Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Mercury Music Prize - My Picks

The prestigious Mercury Music Prize's winner announcement will be broadcast live on BBC4 today, at 9PM (London time), and as a blogger with much time to kill, I decided to do mini-reviews for some of the shortlisted albums, then picked my own personal favorite. If you haven't heard all of the acts nomimated, why not give them a few spins as the result's just literally a couple of hours away...

Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare

I will confess that if not for the sheer purpose of this post, this album will probably be put off from my ears for much longer. Arctic Monkeys is one of those bands that I just don't quite connect to. Their whole debut album is on my iPod, yet I hardly wanted to come back for it, maybe I mostly keep it there for some indie cred. I give them props for being very good at what they're doing, but unfortunately I can't find any occasion to put on their music willingly. Nevertheless, I was suprised to find myself enjoying 'Favourite Worst Nightmare' more than I expected. There's more variety here, more 'Mardy Bum' type of songs, and 'Fluorescent Adolescent' might be slowly growing on me. Based on first listen, I give it a 3.25/5, and I'm thinking of a possible re-evaluation in the near future...One thing you can't deny: their covers are all amazing.

Arctic Monkeys - Flourescent Adolescent
Arctic Monkeys - Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey Live Cover)

Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future (winner)
Another album I've just listened to recently. I quickly wrote them off as a 'one-hit-wonder' since I heard about 4 songs and nothing surpassed the brilliance of 'Golden Skans'. However, the album turned out to be yet another pleasant surprise, a lot poppier than I thought it'd be. 'Gravity's Rainbow' is now my second fave Klaxons song. It's a 3.5/5.

Klaxons - Gravity's Rainbow

New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom

Being a band touted as 'nu-rave', they must think they're oh-so-cool. I do love the metaphor-ridden 'Ice Cream', but found the rest of the album lackluster. It doesn't really make me want to get up and dance, in fact it's a little boring and lifeless. I just don't see myself wanting to give the record another go. 3.25/5, I'm afraid.

New Young Pony Club - Ice Cream
New Young Pony Club - The Bomb

Maps - We Can Create
Not that I'm bragging, but I've heard of Maps (one-man-band of James Chapman) since he wasn't signed to Mute, so it's nice to see how he's gone a long way to this. I heard he actually recorded the album on a 16-track recorder instead of a proper laptop, and single-handedly cut and spliced sounds together. I listened to 'We Can Create' on a cool cool night, after the rain just stopped outside, and it was the perfect set-up to help me dive in its dreamy, icy soundscapes. His music is part shoegaze, part electronica, and part space-pop. This may sound silly, but imagine Sigur Ros meets M83 - and it would sound like this. 'You Don't Know Her Name' is the best track on the album, pure aural bliss, with a slightly creepy but suitable video to go with. A 3.5/5.

Maps - You Don't Know Her Name
Maps - It Will Find You
Maps - Elouise

Bat For Lashes - Fur And Gold
My personal favorite. I just adore Natasha Khan. She's quite avant-garde, yet her music is both experimental and acessible at the same time. There are traces of Kate Bush, Bjork and Cat Power as her influences. 'Fur And Gold' is one of the few albums that I can say I enjoy from start to finish this year, with a stunning chill-inducing closer 'I Saw A Light'. Among my fave tracks are 'Prescilla' (a little tribal), and the wonderful trip-hoppish Shangri-Las-esque 'What's A Girl To Do' (if this is a music video competition, then the video for this song would kick all the other video's asses. Bicycle tricks, animal masks, dark void roads - surreal). But of course, it's all about the music here, and she rightfully earned my 3.75/5.

Bat For Lashes - Prescilla
Bat For Lashes - What's A Girl To Do?
Bat For Lashes - Horse & I

The only artist that I never heard of pre-shortlist is Basquiat Strings. I tracked down a couple of their tracks and found out that they're 'jazz', but not the kind of jazz I would be into, so I didn't bother for more.

The following albums are those I chose not to listen to, not really my stuff:

Dizzee Rascal - Maths and English
Fionn Regan - The End of History
Jamie T - Panic Prevention
The View - Hats Off to the Buskers
The Young Knives - Voices of Animals and Men

Both Arctic Monkeys and Dizzee have won before so I don't think they will make history by winning for the second time this year.
The only album I've worn out is Amy Winehouse's 'Back To Black' (by the way, happy birthday Mark Ronson!). Sure it's outstanding, but not necessarily in need of winning an award.
So in conclusion, I'm rooting for Bat For Lashes. Maps came close at second.

That's a wrap. Enjoy, everyone. I can now go to sleep.

Oh, I almost forgot that the Popjustice Music Prize will be announced today, too. As long as Girls Aloud doesn't win again, then I'm good.

Klaxons won the Mercury Music Prize 2007! Oh well, fair enough, they were my third choice. Nu-rave is now authentic etc.
On the other side, Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' got the PopJustice 20 quid Music Prize. I'm not sure how to feel about this, I was secretly rooting for 'Overpowered' though.

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