2015 has been a hell of a year here at LWM towers - hospital visits, office moves and, above all, a shed load of music. This has been the biggest year for the blog with the most readers ever and more artists than ever sending in music to be reviewed - Listen With Monger has become something of a global phenomenon. But any success is only down to the quality of the music that is sent in so I thought it was a good time to reflect and give you my LWM awards for the year (just to clarify, much like the BBC, there are no actual awards....just kudos).
Best Band: Allusondrugs
|Allusondrugs - post-Chemical toilet mishap|
The big one to kick off with but these guys have had an outstanding year and have gone from strength to strength in 2015. The Clue Records signings from Leeds have worked their grungy little socks off all year but that hasn't stopped them churning out some top tunes and putting some gigs that have left audiences stunned, euphoric, suffering from tinnitus and possibly pregnant.
Honourable mentions go to Narcs and The Franklys
|Cosmo Sheldrake - horny|
Best Solo Artist (Male): Cosmo Sheldrake
A true English eccentric and songwriting genius who is almost nailed on to break through in 2016 and appear all over the place in a range of dandy hats, playing gigs in improbable locations. If you haven't experienced Cosmo's mind yet then you are seriously missing out.
Honourable mentions go to Ali Ingle and Jake Morley
Technically, Malka performs with a backing band but all the music comes out of her head and that is worth celebrating when someone releases of the quality of her debut offering. A summer of festival appearances in 2016 surely beckons as well as heaps and heaps of airplay - plus hopefully some new songs.
Honourable mentions go to Seaker and Dua Lipa
|Azu Yeche - unusual suspect|
Best Single: Azu Yeche 'Lagos'
Hardest category to pick by a long chalk with a whole range of talent on display this year and singles hitting from every angle like one of those posh shower things. There was rock, there was indie, there was acoustic folk and a whole lot of love. But a decision must be made and my decision was to go with Azu Yeche's 'Lagos' as something truly original, spell binding and with a message behind from a relative unknown.
Honourble mentions go to Moriaty 'Bones' / The Lottery Winners 'I Know' / Cosmo Sheldrake 'Rich' / Many Things 'Holy Fire' / The Graveltones 'Big Money' / Jake Morley 'Allegorical House' / Antimatador 'Find Your Way'
This stunning collection from Exeter based singer songwriter Alex Gregory showed off her superb vocal abilities but also her abilities to write a heart touchingly beautiful song with a pop hook. A huge star in the making if the right people give this some ear time but regardless of any commercial success this EP has found a place in my heart and my CD collection for good.
Honourable mentions go to Failure Machine 'Ain't Shit EP' and Sound Of The Sirens 'All We Have Is Time EP'
|Lost Dawn - just popping out.|
Best Album: Malka / Lost Dawn
I haven't listened to as many albums as I would have liked this year but the ones I have heard have been almost universally superb so this was a tough category to decide on and I'm sitting on the fence between two very different albums. On the one hand, Falmouth's Lost Dawn, blew our socks off and our minds out of our ears with their debut offering this year. On the other hand, Malka soothed, amazed and generally enchanted with her offering in 2015. Lucky buggers aren't we?
Gorgeous song with a stunning animated video that will have you laughing, falling in love and hiding behind the sofa all at once. Videos can be so predictable these days as though all the ideas are already used up so it's wonderfully refreshing and life affirming when something new pops up in your eye sockets.
|Get Inuit - innit|
Best Band Name: Get Inuit / Rangleklods
Regular readers will know that I love a good band name and there have been plenty to choose from this year but I'm going to share the award this year between Eskimo obsessed Kent indie rockers Get Inuit and Danish nutcases Rangleklod. Just enjoy those for a moment......and now move on.
A special award this as I am privileged to receive so many pieces of music from new or emerging artists that I wanted to recognise the work of those without any major backing, doing it all under their own steam. Exeter duo Sound Of The Sirens are clear winners in this category as they started the year playing as many gigs as possible in pubs and clubs around the Westcountry only to finish 2015 being handpicked by Chris Evans to appear live on the first show of the new TFI Friday and going on a national tour. Evidence if ever it were needed that great songs and a good work ethic can get you where you want to be.
|Vaness Forero - taller than she looks|
Best Debut: Vanessa Forero 'Heaven Knows'
I was genuinely blown away Yorkshire/Columbia product Vanessa Forero and her debut single 'Heaven Knows'. If you haven't checked it out yet then you need to but this is also a great example to anyone out there to create music that is true to your own convictions and passions. Beautiful music.
Best PR: Hannah Gould Music PR
A one woman show, Gouldzilla PR is one of the most reliable and consistent pushers of top quality artists including the likes of Lost Dawn, Rangleklods, Jinnwoo, Memory Maze, Elvis Perkins, Josefin Ohrn & The Liberation, The Black Tambourines and Weyes Blood. Hannah Gould is also a delight to deal with gets extra points for her work in championing some of the excellent artists emerging from the burgeoning Falmouth scene.
Honourable mention goes to Blue Soap Music
|Clue Records - faceless bastards|
Best Label: Clue Records
Leeds based independent label Clue Records are home to Narcs, Allusondrugs, Forever Cult and Trash - all of whom have had excellent releases and too many gigs to even count. It's a small but perfectly formed label that is picking it's artists carefully and nurturing them all until they blossom and bear fruit. Sure, some of their acts might get picked off by bigger boys one day but it's a model that worked for Domino and works for tonnes of football feeder clubs so all power to them. Hell, I like them so much I even bought one of their T-shirts!
Honourable mention goes to Xtra Mile Recordings
Best Southwest Artist: Lost Dawn / Sound Of The Sirens
It's been an immense year for musicians from my native South West so it's been difficult to pick out a stand out act so I've had to split this award between three gents from Falmouth and two ladies from Exeter. Lost Dawn have been at the forefront of the revolution coming out of Falmouth and their album was a supreme example of psych-rock with a wry sense of humour. Meanwhile, duo Sound Of The Sirens have been on a whirlwind year fuelled by their impassioned and pitch perfect harmonised folk-pop.
Honourable mentions go to Cave Mouth and Alex Gregory
|Failure Machine - big faces|
Best non-UK Artist: Failure Machine
Reno boys Failure Machine have maintained a consistent level of excellence throughout the year with their own brand of soul infused rock'n'roll and it's a crying shame that their music isn't being heard by more ears the world over.
Honourable mentions go to The Dirty Nil and SHEL
|Tankus The Henge - jumping for joy|
Best Live Performance: Tankus The Henge
This much travelled collective's performance on the main stage at Looe Festival in September 2015 was nothing short of elemental. As the sun set and the summer came to a close we had one more chance to let our collective hair down and Tankus The Henge were good enough to provide the soundtrack. For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of experiencing these guys well a) you should and b) 2016 is going to be the year to do it - these guys are going to be everywhere.
Honourable mention goes to Sound Of The Sirens @ Looe Festival
Most Viewed Review of 2015: Torre Florim 'Firestarter' (688 views)
A nominal award of sorts but, in a year of increased visitors to the blog, this cover of the Prodigy classic seemed to capture your attention. 688 times, to be precise.