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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beck & Cauthen

New Music You Need to Hear
Beautiful Stuff out of Austin, TX!





I have the luxury, upon discovery of any twist or turn in the road, to share something new and exciting - even if I don't know much about the act or their background. Such is the case today. This is great, great fare - and a relative mystery to me...

Paul Cauthen's granddad, a preacher, taught him to sing and play guitar while Dave Beck earned an upright 1950 Kay bass from his father, a world-traveling Texas musician. The two met when each brought their guitars and writing notebooks to a park in San Marcos, TX, walking to an island by a waterfall, and quickly discovered that their voices fit into incredible natural harmonies. According to the duo's facebook and twitter pages, they now work and reside in Austin.

If the title track is representational of what we can expect, we should all be very excited... Certainly One to Watch!

Beck & Cauthen
Web / Fb / My / Tw


David Beck and Paul Cauthen


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Are Augustines - Rise Ye Sunken Ships

Best of 2011 Album Selection
Someone You Should Know


In the end, only the strong survive. I could probably conjure up some personal story proving that to be true, or select some tidbit from the news but none of that is required, as today's subject band - We Are Augustines - can prove that point far more clearly.

In 2007, as the record industry was tanking and still blaming fan theft for its excesses, a frenetic rock four piece known as Pela ("pay-la") were proving to be a better choice than some of the indie wanderings, R&B and Pop being played on the radio dial. The blogs across the nation were catching on. A series of powerful, soldout shows in venues from coast-to-coast and an emerging rabid fan base had many of us convinced that Pela was going to be the next big act in America.

We Are Augustines: Billy McCarthy



And for all practicality (for those going to shows, buying records and talking about shows) they really were the best. No one was like Pela. The distinctive voice and enthusiastic smile of singer Billy McCarthy was infectious. His "old heart" seemed to allow him to pull songs from the wind - things he couldn't hope to grasp but did each night. Cut from the same blue-collar cloth spiritually as Delta Spirit, though less focused on Americana, Pela were poised to wear the crown.

We Are Augustines: Eric Sanderson



And then a series of setbacks... The worst of these manifested on the third day of their biggest tour in 2008. (Boston "was truly amazing," NY "resulted in rave reviews", and then there was Chicago.) At Schubas in Chi-town, the band were finishing the scalding set, fans were howling, when Billy climbed an amp to make a last, dramatic jump as the last drum and cymbal beat struck. The lights flickered as the leap was made and his hand came down on top of a broken shot glass on the edge of the stage. A tendon in Billy's guitar hand was cut. The crowd at Schubas were still cheering (unaware of any injury - let alone the severity) as Billy was rushed to the hospital. His hand stitched up, the tour ended right there in Chicago.

We Are Augustines: Rob Allen



In The Aftermath, McCarthy and Pela's Eric Sanderson have opted to soldier on together creatively - and after three years of work, they have something truly amazing to share with the world. Finally settling on the name We are Augustines, the pair flew to Canada to work with renowned indie rock producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene). The results are astounding.





Rise Ye Sunken Ships is the follow-up album that Pela never made. The songs are majestic, rising and still somehow earthy. As with Pela there is strength in each piece. The duo added drummer Rob Allen to round out the trio with great results. The passion and conviction of the band are unwavering. If you only buy ten records this year - this should be one of them. Welcome back Gentlemen.




ARTIST LINKS
weareaugustines.com
facebook.com/weareaugustines
myspace.com/weareaugustines
twitter.com/weareaugustines

10 SEP 2011 Seattle, WA Neptune
12 SEP 2011 San Francisco, CA Slim's
13 SEP 2011 Los Angeles, CA Bootleg Theatre
17 SEP 2011 Dallas, TX Prophet Bar
18 SEP 2011 Austin, TX Austin City Limits
20 SEP 2011 Nashville, TN The Basement
22 SEP 2011 Chicago, IL Subterranean
25 SEP 2011 Washington, DC Red Palace
27 SEP 2011 Allston, MA Great Scott
28 SEP 2011 Philadelphia, PA MilkBoy Philly
30 SEP 2011 Toronto, CAN Wrongbar




Monday, August 29, 2011

WU LYF

New Music out of the UK
By Nick Parker




WU LYF - Such a Sad Puppy Dog
photographer: UNK, source: From Go To Whoa





Like pretty much any rebellious young band, WU LYF have been quoted as saying that they don't think they owe anything to their purported roots. They tell us that the historic Manchester (UK) music scene, typified by bands like the Stone Roses and Joy Division, is nothing to them. Instead, in one interview at least, they argued that they were far more influenced by other classic, but this time US sounds: the output of SST in the 80s, and Black Flag for example.

