As Paul The Octopus isn’t returning our calls we’ll have to make do with our own physic cephalopod, Mitchell Stirling as he casts his tentacles over the elite 12 British and N. Irish records that might be receiving nods next week.
Last year I, like most people felt that Doves winning would be to similar to the Elbow win the previous year but didn’t think that would prevent them getting a nod (nor did the bookies, they were favourites). Similarly we all thought that Portishead’s Third was a lock the year before and it didn’t make it. This year we can’t even find odds before the nominations but you can pick up a vibe on a few releases.
The XX – XX: We’d would be frankly astounded if this doesn’t get nominated, it was already being talked about as a potential winner around the time of last year’s ceremony. WE fully expect it to go in as favourite once the nominations are announced as well based on the acclaim it received at the end of the year that wasn’t restricted to the UK indie press, it was lauded by the broadsheets, the older music press and even the likes of FACT, The Wire and Mixmag. We haven’t seen a reaction to a British record like that since Dummy a former Mercury Prize winner. The one to beat we feel.
Wild Beasts – Two Dancers: Discussed in similar terms last autumn as a potential winner when summer rolled round. It has also been applauded thoroughly for the delight it takes in it’s own outsider status from the striking imagery to the arresting melodies. We don’t think it has enough momentum behind it with its September release in the way The XX have though.
Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can: We’ve rhapsodised a fair bit about Miss Marling on this site and to anyone that will listen. It seems critical and public consensus is catching up with me and she’ll likely add the nomination of her first album in 2008 with this one. We also fully expect it to be among the favourites when the odds are drawn up.
Marina and the Diamonds – The Family Jewels and Ellie Goulding – Lights: We’re almost flipping a coin on this one. The top two of the BBC’s Sound of… poll at the start of the year and in the previous two years the women at the top of that list have had a 50% strike rate with Duffy and Little Boots not making the cut, La Roux and Adele did. We think a similar thing is going to happen this time and although neither album really set my pulses racing we’ll go with Marina for having slightly more of the star quality. Bank on at least one of them to make it though.
Delphic – Acolyte: With the slightly more leftfield guitar-indie of The XX and Wild Beasts it’s hard to think of a typical Conor NME indie type album that might make it so we’ll plump for Delphic on account of the high amounts of tips at the start of the year and the goodwill they still have from their incredible early singles.
Plan B – The Defamation of Strickland Banks: It was a surprise at the time that his ‘British Eminem’ debut didn’t attract the attentions of the judges who went with Sway’s This Is My Demo and likely couldn’t find room for both on the list. The change to an easier on the Radio 2 listener’s ears singing style and lack of calling everyone listening a c**t probably puts him in a good position to land on the list.
Others that could make it.
Like last year we’ll throw in albums we’d like to see on the list first. These New Puritans‘ Hidden would be high up on my nomination sheet, a step up from their debut as impressive as that of The Horrors last year. We are also a big fan of Race Horses‘ Goodbye Falkenburg but fear that if SFA can’t get on the last two lists it’s unlikely another Welsh band that has followed them can. (we’re sure Jude Rogers will try though!) If we’re following the saga of the release of Fanfarlo‘s Reservoir correctly, it should be eligible this year if entered but who knows on that one.
We’d love to see Field Music‘s third album on there but with the panel choosing not to include the excellent Tones of Town or The Week That Was, we’re not convinced that they’ll be sitting through a double album too often from their listening pile. Their loss, we know. We also would have loved to have seen Twilight Sad, Frightened Rabbit and Mystery Jets make the line-up in 2008 though we think they all suffered in what was a very strong year for the prize. Their most recent albums are all in with a shout of making it but we feel that they aren’t as strong as previous efforts. The Big Pink‘s debut seems a very long time ago now but Glasvegas managed to make the list after a long gap last time out. We’re 50:50 on A Brief History of Love doing likewise. We also can’t see Alex Turner making it four from four with Arctic Monkeys‘ Humbug certainly not a bad album by any standard but it’s autumn release handicaps it more than any perceived dip in quality we feel. A couple of albums that could make it on both strength and previous efforts feeling hard-done-by are Foals‘ Total Life Forever and Los Campesinos! with Romance is Boring.
With a presumed nod for Laura Marling we think, despite the wealth of talent in the indie folk box there’s probably only room for one more nomination; it would likely be Mumford and Sons. A band that have had stratospheric rise in the past 12 months with a feverent fan-base that clearly adores them and their intense live show as well as lashings of Radio 1 play their have the wind in their sails despite a large amount of sniping at them. This probably means no place for Noah & the Whale‘s The First Days of Spring or Peggy Sue‘s Fossils and Other Phantoms as there surely wouldn’t be a third album from that corner of the world. Previous nominees The Unthanks and newcomers Stornoway and Goldheart Assembly are more on the Radio 2/Uncut end of the folk spectrum so they could usurp Mumford and Sons or join them in a heavily folky list.
Moving away from guitars there’s every chance that Hot Chip‘s recent effort One Life Stand, a more complete effort than Made In The Dark could be nominated like 2006′s The Warning was. We also think that if Four Tet are ever going to get a nomination than this is year with There Is Love in You, one of the best received albums of the year. In a similar vein Fuck Buttons, Scuba, James Yuill and Broadcast and The Focus Group may feel in with a shout.
Typically there’s a Irish nomination just to remind everyone that Irish acts are eligible prime suspect this year is likely to be the joyful but lightweight indie pop of Two Door Cinema Club or Dublin’s Villagers. Former nominees Polar Bear, Dizzee Rascal, Portico Quartet, Maps, Fyfe Dangerfield, Jamie T and Richard Hawley all have perfectly serviceable albums that could make it. Muse’s last album was terrible but that doesn’t stop the panel from including one record a year to really annoy us. A much better home-grown stadium rock effort would be Biffy Clyro who surely deserve a look-in for persistence alone.
There are a few acts that’ve never been on the list that might make a debut Steve Mason’s Beta Band never made the cut. Nor, surprisingly did Grammy and BRIT nominee Corinne Bailey Rae with her debut. We think she may well atone for that oversight. Paul Weller has his best album since 1993 nomination for Wild Wood but we don’t think he’s the kind of act they’d want to nominate still. What price a nomination for Teenage Fanclub or The Fall after all these years? (We can’t see them wanting Mark E. Smith gurning at Lauren Laverne in September to be honest.)
We have also mulled records by The Cribs, North Atlantic Oscillation, Archie Bronson Outfit, Rox, Bombay Bicycle Club, New Young Pony Club, Massive Attack, Lonelady, Pulled Apart By Horses, Tunng, Kate Nash, The Chemical Brothers and Blood Red Shoes and could only see NYPC or Lonelady sneaking on to the list but we’re not going to tip them.
We wanted to mention Slow Club as a nominee we’d like to see but Charles and Rebecca’s wonderful debut falls outside of the dates for being on this year’s list after looking it up. Anyone who is suggesting Gorrilaz will be nominated may want to do their homework on the band’s previous nomination though!
Our final predictions: The XX, Wild Beasts, Laura Marling, Marina and The Diamonds, Plan B, Delphic, Four Tet, Foals, Biffy Clyro, Mumford and Sons, Empirical and Villagers.
Half a dozen more to cover our tracks: Scuba, Ellie Goulding, The Fall, Corrine Bailey Rae, Hot Chip and These New Puritans.
How accurate will we be?