Another year, another set of nominees for the Choice Music Prize, Ireland's supposed answer to the Mercury. As always the list includes some excellent albums, and some really poor choices.
Delighted to see four of my top five favourite Irish albums of 2008 getting the nod. They are Another Way Of Being There (Halfset), The Holy Pictures (David Holmes), Ritual (Jape) and Sea Sew (Lisa Hannigan). Very different albums all and each as good as any album nominated for previous Choices.
Very surprised that Spectre & Crown, from instrumental collective The Jimmy Cake, didn't make the cut and I feel that Autamata's radio-friendly Colours Of Sound should have been there too.
It's good to see a genuinely different album, Organic Sampler, from percussionist extraordinaire RSAG acknowledged, and Mick Flannery's White Lies is decent singer-songwriter fare.
Dublin hip hop duo Messiah J and The Expert and Derry outfit Oppenheimer are also nominated, although both albums, From The Word Go and Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It, did very little for me.
The final two nominees will no doubt please lots of people, but I'd strongly urge all not to waste their money on either release.
First up is the woeful debut from Fight Like Apes -- a band with lots of blogger and media friends, all aurally challenged methinks -- and then there's the genuinely mystifying inclusion of The Script's mega-selling eponymous first album. Think a bad Irish version of Maroon 5.
If the judges wanted to include a big name, they should have plumped for Snow Patrol's latest. It's no masterpiece, but it's a hell of a lot better than The Script.
After undeserving albums won the last two Choice awards (from The Divine Comedy and Super Extra Bonus Party), one has to hope that this year's judges will be smarter.
The prize will be announced at a live show in Vicar Street, Dublin, on Wednesday, March 4 with Today FM broadcasting the event live.
- While charity albums have noble aspirations, most are artistically bankrupt. One notable exception is the War Child series, which has been around since 1995.
The tracklisting for the latest War Child collection, Heroes, has been announced. The compilation, set for release on February 13, features artists including Lily Allen, The Kooks, Beck and Elbow covering songs from such luminaries as David Bowie, The Clash and U2.
Money raised from the release will go to the charity, which helps children all over the world affected by war.
Among the more intriguing covers are Elbow's take on U2's Running to Stand Still, TV On The Radio's interpretation of David Bowie's epic "Heroes" and Hot Chip's version of Joy Division's gloomy Transmission.
- Bruce Springsteen's latest studio album, Working On A Dream, is out next Friday and it will include, as a bonus track, The Wrestler -- the song that earned Springsteen a Golden Globe win last weekend. The song, especially written for the Mickey Rourke-starring movie of the same name, marks the second time The Boss has won this gong (his other was for Streets of Philadelphia, the haunting song that soundtracked the emotive Philadelphia).
He is now favourite to win an Oscar for Best Song -- an award, lest we forget, that was most recently won by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Springsteen following in the footsteps of the frontman of The Frames: never thought I'd write that!
- It's got to be one of the wackiest bits of research we've seen in yonks, but a US financial expert reckons the charts can reflect the vagaries of the international financial markets.
According to findings by Phil Maymin, professor of finance and risk engineering at New York University, the more regular the beat on Billboard's top singles, the more volatile the American markets. After studying decades of Billboard's Hot 100 hits, Maymin found that songs with low "beat variance" had an inverse correlation with market turbulence. In other words, the more regular the song, the crazier the stock market.
Recession rock anyone?