage with glowering Behan-esque spoken word. Far from morphing into parodies, the Dublin quintet play their muse to its and their best advantage, painting unfiltered pictures of a city past and present, bringing to life many of its colourful characters and not so colourful characteristics through rapier-like lyricism and explosive rock n roll.

Fontaines DC are a force to be reckoned with. Akin to The Pogues & Manics in their vibe and spirit, their take on rock is hard core dark like The Rolling Stones crossed with Thin Lizzy fronted by a 21st C Ronnie Drew. Playlisted by major radio players such as BBC 6 Music and 2FM, Fontaines DC are now also chowing down on music’s bigger stages, having cut their pub gig teeth far beyond the inner Dublin venues where they began. Expect all the superlatives – vital, urgent etc – given a boot up the a**e and then some. Theirs could possibly be the performance of the festival.

For lovers of early Manics when they still had some fuel in the tank.

Getting signed to Heavenly Recordings is always a clear indicator that an artist is on the up and up. Such is the case with Halifax-Liverpool natives The Orielles. Comprising the Hand sisters and their mate Henry Wade, this three-piece has made its mark on the Brit music scene and then some.

With elements of 70s psych, 80s ska, 90s indie and noughties god knows what all criss-crossing over each other it’s hard to pin-point exactly where this trio’s sound lies; but that’s a bloody good thing in our book. Not for them any samey, samey mainstreaminess. Instead they take their full spectrum vibe, add a dash of neo-wave and promptly fit their anything but square peg into a musically androgynous hole.

This year has already seen the release of their debut album, Silver Dollar Moment, tracks from which will doubtless feature heavily in their set list. Expect loctite grooves, catchy vocal hooks, and boundless youthful NRG. Perfect ingredients for a top EP set.

And then …

It should go without saying that Irish acts such as ROE, Brand New Friend, Bitch Falcon, Dermot Kennedy, Hvmmingbyrd, Katie Laffan, Laoise, and Lilla Vargen et al are worthy of your time and support. There’s a raft of homegrown talent being showcased at EP 2018, so do please make some dates in your hectic festive diary to go along to the 2FM Play the Picnic, Other Voices, Rankin’s Wood and Body&Soul stages across the weekend to check out the best of our homies.

We’ll leave you music lovers with our EP Playlist featuring those artists included here plus a host of other mega artists who for reason of scale and sanity we couldn’t fit in here. To those of you travelling to EP 2018, we hope you have a glorious weekend and most of all, we hope you enjoy what is going to be the highlight of the Irish festival calendar. DervSwerve

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