Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mercury Prize Nominees 2007

The Nationwide Mercury Prize nominees were announced yesterday. The Mercury Prize is an annual music award given in Britain and is generally regarded as the critics favorite award in contrast to the more mainstream Brit Awards, although certainly mainstream acts have won the Mercury, notably last year's winner The Arctic Monkeys, who are up again this year for their sophomore album, Favourite Worst Nightmare. Also competing are Amy Winehouse, who's a second-time nominee for her fabulous Back to Black, rapper Dizzie Rascal, who won the 2003 prize with his first album, Boy in Da Corner, and The View with their debut album, Hats Off to the Buskers. My money's on Winehouse. Here's my rundown:

1. Arctic Monkeys - Favourite Worst Nightmare. You can read my review of the album here. I gave it a 3.5. "Fluorescent Adolescent" is the current single, which I've actually grown to rather like, but overall this isn't setting the world on fire like their first album, so don't expect a repeat win.

2. Basquiat Strings - Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford. Every year there's a really "out there" nominee, and this appears to be it. It's a non-conventional jazz quintet. I've listened to "Lonely Woman," "Double Dares," and "Junk." My first reaction was that while it's interesting, it's not particularly enjoyable; however, it grows on you, and I find it strangely intriguing. Creepy really--like something that would score some obnoxiously pretentious film. Actually, "Double Dares" gets better as you go, so maybe this isn't so bad.

3. Bat for Lashes - Fur and Gold. Bat for Lashes is the stage name for Natasha Khan, and this is her debut album. This sounds interesting. I like the drama of "What's a Girl to Do," and "Prescilla" sounds good too, as does "Tahiti," which includes piano. This might be worth getting.

4. Dizzie Rascal - Maths and English. Not my thing, but I kind of like "Pussyole (Old Skool)" just because it samples Rob Base's "It Takes Two."

5. Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future. Klaxons emerged early this year with "Golden Skans," which I thought was pretty good. They followed it with "Gravity's Rainbow," which was okay, and then a remake of the '90s dance hit "It's Not Over," which was just so-so, but a strange choice.

6. Maps - We Can Create. Again, it sounds like a band, but it's just one guy, James Chapman. He does electronica, and I'm not really into the nerdy boys do electronica thing (Junior Boys, Postal Service, Tiga--no thanks), but "It Will Find You" sounds like a haunting track.

7. New Young Pony Club - Fantastic Playroom. They get the award for most creative name. They've got a great '80s sound, sort of dance-ish. I like it. "The Get Go" and "Ice Cream" in particular sound like good songs.

8. Fionn Regan - The End of History. I typed this in as "Fiona Regan" until I saw his picture, and I thought "oops." This is the troubadour of the bunch. Just a guy and his guitar. He's Irish, but out of Ireland right now. Reminds me of the movie "Once." "Be Good or Be Gone" is a nice song. "Snowy Atlas Mountains" adds some cello for a haunting sound and "Black Water Child" is more upbeat. Nice.

9. Jamie T - Panic Prevention. His first top 10 single "Calm Down Dearest" was a good song, but I haven't heard anything from him since. "Sheila" is not bad. Doesn't set me on fire though.

10. The View - Hats Off to the Buskers. I have this album, but I haven't listened to it much; something I plan to quickly rectify. "Same Jeans" and "Superstar Tradesman" are great.

11. Amy Winehouse - Back to Black. This I absolutely adore--best album of the year. Read my review. Vote with your wallet. I hope this wins.

12. The Young Knives - Voices of Animals and Men. Never heard of them, but don't sound too bad. Their Web site says their known for their "tasteful tweed outfits."

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