Last week it was announced the prestigious Mercury Prize award would be returning to the BBC in close collaboration with both 6music and Radio 4. Record labels are now free to submit potential candidates to the highly sought after shortlist so we look ahead to October 16 and the announcement with an educated prediction of this year’s nominees including some of the most exciting British and Irish releases of the year so far.
1. Marika Hackman – ‘We Slept At Last’
The bitter and poetic debut release from Hampshire multi-instrumentalist Marika Hackman made good on the promise of early releases such as ‘Bath Is Black’. ‘We Slept At Last’ is a grand, bewitching collection of love lorn and whimsy delicately woven together by a poetic lyrical voice and an off centre approach to writing songs about heartbreak.
2. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘The Race For Space’
Concept albums are synonymously difficult to create although the London duo Public Service Broadcasting appear to buck this trend in an almighty way. This band is successfully demonstrating art and music may consistently exist side by side and the overall outcome is simply so momentous it would seem discrediting to describe it as a mere album.
3. Wolf Alice – ‘My Love is Cool’
Many people will argue that the post-grunge quartet are the token nomination for 2015 riding on both the chart success of their debut album and the early support and promotion from major British publications. Royal Blood faced similar stigma last year and with all the hype and hatred, most become too blinded by confused rage to notice that Wolf Alice are an incredibly hard working and authentic rock band with a very strong debut that is more than worthy of a shortlist spot.
4. Laura Marling – ‘Short Movie’
If the critics had not criminally passed over Marling’s third LP ‘A Creature I Don’t Know’ the young songwriter would be considering a 100% nomination record. ‘Short Movie’ is assured to be her fourth nod and with the visceral honesty of ‘False Hope’ pairing up against the cinematic folklore of ‘Warrior’ and climaxing with a flourish song for the ages ‘Worship Me’. This could be the year Laura finally takes home a trophy that has rightly been hers twice already.
5. The Maccabees – ‘Marks To Prove It’
Although The Maccabees fourth anticipated album is not released until the end of the month, due to the strength of the title track and latest single ‘Something Like Happiness’ I am making an educated prediction that the LP will be of a similar high standard and will follow its predecessor and pick up a nomination. The London quintet still remain rather underrated in the UK so a win at the Mercurys could see the country take them serious as future festival headliners.
6. Hot Chip – ‘Why Make Sense?’
Alternative dance outfit Hot Chip have been absent from the Mercury Prize nomination list since 2006 and this could be considered criminal in itself as during that time they have released the immaculate ‘One Life Stand’. More criminal still would be the dismissal of ‘Why Make Sense?’, an album that attempts to identify itself as something individual altogether on a creative spectrum. The synth-pop masters recreate their fool proof formula however this time there is an added ingredient that really makes this record stand apart from the rest of the discography.
7. Belle & Sebastian – ‘Girls In Peacetime Only Want to Dance’
The Indie icons are more deserved than most after topping their previous lofty personal highs with their ninth studio album. A collection of well designed tracks all oozing in that indescribable charm that is now synonymous with the alternative outfit. The Scots are another band highly underrated, taking to The Other Stage at Glastonbury this year preceding relative newcomer Jamie T. This band deserves a nomination for the ice cool ‘Party Line’ if nothing else.
8. Florence + the Machine – ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’
Many people still regale you with tales of the utter travesty and crime that occurred to Florence Welch and her mighty machine in 2009 when the prize was snatched from ‘Lungs’ by spoken word artist Speech Debelle. Most would now argue this minor setback hardly affected the global domination of this alternative rock outfit. They are deserved to sit on the Mercury prize list once more on the merits of the triumphant and terrific ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’.
9. Lonelady – ‘Hinterland’
Julie Ann Campbell appeared in 2010 with a deliciously understated approach to the genre of post-punk. The followup ‘Hinterland’ took half a decade to complete although there is very much a sentiment of quality over quantity echoed here as it is one of the most cohesive and creative albums released for years. The utterly effortless ‘Groove It Out’ transports you to gloomy Parisian basement clubs whilst ‘Hinterland’ is hypnotic and relentless. If this does not make the list then a grievous oversight has been made.
10. Foals – ‘What Went Down’
Another pre-prediction for the Oxford critics choice nominees, very little is currently known about the follow-up to previously nominated ‘Holy Fire’ although Yannis has stated the LP will be the band’s most visceral and contrasting release so far. The title track is a frenetic ball of aggression with an emphasis on progressive sounds and riffs and if the album follows suit ‘What Went Down’ could see Foals emerge as the British success story of the decade with a Mercury Prize deservedly added to their collection.
11. Drenge – ‘Undertow’
Many were in agreement that Sheffield brother duo Drenge were unfairly dismissed from the 2013 nominees lists after showcasing integral forwardness within their eponymous debut. The band did not seem to allow the dismissal to affect their work process as they returned earlier this year with a follow-up of equally impressive stature laced with grumbling guitar riffs and slacker-rock anthem choruses. They were considered a shining break out of Glastonbury as tents packed out to here ‘Running Wild’ in its innate magnitude so it would seem fairly unjust for ‘Undertow’ to be dismissed along with its predecessor.
12. Rhodes – ‘Wishes’
Alt-folk singer/songwriter David Rhodes releases his debut album ‘Wishes’ in September and following from the critical acclaim of the EPs and singles, it looks set to be a delicate collection of emotive tracks worthy of a late addition to the Mercury shortlist. Following in formula of previous winners and nominees including The xx and Bat For Lashes, Rhodes weaves sonar structure with true depth and a haunting passion that is unteachable and indescribable.