louder than bombs ~ the power of local music


From the nostalgia inducing swoon of Van Morrison, to the primal, punk growls of teenage kicks right through the night, Northern Ireland is a nation of rich musical history and proud tradition. 

Now, having finally moved into the 21st century and cast shadows over our darker periods, never again can we allow nonchalance to leave Belfast ignored and unloved by the rest of the world. (Like the weird cousin at a house party no one can remember inviting, but feel awkward asking to leave)

Scratch beneath the surface and a musical mecca awaits. As diverse as the streets of London and brimming with enthusiasm, here Encore NI have compiled a list of the top young Northern Irish artists to look out for in 2015 and beyond (in no particular order we might add!). Hold onto your Guinness…

  1. Hot Cops

Take the spine tingling drawl of Julian Casablanca’s in his Strokes pomp, the maudlin wit of Morrissey and the punk sneer of The Sex Pistols and you’re still not quite ready to comprehend the raw velocity of Belfast’s Hot Cops. Frontman Carl Eccles awkward demeanor lulls audiences into a curious confusion, perhaps even looking out of place centre stage. Then without warning, he bursts into a poetic snarl, blowing minds in the process.

To put them in context, this is a young band writing metaphor’s about depression, (“And you tied balloons to the corners of my mouth, to make it seem like I wanted to be there, but looking back I didn't wanna be, anywhere”) the flaws of humanity (“We went out and found a dead deer, you said Well, well, well what do we have here", and then you said that it was Bambi
And for the rest of the day I cried my eyes out, for the rest of your life you laughed your head off”) and naturally, Bill Clinton.

Download: Their entire ‘Another Teen Age’ EP

For fans of: Radiohead, Mind-bending poetry.

  1. In An Instant

For a band like In An Instant, comparisons to some of the nation’s biggest exports (Snow Patrol), comes as a welcome compliment. In reality, this is a lazy assumption linked to genre and no more. Possessing a distinctly European vibe, In An Instant take the Springsteen styled folk approach, (writing each of their songs on acoustic guitars) before the radical addition of a synth based overhaul, elevating their songs to sing-along heights. For now, they tread the indie-pop divide extremely delicately, though this is no bad thing. With a huge fan base and Radio 1 airplay under their belts, these teenagers have a lot to be hopeful about.

For fans of: Chvrches, U2, Two Door Cinema Club

  1. Echo Raptors

For years Belfast has searched for our own piece of the 90’s, a band that really captured the feel good optimism of that decade and all it represented. We had Ash, though beneath Tim Wheelers long winded lyrics we knew we couldn't compete with what was happening across the water. Oh how very different it could have been with Echo Raptors…an indie explosion of The Stone Roses swagger, Oasis’ anthems and the Verve’s sensitivity. With a back catalogue of tunes now well-known across the UK (particularly up North) and a lyric book so filled with self determination it could have been stolen from Noel Gallagher himself, this is a band to make you believe in rock and roll again.

Download: The Plastic People, She’s So Free & the massive Change My Way

For fans of: Oasis, The Verve, The Stone Roses

  1. A Northern Light

Pioneered by local legends A Plastic Rose amongst others, A Northern Light have been the rebellious upstarts of the Northern Irish scene for a few years now. Their alt rock roots have in recent years infused further towards a mix of electronica, with orchestral sections, their fan base has only expanded, rather than diminished under this transition. This interesting mix concluded with the huge single ‘Kill It’, beloved by BBC Introducing. Currently working on their debut album, this Northern Light is shining brighter than ever.

Download: Kill It, International Anthem
For fans of: 30 Seconds To Mars, Angels and Airwaves

  1. The Late Twos

In recent years they’ve been described as Northern Irelands answer to The Libertines and it’s not difficult to see why. Frontman Matty Legge’s distinctive vocal and natural stage presence (where somehow he looks effortless and original, in a role so easily overdone) is an undoubted strongpoint, however without the tunes to back it up, they would not have found their success. Taking mod and indie influences and adding a ska-like skiffle beat has proved a wise development and made them one of the country’s most exciting talents. To remain relevant in a genre like this is an achievement in itself.

Download: Never Mind, The Late Twos, Sierra Leone
For fans of: The Libertines, The Kooks

  1. Pretty Child Backfire

Masters of the violin overdub, the band combine uplifting lyrics of love and adventure with an indie sound quite unlike anything currently out there. Formed as bored teenagers, this band have grown massive in their home city and even been championed by Gary Lightbody, who personally mentored their frontman in the craft of songwriting after watching them play a pub gig. Despite this, Pretty Child sound nothing like Snow Patrol, preferring acoustic riffs to hollering cries.

Download: I Wish I Knew You Better, If We Can Last The Summer
For Fans of: General Fiasco, HavanaHouseParty

  1. His New Atlas

Known throughout Belfast as the most emotional person to have ever lived, 18 year old Eoghan O’Hagan has done incredibly well over the last year. Through the release of two well received EP’s and a succession of Irish tours, His New Atlas has carved a reputation out of nothing, breaking out of his small village surroundings through big hitting chorus’ and soaring vocals. One of the most dynamic live performers in the country, the only way is up for His New Atlas. (Though be warned, crying on stage is to be expected)

Download: His Young, Blood, Pillars
For Fans of: Charlie Simpson, Daughter

  1. Aaron Shanley

Settle down kids, we’ve saved possibly the best til last. Singer-songwriter Aaron Shanley is in possession of one of the most unique voices of the last 20 years, brimming with delicacy and emotion. A breath taking lyricist, Shanley’s tales of heartache, despair and aliens destroying the Earth have the stunning ability to leave you in a trippy haze, or with tears in your eyes. Having written songs for artists as far afield as Nashville, USA and plied his trade here in London, Aaron Shanley remains one of the most captivating performers in Northern Ireland and has been recognised as such. You really must hear him to fully appreciate his talents.

Download: Everything! – Specifically; Sometimes People Just Fall Out Of Love, I Really, Really Wish You Were Here, Amy, Here Without You
For Fans of: Damien Rice, Ryan Adams, Badly Drawn Boy

Taylor Johnson

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