2015’s Mercury Prize ‘Albums of the Year’ shortlist of nominations was revealed earlier today on BBC 6 Music and it features records by C Duncan, Wolf Alice, Roisin Murphy, Jamie xx, ESKA, Ghost Poet, Florence and the Machine, Aphex Twin and former Supergrass man Gaz Coombs amongst its list.
GIITTV favourites including Wolf Alice, Roisin Murphy and C Duncan have made the shortlist for this year’s Mercury Music Prize. Elsewhere, returning acts Gaz Coombes (who was first nominated with Supergrass for their debut over 20 years ago) Florence and the Machine and Ghost Poet also receive nominations, while Aphex Twin also makes the list for his eagerly awaited comeback album Syro. These rub shoulders with nods for long players from emerging acts like ESKA, Slaves and SOAK, in a typically eclectic but mostly safe list of nominees from Mercury, with some notable omissions. Here are some of the albums we would have chosen.
Here is the full list of nominees in order of their odds at this early stage alongside our brief thoughts on each release.
Mercury Music Prize 2015
7/2 Jamie xx (In Colour)
Jamie xx won the award in 2010 with the band The xx and is nominated again with solo effort ‘In Colour’. “Smith is one of the most in-demand producers and remixers at the moment. His deft touch and subtle flourishes call to mind a bygone age in dance music when you were limited by technology and had to work around that to create something remarkable. Compared to the stark monochrome world of The xx, this album lives up to its name.”
4/1 Wolf Alice (My Love Is Cool)
North London alt-rock band Wolf Alice, long-tipped for a Mercury nod, make the list with their debut record, ‘My Love Is Cool’. “… blissfully, orbiting with patience and precision, like a flame-fuelled spacecraft floating above Earth. Ellie Rowsell has already said that her band are using their instruments in different ways – specifically guitars masquerading as synths – and that is one of many examples of this bravery. The Emily-Haines-accent side to Rowsell’s voice (notably much of Wolf Alice sounds like Metric) battles with its whispery yet confrontational alter ego that belittles her ponderings. It’s in the vein of a pseudo-performance art piece: sounding at once mentally unstable yet charming.”
6/1 Ghostpoet (Shedding Skin)
Ghostpoet made the 2011 list with critically acclaimed debut album ‘Peanut Butter Blues And Melancholy Jam’ but was pipped to the post that year by PJ Harvey’s ‘Let England Shake’.
8/1 ESKA (Eska)
Zimbabwe-born London psychedelic soul singer ESKA has been called the UK music scene’s best kept secret. Her delightful blend of jazz, spiritual homespun soul and down-tuned folk gives a platform for her extraordinary voice.
12/1 Aphex Twin (Syro)
“This record has been a long time coming, to say the least. Apart from a series of 12″ singles nearly 10 years ago, the last album from Richard D. James was 2001′s ‘Drukqs’. James has always worked in so many fields of dance. He’s more than dipped his toe into ambient, but also experimented with acid house, techno and drum ‘n’ bass. What makes ‘Syro’ such an exciting listen is the way that he takes on board what appears to be almost 40 years of dance, often working in a pretty leftfield milieu – yet at the same time, for the most part, a balanced mix of unsettling and listenable. Hell, I’m sure there’s even a hint of disco at times.”
12/1 Gaz Coombes (Matador)
Supergrass man Gaz Coombes gets a nod for his more downtempo solo album ‘Matador’ 20 years on from his band’s nomination for their debut album. “‘Matador’ is the most vital and consistent Coombes record has delivered in at least a decade. Aside from a few contributions from drummer Loz Colbert and keyboardist brother Charlie Coombes, all the instruments on the album were played by Gaz himself, and it looks like this new independence and increased creative control has paid off.”
12/1 Slaves (Are You Satisfied?)
“Two-piece bands are popping up everywhere at the moment, the likes of The Black Keys and Royal Blood seemingly making the format into a genre in its own right. Fortunately for the Kent-formed, London-based Slaves they’re shattering any preconceptions of how a duo should sound, sharing more in common with Manchester’s Brown Brogues than either of the aforementioned. Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent are managing to make a noise that would be impressive for even a full band. An acerbic vocal and blistering punk energy making for some of the snottiest garage rock around; the anarchic evisceration making it difficult to look away from.”
14/1 C Duncan (Architect)
C Duncan gets a thoroughly deserved nod for his Fatcat released album ‘Architect’, Christopher wrote and recorded his album alone in his Glasgow flat on a bedroom studio setup. “The album’s delicate folk-pop is both complex, intricate and breathtakingly light. It’s a sprawling, somewhat wintery beauty with a hint of sadness at its core.”
14/1 Roisin Murphy (Hairless Toys)
Irish singer-songwriter Roisin Murphy, of Moloko fame, is on the list for the first time with her third solo album ‘Hairless Toys’. “Murphy’s voice is recognizable but toned down and calmer in its patient delivery. It whispers like Charlotte Gainsbourg, is serious, intellectual and deeply mature like Marianne Faithful and is spoken in the narrative structure of her early Moloko days. The epic length of the tracks is beneficial in creating progressive compositions.”
14/1 Florence + The Machine (How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful)
Florence Welch is nominated for a second time with ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’. She was favourite for the win in 2009, but previous unknown Speech Debelle nabbed the award. “Gazing up at the sky one day in Los Angeles during a musically sabbatical, yet melancholic time in her life, Florence Welch spontaneously invented her own take on the Oscar Wilde adage of hope: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Based on the immediate and enlightening celestial observation, she called the band’s third album ‘How Big How Blue How Beautiful’, which fittingly encapsulates personal epiphanies discovered during her months of singlehood and the process of quarter-life realisations.”
16/1 SOAK (Before We Forgot How To Dream)
The debut album by Irish singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, better known as SOAK. For the last three years, she has released a slew of songs that showcase her ability not to just tell a good story, but through a few simple elements, create songs that not only move but challenge.
“To get to the bottom of Monds-Watson’s bewitching album you first have to deconstruct her tales of modern life. On the surface it’s standard stuff. It’s just vocals and a guitar right? Dig a little deeper and you find percussion and effect pedals. Dig a little deeper still and you realise that you can’t put your finger on what makes the combination of these instruments so captivating. Then it hits you. It’s Monds-Watson herself.”
20/1 Benjamin Clementine (At Least For Now)
Benjamin Clementine has packed a lot into his 26 years: heartbreak, homelessness, reinvention, before reaching cult status in Paris and returning home in unlikely circumstances. Raised in a strict religious household in Edmonton, Benjamin started to teach himself the keyboard aged 11, stumbling upon classical rather than contemporary pop; a sparse piano solo by Erik Satie in particular transformed the way he played. At 16 years old, in a rare moment of permitted TV watching, he caught New York avant-gardists Antony and the Johnsons performing the disarmingly naked ‘Hope There’s Someone’ on the BBC. “I was confused, scared…it was another world,” says Clementine. “When it finished, I went back upstairs to my piano and started playing chords.”
The Awards Show is to be held in the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in London on Friday 20 November and will be hosted by Lauren Laverne. Broadcast live on BBC Four and BBC Radio 6 Music, the evening will culminate in the announcement of the overall winner of the 2015 Mercury Prize in association with BBC Music. 6 Music will reflect the awards during the evening, crossing live for the big announcement.
See who we at GIITTV thought should have been nominated for the Prize HERE