Not too long ago and to the present day, bands in Northern Ireland have had it harder than most. Very few bands were plucked from the troubled-stricken region in the 70's and 80's, namely The Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers. Even afterwards, in times of peace and prosperity the North Of Ireland's musical talent was somewhat disregarded; the only two bands emerging of real significance being Snow Patrol and Ash - Snow Patrol's successes owing more to the Scottish Music Scene, than that of Northern Ireland. Being constantly overlooked and unappreciated, many bands simply gave up. Others, powered by determination, stuck with it hoping that someday it would have paid off.

More recently many of the bands have become accustomed to MySpace, and as a direct result they have had the opportunity to get their music to the ears of those who really will appreciate it. The big question is; are there any acts coming about, from Northern Ireland, that are by any means special, different and could make a prominent mark on the music scene, under the right circumstances? R13, being the people we are, set about to answer that question, especially for you.

As part of our MySpace Musical Maze feature series we hope to unearth some of the rising flair in the Ulster scene, trying to find the best up-and-coming talent it has on offer. We take you through some of our favourites in our two-part Northern Ireland Special and hopefully we'll point you in the direction of something you'll like, along the way.

Kharma 45
All ready making a name for themselves, Kharma 45 and their unique brand of passionate electro-dance-rock are sure to drive all you wild glow stick ravers completely nuts. Try 'Ecstasy' on for size; it's just as the title suggests. This is one bandwagon worth jumping on.
Recommended Track: 'Ecstasy'

Fist fills of energy, attitude, innovation and genius. Derry band Farago are worth checking out, no matter how narrow-minded your rock music tastes are.
Recommended Track: 'Heavy'

Something exciting from the Northwest, Skruff have gained a reputation for being clean-cut rock personified. This quartet is worth noting for the future.
Recommended Track: 'Subliminilia'

Fighting With Wire
Gravel rock trio, Fighting With Wire, are plain and simply hard. Their sound is rather intense and individual. It's hard to find a band of such quality at present. Their influences include Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Rage Against The Machines.
Recommended Track: 'My Armoury'

The Q
The Q are avid, spirited, classy and all-round entertaining. Bag fills of verve, vigour and vitality and bloody brilliant music writers. They clearly value originality. Their sound, in their own words: "if Spike Milligan, Doctor Who and Keith Richards lived together and threw a house party"...couldn't have put it better myself.
Recommended Track: 'Powder Rooms'

Duke Special
Using cheese graters and wardrobe doors as instruments, Duke Special (real name: Peter Wilson) definitely has to be deemed as somewhat original and special. He has grown in popularity throughout Ireland; famous for song 'Freewheel', the track that made him a household name on the island.
Recommended Track: 'Everyone Wants a Little Something'

Paul Casey
Paul is one for all you singer/songwriter junkies, out there, craving for some fresh and truly brilliant solo acoustic talent. Listen to 'Stay' and to 'Something's Gotta' Give'; nothing short of sheer musical genius.
Recommended Track: 'Stay'

Cara Dillon
Cara hails from Dungiven, in between Derry and Belfast; she is definitely something worth watching for the future. Every song she writes is so very passionate and from the heart, that you can actually feel it when you listen to it.
Recommended Track: 'This Time'

Claire Sproule
Signed to Parlophone, Claire is making a name for herself as somewhat special in the Irish Music Scene. She possesses an all-important uniqueness in her music, which makes her so outstanding. Kind of like Norah Jones meets Corrine Bailey Rae.
Recommended Track: 'Waiting'

Peter Cullen
Peter Cullen is amazing. His sound; tranquil, soothing and generally stunning. This is acoustic music at it's very best. Especially when it sends shivers down your spine.
Recommended Track: 'Another Moment'