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Mercury announces Albums of the Year shortlist


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Barclaycard Mercury Prize

Last night TNS joined industry-types and music journos for the unveiling of this year’s Mercury Prize nominations at London’s swanky Hospital Club.

Hosted by BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, 2012’s shortlist, whilst showing the breadth of British music talent, offers a safe and somewhat strange overview of current aural delights.

Guitar music makes a strong showing when its popularity is at a low-ebb. Despite the choices being strong exponents of forward-thinking indie/alt-rock sounds worthy of inclusion it seems strange for the prize to have completely omitted anything from the bass and electronic music worlds especially with noteworthy album from the likes of Rustie in with a chance.

The guitar picks all deserve to be on the list. The Maccabees third release Given To The Wild saw their most fully realised version of their inventive and epic indie and it is nice to see underground favourites Field Music getting a mainstream nod.

The work of Alt-J on An Awesome Wave (TNS’ album of the year so far) is unquestionably original and Django Django’s self-titled debut is a clattering, rhythmic wonder reprogramming post-punk guitar sounds for the modern dancefloor.

Playing it a little safe, traditional singer-songwriters make up a sizeable chunk of the list. Whilst the work of Lianne La Havas, Sam Lee, Ben Howard and Michael Kiwanuka (who showed his raw talent and blindingly soulful voice with an performance at the launch) is solid it can’t be said to offer anything of note to today’s changing musical landscape.

Future TNS cover star Jessie Ware’s debut Devotion comes closest to capturing the current mainstream mood with her deeply emotive take of pop taking nods towards British club culture and bass music. Her acoustic performance of ‘Wildest Moments’ at last night’s launch proved she has a voice to be reckoned with and one that could carry much more interesting tunes than those that have made her a chart-bothering concern.

This year’s favourites (from odds from William Hill) are Plan B and Richard Hawley. Plan B’s risky departure from the soul-style that brought him to the masses back to the rough and ready hip hop he started with has paid off. Ill Manors whilst being a solid album might seem out of place with the omission of other brilliant UK hip hop and grime releases. No nod for Wiley for Evolve Or Be Extinct?

Richard Hawley would be a strong-contender for winning. A favourite of ‘real’ music fans for years, as an artist who has consistently produced great music it would be hardly a surprise for him to get recognition.

2012’s ‘wild-card’ (read ‘not going to win’) is Leeds’ Roller Trio who’s experimental, funk-infused smooth jazz, whilst being sonically brilliant, is maybe a little bit too ‘out there’ for them to walk away with the prize.

So, that list in full:

Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
Ben Howard – Every Kingdom
Django Django - Django Django
Field Music – Plumb
Jessie Ware – Devotion

Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?
Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
Plan B – Ill Manors

Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge
Roller Trio – Roller Trio
Sam Lee – Ground of its Own
The Maccabees – Given to the Wild

This year will see the Prize introduce a new series of exclusive one-off gigs featuring the shortlisted artists being held ahead of the Awards Show on 1 November. Tickets for the events will be made available through competitions and a special ballot system developed in association with the Prize’s title partner, Barclaycard and The Ticket Factory. Entry to the gigs will be free, although a donation of £10 will need to be made to War Child in order to secure each pair of tickets.  Barclaycard will be matching all donations made using a Barclaycard. Fans can register for more information at:
The overall winner of the 2012 Prize will be announced at the Barclaycard Mercury Prize Awards Show at the Roundhouse on Thursday 1 November 2012.

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