Solo Armada Music Award 2019 – Nominations
(By Stuart Iversen, Wes Bowie, Kim Sheader & Drewe Manton)
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Over the past few weeks, The Solo Armada has been voting in six different categories for bands and artists that have made an impact on them in 2019, and the response has been incredible. Massive thanks to everyone that has sent an email or DM! The categories, as if you don’t know by now are:
Best Album Best Live Act Breakthrough Artist
Best Festival Best Song Greatest Discovery
And still to be announced
TWO SPECIAL CATEGORIES!
Three categories have been narrowed down to three choices. Where there’s more than three choices that’s because there were a few ties this year and we thought it was only fair to put through all bands and artists.
What was especially interesting to see was the number of different artists and bands that have been nominated this year. You’ll see a few familar faces but also a few new ones as well. The Voting is now live, so it’s time to read up on those you haven’t heard of before and discover new music that you might (and probably will) love!
Why do we need a Year End Awards? It’s a of fun more importantly and is not to be taken too seriously. It’s a celebration of music. The opportunity to shout about that one band, album or song you discovered this year and wanted everyone to know about. It’s also the opportunity to explore! Is there a band or artist listed below that you’ve never heard of? Then give them a listen!
Best Album 2019 Nominations
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – End of Suffering
Since leaving Gallows in 2011, Frank Carter’s career has taken a few twist and turns. In Pure Love, he told us he was ‘sick of singing about hate’ only to end that band in 2015 and form Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, whose debut album ‘Blossom’ was a return to his pissed-off hardcore roots. Since then, though, he has found himself settling into a role somewhere between that hardcore background and the pop-anthems of Pure Love. A role that ‘End of Suffering’ might be the best example of that yet.
For their third album continues the theme of their second, ‘Modern Ruin’, as it strips away the ferocity of ‘Blossom’ to replace it with a languid bluesy vibe backed-up by massive songs. However, this isn’t the clean, polished bounce of Pure Love. It’s dark and threatening, songs like ‘Tyrant Lizard’ managing to sound like they could fill arenas but also crush them. After all those twists, it seems likely that Frank has found his path, and it’s a route that few will complain about. – Stuart Iverson
The Menzingers – Hello Exile
The day a new Menzingers’ album drops is always a joyous one. While there are bands out there that you might worry about, scared they’ll drop a clanger, you know that you can rely on the boys from Pennsylvania. They’re going to deliver another collection of Heartland America rock songs that both have choruses for days and somehow capture all those feelings you have hidden away deep down inside.
Their sixth album, ‘Hello Exile’, is no different, featuring twelve songs that strip away the bullshit and go straight for the heart. Whether they’re singing about American politics or heartbreak, you can rely on them to come along, a whisky in hand, and make things just that little bit better. There are a lot of bands making this kind of music, but how many of them could write a track like ‘Strangers Forever’? The answer to that question is not many, by the way. – Stuart Iverson
Gaz Brookfield – Lostfolk
Spoiler – I was asked to write a bit here because I’d only discovered Gaz Brookfield this year. So here I am. And it’s true- before September 2019 I had never knowingly heard a Gaz Brookfield song. By the middle of September 2019 I had purchased the entire back catalogue, and pre-ordered the soon-to-be-released album, ‘Lostfolk’. So here we are with ‘Lostfolk’ and after five weeks or so of solid rotation, it’s likely to make my 2019 top five albums. The album marks a clear step forward in production – it’s a beautiful sounding body of work, but as ever with people like Gaz, it’s the songwriting that carries it, it’s the songwriting I fall for. At once confident and yet introverted, rootsy folk sounds mixing with some solid rock workouts, and some experimental stuff (the slide guitar on several tunes really speaks to my long dormant country aesthetic). They are sufficiently different in many ways to what’s come before to pique the interest, and yet feel like they’ll simply slot into the live show and soon be old friends. That’s what I’m hoping. Roll on those singalongs. I’m not going to pick favourites, there’s not a song here I’d skip. – Drewe Manton
Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
Fontaines D.C. have been releasing singles since 2017 and this year saw the long anticipated arrival of ‘Dogrel’, which is also their debut album. For a band to be nominated in a Best Album category is always a special achievement (especially when it’s been put forward by people that love music and not industry related), but for it to be their debut shows just how much of impact these guys have have had on the live music scene.