I often find this kind of maneuver a bit predictable and boring. By definition R&R should be in perpetual revolution, so another young band rejecting what came before them is little more than a cliché. In most cases I find this protestation hardly ever delivers either: bands are so keen to break new ground that they end up throwing the musical baby out with the bathwater, or they aren’t nearly as radical as they claim, and just wish they were.

WU LYF though, actually manage to go further than their own claims. They don’t sound much like the manc. bands that came before them, and yet they don't sound much like SST stuff either. In fact, it's a bit of push to find a musical precursor to WU LYF.





Instead, their sound is deeply embedded in a quite odd recording environment – an empty church in the Ancoats area of the city. The space stamps the whole record with a character of reverb which goes far beyond the kind of subtle coloring that engineers normally add, in the mix. Everything is overrun with this disorienting wash of music played in such a cavernous room. Mixed into these layers of reverb is a growling indistinct vocals from singer Ellery Roberts, so you've got something airy and yet still driving, which doesn't sound like much else I've come across.

In the end WU LYF manage to sound not only fresh and new, but also emotional charged and beautiful. It's quite an achievement. The debate about where to position WU LYF misses the real point then: they have made an album that you will keep coming back to, so you can marvel at the different musical shapes they have been able to concoct.

NEW: Go Tell Fire to the Mountain


WU LYF - Dirt


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trampled By Turtles

Newport Folk 2011



One of the most winning moments of Newport Folk 52 came on the Quad stage as Duluth's Trampled By Turtles dove headlong into a bluegrass cover of "Where is My Mind?" by the Pixies. The fiddle and banjo filled in the blanks where Kim Deal's vocals would normally be. I looked down to realize I was wearing my green Pixies shirt. (Unbelievable!) Everybody was singing along to this one - everyone was happy as hell. We all had found a new favorite act, hammered home by this key moment in Fort Adams' musical history!






RSL STREAMING PHOTO ALBUM



Trampled By Turtles
Web / Fb / Tw



FALL 2011 Tour
10/06/11 – Clyde Iron Works – Duluth, MN *
10/08/11 – Newhall Auditorium - Faribault, MN **
10/15+16 – Harvest Music Festival – Ozark, AR
10/17/11 – Hi-Tone Cafe – Memphis, TN ***
10/18/11 – Exit/In - Nashville, TN ***
10/19/11 – The Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC ***
10/20/11 – Cat’s Cradle - Carrboro, NC ***
10/21/11 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA ***
10/22/11 – Headliner’s Music Hall – Louisville, KY ***
10/27/11 – Majestic Theatre – Madison, WI ***
10/28/11 – Turner Hall – Milwaukee, WI ***
11/08/11 – Blind Pig – Ann Arbor, MI ****
11/09/11 – Call the Office – London, ON ****
11/10/11 – Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, ON ****
11/11/11 – Mavericks - Ottawa, ON ****
11/12/11 – Higher Ground – Burlington, VT ****
11/13/11 – Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME ****
11/15/11 – Pearl Street – Northampton, MA ****, +
11/16/11 – Paradise Rock Club – Boston, MA ****
11/17/11 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY ****
11/18/11 – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC ****
11/19/11 – Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA ****
11/20/11 – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH ****
11/26/11 – Wicked Moose – Rochester, MN

*Charlie Parr opens, benefit for Duluth Public Schools Music Program
**Molly Maher and her Disbelievers opens
***These United States opens
****Johnny Corndawg opens

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Carolina Chocolate Drops at Newport Folk

Newport Folk 2011
Photos by Emma Dessau




- NEWPORT FOLK SET LIST -
Georgia Buck
Short Life of Trouble
Didlbux
Baby Ain't Sweet
Dom
No Man's Mama
Briggs'
Run Mountain
I Truly Understand
Old Cat Died
Hit 'Em Up Style
Sourwood

DOWNLOAD this set at NPR

RSL STREAMING PHOTO ALBUM



The Carolina Chocolate Drops
Web / Fb / My

Tegan and Sara at Newport Folk 2011

from Newport Folk 52
Photos by Chris March




Tegan and Sara - The Con
(Album Version - humble Editor.)

