GALWAY BAND OF THE YEAR: So Cow
So Cow, the indie-rock/pop-punk trio led by Tuam vocalist and songwriter Brian Kelly are one of the great success stories in Galway music. Though resolutely underground and alternative, they have achieved the kind of peaks most bands never see - playing Barcelona’s prestigious Primavera Sound festival; having their albums favourably reviewed on Pitchfork; working with Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier; touring internationally.
Although Ilenkus, Weed Priest, and We Banjo Three all released excellent albums this year, so Cow owned 2014 through their album The Long Con and it's über-anthemic track ‘Barry Richardson’.
The Long Con is a very personal work, with ruminations on entering your thirties, the impact of a long closed institution in Tuam town, the dignity of Queen bassist John Deacon, while ‘Barry Richardson’ is a celebration of the Galway comic book artist and all-round top guy.
GALWAY SOLO ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Steven Sharpe
Before Conchita Wurst, Steven Sharpe was rocking the bearded man in a dress look and 2014 saw the singer-songwriter become the most welcome new arrival on the Galway music scene.
Flamboyant and outrageous, Steven’s witty tales of contemporary gay life are filtered through Led Zeppelin influenced blues stompers and dextrous acoustic numbers. He is also ably served by his backing band The Broke Straight Boys. He has already released a live album Hot Mess and the debut single ‘Tipperary Song’/‘Uganda’ (both of which are on Bandcamp ). Here’s hoping 2015 delivers even more from this exciting talent.