Saturday, 15 December 2012

Marina & The Diamonds

The music world is littered with female singers who've been groomed for pop stardom their whole lives. Their sound, looks and style are constantly dictated by record company suits. Marina & the Diamonds subverts these traditions at every turn.

It's a fine line she walks and of course there are compromises, but no one strides the line between artist and mainstream pop star quite like Marina. With hit songs like 'Primadonna' there's no denying her commercial draw, but she couldn't be further from the Britneys and Christinas of the world.

In Their Thousands

Having graced the cover of Hotpress and won a coveted spot performing at next year's Artur's Day celebrations, Donegal natives In Their Thousands have come a long way in 18 short months.

But it's little wonder. Made up of brothers Declan and Aidan McClafferty, cousin Ruairi Friel and longtime friend Liam Kelly the boys have been playing together in various projects for years. They're well known in their home county for playing in different cover bands, but they knew they would never reach their full potential playing other people's songs.

Spoiler Alert: They've moved on.

The Stunning

With killer songs like 'Romeo's On Fire', 'Everything That Rises' and 'Brewing Up A Storm', The Stunning were one of the most celebrated and popular rock bands to emerge from Ireland in the late 80's.

Although they never made the breakthrough internationally, they remain a fan favourite at home and still draw huge crowds whenever they perform. 25 years after their much lauded debut album Paradise In The Picturehouse stormed to the top of the Irish charts the band have returned. But founding member Steve Wall admits he's a little perplexed by the bands enduring popularity.

Hermitage Green

Hermitage Green became a Youtube sensation when their folk/trad cover of Florence and The Machine's Cosmic Love clocked up over 250,000 views. But the last thing these Limerick lads want is to be labelled a cover band.

“What happened was we started off as a jam session. We would play covers of songs that we liked and make an effort to make them original or make them our own. We had videos up of songs like Cosmic Love and they kind of snowballed.” Darragh Griffin tells us as we meet the band in a busy cafe.

All the lads.

Duke Special

By daring to pursue his artistic ambitions, Northern Irish singer-songwriter Duke Special eschewed the mainstream success he enjoyed on his first few records. But world domination has never been the most pressing ambition for the dreadlocked romanticist.

His more recent records, such as 2011's Under the Dark Cloth, were essentially abstract concept albums. In this case the record was inspired by the work of pioneering American photographers like Paul Strand and Alfred Stieglitz. And while the the quality of the music and lyrics never suffered, they were never likely to sit comfortably in the charts alongside Katy Perry or One Direction.