Well, that was a tricky one to call but I think you’ll be pleased with the results. The music I’ve been fortunate enough to review this year has been exceptionally good and I know I speak for all fans of new music out there when I say thank you to all the artists, the creators and the boundary pushers for your efforts this year. I sincerely hope live music returns in 2021 because there are a whole load of new tunes that fans are desperate to sing along to. Anyway, enough heartfelt waffle, it’s time to open those golden envelopes and announce some winners…

Best Band (UK) 2020 Winner 

Erotic Secrets of Pompeii – It has been a hard year for bands and only technology combined with a total disregard for Covid regulations has kept productivity moving. Bristol outfit Erotic Secrets of Pompeii have managed to not only write and record but also to wow with a flurry of singles this year and I genuinely think they could be something special in 2021.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/eroticsecretsofpompeii

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Dinosaur Pile-Up

2018 Winner – Black Futures

2017 Winner - Rews

2016 Winner – Narcs / Berries

2015 Winner - Allusondrugs

Best Band (South West) 2020 Winner 

Moriaty – the two-man Teignmouth tsunami waltzed in to 2020 like it was no big deal, dropped the seriously impressive album ‘The Die Is Cast’ (on sexy vinyl, to boot) and then squeezed in a couple of incendiary live shows between lock downs. Top work gents.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/moriatysounds

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Pattern Pusher

2018 Winner – The Velvet Hands

2017 Winner – The Malthusian Trap

2016 Winner – Wildwood Kin

2015 Winner – Lost Dawn / Sound of the Sirens

Best Band (International) 2020 Winner 

Larkin Poe (USA) – The Nashville duo released not one but two excellent albums in 2020 with their original composition ‘Self-Made Man’ followed neatly but an album of superb cover versions, ‘Kindred Spirits’. Tight vocal harmonies and excellent mastery of various guitars make their music incredibly moreish and ahead of anyone else working in or around their genre.  

More information: https://www.facebook.com/larkinpoe

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Fontaines D.C. (Republic of Ireland)

2018 Winner – The Nectars (USA)

2017 Winner – Parekh & Singh (India)

2016 Winner – The Watanabes (Japan)

2015 Winner – Failure Machine (USA)

Best Solo Male (UK) 2020 Shortlist 

Riaz Ahmad – There was such a stunning energy and honesty about Oxford’s Riaz Ahmad on his ‘All at Sea’ EP that his talent stuck out like a glorious thumb. Unique lyrical content, beautiful vocals and deftly played guitar makes Ahmad a real talent to enjoy.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/riazahmadmusic

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Xam Volo

2018 Winner – Joshua Kyeot

2017 Winner – Jamie Lenman

2016 Winner – Jake Morley

2015 Winner – Cosmo Sheldrake

Best Solo Male (South West) 2020 Winner 

Ollie Dixon – Tiverton based singer-songwriter Ollie Dixon was fresh to my ears in 2020 but he totally blew me away. Dixon’s superb voice and atmospheric dark folk was made for the windswept vistas of the South West but, more importantly, is perfect for cinematic soundtracking and that potential put him just ahead of a strong pack.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/OllieDixonMusic

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Samantics

2018 Winner – Matthew Gordon Price

2017 Winner – Gozer Goodspeed/Martyn Crocker

Best Solo Male (International) 2020 Winner 

Jacknife Lee (Republic of Ireland) – Irish producer and mixer Jacknife Lee released his album ‘The Jacknife Lee’ this year and it brought so many wonderful artists along for the ride that this award has to be for them a bit as well. This superb long player featured the likes of Open Mike Eagle, Beth Ditto and Bibi Bourelly which made it a huge party of an album and more than worthy of this recognition.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/thejacknifelee

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Duckwrth (USA)

2018 Winner – Simon Lynge (Greenland)

2017 Winner – Noah Gundersen (USA)

Best Solo Female (UK) 2020 Winner 

Tina Boonstra – Solo artists seem to be in the ascendancy at the moment and the women are leading the way creatively, so this was a tough category to call. Nevertheless, having bubbled under the surface for a while, 2020 was the year of Tina Boonstra. A huge EP full of hooks and insight really grabbed the attention and got the imagination sparking, something we all needed this year.  

