Feature: NI Music Scene

by Katherine

If the words ‘Irish Music Scene’ conjure up images of serial stadium-lurkers U2 and Snow Patrol, with just a smattering of Enya, then you’re in for a bit of a shock – forget about bland soft-rockers or whispery Irishwomen lisping vaguely about leprechauns and tooting a tin-whistle, the Irish indie music scene is bigger, bolder and more vibrant than it’s ever been. This is the same isle which spawned the intense Punk viscerality of The Undertones, after all – hold on tight, London folk, you’re in for a belter!

Lets start with a band that shouldn’t be entirely unheard of to most 405ers, Two Door Cinema Club, who hail from specifically, the Bangor/Donaghadee area (Nice!) and play the kind of sparky indie-pop clearly enthralled to the likes of Belle & Sebastian and The Most Serene Republic – but with shiny, incessantly-cheerful, pop-rock riffs. It may sound damningly ageist, but Two Door Cinema Club’s biggest pull is their youth – their music has the kind of deranged, twitterpated excitement only achieved in the joyful throes of adolescence.

In fact, they kind of sound like what would happen, if, as a consequence of a  devastating nuclear chemical spill in the Enchanted Forest, Bambi’s Thumper, somehow developed opposable thumbs, taught himself to play the guitar and joined an indie-pop band – and if that daft analogy didn’t convince you of Two Door Cinema Club’s infectious joie-de-vivre, then maybe current single ‘I Can Talk’ might – if this track doesn’t burrow it’s way into your ears and hibernate there, joyfully, for months to come, then you’re a stronger man than I am.

Let’s keep the adrenaline pumping with Belfast trio Not Squares, who play riff-packed, electronics-filled, bass-heavy indie-rock that’ll have Alex Turner tearing his fringe out in jealousy. And apart from anything else, they have the singular BEST PROMO PICTURE I HAVE EVER SEEN. I am assuming band is not actually made up of what appears to be two hipster unicorns, as I think playing vbass-heavy indie rock would be quite tricky with hooves.  Also, they all appear to be firmly human in this video of the barnstorming ‘Asylum’ live on the Big British Castle’s Introducing stage.

If all this talk of thumpers and hipsters and unicorns and Alex Turners has made you want to lie down in a dark room with a cold flannel on your face, then I know the perfect band to listen to whilst doing so – Belfast band Katie and The Carnival have long been sharing a stage with dreadlocked folkie mental-type Duke Special, and are finally ready to step it out on their own – with an undeniably alluring, seductive quality to her voice, Katie creates the kind of smoky jazz Norah Jones might make if you snuck loads of vodka in her diet coke (which I don’t recommend, but it WOULD be a bit funny)

With delightfully creepy, ramshackle tunes such as the sultry ‘I Can’t Get No Sleep’, and theatrics spilling out of their vintage fringed boots, you’d be a fool not to catch The Carnival live around the Belfast area. Here’s a video of The Carnival playing in what appears to be a vintage charity shop. Well how bloody whimsical.

However, if you prefer your folkies with a little less glitter and a little more stubble then have no fear – Armagh men Captain Kennedy play the kind of deliciously warm, woodsmoked blues that mark them out as the Irish equivalent of Mumford & Sons – and true, be-whiskered frontman Ciaran Lavery’s bluesy howl and particular affinity for those lovely Topshop plaid shirts means he bears more than a passing resemblance to Marcus Mumford, although Captain Kennedy serve their grimy Americana with a twist of gin , with their sound is far more enthralled to Old Crow Medicine Show’s dirty  ‘hey y’alls!’ than Mister Mumford’s scrubbed-up take on hoedowns. A band of true authentics, have a wee listen to them playing the lovely ‘Caroline’ below. Yee-haw, aye?