Mention Irish bands to most people and names like U2 (who are great) and The Corrs (who are not great) spring to mind. But there are many really great Irish bands and singers that never made it big beyond Ireland. Which is a pity for music lovers everywhere. Some on this list are no longer together; others are, and you should check them out.
10 Irish bands you probably don't know (but should)
Mention Irish bands to most people and names like U2 (who are great) and The Corrs (who are not great) spring to...
Top ten lists of greatest Irish albums of all time nearly always feature "Heartworm," the 1995 album from this Dublin band. That album was a stunning critical success, but somehow, it didn’t sell particularly well, and so Whipping Boy were dropped by their record company. Although they reformed briefly in 2005, not much has been heard of them since. But more than a decade on, and "Heartworm" easily stands the test of time.
Click here to watch Whipping Boy.
The Sultans of Ping FC
What’s there not to love about a band whose most famous song has the lines, “Dancing in the disco, bumper to bumper, Wait a minute, where's me jumper.” (Jumper is an Irish term for a sweater.) This legendary punk band from Co. Cork were actually very big stars in Japan, and thankfully, after taking a hiatus for a number of years, are now back together.
Click here to watch The Sultans of Ping FC.
The Frank and Walters
Another great band for Co. Cork, The Frank and Walters were one of the best indie Irish bands of the 1990s. (After Whipping Boy, that is.) Still touring as of 2008, their Web site says that their “mission was to spread cheers and optimism throughout the world through via their music.”
Click on this link and see how.
Gemma Hayes seemed to be on the cusp of a major breakthrough with her 2002 debut album, "Night on My Side." Although the album was very well-received, and earned her a nomination for the Mercury Music Awards, a prestigious U.K music awards, she has struggled to match that earlier acclaim. Which is unfortunate, as her most recent album, "The Hollow of the Morning," is terrific. No article about Gemma Hayes seems to be complete without some reference to her stunning good looks – which can seem a little condescending at times. She could be a plain Jane and she would still deserve to be famous, her music is that good.
Click here to see Gemma Hayes.
Like a number of other bands on this list, Kerbdog recorded one terrific album that simply didn’t get noticed outside of Ireland. That album – "On The Turn" – was a huge improvement on their self-titled debut album, which was released in 1993, was a blistering piece of work. Unfortunately for the band, however, it was dropped by its record label shortly afterwards. The band still plays the occasional gig in Ireland, and the lead singer, Cormac Battle has an alternative music show on the Irish radio station, RTE.
Click here to see Kerbdog.
The 4 of Us
The late 1980s and early 1990s was a particularly rich time for Irish music – and The 4 of Us, a rock band from Northern Ireland, were one of the best around from this era. They’ve never matched the commercial success of their 1989 debut album, but their 2006 release, "Fingerprints," was very well-received. Most Irish people who were teenagers in 1989 will know the first few lines of "Mary."
Click here to see the 4 of Us.
Ash struck the big time in Ireland when they were still teenagers, and their second album, "1977," usually features on Irish best-albums-of-all-time lists. Since then, their albums have been largely hit or miss affairs – with more misses than hits. But their songs from their first mini-album, as well as from "1977," will hold fond memories for many Irish twentysomethings.
Click here to see Ash.
After having been featured on the "Romeo+Juliet" soundtrack in 1996, Mundy, a singer-songwriter from Co. Offaly was dropped by his record label in 2000 while working on his second album. But he rebounded, set up a record label himself, and put out, "24 Star Hotel," which was hugely successful in Ireland. He remains one of Ireland’s best singer-songwriters around today, and is scheduled to have an album out in 2009.
Here is with Sharron Shannon, singing "Galway Girl."
This indie rock band from Dublin were, like Ash, a bunch of precocious youngsters who achieved success early on in their musical careers. Their self-titled debut album was a big hit in the U.K and Ireland, but their second album, "I to Sky," couldn't match that in terms of commercial success. After a dispute with their record company, the band split up in 2006, with lead singer Mark Greaney continuing with a new band called Concerto for Constantine.
Click here to see JJ72.
Probably not too many people have heard of this singer-songwriter outside of his native Ireland, which is a pity, because he has done some really interesting stuff. His voice has been compared to Nick Drake’s and his music to David Gray’s – but certainly, that last comparison doesn’t do Kitt justice.
This song, from his 2001 breakthrough album, "The Big Romance" is arguably his best single.