The albums title is a homage to the word ‘Doggerel’ which is used in Irish working class poetry dating back to the 1630’s meaning ‘Poetry of the People’. Upon first listen hints of The Clash and IDLES can be heard but not enough to prevent Fontaines D.C. from clearly having their own distinct sound that varies from song to song. The result is that there’s something for everyone on this album. No matter your music taste you’ll find enough here to keep you coming back and Fontaines D.C. have produced an album that rightly deserves to be in the finalists for Best Album 2019. – Wes Bowie
Frank Turner – No Man’s Land
Let’s get one thing clear. An album should not be judged before it’s even been released and ‘No Man’s Land’ received it’s fair share of attention for the wrong reasons. It’s a testament to the songwriting that the album has been nominated for 2019’s Best Album and rightly so. More importantly, it’s an collection of songs from Frank Turner where he’s not catering (not that he ever will) to what he feels people may want and has instead produced an album on a subject he clearly has a passion for and never backed down or retreated from negative comments made. The moment this stops in music, the passion is lost.
The album itself is definitely one you have to listen to a few times and that is by no means a bad thing. Whilst the subject of women throughout history is present it somehow never manages to force it down your throat and is at times enlightening, entertaining and pretty damn dark. I found myself enjoying a different song each time I listened to it. And if you ask different people to pick their favourite song you’ll get a number of answers, there’s a lot of favourites on here (four different songs were nominated for Best Song 2019), and that is the sign of a great album. – Wes Bowie
BEST LIVE ACT 2019 NOMINATIONS
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
There are many ways to create a great live show. You have bands that jump around, causing chaos to the extent that the music almost becomes irrelevant. Then some are all about the tunes, delivering banger after banger until you forget they’re there because you’re too busy screaming every word, crying your eyes out and hugging whoever stands near you. And then, some create a bubble, a bubble into which for an hour or two they invite you, and make you feel part of their world. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes’ bubble is more impressive than most.
Which is not to say he doesn’t have songs or that he stands static on stage (neither is the case), but Frank’s shows are all about community. Whether it is providing a safe space for women to crowd surf or delivering impassioned speeches about mental health, you get the feeling he genuinely gives a shit. It’s a fascinating change from the mouthy gobshite who once led Gallows (as brilliant as that was) and has seen him transform into the kind of figure that every scene needs.
Tickets to see Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes can be found HERE
For the second year running (and the second category he’s been nominated in…so far) Gaz Brookfield is deservedly in the final nominations for Best Live Act 2019. The self-proclaimed solo acoustic guy, Gaz has proven himself as a hard-working, independent singer/songwriter and as a result, is one of the best live acts around. His touring is pretty much non-stop. What makes his shows so special is his connection with the crowd and how relatable his songs are to everyone.
With his battered up guitar and Solo Armada badge on it’s strap it’s clear Gaz understands music and how it can bring people together. Almost every gig where it’s possible you’ll find him jumping down into the crowd to belt out a few songs and it’s impossible not to sing along with him and everyone else.
Tickets for Gaz Brookfield’s upcoming shows can be found HERE
We also having the final Solo Armada meet up of 2019 prior to his Bristol gig on 14th December. More details HERE
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
Is anyone really surprised to see Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls as finalists in a Best Live Act 2019 category? If it’s Frank on his own or with The Sleeping Souls, there’s no one that can perform quite like him. With each gig he gives his all and encourages the same from the people in the crowd and you can’t help but be swept up in the energy. And although others may question what the appeal is to see him time and time again you only need to look at his back catalogue of songs to know why. Yeah, you’ll get the usual songs that are expected to make an appearance at most of Frank’s gig but he always manages to include those special rarities because there’s so many! 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.
Tickets to see Frank play on his latest tour can be found HERE
BEST SONG 2019 NOMINATIONS
Seán McGowan – Money
Not only was Seán McGowan nominated in the same category last year and won for his song ‘Springhill’, he was also voted Breakthrough Act 2018. The fact that he has been nominated in the same category again is a sign this guy is here to stay…and he’s actually really good! Where ‘Springhill’ was a very personal and emotional song, ‘Money’ demonstrates the cheekier side of Seán’s writing whilst having that personal experience and connection that pretty much all of his songs have. Lets face it, anyone that can get a lyric about affording a chicken coronation sandwich into a song and make it work is on to something. So why has it been nominated for Best Song 2019? Besides a chorus that will have everyone singing along when played live (and yes, in the car at the top of your voice) the lyrics are relatable to almost everyone. From being able to afford a sandwich to the monumental task of saving for a house, ‘Money’ is a refection of peoples daily lives and the society we live in today. Whilst it may not be personally applicable to everyone, it’s certainly a snap shot of the times we live in. However…done with that hint of cheekiness Seán McGowan has become known for.