More information: https://www.facebook.com/tinaboonstra

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Lauran Hibberd

2018 Winner – Pip Hall

2017 Winner – Poppy Ackroyd

2016 Winner – Joanna Cooke / Lulu James

2015 Winner – Malka

Best Solo Female (South West) 2020 Winner 

Yazzy – Despite all the setbacks and restrictions of 2020, Devon based vocalist Yazzy has emerged as a self-professed ‘Half Lioness, Half Songbird’ and she is living up to that title. A couple of hugely soulful singles have shown off her voice to the world and a chance encounter with Jeremy Vine meant some early national airplay on his Radio 2 show brought her to a wider audience.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/YazzyMusicOfficial

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Rise

2018 Winner – Joanna Cooke

2017 Winner – Rosie the Crow

Best Solo Female (International) 2020 Winner 

Madison Beer (USA) – I have a feeling that Madison Beer may follow in the footsteps of someone like Dua Lipa in 2021. Beer has a hand in everything from writing and performing the music to directing the super stylish videos that accompany her sleek alt-pop gems so she seems perfectly poised with a debut album on the horizon. Nevertheless, a string of outstanding singles saw Beer make 2020 her own, effortlessly.  

More information: https://www.facebook.com/MadisonElleBeer

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Tami Neilson (Canada/Australia)/Mavis Staples (USA)

2018 Winner – Grace Inspace (USA)

2017 Winner – Deqn Sue (USA)

Best Single 2020 Winner 

The Clockworks ‘Enough Is Never Enough’ – There were so many great singles released this year but as soon as I heard ‘Enough Is Never Enough’ by Irish upstarts the Clockworks I pretty much knew that nothing would top it for me this year. Agitated, raw, frustrated and urgent but not without hope or purposed, this single really captured what it felt like to be at the wrong end of the stick in 2020 and boy was that powerful.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/theclockdoesntwork

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Ferris & Sylvester ‘I Dare You’ / Bicuruious ‘I Don’t Do Drugs, I Just Sweat A Lot’

2018 Winner – X Ambassadors ‘Joyful’

2017 Winner – She Makes War ‘I Want My Country Back’ / Moses ‘King Size’

2016 Winner – Mowbeck ‘Vaseline’ / Childcare ‘Cinema Club’

2015 Winner – Azu Yeche ‘Lagos’

Best EP 2020 Winner 

Tina Boonstra ‘City of Doubt’ – This makes Tina Boonstra a double winner but her ‘City of Doubt’ EP really was that good and I can’t stress strongly enough that you need it in your life. Uplifting, bold and with a real sense of cool assuredness, with this EP Boonstra has definitely cemented her place as one of the UK’s most promising artists.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/tinaboonstra


Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Sick Joy ‘Them Days EP’

2018 Winner – Jones ‘New York EP’

2017 Winner – Mux ‘Can You See Who? EP’

2016 Winner – Joanna Cooke ‘Wound Up EP’ / Bare Hunter ‘Dry Rot EP’

2015 Winner – Alex Gregory ‘Critical Perfection EP’

Best Album 2020 Winner 

I really wanted to just pick a single album this year, but I couldn’t separate these two out so I’m going to have to share the award out yet again.

Moriaty ‘The Die Is Cast’ – You can really feel that the Devon based duo have spent time on this album and ploughed a whole lot of blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids in to it. Samples are carefully chosen, riffs are enormous and the drums pack a punch like a landmine in a Big Mac. Rock’n’Roll isn’t dead, it’s just been isolating in Devon.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/moriatysounds

Nana Adjoa ‘Big Dreaming Ants’ – The vibe on this debut offering is so fantastically other worldly that you can really lose yourself in it for the entirety of the record. I think that is what appealed most about this album by Netherlands based Nana Adjoa because the opportunity to lose yourself in another world with a beautiful soundscape is so rare these days and yet so vitally needed.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/Nanaadjoamusic

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – William the Conqueror ‘Bleeding on the Soundtrack’ / X Ambassadors ‘Orion’

2018 Winner – The Nectars ‘Sci-Fi Television’ / Henge ‘Attention! Earth’

2017 Winner – Noah Gundersen ‘White Noise’ / Rews ‘Pyro’

2016 Winner – Narcs ‘A Thinking Animal’ / Jake Morley ‘The Manual

2015 Winner – Lost Dawn / Malka

Best Video 2020 Winner 

Spang Sisters ‘Eddie Murphy’ – People got creative with videos in 2020 but once you’ve seen one Zoom collaboration you’ve seen them all. Therefore, the award this year goes to the cut for ‘Eddie Murphy’ by Spang Sisters which features a brilliant story of love between a sausage and a fish finger told using real life food and a lot of string. It’s heart-warming and genius.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/spangsisters

