Irish band The Villagers lead Mercury Prize nominations
IRISH band Villagers have been nominated for the Mercury Prize again, alongside David Bowie who this year released a comeback album following a 10-year absence.
Bowie, who surprised fans by returning to music with ‘The Next Day’, has been ranked joint favourite to take the award alongside past winners Arctic Monkeys, who are nominated for ‘AM’.
Villagers are considered outsiders to take the prize with their offering ‘Awayland’ but will receive massive publicity simply from being shortlisted.
The judges said: "Songwriting at its most wilfully romantic - imaginative, inviting and musically adventurous."
Fronted by Dun Laoghaire-raised Conor O'Brien, the band’s debut ‘Becoming A Jackal’ was also shortlisted in 2010.
The 12-strong Mercury Prize shortlist includes seven acts who have previously featured on the shortlist since the prize was launched in 1992.
Arctic Monkeys - who took the prize in 2006 - and singer-songwriter Laura Marling each make it on to the list for a third time.
Foals, James Blake and Villagers are among those who make their second appearance in the nominations list.
Bowie, who was previously up for the prize in 2002 for his album ‘Heathen’, is the oldest figure on the list at 66.
Inclusion on the shortlist usually ensures an instant boost in sales for nominated artists, who hope to emulate last year's winner Alt-J who triumphed with debut ‘An Awesome Wave’. Other winners over the years have included Elbow, Klaxons and two-time winner PJ Harvey.
Chairman of the judging panel Simon Frith said: "This year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist celebrates a fascinating year for British and Irish music, marked by a wonderful range of musical voices - urgent, reflective, upbeat and tender, acoustic and electronic, and all with something intriguing to say."
Full list of nominated artists:
:: Arctic Monkeys - AM
:: David Bowie - The Next Day
:: Foals - Holy Fire
:: Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle
:: Disclosure - Settle
:: James Blake - Overgrown
:: Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg
:: Rudimental - Home
:: Laura Mvula - Sing To The Moon
:: Jon Hopkins - Immunity
:: Savages - Silence Yourself
:: Villagers - Awayland