You can catch Sean McGowan on his latest tour. Tickets HERE
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Kitty Sucker
A song about love and passion that opens with the kind of swagger only Carter can pull off, ‘Kitty Sucker’ has quickly become a fan favourite. It’s big, brash and has enough bounce in the chorus to keep even the most excitable of people happy. What makes it stand out, though, is that touch of sleaze. Lyrics like ‘fast fuckers, slow lovers, we fit together like no other’ don’t sound like they should sit right in a song that you can imagine levelling stadiums, and yet they do, Frank’s delivery pulling them off. Throw in a big old dollop of groove, and it is easy to see why this one makes the list.
Tickets to see Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes can be found HERE
Frank Turner – The Lioness
Whatever your thoughts about the album ‘No Man’s Land’, ‘The Lioness’ has become an instant favourite amongst fans and is definately a stand out track on the album. The chorus is a fist to the air crowd stomping pleaser that Frank is well known for. Even if you haven’t heard it live there’s no denying the energy it creates. Focusing on Huda Sha’arawi, a pioneering Egyptian feminist leader it would be easy to just focus on the music and jump around a lot, but Frank manages to tell the tale (in a simplified way…there’s only so much you can get into a song) of what Huda managed to achieve, “Look on her works, ye mighty men. She opened up the harem, they can’t close it up again. She stepped off a ledge and let herself fall free.
She stepped off the train and into history.”
Tickets to see Frank play on his latest tour can be found HERE
Breakthrough Act 2019 Nominations
Yonaka are a British rock band based out of Brighton and have just released their debut album, ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’. The band have spent the last few years discovering each other and the music that they have produced. Having released three EP’s prior to the album, Yonaka have grown to demonstRate a confidence in what they want to say and how they want to sound, especially with the latest album release. Themes revolve around reaching out to others, dealing with loneliness and mental anxiety. They were also nominated for Best British Newcomer at the 2019 Kerrang! Awards and the fact that they have also been nominated for Solo Armada’s Breakthrough Act of 2019 speaks volumes!
Yonaka only have two shows left this year before heading to Ireland in February. Tickets available HERE
The Wood Burning Savages
Having self released their debut album, ‘ Stability’ last year and going on to beat established bands Snow Patrol and ASH in the NI Music Prize for Best Northern Irish Album of the Year category, 2019 has seen The Wood Burning Savages go from strength to strength. Their recent tour supporting Skinny Lister (last years Solo Armada Best Live Act winners) was a fantastic introduction to a lot of Solo Armada people and it’s clear the band have become a favourite among the community. Let’s face it, a band that are just as good live as Skinny Lister are a band you’re going to pay attention too and it’ll be no surprise they won Northern Ireland Live Band at the Year at the NI Music Prize 2018.
The Wood Burning Savages are touring the UK from 21st – 30th November, so the next week is an ideal opportunity to catch them live. Tickets available HERE
Since the release of their debut EP ‘Winter Nets’ in January 2018, Sports Team have had a fantastic few years (ish) and have even had a sold out show at London’s, Scala venue. They’ve even formed their own label Holm Front. They have become well known their energetic live shows and despite not having yet released an album have sold out a 1,500 capacity show at Camden’s Electric Ballroom venue. Sports Team definately don’t take themselves too seriously and have a hint of Presidents of the United States when it comes to their music with their own unique style.
Sports Team are currently touring the UK until 5th December. Tickets available HERE
2019 has been a fantastic year for Sam Fender in terms of radio play which has propelled him into the public’s consciousness. If you don’t know who he is guaranteed you’ll be aware of one or more of his songs, in particular ‘Hypersonic Missiles’. His album of the same title went straight to number 1 in the album charts when it was released in September and his tour schedule over the coming months only proves his popularity, which many shows have sold out.
Sam is touring the UK until 22nd December and has many more shows lined up for 2020. Tickets available HERE
BEST FESTIVAL 2019 NOMINATIONS
There is a reason 2000 Trees is up for this award for the second year in a row. It’s fucking brilliant. Not only is it one of the friendliest festivals you will ever visit, packed with great food and enough booze to satisfy the thirstiest of people, but it also books the best bands. Where else can you go and watch The Armed run riot around a tent on the same day that you’ve had a lie-down, hungover and regretting your life choices while being spellbound by A.A. Williams? Heavy, soft and everything in-between, you can regret never going, or you can buy a ticket and become part of the family.
