Bangor band wins top music prize

Fri, Mar 4, 2011, 00:00

Co Down band Two Door Cinema Club are the winners of this year’s Choice Music Prize. The three-piece band received their award (a cheque for €10,000 ) at a live event at Dublin’s Vicar Street venue last night. It was a surprise victory in that Dublin act Villagers were the runaway bookies favourite.

The Choice Music Prize is regarded as the Irish album of the year award except that it rewards artistic merit as opposed to the amount of record sales or radio airplay garnered. Two Door Cinema Club’s winning album, Tourist History, has already received critical praise both here and abroad and charted in both the Irish and UK album charts on its release last year.

There were 10 acts nominated for this year’s award and, apart from Villagers, the other acts who had been hotly tipped for the award were Imelda May and Co Waterford band O Emperor.

Nine of the nominated acts (Imelda May was on tour in Australia) performed at a sold-out show in Vicar Street last night as the judges – a panel of music media from the print and broadcasting sectors – deliberated over who would be the overall winner. The show was broadcast live on Today FM.

Modelled on the Mercury Music Prize, the Choice was established in 2005 to shine a light on Irish popular music that existed outside of the mainstream. Previous winners of the award include Julie Feeney, Jape and Adrian Crowley.

There was an international dimension to last night’s ceremony with Culture Ireland

(a State agency for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide) inviting over some key international music industry press, promoters and publishers to attend the event.

This year’s shortlist was considered the strongest ever with Villagers, O Emperor, May, James Vincent McMorrow and Two Door Cinema Club all being genuine contenders.

This contrasts with previous years when only two or three acts could have been considered as winners.

Two Door Cinema Club’s success was surprising because many had assumed that Villagers would win – considering that the act was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize last year.

While the award doesn’t do much for the winner’s domestic album sales, it does bring the act to the attention of international record labels, publishers and promoters. So far though, no previous winner has being able to parlay the award into any meaningful level of success abroad.

Two Door Cinema Club may well be the exception, though. Alex Trimble, Kevin Baird and Sam Halliday formed the band while students at Bangor Grammar School.

Their name comes from a mispronunciation of Bangor’s Tudor Cinema.

Their first release was a 2009 EP which was very well received and they later signed a recording deal with Kitsune, a French record label.

When Tourist Historywas released last year it picked up glowing praise from the UK media. The BBC described the album as “displaying flashes of greatness” while the Timessaid it was “an excited burst of short, simple indie pop songs driven by jangly guitars and punk rhythms”.

The band area about to head out on a US tour but before that they play Dublin’s Olympia Theatre on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th of this month.