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Tuesday, July 22, 2008 

Mercury prize shenanigans.

It's time for the Mercury Prize again, the award everyone likes to pretend is slightly more democratic and not based on pure popularity and record sales like the Brits are. Before we even get to the eventual winner and doubtless yet more disappointment over the unjustified win, there's the nominations themselves:

There's the usual token jazz record and token folk record, alongside the complete crap, provided admirably by Adele and Estelle. The small mercy is that Duffy wasn't nominated as well.

Again though, it's the amount of completely overlooked albums that rankles most. Seriously, no Portishead? No Mystery Jets? No Foals? The Foals album seems to have split opinion, or at least has on Drowned in Sound, but Portishead and the MJ albums have been both critically acclaimed and have apparent mass support from fans. Then there are the records you would have liked to have been nominated, but which were never probably going to stand a chance. Future of the Left, High Contrast, with the best drum and bass artist album in years, Johnny Foreigner, Youthmovies, Los Campesinos!, Errors, iLiKETRAiNS, ¡Forward, Russia! (although their debut was better), Wild Beasts (I confess I haven't been sold on their charms yet, but many others have been), These New Puritans, all would have been welcome additions, if only because of the extra interest it would inspire in them, not to mention the sales.

Going by that methodology, the appearance of Adele, Radiohead, Robert Plant and TLSP on the list is worthy of critique. Can anyone truly say that any of those is a worthy album of the year? I doubt even the most ardent Radiohead fanboy would say that In Rainbows is either their best work or the record they should have won the Mercury for (that would have been OK Computer), and while the TLSP album isn't terrible, Alex Turner is hardly lacking publicity or cash.

As for the rest, most are decent choices. British Sea Power still haven't recreated the majesty of their debut with Do You Like Rock Music? but it's still a vast improvement on Open Season. Elbow probably deserve some sort of recognition, mainly because of their consistency, but I doubt will trouble the judges too much. I haven't heard much by her, but Laura Marling has always struck as a slightly more intelligent Kate Nash/Lily Allen hybrid, although her contribution to Young Love by the Mystery Jets helped make it the song it was. Neon Neon have hardly broken any new ground, but again Gruff Rhys perhaps deserves something simply because of his work rate, when not with either the Super Furries or doing his solo stuff, of which Candylion was probably better than Stainless Style.

Which leaves us with Burial, whom is surely the most worthy potential winner on the list. Remaining completely anonymous, he's delivered two majestic, transcendent albums of mournful downtempo dubstep, with Archangel alone deserving of a prize. His anonymity might though count against him; he's hardly likely to turn up and perform, or even collect the prize if he wins, and last year Lauren Laverne claimed that the award was decided on the night after the Klaxons' performance. Let's just hope against hope that it isn't Adele.

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Burial is rubbish dubstep, doesn't have any decent basslines. Sounds more like limp-wristed garage.

Can anyone truly say that any of those is a worthy album of the year?

Ahem. Admittedly I haven't heard all the other nominations - to be more precise, I haven't heard more than a couple of tracks from any of the other nominations - but I do think it's a fine album.

"Burial is rubbish dubstep, doesn't have any decent basslines. Sounds more like limp-wristed garage."

Anyway, on a less inflammatory note, thank you for mentioning High Contrast - I ended up finding some of his songs and loving them. As for the Awards themselves it's pretty obvious who I'd like to see win, but I keep hoping that the people who choose shortlists for awards like this end up losing their minds and putting someone like The Berzerker in.

I heartily recommend High Contrast's Fabriclive mix from a couple of years back, which is especially outstanding.

Actually, I have to disagree to a certain extent regarding Radiohead. I have been a big fan of theirs for many years and I have to say In Rainbows is without doubt their best album since OK Computer (which is one of my favourite albums of all time) and only just falls short of being their best album so far. Of course, these things are entirely subjective, and I am sure there will be other Radiohead fans who will be shaking their fists as I write. Still, I love it and that's all I care about!!

How refreshing to post on music rather than politics!!

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