Well in a smoky old basement in the recesses of London's Hospital Club this morning, breaths were held (I think that's what I meant), rumours were circulated and canapés wolfed down with carefree abandon as the 'tension' built up to implausibly fevered peaks (well, minor curiosity perhaps). The Mercury Music Prize 2010 nominations were read out by Lauren Laverne, strengthening my belief that she should be a guest announcer for the football results on a Saturday afternoon - that North-Easterly accent would lend a bit of excitement to the proceedings one feels. OK, settle down, here's the list:
BIFFY CLYRO - Only Revolutions First out of the hat and a surprise choice for many it seems. The Ayr-guitarists (see what I did there?) have blazed a trail across the nation with their ferocious riffs and ecstatic anthems, more recently culled from the 2009 album "Only Revolutions". The boys have plenty of festival-fight left in them - iTunes (31st July), Reading (27th Aug), Belsonic (28th), Leeds (29th), Jersey Live (4th Sep), supporting Muse (11th) before hitting the road on 25th in Aberdeen, finishing at Wembley Arena (4th Dec). Contenders.
MUMFORD AND SONS - Sigh No More and LAURA MARLING - I Speak Because I Can. Strum 'n Folk gets a nod with two similar acts, though I would have liked to have seen Stornoway being shoe-horned in here as well. Marling and Mumford have wooed many with their attempts at polished moments of emotion across their respective albums, but for me Marling gets the nod with her unassuming and observational rootsy-ballads, displayed at several festival appearances across the summer (see below). Go Marling.
FOALS - Total Life Forever, I AM KLOOT - Sky At Night, Villagers - Becoming A Jackal and WILD BEASTS - Two Dancers. This quartet represent a similar artistic ball-park to each other - amps-plugged-in-and-earnest-alt-rock-a-go-go, no it isn't a genre that will catch on but I have a sneaking suspicion that controversy may surround I Am Kloot's inclusion - after all, the bleedin' thing only came out a few weeks back. But it's the best of the four by a country mile so it could be a Klooty moment in September. A cunningly planned Sep/Oct tour is in the offing as well, tickets are still available. But will the Elbow connection aid them this year?
KIT DOWNES TRIO - Golden, DIZZEE RASCAL - Tongue N' Cheek, THE XX - The XX, CORINNE BAILEY RAE - The Sea, PAUL WELLER - Wake Up The Nation. And so to the legends, individualists and 'who?'section. One artist throws up that last query every year, like the proverbial early-morning portion of fried chicken and strong lager, yet Kit Downes has been crafting beautiful plaintive jazzscapes for some time, reaching a band peak with Empirical (itself a Jazzwise Award-winner a few years back). This could be a surprise 'sleeper' this year in the style of Portico Quartet, but the big money is on The XX or Dizzee Rascal. I'd like to see anyone else from the remainder get the nod, to be honest - Weller delivered a pretty decent album in "Wake Up The Nation" and Bailey Rae seems to be on song again with her new material.
You can discover the winner on live on BBC2, Tuesday 7th September - or at the event itself if you happen to be lucky enough. The awards show will be hosted by Jools Holland, with Lauren Laverne presenting the TV show.
Check below for Mercury-related gigs in the coming weeks!