Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Mercury Nominations

As an self-confessed music snob, I like to pay attention to different up and coming bands, as well as established bands receiving awards for their achievements. Therefore, I was quite interested to read the 2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize Shortlist, which is always a pleasant mixture of unknown bands and well-established legends (and perhaps a bit of mainstream crap thrown in here and there to satiate the chavs.) It goes as follows:

Biffy Clyro - Only Revolutions
I have this album, and I have to say it's absolutely bloody brilliant. Best album nominated, without doubt. Soaring riffs and Simon Neal going for it like a mother bitch on vocals (pardon my French) the song picks include:
Bubbles (very catchy chorus)
God and Satan
Shock Shock
I adore their Scottish accents which burst through the solid vocals - these and Glasvegas are the best things to come out Scotland.

Villagers - Becoming a Jackal
I must admit had to look this one up, so I watched him on Jools Holland and I was rather impressed. The Irish music scene has been fantastic recently (wish I was there!) and this is pretty good, in a wobbly, folksy way. I love the warble melody for Meaning the Ritual.

Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea
Again, I loved her debut album, and saddened as I was by her jazz musician husbands death, I was quite excited to hear her new album. It didn't disappoint - slightly darker than the last, shot through with loss, I thought this album was quite beautiful. But then, who am I to judge? I'm just a biased, jazz-loving teenager.

Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
Definitely deserved this. I've never heard folk-rock quite as interesting, quite as heartfelt, quite as cool. Cool isn't really a word you'd associate with folk-rock, would you?

Paul Weller - Wake Up the Nation
Paul Weller - what a babe. He sounds very "Notting Hill," very 90s indie. Don't get me wrong, it's good, but it feels as though they put it in here just to satisfy an old-timer criteria.

Wild Beast - Two Dancers
A cross between The Temper Trap and The Smiths (two of my favourites) but they just miss the mark for me. Amazingly original sound, but the lead singers voice is on the unsettling side of operatic.

Kit Downes Trio - Golden
This is why I love Mercury Prize. Because a jazz pianist's group can win a prize. They're not exactly to my taste, because I get bored when there's no singing, but technically brilliant all the same.

Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
Why is it that words mean so much more when they are sung by certain people? Laura Marling is one of those people - she makes lyrics mean something. She's folk, individual, talented and beautiful. Highly recommended.

Dizzee Rascal - Tongue N' Cheek
I hate rap. I leave all that over-processed shit to The Masses - as far as I'm concerned, music should be raw and organic. But Dizzee Rascal is something else - he's so bad, he's good. He talks his way through songs about drugs and disco without panache, or that horrible chavvy rapper quality. He actually knows about music, and I actually think he's quite good. I wouldn't choose to listen to it, but as far as rap goes, it's the cream of the crop.

Foals - Total Life Forever
Ah, The Foals. Happy, Topman music! I don't care that this album is less ambitious and more straightforward - I love it. Special pick is the title song.

I Am Cloot - Sky At Night
Basically three weirdos from Manchester came together and produced... something quite remarkable. Sounds as though they have taken inspiration from Snow Patrol, Radio Head, Oasis etc. Very nice.

The XX - XX
I don't want to like the XX... some of their songs are pretty good, but some of them sound a bit too much like The Cure or Depeche Mode. VCR is a pretty good song - the video screams Skins! - but some of it is so dreary it's just fashion music. However, the 80s sound is pleasing to the ear... you find yourself playing it when you don't want to. I'm unsure about this one, it's a bit of a guilty pleasure.

So all in all, quite a mix! Not sure they've made all the right decisions there - I think Muse could do with a prize, as well as The Courteeners and Bombay Bicycle Club - but I'm glad some lesser-known bands are getting more recognition.
After all that I'm sure you're glad to hear I probably won't be producing much more pretentious indie shit music journalism for quite a while.

Love, Peace and Album Nominations,

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