Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mercury Prize shortlist - is it that time already?

Apparently. It's become a tradition for me to have a look at the nominations so I'd better keep it up, eh?

The Young Knives: Voices Of Animals And Men
You know these guys - three of them. Large, geeky looking fellows. One of them calls himself The House Of Lords (of course). Quirky, spiky and terribly English, they give the impression of being more interesting than they actually are. Which is not at all.

Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare
Yes I got them wrong, we all know that. Everyone kept going on about their lyrics, so that's what I listened to, and I didn't like them, because they slagged off The Thrills ("You're not from New York city, you're from Rotherham"). But then I started listening to the tunes and I realised that they're actually pretty special. This album is hard to get into, but when they concentrate on those melodies and lighten up a bit (Brianstorm, Flourescent Adolescent, 505) they show why we should believe the hype.

Bat For Lashes: Fur And Gold
I've heard a couple of songs by this Bjork-ish singer-songwriter (if indeed anyone can be Bjork-ish, even Bjork herself) and it's certainly interesting, atmospheric stuff. But I've yet to really click with it...

Basquiat Strings: Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford
The obligatory jazz entry; I'm not going to pretend to know a thing about them.

Amy Winehouse: Back To Black
Think what you like about Mark Ronson butchering The Smiths, he did a damn good job of producing this album. While his work with Candie Payne sounds glossy, fake, and just too much, this sounds earthy and dirty in the very best way. There are some great songs on here (the singles, really), but there's also a hell of a lot of filler.

New Young Pony Club: Fantastic Playroom
Ah nu-rave. Because the panellists are down with the kids, yeah? Glo-sticks, yeah? I've heard a couple of songs from this band, but it all sounds dull and detached to me. They should learn from their lords and masters...

Kalxons: Myths Of The Near Future
...who are Klaxons. I suffered Arctic Syndrome with these guys for a long, long time, but, as with the Monkeys, I relented eventually. My problem was that there was a big difference between what I'd heard about them, and what I'd heard of them. I was told they were all bleeps and whistles, but all I heard was Hard-Fi (Golden Skans). But of course they're better than both of these assessments, and will outlive the nu-rave fad they created because they've actually got some tunes.

Fionn Regan: The End Of History
Yet another new Bob Dylan who's all angst and acoustics. To be honest, I've become so bored of dreary troubadours that I've pretty much actively avoided him, so you'll have to go elsewhere to find out more.

Maps: We Can Create
I've heard plenty about these, and nothing by them. But I'm told by NME that it's "ambient, dreamy pop music akin to Kraftwerk or Spiritualized, with a touch of My Bloody Valentine-style indie." While all of those references are genius, I bet they *really* suck.

Dizzee Rascal: Maths And English
Can the Boy In Da Corner make it a double? I doubt it.

Jamie T: Panic Prevention
Oh dear, The Streets certainly has a lot to answer for, doesn't he? I'm sure that Jamie T's lyrics speak volumes to some people - probably to a lot of people - but they don't even whisper to me, and so all I'm left with is the tunes. And they ain't that great.

The View: Hats Off To The Buskers
I know what I should say about these Glaswegian toddlers; I should say that they're derivative, sub-Libertines ramshakle chancers. And that, of course, is mostly true. And yet something about these guys works. They've got some great songs, have a real feel for authentic, old-fashioned rock and roll, and certainly live the lifestyle. Much better than they have any right to be.

So, who do we expect will win, and who do we want to win? Well, I'd put a few quid on Klaxons, while quietly whistling about these Same Jeans that I've had on for four days now...


ben said...

Hello there. Im a short-term reader, long-term idiot. Just wanted to congratulate you on some wonderful blog you got here. I saw the link name and thought, "hmm, wonder if thats a Ben Folds fan". Pleased to see I wasnt wrong.

Mind you, it was the sly mention of Men Of The World lower down that provided the hotlink to my eternal heart. Only in a less creepy, internet man sort of way. Seriously though, no-one remembers MOTW. Whilst I can bizarrely recall the entire opening theme tune...

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Maps: NOT at all sucky I can assure you, though now I'm unsure whether to feel crappy or not that a track by them - a hypnotic piece called 'Don't Fear' - faced a final chop from certain compilations due to time pressures. Grr. That'll larn me.

Otherwise you seem pretty in key gal, though I'm perhaps more prepared to give Bat for Lashes a bit of a go - don't stand an earthly to win the Merc though...

Stu-n said...

I quite like Maps. And I warmed a lot to Jamie T after I found out that he's a big fan of John Betjamen, and uses samples from his albums. Arctic Monkeys still leave me cold, though.

I know nothing about the jazz guys, but I did get on a plane with the drummer they mention, Seb Roachford, earlier this year. He has the hugest white-man afro I have ever seen. It almost has a graviational pull. And he carries his cymbals as hand-luggage.

Dean said...

Wow, I've heard of like three of those. And one of those just for piss-taking purposes. I am clearly old and completely out of touch with the kids...

Paul Fuzz said...

Young Knives: fully accurate description, Anna. How'd they manage a nomination? Who cares about The Young Knives? "Oh yeah, my fave LP of 2007 was 'Voices Of Animals & Men' by The Young Knives." "By The Young who?" I mean, seriously. Has anyone ever said that?

Arctic Monkeys: Yeah. I like 'em more now than I did during their 'breakthrough' period for one simple reason: they're better now. Better attitude, better performers, more interesting lyrics, just altogether a band I can get on board with in a way I couldn't before. Infact, I pretty much dig 'em now, 'cos the whole surly, down-beat, moody thing has become an Allen Bennet, dark-humoured thing, which is way more entertaining. They had alotta pressure on 'em at the beginning, Alex especially. One of the band left due to that pressure. So it's understandable that they retreated into themselves, put up something of a barrier. It feels like they're having a bit more fun with it now, while managing to retain that all important Northern cynicism. It's a real shame their Glasto set is now only talked about in terms of 'the sound sucked and you couldn't hear 'em properly', cos sat at home watching it on telly with the advantage of perfect sound, it was obvious this was a great performance.

Klaxons: On the other hand, the Klaxons have just sort worn me down through sheer zeitgeist pumelling persistance. The Nu-Rave thing did it's job; they created a scene, became the best thing in that scene, and promtly ditched that scene in order to achieve something much bigger. Plus, they've got some tunes, and their festival shows were pretty great too.

Nu-Young Pony Club: aka The Slightly Rubbish CCS. How'd these jokers manage a Mercury nomination? Is their album even out? If you wanna support a non-more indie hipster band, why not nominate the Long Blondes? I'm not even a Long Blondes fan particularly, but at least they appear to have some sorta genuine, DIY, can't-play-our-instuments-but-our-shoes-are-great cool about 'em. New Young Pony Club: the Nu-Rave Bravery, or 'The Ravery'.

The View: chancers in the best possible way, a buncha drunk kids who've written at least two ace tunes (Wasted Little DJs was a cracker) and are now getting everything they can out of their success. I always sorta considered them second-rate, (I like second-rate), but they're a huge-selling act now. Then again, who isn't? The Enemy, Kaiser Chiefs, The Fratellis, these are all solid Top 10, big-selling acts now. It has become routine for indie rock and roll bands to go Top 10 on their first LP, even No 1 or No 2. It's pretty much expected.

Great round-up as always, Anna. Yeah, could be The Klaxons' year, or I might be tempted to go for Jamie T. Anyone but The Young Knives, basically.