26 July 2010

Mercury Prize Nominees Announced

The 2010 Mercury Music Prize nominations were released last week. The annual award goes to the best album of the year in the UK and Ireland. Chosen by a selected panel of musicians, music executives, journalists and other figures in the music industry in the UK and Ireland, presentation of the award usually take place in September.

Here's a look at the nominees and what some of the critics had to say about their work:

Biffy Clyro: Only Revolutions
"All these moments are the jigsaw pieces that finally do complete the puzzle for Biffy, as it were, but it’s as a whole that Only Revolutions springs the band instantly level with the greatest rock acts in the world. The only thing that can stop them being recognised as such is the 2010 trend of UK guitar music being treated with contempt by the electro-pop-fixated mainstream. But don’t call them a band out of time – they’re the very sound of loud now, and finally it’s time for the last few stragglers to get in the saddle." - NME (9 November 2009)

Corinne Bailey Rae: The Sea
"The singer-songwriter reaches into the depth of her grief and delivers a moving, if not seminal, album." - L.A. Times (22 January 2010)

Dizzie Rascal: Tongue 'N Cheek
"Understandably, his fourth album is a kind of victory lap, a 45-minute revel in the fact that no one wants to hit him with a concrete post any more. It's Never Mind the Bollards." - The Guardian (18 September 2009)

Kit Downes Trio: Golden
"A hugely promising record that reveals fresh angles with each listening." - The Jazz Mann (8 December 2009)

Foals: Total Life Forever
"Total Life Forever is a massive leap forward for the band. The music writhes with a renewed ambition, capable of moving from near ambient strains of electronica to propulsive African funk in a drum break. Shifting from their 2D debut album, Total Life Forever is a three-dimensional triumph." - Clash Music (10 May 2010)

I Am Kloot: Sky At Night
"I Am Kloot continue to trace their version of that voyage, recording its moments of beautiful regret and uplifting melancholy in tuneful tales that want to hang around for endless retelling, beguiling their listeners into believing they have the time for just one more." - Pop Matters (20 July 2010)

Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can
" . . . I Speak Because I Can is an album of elegance and brilliance. Marling has developed from her debut, and her voice has grown both physically and lyrically. The songs are bathed in the folk traditions of England, and as such end up sounding timeless by proxy. Through Marling's unique touch they avoid sounding derivative, or tired. Side stories and back stories are just diversions from the real tale here – the age old bildungsroman of the artist turning into the master of their craft." - Drowned In Sound (16 March 2010)

Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
"Ever since our trip to Ireland . . . last summer, TNOP has been dropping Mumford & Sons' name to all that would listen. While driving endless kilometers around the Emerald Isle, the band's new single "Little Lion Man" seemed to be eponymous on BBC Radio 1; but it was exciting every time the DJ spun the record. The debut album, Sigh No More, hit the UK charts in September 2009 and landed #1 in Eire and #7 UK [and] the US racks this past spring. Despite landing - and nailing - performance spots on both the David Letterman and Craig Ferguson shows, the CD has struggled to take hold in the States. But TNOP likes to think of it as a slow build, and once again we take the opportunity to recommend these unique London four-part harmony folk rockers to new ears." - The Night Owl Presents . . . (21 June 2010)

Paul Weller: Wake Up The Nation
"Weller's new album's relentless vigour is exhausting but he strikes gold all over again. Rating: * * * * *" - Telegraph (16 April 2010)

Villagers: Becoming A Jackal
"Despite the huge weight of expectation, Conor O'Brien delivers possibly the finest Irish record you'll hear this year in the shape of Becoming A Jackal. Free from the constraints of the 'too many cooks' nature of The Immediate, O'Brien is allowed to soar. In his own words: 'When I grew bolder/out onto the streets I flew/released from your shackles/I danced with the jackals/and learned a new way to move.' And what an accomplished way that is." - CLUAS (13 May 2010)

Wild Beasts: Two Dancers
". . . with every aspect of the record exceeding expectations, Two Dancers makes a strong case to be named album of the year. Yet if this release has taught us anything, it is to not assume what is and isn't possible in music. Ignore speculation, and simply make time to bask in the seemingly endless supply of luxurious delights contained within this stunning achievement." - music OMH (3 August 2009)

The xx: xx
"Mostly recorded at night (and sounding like it), xx combines its economy and discipline with all-out sultriness. The songs are unapologetically sexually fixated without being confrontational or hysterical. The male-female vocals are plain, quiet, and technically barely adequate, perfect for grounding the potentially lurid lines. The result is sexy like early Portishead and thoughtful like Young Marble Giants—a perfectly formed debut with a genuinely new sound way beyond the sum of identifiable forebears." - The A.V. Club (5 January 2010)

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