Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mercury Shortlist Announced

So here it is then:

Adele - '19'
British Sea Power - 'Do You Like Rock Music?'
Burial - 'Untrue'
Elbow - 'The Seldom Seen Kid'
Estelle - 'Shine'
The Last Shadow Puppets - 'The Age Of The Understatement'
Laura Marling - 'Alas I Cannot Swim'
Neon Neon - 'Stainless Style'
Portico Quartet - 'Knee-Deep In The North Sea'
Robert Plant And Alison Krauss – 'Raising Sand'
Radiohead - 'In Rainbows'
Rachel Unthank And The Winterset – 'The Bairns'

I proved right on Portico Quartet. Sorry to the good people at the Vortex, who I love dearly - but I simply do not think the hype around this band is credible. Their much vaunted minimalism is nothing new, and the quality of the musicianship and improvising is well beneath some of the other more exciting British Jazz acts. Very disappointing to see them nominated above Gwilym Simcock (the only young British jazz musician of truly international standing right now - is it not a travesty that he is not recognised by the industry here?),Outhouse, Finn Peters, Neil Cowley, Empirical, John Surman et al.

No Portishead?!?!?!?! No Robert Wyatt?!?! No Elvis Costello (another one I neglected to mention in the earlier post, silly me)?!?! Good for Robert Plant and Radiohead, but otherwise the list once again emphasises marketeable youth over established maturity and artistry. Have Laura Marling and Adele even come close to making the best British releases of the past twelve months? No, of course not.

Good to see Burial and Elbow on the list. I wonder whether Burial might actually win it - such a decision would go some way to restoring the award's credibility. Laura Marling as an outside bet, but I fear it would curse the young girl's career far too early!

This list does not even begin to reflect the diversity and quality of contemporary British music. However, I'm grateful for the small mercy that Adele is the only one of my major objections to make the list!

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