The xx, Dizzee Rascal, Foals, I Am Kloot, Villagers - Mercury Prize nominees
Antonio Rowe 27/07/2010
The Barclaycard Mercury Prize, once a flagship for alternative music acts - a way of giving recognition to up and coming musicians, with past victors ranging from PJ Harvey to Dizzee Rascal (before 'Dirtee Disco'), in its prime the shortlist was full of sporadic selections, a true compilation of the best alternative music the U.K had to offer. However, years have passed and the quality of the list has somewhat deteriorated, with the artists listed below arguably being the most accessible and obvious choices there has ever be in the prize's 19 year history.
Unfortunately, the shortlist isn't the only thing that seems to be going to pot, with last year's winner Speech Debelle not exactly benefiting from the once guaranteed commercial success that the award could bring to its winners, with her album 'Speech Therapy' only managing to shift a modest 10,000 copies in the two months after the awards ceremony. That's not to say the prize hasn't ever had a positive effect on the buying public before, with Elbow now considered as dinner party playlist favourites, thanks to their 2008 triumph for their 'The Seldom Seen Kid' long player. Nonetheless, every year Mercury has become a talking point for many discussions and debates over who should take the coveted prize home. Here's my run down the nominees listed for the Mercury Prize 2010.
Billy Clyro 'Only Revolutions' - Biffy Clyro are currently Britain's biggest rock band, now some may argue that that isn't exactly a mean feat, but nonetheless their album 'Only Revolutions' was enjoyed by both critics and fans when it was released late last year. For me, I don't think it's worthy of a Mercury Prize with the album not being the leap forward I was expecting and hoping for.
Listen to: Many Of Honour
Corinne Bailey Rae 'The Sea' - The quote 'time can be a great healer' never seemed so fitting. After the sad demise of her husband and fellow musician Jason Rae back in 2008, Corinne's career was an unsure aspect of her life, with many people wondering whether or not she'd be able to return to the limelight. Thankfully, after being incognito for 2 years, she returned this February with 'The Sea' a considerably more soulful endeavour than her debut, it didn't manage to repeat the commercial success her previous effort achieved, however it received critical acclaim mainly due to Rae's artistic growth.
Listen to: Closer
Dizzee Rascal 'Tongue N Cheek' - The king of the grime/pop crossover recently joked that the award should be renamed 'The Dizzee Award', and rightly so, with this nomination for his 3rd offering 'Tongue N Cheek' being his 3rd, I'm a fan of Mr Rascal, but this nomination seems a bit forced, almost like they couldn't think of anyone else. If they wanted to cover the urban scene, then all they had to do is look the way of U.K rapper Giggs who released his 'Let Em Have It' album just last month.
Listen to: Can't Tek No More
Foals 'Total Life Forever' - While their debut 'Antidotes' brought to prominence Math Rock with its angular riffs and infectious melodies being consistent throughout the record, their second long player 'Total Life Forever' is a work of two halves - with The Foals showcasing their biggest pop hooks and irresistible rhythms in the first segment, whereas in the latter half, the Foals go all experimental on us - flirting with shoe gaze, strobic beats and pounding drums. It's a striking sophomore effort that dispels all those naysayers in a matter of seconds.
Listen to: What Remains
I Am Kloot 'Sky At Night' - The Elbow's of this year's list, perhaps? A group of unheralded alternative indie/rock veterans who have lurked in the shadows for some time, now I Am Kloot have finally received some recognition thanks to their Guy Garvey produced (what a coincidence?) 'Sky At Night'. They share a commonality with the prize-winning producer in sense that they produce songs with gentle melodies, however that contain a cathartic punch in the form of song writing.
Listen to: To The Brink
Kit Downes Trio 'Golden' - This year's wildcard and the only act most people weren't aware of before their inclusion on this list. Kit Downes Trio is a trio fronted by (you guessed it) British pianist Kit Downes, their sound - think jazz but with an electronica experimental twist, they released their debut 'Golden' last September on Basho Records.
Laura Marling 'I Speak Because I Can' - Another new album, and a another mercury nomination it seems for Laura Marling. She missed out on the prize back in 08 with her beautifully crafted debut 'Alas I Cannot Swim', but this time she just might nab it with her second offering ' I Speak Because I Can' definitely being Marling's coming of age record, and her most confident piece of work yet.
Listen to: Devil's Spoke
Mumford & Sons 'Sigh No More' - Like The XX, Mumford & Sons have gone from strength to strength, with their album been a top ten hit and their live show becoming a set full of guaranteed sing-a-long moments. Like all great folk music, their songs evoke emotion this crossed with some catchy hooks, makes for an album packed with folk crossover hits that should appeal to the everyman, whether or not it's worthy of the Mercury Prize is another thing...
Listen to: Little Lion Man
Paul Weller 'Wake Up the Nation' - This is the only nomination I don't understand, not to be a hater on Mr Weller, but he isn't hardly going to benefit from the prize - if he was magically to win. A man who is known as 'The Modfather', isn't exactly what you call an innovative figure in today's music industry is he?
Listen to: Anything Pearl Jam
The xx 'xx' - It's funny how things end up isn't it? Who would have thought that a nervy London trio, who preferred to wear the colour black and make sexy, atmospheric, bedroom music, would end up being the front-runners for this year's prize? The xx seem to be gaining more PR momentum every second, with more and more people slowly being converted to the dreamy sounds that made their debut 'xx' such a critical success last August. For once, I think we can all agree that if the favourites won this year, it wouldn't be a complete abomination.
Listen to: Stars
Villagers 'Becoming a Jackal' - Villagers a.k.a Irish singer/songwriter Connor J O'Brien is already a favourite at GIITV, due to his way with impressive arrangements and heart-felt song writing. So it's fair to say, we rejoiced when we heard the news he had been included in the shortlist for this year's prize, it's highly unlikely that he's going to be triumphant, but at least it's a well deserved pat on the back for one of this years most promising fresh faces
Listen to: Becoming A Jackal.
Wild Beasts 'Two Dancers' - I've always been aware of Wild Beasts but dismissed them as nothing original, a band that seemed slightly boring, but how wrong was I - my assumption was proven wrong the moment I heard 'Two Dancers'. The album is full of soaring vocals, campfire harmonies, intricate guitar riffs and rhythms driven by beating drums. If like me, you disregarded them at first sight go back have a listen, you won't be disappointed.
Listen to: All The King's Men
Some names Mercury forgot: Four Tet, M.I.A, Goldfrapp, Hot Chip, These New Puritans, Mystery Jets, Friendly FIres, (need we go on..)
(All odds from Ladbrokes and accurate at time of publication.)
What do you make of this year's nominations?Who have Mercury criminally overlooked this time round?And is the Mercury Prize relavant anymore?