They received a €10,000 cheque and commemorative trophy in a ceremony at Vicar Street, Dublin. Billed as Ireland’s answer to the Mercury Music Prize, the Choice honours the outstanding Irish record of the year, as judged by a panel of media adjudicators, who this year included radio hosts Ray D’Arcy and Dave Fanning. Previous winners include Divine Comedy, Julie Feeney and Adrian Crowley.
Earlier nine of the ten nominated acts performed to a sell-out audience. Striking a blow for high-octane pop music, baby faced Co Down trio Two Door Cinema Club basked in one of the evening’s most enthusiastic welcomes, even if they had swapped their synthesisers for acoustic guitars.
Also on the bill were Waterford soft-rock five piece O Emperor, shortlisted for their debut LP Hither, Tither. A Choice nomination crowned a break-out year for the group, who have received unanimously positive reviews and toured to acclaim across Ireland and the Continent.
Other performers included Wexford ‘noise’ band Adebisi Shank, whose vocal free rock has won a cult following across Ireland and Japan, power pop outfit The Cast of Cheers, novelty band Fight Like Apes and ethereal synth group Halves.
Representing Ireland’s rich singer-songwriter tradition, meanwhile, were James Vincent McMorrow, performing material from his acclaimed debut Early In The Morning, which has prompted comparisons to American folk acts such as Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, and Villagers, the songwriting project from Dun Laoghaire’s Conor O’Brien.
The only nominee not to perform was Liberties rockabilly singer Imelda May who is in Australia.
From the outset, Villagers were favourites to win the prize, having been described as a 1/3 “shoo-in” by one bookmaker.
Others predicted to be in the shakedown were McMorrow (4/1), Cast of Cheers (6/1), and Fight Like Apes (12/1).