Watch the Video: https://youtu.be/P_ZSBxKxCAU

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Penguin Café ‘Chapter’

2018 Winner – Calva Louise ‘Tug of War’ / LibraLibra ‘Tongues’

2017 Winner – Vei ‘Rolling on You Romeo’

2016 Winner – Michelle O Faith ‘Lemonade’

2015 Winner – Husky ‘I’m Not Coming Back’

Best Live Show 2020 Winner 

Wille Edwards + Andy Quick, Downderry Village Hall – This might have been the only gig I went to in 2020 due to Covid and Cancer, but seeing these two giants of the Westcountry music scene on stage surrounded by lamps, crocheted items and a range of guitars was as intimate and beautiful as you could hope for a gig to be. Add an appreciative and attentive audience and you have the recipe for a night to remember.

More information:

Wille Edwards – https://www.facebook.com/willeedwardssongs

Andy Quick – https://www.facebook.com/AndyQuickMusic

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Shihad @ the Thekla, Bristol

2018 Winner – Looe Saves the Day Festival, Looe

2017 Winner – Wildwood Kin @ The Brook Inn, Plymouth

2016 Winner – Blogtober 2016 feat. Berries / Pattern Pusher / Seaker / Jamie Yost / Rosa Belle

2015 Winner – Tankus the Henge @ Looe Music Festival

Best Band Name 2020 Winner 

Death by Unga Bunga – the Norwegian garage rockers have been a favourite for a while but I seem to have over looked their glorious name in the past. Despite the slightly brutal meaning behind their title, Death by Unga Bunga make sweet rock’n’roll and with a new album due in 2021 I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from them. Via me.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/deathbyungabunga

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Those Fucking Snowflakes

2018 Winner – Have You Ever Seen the Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?

2017 Winner – Playboy Manbaby

2016 Winner – Yes Babez! / Taco Hell / Queen of Jeans

2015 Winner – Get Inuit / Rangleklods

Best Debut 2020 Winner 

Nana Adjoa ‘Big Dreaming Ants’ – The Dutch-Ghanian singer-songwriter created something truly special with her debut album ‘Big Dreaming Ants’ and it would be seriously impressive for an established artist, let alone someone doing it for the first time. This was a relatively easy decision, such was the power and prowess of this debut effort.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/Nanaadjoamusic

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Gazel ‘Gazel’s Book of Souls’

2018 Winner – Georgia Fearn ‘Perfect on Paper’

2017 Winner – Black Futures ‘Karma, Ya Dig?’

2016 Winner – Berries ‘Siren’

2015 Winner – Vanessa Forero ‘Heaven Knows’

Best Year 2020 Winner 

Lack of Afro – Not only did Adam Gibbons (the one man band that is Lack of Afro) release the excellent ‘I’m Here Now’ album this year, he also launched his new collaborative project The Damn Straights with Herbal T. Now that’s what I call making the most of a bad situation.

More information: https://www.facebook.com/lackofafromusic

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Deux Furiesues

2018 Winner - Idles

2017 Winner - Cassels

2016 Winner – Wildwood Kin

2015 Winner – Sound of the Sirens

Best PR 2020 Winner 

Sonic PR – The North-West based and hugely experienced Sonic PR have had a hugely productive year bringing us artist like Beans on Toast, Bruce Springsteen, Crazy Arm, Darling Boy, Frank Turner, IDLES, Larkin Poe, Ryan Hamilton, Tankus the Henge, the Blinders, the Clockworks, the Lotts and Tourists. And those are just the ones that made their way to my ears. Bravo team Sonic, a fine year indeed.

More information: http://sonicpr.co.uk/

Previous Winners

2019 Winner – Prescription PR

2018 Winner – Fine Company

2017 Winner – Cannonball PR

2016 Winner – Wilful Publicity

2015 Winner – Hannah Gould Music PR

Best Label 2020 Winner 

Alcopop! – When a label, no matter how big or small, brings you new music by the likes of Beach Riot, Gaffa Tape Sandy, Helen Love, Peaness and Tokky Horror in just one year then you know they’ve got their ears pointed in the right direction. There’s a lot more to come from this team too so if you haven’t had the pleasure then, you know, go pleasure yourself.

More information: https://www.ilovealcopop.co.uk/

Previous Winners

2019 Winners – Say Something Records

2018 Winner – Integrity Records

2017 Winner – Cooking Vinyl

2016 Winner – Superfan 99

2015 Winner – Clue Records