- SET LIST -
Call It Off
BIYH
Where Does the Good Go
Walking with a Ghost
The Con
19
Sentimental Time
Alligator
The Cure
Living Room
Dark Come Soon
Feel It in My Bones

DOWNLOAD at NPR

RSL STREAMING PHOTO ALBUM


Tegan and Sara
Web / Fb / My / Tw





Friday, August 26, 2011

Johnny Depp - NEW: The Rum Diary

New Movie Trailers of Note:
The Mind of Hunter S. Thompson...



Depp goes Gonzo - in Theaters Oct. 28th!





TRAILER RELEASED TODAY - Based on the debut novel by Hunter S. Thompson, "The Rum Diary" tells the increasingly unhinged story of itinerant journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp). Tiring of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, Kemp travels to the pristine island of Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper, The San Juan Star, run by downtrodden editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). Adopting the rum-soaked life of the island, Paul soon becomes obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard), the wildly attractive Connecticut-born fiancée of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). Sanderson, a businessman involved in shady property development deals, is one of a growing number of American entrepreneurs who are determined to convert Puerto Rico into a capitalist paradise in service of the wealthy. When Kemp is recruited by Sanderson to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, the journalist is presented with a choice: to use his words for the corrupt businessmen's financial benefit, or use them to take the bastards down.

Filming for the movie began in Puerto Rico in March 2009. It is currently set to be released on October 28, 2011.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Machine Gun Preacher

New Trailers of Note:
An Action Film w/ Heart


Based on a True Story:



Gerald Butler (300) plays Sam Childers, a former Hell's Angel biker who leaves the gang and becomes transformed by religion and is on search of his life's mission. He finds that personal crusade in Africa - embarking to war-torn Sudan where he finds his calling in the helpless orphans of war whose own culture has cast aside. Based on a true story, the film is directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball & The Kite Runner).

And while an action story, the movie is about forgiveness, passion and purpose... it's a story that's really bigger than life.




In theaters on November 18th.

Official / IMDB / Rotten Tomatoes


Nate Leavitt - Inference

New Music This Week
ARTIST OF THE DAY






THE BOSTON SCENE - Almost a year in the making "Inference" (pay what you want!) is a collection of beautiful, ghostlike folk songs along the same lines as Gram Parson and Ryan Adams from Boston music player Nate Leavitt (Blizzard of 78, Parlour Bells). Over the course of the last four years, Leavitt has had a hand in numerous live and recorded projects, expressing his creativity and flexing his considerable musical muscle.

Expect tonight's EP release show at the Rosebud in Davis Square to be an all-star event - a virtual who's who - of the Boston scene, as many of the same musicians Leavitt has played with, produced or otherwise supported in some way; to arrive to pay their respects and to sit-in for a song or two.



Leavitt with Blizzard of '78 at the 2011 Rumble


Appearing on the Bill tonight: Tad McKitterick and Kate Murdoch of Sidewalk Driver, Dan Nicklin and Ryan Peters of OldJack, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to see more familiar faces in the crowd, eager to jump on stage. Leavitt is a gifted soul who deserves this attention and more. Regardless of the name he plays under, most everything he touches turns to gold. Highly Recommended.


Nate Leavitt
Album / Web / Fb / Rn / Tw



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside

BRIGHTEST NEW STARS
Someone You Should Know




Sallie Ford - I Swear
image: Sallie Ford at Newport Folk
photo by Mark Jenko

One of the Most Heartwarming Moments of Folk - Seeing the power go out briefly on the Quad Stage didn't do a thing to deter the wonderful Sallie Ford. Without knowing how long the sound would be down, she urged her band to play louder and she leaned forward into an enthralled crowd for an acoustic cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" - it was incredible. Ford landed one of the first standing ovation of the festival and the hearts of new fans.





Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
Web / Twitter / Facebook / Partisan


Black Taxi at The Middle East

Photographic Evidence
by Chris March

We Take You There...
The Middle East
Cambridge, MA - 8.4.11






RSL Streaming Photo Album



LIVE DATES
8/27 NYC - Rockwood Stage 2
9/10 Hastings on Hudson
9/17 Montauk, NY – Memory Motel
10/1 NYC - Mercury Lounge
- Single Release Party -




Black Taxi
Web / Facebook / Twitter





Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Johanna And The Dusty Floor

NEW MUSIC VIDEO
red hot, right now!


currently on the road...



