From Van Morrison to Stiff Little Fingers, Belfast has given the world some great artists, not to mention Good Vibrations, the record label that kicked off the career of The Undertones. We look at Northern Ireland's capital city today, to find twenty bands you need to hear now.
Jealous of the Birds
Kicking off the list, Naomi Hamilton, AKA Jealous of the Birds, released her debut LP 'Parma Violets' last year. With the album's varied tracks and influences, it has proved hard to pin a specific genre on this emerging artist, but with an interesting juxtaposition of highly crafted songs and lo-fi bedroom recording roots, Jealous of the Birds has asserted a signature sound at this early point in Hamilton's career. Watch the video to 'Goji Berry Sunset' below.
An innovative artist that blends Irish folk roots with electronic instruments and sharp pop presentation. His lyrics explore themes of tension and trauma in modern life. Joshua's debut album 'Ephrata' is out on 5th May (2017).
A dreamy guitar-driven indie four-piece with lilting vocals and melodies. Their most recent output is their single 'In The City', and recent live outings have included a slot supporting indie legends, Ride.
With big songs such as 'Cruel Hands' Parapa Palace sound instantly and pleasingly familiar, but with an indie sound that seems to stream its influences from numerous decades. The shifting mood between '90s fuzz and '60s reverb, without gazing at their shoes for too long on the way, keeps this interesting and refreshing.
Despite their name suggesting they may be part of a pub rock revival, this Belfast three-piece offer a relatively gentle take on the alternative rock genre. Listen to 'Call Me In The Morning' here.
As well as being a band in their own right, Junk Drawer also double up as the backing of Sister Ghost (see below). A four-piece band made up of multi-instrumentalists, Junk Drawer play sprawling songs that are as hard as concrete. Check out their latest EP, 'For The Cult Fat Guy'.
When Shannon Delores O'Neill found herself without a band, she decided to go solo, enlisting the help of a few friends along the way, as mentioned above. A strong alternative/punk sound drawing comparisons to her influences, including Sonic Youth. Watch 'Growing Pains' below.
Belfast's answer to mid-nineties Green Day. Fast paced skate punk with the added dimension of being male/female fronted. Their album 'Ill Advised' is a rollercoaster ride of songs, all of which are under three minutes long.
If No Matter are Belfast's Green Day, then Salad Boyz are probably its Weezer equivalent. The four-piece describe their sound as "Tasty raw veg for your earholes".
With their name meaning 'Mind Open Soul Awake' MOSA describe themselves as an alternative rock band, but keen ears will enjoy the Stone Roses vibe of their basslines on their latest 'Subliminal Love'.
Boasting some mastering from Joe La Porta, who mastered David Bowie's Blackstar, 'Trying To Get Free' is the latest single from Mojo Fury. The single was released in conjunction with Sound Of Belfast, a music industry and community initiative in the city.
Brand New Friend
It's early days for this young band, and that's reflected in their excellent lo-fi bedroom indie pop. Their debut song 'I Was An Astronaut' has a great do it yourself sound, nostalgically reminiscent of '90s era artists such as Bis, Helen Love and Urusei Yatsura.
Not the newest band on the list, but a definite fixture on the Belfast scene and notable for some great songs, not to mention their support slots on Paul Weller's 2015 European tour. A band that will appeal to fans of The Beatles, The Kinks and their like.
Another band that seem to be looking to the alternative rock of the '90s Seattle scene as a starting point. Hot Cops don't sound derivative but do have an inward looking approach to their songs comparable to the big hitters of that movement. Listen to 'Dumbbo' below.
Civil Simian's latest track, 'Head on Fire' is a surprising multi-faceted song, rich with retro electronic textures and changes of direction throughout its three and a half minutes. Other tracks by the band are equally surprising, utilising elements from other diverse genres including funk and soul.
A truly experimental alternative line-up of drummer/singer and jazz saxophonists. For fans of Henry Rollins, Bowie's Blackstar and anyone wanting to hear something new and progressive. If you've had enough of guitar bands, this is a must. Watch the superbly menacing 'Correct' below.
Another folk-rooted artist crossing over into more contemporary territory, Brash Isaac is singer-songwriter, Andrew Cameron and friends. Cameron released his album 'Living In The Dark & Other Clichés' at the end of 2016.
The Sun Shadows
With a definite Britpop flavour and more than a touch of Paul Weller flare The Sun Shadows formed around their shared love of '60s, '90s, soul, indie and rock 'n' roll. Check out their 'Pictures In The Clouds' below.
Uplifting songs full of harmonies and Irish accents. It's difficult to find a reason not to like songs such as 'This House'. Watch the entertaining video below. Their live shows are also highly recommended.
Finishing off the list with an ode to the city itself, The Coronations' 'Midnight In Belfast' is a very Oasis influenced kind of song that doesn't hold back on its swagger. Their new EP, 'The Song Plays On' is out now.
Huge thanks to all of those who made suggestions or got in touch to be involved.