It's time for annual Nu-Glastonbury gong show that is the Mercury Music Award, the pseudo-edgy UK recording industry award for "Album most likely to shift lots of units at Tescos until the Brits come along". This years list has the usual assortment of safe picks and highly polished crowd-pleasing performances that will get the Radio 2 audience rocking out during their traffic jam to and from work whilst ensuring that the PR reps of the associated record labels get to keep their bonus for another year. Whilst non of it is especially terrible it is the usual mix of 'quirky' and serious that ensures that the winner will be stuck in a rut for the rest of their creative life. And it also has Adele in the running, so if she doesn't get it then we know that the judge's are just trying to be controversial and if she does get it everyone will yell 'fix' whilst forgetting that the producer god Rick Ruben was behind it.
And the nominations are...
Metronomy - The English Rivera
Light synth-guitar-pop with a nu-new-wave disco fell who have the ability to produce catchy, slightly downbeat, tracks about how dull life is. 12 years of work has released an album that delivers on time but with a bit of a samey feel with each track. However they have a red-headed female drummer so instantly win the 'most sexy band' award.
Adele - 19
Soulful old school over blown pop with a voice that can break hearts at 100 paces. So much piano, so much drum, and so much 50's classic feel it's like Breakfast At Tiffany's with a bassline.If only Phil Specter could have had something to do with this album it would cause world peace to break out.
Everything Everything - Man Alive
More new-wave disco, this time with a screechy voice that I find painful. Surprisingly rocky in places and with some nice funk breaks but an hour of hearing Jonathan Higgs have his nuts crushing in a vice makes Little Baby Jesus cry.
Ghostpoet - Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
If you want a lot of songs about being poor and miserable in S'ouf Lon'on then this is the one for you. Proving that sometimes rap is just people talking over a back beat it would be a brilliant pheak-beat collection if the vocals were set to 'bugger off'. Call me a swine but I can't help but feel this is here cause of Gill Scott-Heron isn't.
Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
Time to wake up, the competition is here. Powerful rock, good lyrics, and excellent singing. This is going to rock the Later With Jules Holland set and back the concert halls for years to come. AOR brilliance with a couple of modern twists.
Tinie Tampah - Disc-Overy
I don't know if I've ever heard an album more clinically designed to annihilate your car speakers. It's true that the lyrics often head into gangster rap posing territory but it's done with so much bon-vivant style that you can let it slide, or maybe the bass is just taking over my mind.
Elbow - Build a rocket boys!
The third time these merry progers have been nominated but as they won in '08 I can't see them winning this year. The album is another collection of "powerful" art-rock stompers which will please the festival crowd without upsetting your cat when played at home.
Gwiym Simcock - Good days at Schloss Elmau
Time for the "adult" choice. If you like piano lead jazz which can flow between smooth and up-tempo free-form, with the odd nod to fusion thrown in for good measure, then this will have to be in your collection. If not then it's a jazz album and you might buy it to drink coffee to at some point.
James Blake - James Blake
Singer-songwriting for the terminally depressed, set to a nifty minimalist synth soundscape. The track "Lindisfarne" use of auto-tune makes it sound like Marvin the Android humming a suicide note. Avoid unless you think The Samaritans are for pussies.
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Still pissed off & still making records this is a collection of jittery rock tunes with a bit of riot-grrrl hiding in the background of its playful production. Not as loud as previous works but still interesting to listen to.
Katy B - On a mission
Perky dance music with a good singer and nice production. This isn't spectacular, it's just good. Brilliant to pack the dancefloor or dry your hair to, no stand out tracks as to these ears it all becomes much of a muchness. Expect it to get the 'pop' vote.
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine
Mumford & Sons don't have an album out this year so they had to throw in something to keep the folkies from knifing them. Has the added bonus of also ticking the provincial and arthouse-batshit-crazy boxes with one nomination. Some reasonable tracks but imo too much of a novelty album thanks to the ambiant production involved.