Cloudbusting (Kate Bush cover)

* mesmerizing! - Ryan


ARTIST PROFILE: Born in Australia and criss-crossing the globe before ultimately settling down in New York City, Johanna Cranitch spent the last few years writing elegant pop songs that are perfectly paired with her sunny vocals. Studying jazz at the Australian Institute of Music, Johanna’s wide-ranging vocals and lush piano arrangements drift effortlessly atop scenes dealing with distress, demise, and passionate lust. And listening to new album Northern Lights, it’s easy to hear how Johanna has already earned comparisons Kate Bush and St. Vincent.

Johanna and The Dusty Floor Summer Tour:
7/12: Paris, France @ Le Baron
8/2: Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory *
8/4: Philadelphia, PA @ Club House *
8/5: Philadelphia, PA @ The Fire *
8/6: Washington, DC @ Bella Café *
8/11: New Orleans, LA @ The AllWays Theater *
8/17: Austin, TX @ Hole In The Wall *
8/24: San Diego, CA @ Tin Can *
8/25: Los Angeles, CA @ The Mint *
8/27: San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar *
8/28: Berkeley, CA @ Rasputin Music *
10/14: Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo *
*w/Bird Call

Johanna and the Dusty Floor
Web / Fb / My




Joanna Cranitch



Monday, August 22, 2011

We Are So Hot

The Most Popular Posts!
Real Hot the Last 6 Weeks




Parliament - Red Hot Mama
press play + do some browsing


#1 in NEWS & CULTURE:
The Virus that Changed the World

#2 in MUSIC and BEST OF LISTS:
The Best Albums of 2009

#3 in VIRAL VIDEO:
Madeon Does It All.


#5 in VIRAL VIDEO:
A Beat Box History of Hip Hop

#6 in TELEVISION:
The Walking Dead Returns

#7 in PHOTOGRAPHY and MUSIC FESTIVALS:
Delta Spirit at Newport Folk

#8 in PHOTOGRAPHY and MUSIC FESTIVALS:
Mountain Man at Newport Folk

#9 in MUSIC and LOCAL SCENE:
Kingsley Flood to play with Grace Potter





Bear Lake

August 2011
Album of the Month
This One You Need to Own


A BEST OF 2011 SELECTION


Bear Lake - It's Over


THE DETROIT SUBURBS, MICHIGAN - Only once or twice a year do I hear a new album that grabs me like the one from today's spotlight band. If You Were Me from Bear Lake is, out of the box, absolutely one of the best new records of 2011. Family and personal dynamics, love & loss, death and addiction are all discussed here. There are few small ideas on what may come off as a spectacular pop album - so digest how you will. Just know that beneath the surface of these rolling waves there is real depth. How ironic that the first song on the album is, "It's Over" ? A new Beginning maybe - there's so much here to like!




Bear Lake is Matt Hines, Jon Rice, Keith May, Brian Kwasnik, Erik Pederson and Stephen Stetson - a lot who have been playing together now since Middle School - and it shows mostly in the harmonies and in their timing on this album's twelve songs. The keyboards (Kwasnik) and percussion (Stetson & Pederson) give Bear Lake's songs shape and help power them through the waveforms created by the vocals and guitars (Hines, Rice, May) in this record. I've listened to this one straight through several times in the last week. All in all, this is probably one of the top new bands in the country in 2011. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see this band go very, very far...


Bear Lake
Web / Fb / My / Tw

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The New Ghost Rider Trailer!

SPECIAL EFFECTS SPOTLIGHT
NEW THIS WEEK!

a more grim, brutal "hero"







Today's JP Music Festival




FREE CELEBRATION
- Jamaica Plain (an area of the city where I lived about a year shortly after moving to Boston) has no shortage of talented and diverse musicians, composers, and performers. Today, they will have a chance to come together for one incredible day of music. They will be able to listen to each other perform and celebrate the incredible musical nexus that is Jamaica Plain. The festival will feature all genres, all ethnicities, all persuasions, all ages... Here are the details:


Main Stage
Opening Ceremony 1:00
The Model Planes 1:25
Sweatshop 1:50
Brief Awakening 2:20
The Nickel & Dime Band W/ Rick Berlin 2:50
Gordon Gano of The Violent Femmes
+ Mercy Seat W/ The Nickel & Dime Band 3:10
The Old Edison 3:45
Needy Visions 4:15
Tallahassee 4:50
So Sol 5:25
The Delta Swingers 6
The Angelic Slugs 6:25
Closing Ceremony 6.55

