Solo Armada Year End Awards 2018 RESULTS
Stuart Iversen & Wes Bowie
Why do we need a Year End Awards? It’s the chance to celebrate music from the past year that has meant so much to you as a community and as individuals. The chance to introduce people to music that they haven’t heard before and share your favourites.
However, this year has been about so much more than music and as Christmas and New Year approach we may find ourselves reflecting on the past twelve months. Maybe not all of it was so great and it’s at these times we need to remember what we’ve gained as well as what we have lost.
This time last year the Solo Armada was a small group of people that went to gigs on their own and had started to encourage others to do the same. The past twelve months has seen the launch of the website, our own stand at Common Ground Festival, interviews with artists and bands and as this is typed we currently have a growing social media circle of thousands of people. Those numbers pale into insignificance when compared with the 3000 plus badges that have been given out at gigs (or posted) and the many friends that have been made through this community of music lovers.
Social media can help to organise meet ups and inform others who love music about the Solo Armada but it’s in the venues, in the pubs and in the living rooms of friends where the memories are made.
The Solo Armada isn’t a philosophy or a set of ideals shared by a community. It can be anything you want it to be as a group or as an individual. YOU are the Solo Armada. A place to discover new music, meet other like minded people, search for gig tickets that you missed out on. It’s the guy you met at the gig and had a pint with. It’s the group of people that befriended someone so they weren’t on their own. It’s that one person that asks who wants to go to Amsterdam for a gig. It’s the strangers that pick you up in the mosh pit. More than anything, it’s the friends you make through music.
Over the past few weeks you have been voting in six different categories for bands and artists that have made an impact throughout 2018. The response has been incredible with so many different bands and artists put forward that we have listed some honourable mentions for each catergory.
We have also introduced an extra surprise award which we have decided to name after Scott Hutchison, the loss of which has had a impact on the entire music community. The “Scott Hutchison Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music” is special and one that we think is more than deserved.
Thank you to everyone that has been part of something very special. For now, enjoy the results from the Solo Armada Year End Awards and have a loud Christmas and New Year!
Breakthrough Act & Song of the Year
Seán McGowan – Springhill
Also Nominated (Breakthrough): The Blinders, Dream Wife
Also Nominated (Song): IDLES – Danny Nedelko, Camp Cope – The Opener
2018 well and truly belongs to Seán McGowan. With the release of his debut album , Son of the Smith in May and headlining his first UK tours he’s been very busy and hard to miss.
It’s easy to understand why Seán has won both Breakthrough Act and Song of the Year and that’s because of you lot; the lovers of music, not a record company exec or “advertised” funded magazine that have picked Seán. His songs are written based on personal experiences that many can relate too and it’s this resonance and connection that captures any listener. It’s true many other artists write and sing about similar subjects but it’s the live performances and raw emotion as he bares his heart and soul for all to see that sets him aside from the rest. The songs he writes can leave you either angry, an emotional wreak or laughing with joy.
Which brings us to Song of the Year. ‘Springhill’ is an emotionally charged song about the loss of a close loved one and looking after those that are affected by the tragedy as well as dealing with your own feelings. It’s the perfect example of Seán writing from his personal experience which is a key part in making it so special. It is yet another song displaying Seán’s writing skill and his ability to draw upon emotions and speaking about what matters in life. Sean’s vocals on the track are heartfelt but when played live, ‘Springhill’ is a true display of what he is capable of vocally and will leave many in tears at the emotion.
Personally speaking, I don’t know anyone more deserving than Seán McGowan for both awards. Since the release of The People’s Music EP way back in 2012, Seán has been playing in venues and supporting bands and artists alike but this year has seen the culmination of years of hard work. Seeing him live this year has been a lot peoples gig highlight of 2018 and if you were lucky enough to see the full band performance at The 1865 venue in Southampton you’ll know that there’s a lot more to come. If you didn’t get to see Seán at all make sure you catch his tour in 2019.
Seán McGowan 2019 UK full band tour. Book tickets HERE
Honourable Mentions (Breakthrough): Shame, Estrons, Tom Grennan, Emma Blakeley, Bang Bang Romeo, Mercy Union, Good Girl
Honourable Mentions (Song): Anna’s Anchor – Jonny Cash was a Punk, Dave Giles – Taken Too Soon, Forget me Not
Album of the Year & Greatest Discovery of 2018
IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
Also Nominated (Album): Arkells – Rally Cry, Seán McGowan – Son of the Smith
Also Nominated (Discovery): Arkells, Homeless Gospel Choir
Diving into new music in 2018 can be a bit intimidating. In a world of Spotifys and Bandcamps, where do you start? Life is a constant blur of recommendations, from the regular as clockwork December end of year lists, to the playlists that Spotify scrambles together for you every week. Sometimes, it’s easier to just give up and go back to listening to your old (insert favourite band here) records. Well, that’s where the Solo Armada comes in, and if you’re looking for new music to check out, you could do a lot worse than kicking things off with the Armada’s 2018 album of the year. Say hello to IDLES.
On their second album, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, these Bristol post-punks have done something truly astonishing. They’ve burst into the mainstream. More importantly, they’ve done so not by altering their sound or writing sappy love songs. Their music is still angular, angry and tackles face on issues like immigration and toxic masculinity, all while bristling with an energy that feels so vital and relevant to 2018. They booked their place on Jools Holland and in the UK charts by being IDLES. It doesn’t matter who the band is, that’s always lovely to see.
