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MUSIC Irish bands to watch this year

Staying In
The Band Struck from Castlebar
Castlebar band Struck are in striking distance of the big time.

Irish bands to watch this year

Luke Dunne

Over the last number of years, our country has produced unique and wonderful talent, and 2012 seems to be no exception. But which Irish bands are the new ticking time bombs likely to explode onto the music scene this year? Here is my guide for the ones to watch in 2012.

The Chakras
Having formed in 2006, this five-piece alternative rock band from Dublin have been steadily increasing their stock and touring venues all over the country. A support slot with Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has also helped increase their popularity. The band is composed of Rocky Whittaker (vocals), Richie McArdle (lead guitar), Gordo Whittaker (rhythm guitar), Ian Kane (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Bryan Pepper (piano, rhodes, glockenspiel, harmonium) relocated to London and released their debut album ‘Build Me a Swan’ last year. Sonically speaking, the group’s influences range from The Verve to Snow Patrol, and having seen them live myself a few months ago, it is fair to say that this band are going to fly a long way.
Struck, a pop-punk band from my neck of the woods in Castlebar, formed in 2007. The group has seen a few line-up changes, but hit a home run in 2009 with Seán Walsh (vocals, guitar), Dylan Chambers (bass) and Ger Duffy (drums). Since then, the three-piece outfit have gone on to support artists as varied as Scuba Dice to The Coronas and Director. The band released their first EP ‘Three Cheers for Lying’, which was recorded in Manor Park Studios, Antrim, in 2010. Struck’s music embraces the spirit of Green Day and Sum 41, and their live show has more energy than a barrel of Lucozade. Having been signed to a Dublin management group last year, it’s only a matter of time before this band fizz up and burst into mainstream territory.

Further up north from Castlebar, Belfast metallers LaFaro have been making a fair bit of noise. The band – consisting of  Jonny Black (vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave Magee (lead guitar), Alan Lynn (drums), Osin O’ Doherty (bass) – has toured around both Ireland and England since its formation in 2004. They’ve also supported such acts as Ash, And So I Watch You From Afar, and The Pogues. LaFaro’s Queens of the Stone Age-like riffery and energy-driven shows has slowly built up a solid fanbase and strong media attention. LaFaro have also performed at the Reading and Leeds festivals in England two years ago, and 2012 looks set to ensure their rising curve stays on an upward trajectory.

Ka tet
This hard-rocking band have been knocking around for some time now. Comprised of Tommy Concannon (vocals, guitar), Ronan Connaughton (drums) and Kyle Dee (bass), Ka tet formed in 2006 in their native town of Ballyhaunis and have toured around the country extensively since then. With influences ranging from Led Zepplin to Pearl Jam, they have built up a solid reputation and have supported headline acts like Aslan, God is an Astronaut and Director. After being recently signed to Irish record label Cold Room Records, KaTet’s star is only just beginning to rise and there’s no telling how high it will go.