Second Stage
Shepardess 1:05
Deta Galloway 1:20
Heather Foxwell & Friends 1:40
The Chris North Dream Quartet 2:05
Lenny Lashley 2:35
James Merenda & Ticklejuice 3:30
Molly & Tess Pope 4
Malicious Intent 4:05
Timinandi 4:35
Mr Sister 5:10
Coyote Kolb 5:40

JP MUSIC FESTIVAL
Directions / Web / Twitter


Friday, August 19, 2011

Brown Shoe

New Music this Week!
Someone You Should Know


ONE TO WATCH

Aaron Baggaley, Ryan Baggaley, Chandler Clemons, Bryson Baggaley
not pictured: newest member (+ fourth brother) Landon Baggaley

DATELINE: FOLSOM, CA - It's been more than two years since I've written about Northern California indie rockers Brown Shoe but with a new album and a debut single offered (read on good visitors...) makes this a great time to visit with old friends. The band have changed drummers since last we met and have since added another family member and by my count that puts four brothers [Bryson Baggaley (bass), Ryan Baggaley (lead vocals, guitar), Aaron Baggaley (guitar, keys), Landon Baggaley (drums] and one longtime friend; Chandler Clemons (keys, guitar) in the band.

I fell for the band's big, sweeping sound on their third album, Jackalope (2008), a record had Brown Shoe charting on CMJ, accumulating TV placements, and traversing North America with over 100 dates. Ryan Baggaley's big time vocals are back with their brand new album, The Gift Horse - out this fall. It's a record that seems destined to take the band to even bigger heights. To be released this Fall, the album is filled with a new sense of depth and gravity, possibly resulting from a lengthy recording process that was impeded / made serious by Aaron's extended hospital stay due to a rare blood infection. The Gift Horse is Brown Shoe's most cohesive album to date. The new single Colt Rider.


Brown Shoe - Colt Rider
THE BRAND NEW SONG
Album Out OCTOBER 18

Brown Shoe - The War
OLD HOTNESS





Brown Shoe
Web / My / Fb / Tw


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Handsome Furs: their Only Set at NxNE

Photographic Evidence
The Garrison in Toronto
for NxNE - 06/18/11

Play Boston tonight!
Brighton Music Hall - 08/17/11
appearing w/ Earthquake Party




Handsome Furs - Repatriated
from new LP, Sound Kapital



My Favorite Bands - It's no secret to our writing and photography staff that I am a Wolf Parade fanatic. And with the dissolution of Wolf Parade, all my fanboy tendencies have shifted fully over to Dan Boeckner and wife Alexei Perry's exceptional Handsome Furs project (which I was actually following from the very beginning.) Make no mistake, this is far more than a simple husband & wife music project, and should not be mistaken for a mere "side project" as the duo are doing some truly exceptional things in music right now...








Handsome Furs have reinvented the way their music is made to keep things small, allowing them to spend their life together. (The last Wolf Parade tour saw Alexei - a teacher, stationed in Asia while Dan was touring the globe with the band. It was a long time to be away from one another.) Once reunited, the pair crafted Sound Kapital - their third full-length record -- a record written on keyboards to account for where the duo now find themselves, allowing them to write together and shift the flow of today's indie rock. This is winning stuff from perhaps the most fiery duo in contemporary music.





Handsome Furs
Web / My / Fb / Tw




Handsome Furs - What About Us
from new LP, Sound Kapital


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brown Bird won over hearts at Newport Folk

Newport Folk 2011
Photos by Emma Dessau



NEW ENGLAND POWERHOUSE - The powerful indie Americana duo, Rhode-Island-based Brown Bird, alternated between foot stomping back porch fiddling and haunting Eastern European gypsy caravan. David Lamb’s guitar & banjo picking and bluesy singing wove beautifully in with Morganeve Swain’s fiddle, upright bass and darkly sensuous backing vocals. Lyrically dramatic, they tell tales of ghosts and angels; soul struggles and salvation. They performed mostly songs from their upcoming October release Salt for Salt.

