New Yorkers turn on to the sound of Northern Ireland
It's been billed as the most exciting music scene in the world at the moment — creating waves as far as New York.
And while its violent history might have previously put Northern Ireland on the map, these days it's the music making the headlines.
This week, the New York Times — America's third largest newspaper — devoted a feature to the young artists and bands from here coming through the ranks. The timing couldn't be better.
While next month sees the return of Belfast Music Week, now in its third year, Two Door Cinema Club's new album Beacon has entered the UK charts at number two.
Snow Patrol and Gary Lightbody — who assured the New York Times of Northern Ireland’s impressive credentials — are in America on the last leg of their world tour, and the Terri Hooley biopic Good Vibrations premieres in London tonight as part of its film festival.
There is a huge buzz around the music-based movie, which details Hooley's influences on the Northern Ireland punk scene in the 70s. Liam Gallagher and Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie are among the big names rumoured to be attending the London screening.
Earlier this week Belfast Music Week launched in London for the first time, featuring previews of Good Vibrations and Two Door Cinema Club's new tour film, What We See.
The event, hosted by Radio One's Phil Taggart, also included live sets from home acts Wonder Villains and Katherine Philippa, who are both namechecked in the New York Times special.
Music journalist Ginnane Brownell spent a few days in Belfast, talking to representatives from the music industry here and local musicians including Lightbody, who is also president of the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast.
He said: “We have not had that many bands break out yet, but there are so many in the queue.
“Our music scene is the flagship of our next generation. Things like the Titanic and the Troubles, that is our history. The music scene is Northern Ireland’s future, and it is an incredible future happening right in front of your eyes.”
The article also highlights the drive by organisations such as Oh Yeah, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Belfast City Council to promote Belfast and Northern Ireland as a destination for musical tourism. It describes the hosting of the MTV EMAs in Belfast last year as a “huge nod that the city had something significant going on”.
Also quoted is Radio Ulster's David ‘Rigsy’ O'Reilly, who presents music show Across The Line. He told the New York Times: “In the last five years, the standard of bands has gone through the roof, both in quantity and quality.
“There seems to be an embarrassment of riches at the moment.”
...and the bands tipped for the top
A Plastic Rose
Belfast-based alt rock band formed about four years ago. After relentless gigging, it built up a strong local following and was invited this year to support Snow Patrol on their Fallen Empires tour. Their debut album is released this month.
The 20-year-old Portadown singer/songwriter/pianist released her debut EP last year, performed with the Ulster Orchestra at the Ulster Hall and was named as ‘one to watch’ by the Guardian newspaper.
Magherafelt songstress. Under the guise Silhouette, her track Can't Keep Up featured on the Northern Ireland Tourist Board's TV campaign. She has toured with Snow Patrol and duetted with Gary Lightbody on Set The Fire To The Third Bar.
Belfast-based five-piece indie band. They sold out the Empire Music Hall for their last Belfast show and launched Belfast Music Week this year.
David C Clements
Belfast-based singer/songwriter, hailed for his stunning live performances. He has built up a loyal following, including Gary Lightbody.
Londonderry pop band, consisting of two boys/two girls. The band, known for their catchy tunes, including Zola, releases a new EP called TV next week.