Listening to Joy… you can see why too. From the football terrace chants of ‘Danny Ndelko’ to the heartbreak of ‘June’, it is stuffed with memorable songs. You want to scream along with them and revel in their chaotic beauty. Throw in lyrical twirls like ‘I’m Stone Cold Steve Austin, I put homophobes in coffins’, and it’s impossible not to be caught up in this magic.
With the millions of minutes of music that was released this year, picking a favourite is nearly an impossible task. How do you sit down and single out one musical experience to elevate above all the others? You can’t. However, you can sit down and pick something extraordinary which captures a mood and a time. Joy As An Act Of Resistance is that album, and you can bet that it won’t only be celebrated this year, but for many more to come.
Honourable Mentions (Album): Manic Street Preachers – Resistance is Futile, Christine and the Queens – Chris, Gerry Cinnamon – Erractic Cinematic, Brian Fallon – Sleep Walkers
Honourable Mentions (Discovery): Red Rum Club, Luceo, Bad Cop Bad Cop, Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs, Grace petrie, Frightened Rabbit, Hunter & The Bear, Marmozets, Menzingers
Live Act of 2018
Also Nominated: Felix Hagan & The Family, Gaz Brookfield
Out of all the categories, Live Act of 2018 was by far the one that caused the biggest dilemma for you all. Three incredible acts that have all been seen live by the majority of people and during the voting each act was at some point ahead of the others.
“TOO RYE AY” to Max, Dan, Sam, Thom, Scott, Lorna and The Flaggon.
Having kicked off the year touring America, before heading back to Europe to do the festival circuit and culminated the year performing at The Garage venue in London, you can guarantee they left every person who wandered into their path a little bit happier for having seen them.
There are many ways to create a great live experience. You can wow the audience with an incredible stage show, leave them broken by an intense onslaught or turn the fun up to eleven and have them grinning from ear to ear. It’s safe to say that Skinny Lister favour the latter approach.
Skinny Lister are the embodiment of a joyful, fun live experience. If you’re in the crowd at a Skinny gig there is simply no way you can’t help but join in on the playful mayhem going on around you, the band and crowd simply won’t allow you to not get involved.
With a new album and a massive UK tour set for early 2019, Skinny Lister are a band you don’t want to miss next year!
Skinny Lister 2019 UK tour. Book tickets HERE
Gaz Brookfield 2019 UK Tour. Book tickets HERE
Tickets for Felix Hagan’s musical Operation Mincemeat are available HERE
Honourable Mentions: Arkells, Dave Hause, Gaslight Anthem, Nick Parker
Festival of the Year
Also Nominated: Kendall Calling, Beautiful Day
2018 was the first time that this particular member (Stuart) of the Solo Armada attended 2000 Trees. Going to a festival for the first time is always a bit weird. You feel like you’re gate-crashing a family reunion, everyone is friendly and wants you to feel at home (at least to your face), but you don’t know yet whether it’s the family for you. There’s every chance it just won’t click. Well, the moment that 2000 Trees clicked for me was about twenty minutes after I’d arrived as wandering through the festival we stumbled upon Haggard Cat playing a set of Nirvana covers from atop a bar. That’s one hell of a way to be welcomed into the family.
And I don’t tell that story to brag about the brilliant weekend I had, but because it sums up what makes 2000 Trees such a special place. This isn’t Download or Reading (as great as those places can be) where you have to traipse through the mud for thirty minutes to get close to anything interesting. No, at 2000 Trees something amazing is hiding around every corner. From the joy of watching the insanity of At The Drive-In headline the main stage to the quiet of the forest’s acoustic stage, where lying back and having a nap is a lot more likely than starting a circle pit. We even heard talk of a cult starting up in the woods, although we were too scared to investigate such rumours.
The best festivals always have something unique about them. A sense of place that makes it different to the hundreds that are going on all Europe throughout the summer. 2000 Trees is the perfect example of that. Whether you have been there ten times or are there for the very first, it feels like home and what sums up the Solo Armada better than home being a field with ten thousand strangers and a lot of booze?
Honourable Mentions: Download, Slam Dunk, Tramlines, Neighbourhood Weekender Warrington
Scott Hutchison Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music
The Scott Hutchison Award is presented to a person who we believe represents the values of the Solo Armada. Those values are numerous, encompassing everything from a love of music to a willingness to try something new. What it really means, though, is that you represent a group of people who want to make sure that no-one ever feels alone. Whether you have all the family and friends in the world or are all on your lonesome, the sight of the Solo Armada badge should be the moment you make a new friend.
With that all in mind there was only person suitable to receive our inaugural award, Mr Frank Turner.
It was at Frank’s festival, Lost Evenings, that the initial members of the Armada came together. Perhaps those people could have met at any festival and forged the bond they did, but it’s also possible that it’s the environment Turner and those around him create which allowed them to do so. That’s one of inclusivity, the kind of place where someone who may usually sit quietly in the corner, content to be alone, might decide to go and talk to a stranger. The kind of place where your differences are what make you special rather than set you apart.
On top of that, Frank has worked hard to make his shows a warm and welcoming place from his assertion that his fans take care of each other to his work with Safe Gigs For Women. There are a lot of musicians who claim to want everyone to feel at home, but few who put the work into it that he does.
With the nature of the Armada’s birth presenting this award to Frank is the easiest thing in the world. He’s the obvious choice. However, the reason he’s the obvious choice is that he deserves it. His festival and gigs are not only the place that this thing was born, but they’re also the place where the values this award represents were crafted. It’s a punk rock community where everyone is welcome, and Frank Turner was the perfect inspiration for that.
Frank Turner 2019 Tour. Book tickets HERE