Swain’s brother Spencer came up to join them for the instrumental “Shiloh,” adding stark, eerie violin lines that at times resembled bird cries, to a richly layered musical odyssey that sounded like it was coming from a large ensemble and not just three people. Their hour-long set covered a wide musical range and makes one anxious to hear their new album in its entirety. In the spirit of Newport Folk Festival and to honor those before them, they closed with an exuberant, rollicking rendition of Johnny Cash’s “I’m Going to Jackson,” which was of course a huge audience favorite and had everyone cheering. - JULIE STOLLER


RSL STREAMING PHOTO ALBUM



DID YOU SEE THE BROWN BIRD SET?? - One of the big, big winners of Newport Folk 52. Everywhere I went, practically everyone I was talking to mentioned this set. By lyric and now by reputation - this may have been the first new step for Brown Bird's promising tomorrow. Check out the NPR set download, you will not regret it. - RYAN SPAULDING


- NEWPORT FOLK SET LIST -
Ebb & Flow
Fingers to Bone
Thunder and Lightning
Blood and Angels
Come My Way
Nothing Left
Shiloh
Bilgewater
Ragged Old Town
By the Reins
Bottom of the Bottle
Cast No Shadow
I’m Going To Jackson

DOWNLOAD this set at NPR

Brown Bird
Web / Fb / My / Tw



Monday, August 15, 2011

Cibo Matto at the Brighton Music Hall

Photographic Evidence
by Mark Jenko

We Take You There...
Brighton Music Hall
Boston, MA - 7.20.11


A RETURN TO FORM - Japanese natives Miho Hatori and Yuka C. Honda are back, and in a very big way. With promises of a comeback album in early 2012, the duo, known as Cibo Matto, played a string of North American dates in July - ending the run right here in Boston. Photographer Mark Jenko, himself a Cibo Matto fan, was selected to cover the event at the Brighton Music Hall - these are his images!

RSL Streaming Photo Album



Cibo Matto
Web / Facebook / Myspace





Sunday, August 14, 2011

This Is What They Call "A Tease"








12 Names - The 2011 Mercury Music Prize Shortlist

Taking Stock of the Field:
UK Acts You Should Know

Tinie Tempah


Tinie Tempah - Baby


NICK PARKER reporting - August brings with it the annual Mercury Music Prize Shortlist. Like the other summer musical rituals – wandering around looking for the stage at Glastonbury festival, in the pouring rain, and listening to the Reading festival headliners (in the pouring rain) – when this happens I generally come over all sentimental about the UK scene, and can't help but feel some distant pride at the quality and quantity of great music that a country the size of one smallish US state can produce.


Adele





Luckily for you though, I won't be boring us both with that tired old ex-pat's story. Far more interesting is the question of the state of the award itself. Nineteen years after its conception, is it still a yardstick the British music scene in general? Given it's varying shortlist length, and total lack of genre restrictions to limit the field to something a little more manageable, how on earth can the Mercury make a truly discerning decision about a 'British album of the year'?


James Blake




King Creosote & Jon Hopkins


King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Bubble


This year's list is 12 albums long, and multi-genre as always. I can't claim to know every artist on the list exhaustively, but it's easy to see a few trends in the choices. For example, there are some very predictable old standby's, like Elbow ("Build A Rocket Boys!") and PJ Harvey (both of whom have won the award before) and some new music by artists on a similarly polished track (like King Creosote & Jon Hopkins and jazz pianist Gwilym Simcock).

Elbow



Gwilyn Simcock




While the Mercury judges are keen to assert the diversity of the British music scene, these groups of well-orchestrated albums betray the professional level that they are most attracted too. Lo-Fi punk outfits seem to be an outside bet.


Metronomy




PJ Harvey's (admittedly astonishing) new album "Let England Shake" looks like it could be the favorite, though another thing the judges have proven over the years is their willingness to throw in a winner completely from left field (Speech Debelle in 2009 anyone?). Remarkably this is also Harvey's forth nomination for the award, and so she represents perhaps the best guide then to what Mercury, increasingly, likes in music. While rough and tumble bands like Elastica and Primal Scream were serious contenders and winners in the first ten years of the Mercury, just like Harvey's first nomination for "Rid of Me" in '93, the judges seem to be leaning towards more 'skillful,' practiced albums and bands now.

PJ Harvey




This seems to be the reason Polly Jean has done so well out of Mercury. For better or worse, the increasingly mature/ professional/ aging/ staid judging has grown older with her. That's not to say Harvey isn't a towering force in British music, or the "Let England Shake" wouldn't be a worthy recipient of the Mercury in itself.


Ghostpoet






Still, it would be refreshing to see some enfant terrible artist, band or even movement come along, and sweep away all this subtle and clever music in one tumultuous, messy blast. The Mercury is a good bet to classify the best of British music, but it's also a too-tidy arrangement that needs a shake up if it is to really keep its head above water.

Everything Everything




The Mercury Music Prize
Official / Facebook / Twitter / Wiki