Tickets for 2000 Trees 2020 can be found HERE
Lost Evening 3
For many, each of the previous Lost Evenings had been more about the people we meet and the friends we make, and this year was no different. Well, except for the fact that this year was the first time the festival was held overseas in Boston, MA. The Frank Turner led festival is obviously a must see for any of his fans but the opportunity to discover new music is present throughout. This year in particular was special because of the open mic sessions held daily at Bill’s Bar giving ANYONE the opportunity to perform before heading over to the main venue at the House Of Blues. The Nick Alexander Stage was again present with so many good bands enjoying themselves as well the crowd that had gathered and as each day passed you recognised more and more people. The fear that the atmosphere in Camden from the last two Lost Evenings couldn’t be recreated was gone within a few hours of the first day.
This festival is the reason the Solo Armada exists in the first place and it was so special to see another country fully embrace the idea and meaning behind the SA, and still continue to do so. So Berlin…over to you.
Discover some of the bands/artists that played on the NA Stage in our LOST EVENINGS 3: NICK ALEXANDER STAGE – SUPPORT ACT GUIDE
Find out about the people who went and their stories: POETRY OF THE CROWD: TALES OF LE3
Camden and music go together like toilets and selfies, so a festival taking place in old Camden Town makes all the sense in the world. What makes Camden Rocks stand out, though, is just how much of it there is. Want to set up camp in a tiny pub and watch bands you’ve never heard of before? Go for it. Or perhaps you’d rather grab a spot at one of the bigger venues and be treated to the likes of Ginger Wildheart and Frank Turner? Yup, they’ve got that too. It’s a weekend packed with music and, if anything, too much choice.
Tickets for Camden Rocks events can be found HERE
GREATEST DISCOVERY 2019 NOMINATIONS
Bang Bang Romeo
Bang Bang Romeo have been making a name for themselves these last few years through their amazing live shows and energy on stage. In a male dominated industry, female lead singer Anastasia Walker shows the best of them how to front an amazing live show and this year in particular has seen the band sell out venues all over the UK. More recently they have just released their debut album ‘A Heartbreaker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ alongside a 2020 tour stopping at Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and London. Next year is going to be even bigger for Bang Bang Romeo without a doubt.
Tickets to see Bang Bang Romeo available HERE
This is an interesting one…considering Dave Giles released his first EP as a solo artist in 2010. However, in late 2018 the release of his second album ‘Tennessee and 48th’ has clearly made an impact on more than just a few people. And rightly so. Having travelled to Nashville to record the album after raising funds himself, Dave managed to bring a few of Nashville’s resident musicians together to help produce an album that resembles a true Americana style and sound. The result is a wonderfully crafted album that Dave Giles has put everything into and during his live solo shows you can really tell how much the whole experience meant to him. Whats next? Well, the cheeky chap is being very quiet about it all, but he does promise the next thing is going to something very special.
Listen to Dave Giles’ second album ‘Tennessee an 48th’ HERE
Grace Petrie has been performing as a solo folk singer-songwriter and guitarist since 2006. She has performed gigs with many well known artists; musicians such as Billy Bragg and Chris T T, but also somewhat surprisingly, with comedians like Josie Long and Robin Ince. In 2018, Grace found a bigger audience after singing ‘Black Tie’ on The Guilty Feminist Podcast, but was probably discovered by most of the Solo Armada when she supported Frank Turner on his Be More Kind arena tour at the beginning of 2019.
Her 2018 album, ‘Queer as Folk’ is a beautiful collection of songs that are a mixture of political protests through to personal ballads, including the heartbreaking yet uplifting ‘Black Tie’, a message to her teenage self when she was at school struggling to accept her image as a butch lesbian, which Grace now happily identifies as.
If you haven’t discovered her yet, then be sure to check out a live performance, as her chat between songs is as educated, interesting and funny as her songs are uplifting.
Grace Petrie is currently touring and tickets can be found HERE
Yep. Here he is again. For a third nomination. There’s not much more that can be said that hasn’t previous been said from the other categories! The fact that Gaz Brookfield has been releasing music since 2011 and touring extensively throughout his career AND is still reaching out to people that have only just discovered him speaks volumes. If you haven’t been convinced to give Gaz a listen so far, then this should finally do the job.
Tickets to see Gaz Brookfield available HERE
If Jake Martin isn’t doing his own tour he’s more than likely supporting someone. The past year has seen Jake grow in popularity not just because of how much he’s getting out to play in live venues but because he writes (and performs) some bloody good songs. More importantly songs that you can’t help but sing along too. Those that have seen Jake live will already know his enthusiasm and upbeat attitude is infectious, turning rooms filled with people into a rowdy (in a good way) chorus of song. Just recently he’s announced that his second album, ‘Broken By Design, will be released May 2020 and you can pre-order now.
Pre-order Jake Martin’s new album ‘ Broken By Design’ HERE