Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pure Speculation

So, the announcement of the Mercury Music Prize nominations are nearly upon us again (the swanky party is on July 18th). I can't find a public copy of the longlist so this may all be a complete waste of time, but it's always fun to follow this award which so many love to hate.

This year there are some obvious choices, for better or for worse. Kate Bush's Aerial must be a surefire inclusion. It's also hard to imagine Arctic Monkeys being left off - but I'm not sure that the Lily Allen* or Razorlight albums will be released in time. Is Thom Yorke's 'The Eraser', out tomorrow, just in time? I would expect a nomination for the much feted Mystery Jets too.

Surely though, with the financial backing of EMI - we might expect a nomination for some old friends - Hot Chip, with their excellent second album 'The Warning'. If Arctic Monkeys turn out to be too obvious a choice for winner, I reckon this is a good bet (that is, if it even made the long list in the first place).

Some albums I'd like to see included:

Boxcutter - Oneiric
Burial - Burial

The whole dubstep sound has really exploded this year, with plenty of incisive commentaries in support from webzines and blogs, but a near universal neglect from the mainstream media. It can hardly be expected that the Mercury judges could catch up, but what a justification for the prize's continued existence it would be if even one of these albums were to be shortlisted. The Burial album has been sold out in every London record store where I've looked for it!

Nine Horses - Snow Borne Sorrow

A really powerful, mysterious and haunting record from an underrated talent in David Sylvian.

Scritti Pollitti - White Bread, Black Beer

A lovely collection of homespun pop songs, nimbly juxtaposing Green Gartside's penchant for sheened production with frank lyrics and a more skeletal approach to arrangement. I'm very excited about the upcoming Scritti gig at the Scala this Tuesday, particularly as I have absolutely no idea what to expect from a man who has so rarely performed live.

Andrew McCormack - Telescope

It might not be crushingly original - but this is as crisp and expressive a piano trio album as has been recorded in recent years.

Matthew Herbert - Scale

Not perhaps his most radical album, but impressive nonetheless. I would expect that it wasn't submitted for the long list though.

Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country

Sublime indie-pop of the highest order!

Broadcast - Tender Buttons

Stark, minimal and impressive.

Elbow - Leaders Of The Free World

Quality epic rock and recognition of this band's continued success.

Psapp - The Only Thing I Ever Wanted

Not sure if they count as British (one half is from California, the other from London) but this, unpalatably termed 'toytronica', is fun and inventive.

We'll see if any of these make the list. Interestingly, if last year's winner was a Brit resident in New York, can the whole thing work the other way round with Scott Walker - an American long resident in Britain? If he has dual citizenship I see no reason why not.

*While I'm at it, I'll have a rant about Ms. Allen, for she is truly awful. When will people stop buying the myth that these artists have 'made it through the internet'? Obviously her success has absolutely nothing to do with her status as 'daughter of Keith'. She may have just released the most irritating single of the year so far with 'Smile', cementing her reputation as the female Mike Skinner with a similarly woeful concoction of whining and forced rhyme schemes. Plus the polished ska-pop of the backing track is spectacularly cheesy and really nothing novel - surely Scritti perfected this kind of hybrid with 'The Word Girl' back in 1985?

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