This is the return of the rare feature to the site called "Tough Thoughts", which is my thoughts on what has been happening in the world of music and gigs in the local area. Don't expect this to be a regular feature, but I will be updating this every so often, so check the "News" page first, as I will notify if this page has been updated.

13th November 2005 - AND THEY'RE OFF... Look at the the leaders right now, pushing forward early!

The year 2005 is coming to a close in the next several weeks - and it has been a memorable year for many reasons. Freak weather causing choas from Hawick, Carlisle and Cumbria to New Orleans, Pakistan and Asia, football success for Chelsea, Liverpool, Carlisle United, Workington Reds and Gretna, victory for England in the Ashes and David Blunkett resigning - AGAIN!!! And with the end of the year comes awards, and it is at this time that the people of Cumbria and SW Scotland get to decide the best local bands in this year's TGM Awards.

Last year's awards were a big success, with the big winners being SW Scotland's Tauntra, who picked up three awards. This year's awards have more bands going up for awards and more opportunities for bands to walk away with one of thirteen gongs up for grabs, including the big prize itself, Best Band (Overall).

The nominations for this year's awards have been decided, and here we will look at the frontrunners who could walk off with a prize. But remember, even bands with just one nomination have the same chances as those with five or more nominations. And it was Unreliable Sin last year that proved that theory by winning the only award they were nominated for - Best Metal Band. And with more than 50 local bands and an array of mainstream bands nominated, anyone can win an award.

But here are those bands that are currently ahead of the pack with nominations:

CTRLALTDELETE: 6

North Cumbria is the area that boasts the band with the most nominations in this year's TGM Awards - ctrlaltdelete. The instrumental post-art rock band from Carlisle have been on the block for nearly 2 1/2 years, and have already built a big following, as well as receiving critical acclaim along the way, which is no surprise that the "three keys" walked off with the Best North Cumbria Band award at last year's TGM Awards.

Since the last awards, the band have had quite a rollercoaster 2005. The band lost their original drummer Chris Hewitt, but the drumstool was taken over by ex-Joey Cohen Riot and Second To Last drummer Simon Papleo, gigging throughout the country and the band released their second EP "mondegreens" on local record label Motive Sounds Recordings, to wide critical success. With the departure of Simon, the band are currently writing new material, while on the hunt for a new drummer - and it would be of no surprise if the "three keys" repeat their success of last year's awards or perhaps better it!

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (Overall)
* Best Band (North Cumbria)
* Best Rock Band
* Best Gig - Molia Falls @ Brickyard - 3rd May 2005
* Best EP - "mondegreens"
* Best Song - "Each Of These Innocents On The Street Is Engulfed By A Terror Of Their Own Ordinariness"

MY SILO: 5

My Silo have been becoming one of the most popular bands in West Cumbria and their total of nominations this year can prove just that. But don't let the name make you think that this is a brand new band. In 2004, the band were continuing to gig around the county as Cornerstone. At that time, they were still well known in their area and getting well deserved airplay on local radio station CFM. They are one of two highest nominated bands who did not walk away from last year's TGM Awards with anything.

In 2005, Cornerstone changed their name to My Silo and haven't look back. The band recorded new songs, which have been getting lots of airplay on local radio stations, and appearing at many all day events and festivals, as well as continuing to gig around Cumbria. My Silo are currently writing and gigging, and could do well at the TGM Awards this year.

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (Overall)
* Best Band (West Cumbria)
* Best Rock Band
* Best Gig - West Cumbria Rocks 2
* Best Song - "Beautifully Ashamed"

SYNKO: 5

They are one of Cumbria's longest running bands, gigging and recording for 8½ years and are still in their early 20's. The band have seen many well known local bands come and go over the years but they are still as popular as they were back then. And if you don't believe that statement, let's add the fact that they won the Best South Cumbria Band award at last year's TGM awards.

During 2004, the band went into the studios to record what would be their very first full length album. Many highs and lows came about during this period, but by the turn of 2005, Synko unleashed their sixth CD, but more importantly their first LP "Subject To Change". The band's album showcases new songs, as well as songs from their past, including one of their very first songs. The band have spent much of 2005 promoting the album and gigging round the country, including their tour of Northern Ireland. The band are still growing from strength to strength since their formation in 1997, and who knows what 2006 will bring for the Barrow quintet.

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (Overall)
* Best Band (South Cumbria)
* Best Ska/Punk Band
* Best EP - "Subject To Change"
* Best Song - "All Hail The Critics"

TAUNTRA: 5

2004 was definitely the year of Tauntra! Their style of ska/punk rock has set their genre alight, and their constant touring of the UK has not fallen short of fans and their EP's selling. So it was absolutely no surprise that not only did they get the most nominations at last year's TGM Awards, but they walked off with a total of three awards - Best Ska/Punk Band, Best SW Scotland Band and Best Band (Overall) - dominating the awards and the year 2004!

2005 hasn't been a year of rest for the Annan band, or even slowing down. The band have been continuing to gig throughout England and Scotland, playing in new towns and uncharted territories. But new music hasn't been prevent, in fact they also went back into the studio and in mid-2005 released their third EP "Stories Set To Sound". Continuing to bring a fresh sound to ska/punk, the new EP has been receiving rave reviews from local promoters and music e-zines, including Punktastic. One of the most popular local bands in SW Scotland, Tauntra's star is so bright that Tauntra walking away empty handed is like a non-Glasgow football team not winning the SPL title (well, it could happen this season!!)

