14 Irish rock bands—that aren’t U2—to listen to before St. Patrick’s Day



Bono is not on this list.

St. Patrick’s Day and the hangover that comes with it are right around the corner, so it’s important to prepare with a solid Irish playlist. Many of your friends will have obvious choices with big names like U2, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys or The Pogues (and some of those bands aren’t even Irish). RedEye has compiled a list of 14 Irish rock bands you should listen to while drinking green beer and Jameson. While these choices are limited to bands (sorry Van Morrison, Rory Gallagher, Sinead O’Connor, Mic Christopher and Damien Rice), the numbers are diverse enough to satisfy anyone who wants to be Irish for a day.

1. Frames

Many know Glen Hansard for his role in the Oscar-winning film ‘Once’, but the charismatic singer-songwriter has been active in the Irish music scene for 25 years as frontman of The Frames. Possibly Ireland’s finest live band, each of the band’s six studio albums is unquestionably solid. The group also has roots in Chicago. Guitarist Rob Bochnik hails from the city. Not to mention, The Frames largely recorded their best album, “For The Birds,” at Steve Albini’s Electric Audio Studios on the Near North Side.

Below, listen to the band’s single and perhaps one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Revelate.”

2. The mansions of Fatima

The Fatima Mansions was formed by former Microdisney frontman Cathal Coughlan, who had an unbalanced but effective approach to writing lyrics that were aggressive, misanthropic, and sometimes politically edgy. Although the band was only active from 1988 to 1995, they have six pretty solid albums to show off. The Cork, Ireland-based band’s biggest charting effort was their 1989 debut album “Against Nature.” Experience the eerie but still accessible art-rock of that album’s single, “Only Losers Take The Bus.”

3. Cranberries

Sure, everyone knows “Zombie,” but The Cranberries are more than their stellar ’90s singles suggest. Still active after forming in 1990, the natives of Limerick, Ireland have maintained a strong career, and their latest offering, 2012’s “Roses,” proved they had plenty of great songs left in the tank. Although the band’s 1993 debut album was titled “Everybody Does It, So Why Can’t We?”, the effort was clearly unlike anything on the radio. With songs as good as “Dreams”, the Cranberries will live on.

4. Thin Lizzy

Ireland’s finest classic rock band and arguably one of the greatest classic rockers of all time, Thin Lizzy broke barriers with their 1976 studio album ‘Jailbreak’. While most people know the band for the single ubiquitous “The Boys Are Back In Town”, the rest of Thin Lizzy’s catalog is full of tasty, guitar-heavy bangers. The band haven’t released an album since 1983, but there is hope for another tour soon. Below, dance to the anthem “Jailbreak.”


5. Stiff little fingers

Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers are probably Ireland’s best punk band. The group makes crisp, anthemic singles that demand raised fists and screamed choruses. Surprisingly, the group continues to kick, but without the majority of their original formation. And the songs sound powerful even decades later. The Fingers’ latest offering was “No Going Back,” a still-strong studio album released in 2014 after an 11-year long lull. Hopefully fans won’t have to wait that long for the next one.

Listen to a performance of “At The Edge,” from the band’s 1980 second album “Nobody’s Heroes.”


6. My Fucking Valentine

The band revolutionized shoegaze music in 1991 with their masterpiece “Loveless,” but My Bloody Valentine is still there for moody teenagers, even decades later. While Kevin Shields’ tremolo-driven “guitar glide” style isn’t exactly the easiest to drink, some of the band’s most memorable songs have enough power and intensity to keep the party going. Especially “Only Shallow”, which still has one of the most epic guitar riffs of all time. Listen to it below.

7. Bell XI

Prior to Bell XI, its members were part of a group called Juniper. When the band disbanded, frontman Damien Rice became, well, Damien Rice. The others formed Bell XI. Judging by the quality of the band’s catalog, particularly 2005’s “Flock,” the split worked in favor of both parties. Although the band never achieved Rice’s success, their music still garnered a large and passionate fan base, even in the United States.

For a taste of the band’s compelling folk-rock, listen to “Rocky Took A Lover” below.

8. Boomtown Rats

We would be remiss not to include a new wave on this list. The Boomtown Rats were mainstays of the UK Top 40 from 1977 to 1982 with 11 singles. The band’s legacy lives on as one of the pioneers of the then budding genre, the new wave. The band is led by Bob Geldof, an extremely charismatic frontman who can throw a dance party anywhere, even in seedy rock clubs. Eventually Geldof became a politically aware activist and reunited the band in 2013 after splitting nearly 30 years prior.

Chair dancing at work on “Someone Looking At You” below.


9. Villagers

Villager leader Conor O’Brien has consistently been referred to as the new Conor Oberst, not just because they both spell their first names the same and look alike. The two bands both play a sincere mix of folk and rock. The villagers’ music, however, always felt lighter and a bit more accessible. This is not a blow to the group. Her 2008 debut album “Becoming A Jackal” deserved all her accolades, including her Mercury Prize nomination. Since then, the band have enjoyed more success and are now gearing up to release their third studio album in April. The record is called “Darling Arithmetic”. Preview it with “Courage”.

10. Delorentos

One of Ireland’s newest rock bands, Delorentos make radio-ready alternative rock with powerful hooks and a good ear for pop melodies. I would say that, with the exception of “Respect” by Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, most songs that spell words are cheesy. But the group’s “SECRET” is an undeniable single. Released in 2009 when Delorentos was just making the buzz, the group has since enjoyed even greater critical and mainstream success. His latest album, 2014’s ‘Unbroken, Untied’, was on many Irish top 10 lists.

Scroll down to hear “SECRET”

11. The #1s

Another member of a new wave of Irish bands, The #1s are garage rockers who also have a record collection full of punk. The band’s debut album, 2014’s “The Number Ones,” was a promising effort that erupted with exuberant energy and riotous refrains. Not since Them and The Undertones (more on that later) has Irish garage rock been so powerful. Although still a relatively young band, the #1 single “Heartsmash” suggests the band will be around for a while.

Listen below.

12. Them

This is the band that launched Van Morrison’s career. Founded in 1964 in Belfast, Ireland, the group had a few singles including “Baby, Please Don’t Go”, “Here Comes The Night” and “Gloria”. The latter song ended up on Van Morrison’s debut album and was later memorably covered by Patti Smith, kicking off the ’70s punk movement in New York City. While Them only lasted a few years after Morrison left the band in 1966, his legacy lives on.

Check out the electrifying “Baby, Please Don’t Go”.

13. Shades

The Undertones are responsible for one of the most timeless garage rock songs of all time – ‘Teenage Kicks’, which legendary BBC 1 radio DJ John Peel once claimed was his favorite track of all. the temperature. It’s easy to see why. With a deceptively simple power chord progression, “Teenage Kicks” has a melody that slips into your head and stays there. Perfect for a rowdy gathering or a commute, find out how you’ll listen to the song below.

14. Interference

Although most Americans recognize Interference as the band that sang “Gold” on the Oscar-winning “Once” soundtrack, the traditional Celtic folk band has been around since 1984. Fronted by enigmatic songwriter Fergus O’Farrell, whose booming accented vocals and resonant songwriting have kept the band relevant, Interference put on one of Ireland’s most cathartic shows. For Irishmen and fake Irishmen, Farrell’s commanding presence is enough to swell the hearts of anyone lucky enough to hear him. Listen to “Gold” below and go re-watch “Once” because it’s an amazing movie.

[email protected], @joshhterry

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