Today was the last days for albums to be released in the UK to be eligible for Mercury Prize consideration. The shortlist announcement will be this Wednesday. There should be the usual allotment of familiar names, buzz bands and leftfield unknown acts. Here's who I think will make the final cut:
Stone Cold Mortal Locks:
-- Kate Bush, 50 Words For Snow. It's just time. She's the front-runner already to win the prize just for being Kate Bush. How many times do you hear a singer compared to her? She's an innovator.
-- Alt-J, An Awesome Wave -- The debut album for the four-piece is earmarked as the upset, which would be upsetting for Kate Bush. Much like past nominees James Blake and The XX, they live in that minimalistic soul/R&B with lo-fi beats. Not totally sold on it because they seem to riding a trend, but I see the appeal. The album gets an official U.S. release next week on Canvasback Music.
-- The Maccabees, Given to the Wild -- It's their best album to date, and it expands on ideas they tossed around on Wall of Arms. Pelican is one of my favorite songs of the year.
-- Jessie Ware, Devotion -- The hot new singer in UK pop slot will probably land with Jessie Ware. Last year it was the dreadful Katy B, but Jessie sound is more refined. If not, somebody like Emeli Sandé, Lianne La Havas or all three will make their way on.
-- Ed Sheeran, + -- Because the voters can be puppets and just look at the UK charts for their picks
-- Florence + the Machine, Ceremonials -- Yup
-- Django Django, Django Django. I'm pretty certain they will be my best new artists of 2012, and it sucks I'll miss there return trip to NYC.
-- Paul Weller, Sonik Kicks -- Speaking of legends, the Modfather can follow-up his 2010 nod with another.
-- Saint Etienne, Words and Music by Saint Etienne -- Not quite legends, but the consistently interesting and vibrant trip-hoppers have but out their first album in seven years. It's also gained them some of the best reviews of their two decade career. 82 out of 100 on metacritic.
-- Kuedo, Severant -- There's always some sort of new age, futurist electronic album in the mix. This work from Jamie Teasdale of the DJ duo Vex'd is an ode to 80s kraut/lo-fi. Think Vangelis meets Burial. Listen to Whisper Faith below
My humble suggestions:
-- Graham Coxon, A+E : Can we show some love to Graham? I know Damon gets all the glory with 10,000 music projects, but Graham does his own thing quietly. You can match this album against his pop power in Happiness in Magazines.
-- Bombay Bicycle Club, A Different Kind of Fix: There's room for the little guys. They are not reinventing their sound on their third album, but it is their best and it's perfectly crafted variety of moods.
-- Clock Opera, Ways to Forget: A way long shot, but I like the epic feeling and emotion on display.
-- Kindness, World, You Need A Change Of Mind: It's a funky dance album for people who don't like dance music in the Hot Chip mode ... like me