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (Overall)
* Best Band (SW Scotland)
* Best Ska/Punk Band
* Best EP - "Stories Set To Sound"
* Best Song - "3am Context"

SECOND TO LAST: 5

Regarded as one of the most hard working bands in North Cumbria, Second To Last have had a busy 2004, with much of it searching for a new drummer after the departure of Simon Papleo in early 2004. The band recorded their 4th EP in April 2004, and after months of searching for a record label to release it, Lockjaw Records (who showcased one of STL's first songs on one of their "Helping You Back To Work" compilations) answered their call and their EP was ready to be released. Last year's TGM Awards saw no awards go to STL, but were close to winning the Best North Cumbria Award.

In 2005, after months of delays, STL's fourth EP "We Are All Going On The Bear Valley Trail" was released in April through Lockjaw Records and also recruited a new drummer in the form of Pauley Heron. The band's touring has seen them concentrating on areas outside of their hometown of Carlisle. The band are currently writing new songs for their follow up EP, and look hopeful to walking off with an award this year.

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (North Cumbria)
* Best Metal Band
* Best Gig - Failsafe / Second To Last @ The Park, Kendal - 15th April
2005
* Best EP - "We Are All Going On The Bear Valley Trail"
* Best Song - "Dead Actors Don't Get Much Work"

SADIE HAKINS DANCE: 4

December 2003 saw the first gig of Sadie Hawkins Dance, who include Synko's Carol Hodge (aka Crystal Grenade), and their first year together has been a hugely memorable one - coming third in the North West Battle Of The Bands, a big tour of Norway, critically acclaim from all parts of the county, and two TGM Awards for Best New Band and Best Gig (when they appeared alongside No Comply at their gig in April 2004).

2005 has seen the band continuing to tour outside the county and Greater Manchester. The band has also played in many parts of the county that have never heard them play. The band returned to Norway for another tour, and new songs have been written and performed. Sadie Hawkins dance will be up for some big awards this year, and with the amount of success from last year's awards, who know how many more they can bag!

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (Overall)
* Best Band (South Cumbria)
* Best Ska/Punk Band
* Best Song - "Responsibility"

PONSE: 4

PoNSe debuted in 2005 and are one of two of this year's new bands with the most nominations. Hailing from West Cumbria, PoNSe comprise of Ross MacEwan on Saxaphone and Vocals, Mike Orrell on Bass, James Braithwaite on Drums, Gary Hunter on Trombone and Dan Matthews on Guitar and Vocals.

Since their formation just under a year ago, PoNSe have spent much of their time practicing and recording songs. By the time they had their debut gig, they had unleashed a new wave of ska/punk into West Cumbria. They have wowed many audiences at many of their gigs up and down West Cumbria and have potential to be one of the big bands in that part of Cumbria. And it could be all systems go for the band at the TGM Awards.

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (West Cumbria)
* Best New Band
* Best Ska/Punk Band
* Best Song - "Blow Up Cows"

SWEET ZOMBIE JESUS: 4

One of the most popular metal bands in West Cumbria, Sweet Zombie Jesus were very close to walking off with an award at last year's TGM Awards, but were denied by Shoes On Backwards. But by looking at their following and listening to their music, it's hardly surprising to see how good and popular the band are.

2005 has seen the band playing extensively throughout the county, as well as playing regularly in Dumfries. The band have also recorded their first EP "Music To Kill To". The band are about to start a 3 date tour of South West Scotland, supporting Gutworm. And with their popularity growing it will be a shock not to see them winning an award.

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (West Cumbria)
* Best Metal Band
* Best Gig - West Cumbria Rocks 2
* Best EP - "Music To Kill To"

SELF TITLED: 4

Self Titled may be new to many on the TGM front, but they have been on the go since 2000, with various line-up chanes along the way. The band had been on a two year hiatus from live shows, but the South Cumbrians continued to progress their music and returned to the live circuit in 2005.

The band's return to the gig circuit has been a welcome return from those who remember and those who are new to the band and their material. In fact, their new material ended up being self-recorded and self-released by Self-Titled themselves! The band's gigging has taken them from the south of Cumbria to the north of Cumbria, as well as playing in nearby Lancaster. The band are currently preparing to go into Prism Studio in Stoke to record their follow up EP, and more gig galore are expected too - and perhaps an award or two along the way!

NOMINATIONS:
* Best Band (South Cumbria)
* Best Ska/Punk Band
* Best EP - "Self Titled EP"
* Best Song - "Welcome To The Epicentre"

FINDING EMO: 4

The second new band with the most nominations is Finding Emo. The South Cumbrian metalists feature Jamie Birkett from Cacophony and Matt and Josh Campbell from Unreliable Sin, who won Best Metal Band at last year's TGM Awards.

The band's first year together has already been a busy one - from playing many gigs in South Cumbria, receiving rave reviews from promoters and organisers, recording and releasing their debut EP "I Think We Agree... The Past Is Over". While both Jamie and Matt & Josh's respective bands are up for awards, it could be that they might receive an award for their efforts in Finding Emo.

NOMINATIONS:
* Best New Band
* Best Metal Band
* Best EP - "I Think We Agree... The Past Is Over"
* Best Song - "Frayed Torn Scripts"

 

These are 10 of the over 50 bands from Cumbria and SW Scotland to be up for awards. But remember, the more nominations a band has doesn't mean they are guaranteed to win awards - because the winners are chosen by YOU! And you can decide who you want to win in each award. With just a week to go till the polls open, you need to start thinking who you want to vote for in each award. Remember - the decision rests in your hands!

See ya soon...

SteJ!