When I moved to London in 2016, I feared my writing for GoldenPlec would be limited to the occasional Irish band who ventured over to the big shmoke; however, two-and-a-half-years later, I'm moving back to Dublin after the greatest period of music discovery in my life. I've seen a literal A-Z of bands, from Anteros to Zuzu and from Zara Larsson to Amyl & The Sniffers, across 300+ shows in upward of 50 venues.
When I moved here, I wrote an e-mail to a number of publications, pitching the ten best Irish acts (in my opinion) that music fans in the UK needed to take notice of and that bookers needed to bring over. It didn't get published, shockingly. Luckily for you, or perhaps unluckily, the good folk at GoldenPlec don't have a choice in letting me publish my ramblings or not (OK they do but I know how to sweeten 'em up).
So, now that I'm moving back home, here are ten British acts I've come across on my travels that I think Irish music fans need to take notice of and that bookers need to bring over.
No really, a five-piece indie band with character in abundance, I swear. Sports Team bounced their way into my memory during a ridiculous slot at a DIY Magazine Hello 2018 gig in the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch in January last year.
Their charming brand of silly-yet-savvy indie earworms have been rattling around my head ever since, while the band have gone from strength to strength, most recently selling out the famous Electric Ballroom in Camden founded by legendary Irish venue owner Bill Fuller. They're yet to make a trip across the Irish sea, but it really shouldn't be too much longer.
No need to apologise, the lack of an alternative music station on the airwaves (except for online legends 8Radio *blows kiss*) means it's not anywhere as easy as it used to be for music fans in Ireland to discover bands that might be making waves elsewhere. South London's Sorry are one of those bands. I happened upon them initially supporting The Rhythm Method and Matt Maltese on their whistle-stop pre-general election tour in 2017.
Their lo-fi grungy mood sparked memories of those first two Snow Patrol albums before Garret Jacknife Lee got his polished-beyond-recognition paws on them during the recording of their breakthrough record 'Final Straw'. Growing up in the same circles as the Shame lads, Sorry have been a little slower to take off but there's no doubting they'll get there soon, when their long-awaited debut album finally hits shelves.
Probably the best-named band on the list, I first encountered Squid in The Five Bells in New Cross supporting a little known Irish band by the name of Fontaines DC (I hear they're pretty good now?). While that show was brilliant, it was a tad haphazard, so it wasn't until I saw them again on what was supposed to be Brexit day last month until I truly saw how good they really are.
Squid are like nothing I've ever heard before, in fact I think they sound like nothing they've heard before either, describing their sound as "The Coronation Street theme tune played on flutes by angry children". Latest single Houseplants is an absolute riot, feel free to bring one to their show when they do finally play in Ireland. I'm sure they'd appreciate it.
As a Manchester United fan who can't bear the thought of listening to either Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher speak out loud for more than 30 seconds, the fact that I found Zuzu's penchant for singing in her strong Scouse accent so palatable says a lot for the quality of songwriting on show in her tunes.
Debut singles Get Off and What You Want showed glimpses of the Liverpudlian's talents but it took until 2018 EP 'Made On Earth By Humans' for everything to click into place, with a killer mid-afternoon pub floor slot at The Great Escape in Brighton in May sealing the deal for me.
Proving that you should always have a chat with your barber, Peckham's Talk Show were signed by The Maccabees' Felix White's label Yala Records after frontman Harrison Swann (no relation. No really, there's an extra n) told his barber to come to a show of theirs. He was so impressed that he told Swann he'd let his "mate Felix who runs a label" know about them. Best thing my barber has ever done for me is tell me I probably shouldn't have gone that short.
With little-to-no material online at the time (unless you knew where to look), I was lucky enough to catch Talk Show blast through their foot-stomping repertoire at a Yala show in Bermondsey. They finally released two tracks last month, which by all means have lived up to their pulsating live performances and it won't be long before talk of an Irish show is needed.
So good they named them thrice...eventually. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, formerly known as just Buzzard, are 2019's answer to T-Rex - with added lovely Welsh accents. They first came across my eye line when supporting their superb Welsh comrades Boy Azooga in June of last year before a slot at Green Man was the key-in-the-ignition moment, with frontman taking queues from the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Mick Jagger
New single Late Night City is an indie disco dream, a performance of which you can catch on Soccer AM's Twitter, but it's first single Double Denim Hop that'll cause you to fall in love with this lot. Don't say I didn't warn you.
If Rebecca Lucy Taylor, aka Self Esteem, isn't headlining at least The Academy in Dublin by the end of the year, I'll eat my proverbial hat. Formerly one-half of folk duo Slow Club, Taylor has transformed into an absolute pop behemoth in the last 18 months, culminating in the release of her banger-laden debut album 'Compliments Please' at the beginning of March.
Self Esteem holds the crown for the greatest on-stage outfit I've seen during my music journalism career, which is quite something considering I've seen Confidence Man eight times (sorry Janet Planet). At her rammed headline show in Shoreditch last month, Taylor arrived on stage in a dress made entirely out of Boots advantage cards. Incredible, right? The gig was even better. Joyous female empowerment pop. Go. See. Her.
Who doesn't love a supergroup? Gently Tender are not a supergroup, not in the traditional sense anyway. Consisting of three members of the now-defunct Palma Violets (formerly of Rough Trade) as well as The Big Moon's Celia Archer and guitarist Adam Brown, Gently Tender released their debut single 2 Chords Good in mid-2018 and have gone from strength to strength ever since.
Blessed with the kind of vocals that would probably open that one stubborn jar while also convincing you that you had in fact done most of the work, I was hooked to Gently Tender after seeing them at Birthdays in Dalston and reckon it won't be long before you are too.
If the first time you see a band has you thinking about Debbie Harry as you walk out the door afterwards, they're doing something right. Anteros have been doing that something right for a good few years now, since the release of the infectiously catchy Breakfast in 2016 and that looks set to continue in 2019, with their debut album -released at the end March - solidifying their rise to shimmering indie table-toppers.
A heap of near misses means I've only managed to catch Anteros live once, at The Great Escape in Brighton, but, as mentioned above, that performance did leave a pretty strong mark on me. Here's hoping it'll be easier to catch them when they do eventually come to Dublin.
FUR appear to be the band that Arctic Monkeys would be had Arctic Monkeys been famous in the '60s. At least, that's the vibe I got when I saw them play with Gently Tender at the aforementioned show at Birthdays in Dalston last year. Everything they did that night seemed destined for greatness, however, the Brighton natives are taking their time getting there.
Signing to Nice Swan Records (No relation either. It's a label guys, come on) in 2018, they released their debut EP on Valentine's Day this year before selling out the gorgeous O'Meara venue. The hype isn't exactly at Fontaines DC levels yet, but there's a bubbling-under-the-surface feeling that FUR could be the next big UK band. Watch this space.