Sunday 18 August 2019

Mercury Prize nominations: Who’s in the running?

Here are the shortlisted albums for the 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize.

Mercury Prize nominees (PA)
Mercury Prize nominees (PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor

The nominees for this year’s Mercury Prize include a number of acts who have previously been nominated, as well as several artists making their debut.

The 12 shortlisted albums were chosen by a judging panel which includes Stormzy, Gaz Coombes, DJ Annie Mac and Jorja Smith.

Here are the artists up for the album of the year award:

Dave – Psychodrama
Rapper David Omoregie, known as Dave, dropped his hotly anticipated debut album earlier this year to great fanfare, with the record topping the charts and receiving acclaim from critics and fans.

The London-born artist’s concept album has the narrative of a therapy session, and he has been lauded for touching on topics such as mental health struggles, difficult social conditions faced by black youngsters and his older brother’s prison sentence.

The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
The third album from the Manchester pop rock band marks their second Mercury nomination – The 1975 previously received the nod for their second album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It in 2016.

The record topped the UK charts last year, and won the Brit Award for British album of the year in February.

Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance
Bristol-based punk rock band Idles’ second album peaked at number five in the charts last year following a huge amount of anticipation, following the release of their critically acclaimed 2017 debut Brutalism.

Earlier this year, the group was nominated for the British breakthrough act prize at the Brit Awards.

Anna Calvi – Hunter
Anna Calvi’s first two albums were nominated for a Mercury Prize – her 2011 debut Anna Calvi and her 2013 record One Breath – making it a hat trick of Mercury nods for the British singer-songwriter and guitarist, who is often hailed a “guitar virtuoso”.

Calvi, who has also previously served on the judging panel for the prize, released her third album Hunter last August, featuring Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Portishead and Adrian Utley among others. The album reached number 22 in the albums chart in the UK.

Little Simz – Grey Area
Rapper and singer Simbiatu Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, known as Little Simz, has received her first Mercury nod for her third album, which was described by some critics as the peak offering of her career so far. The Guardian’s Tara Joshi said the album was her “call to arms”.

The London-born hip-hop star’s Grey Area peaked at number 87 on the UK albums chart.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1
The Oxford rockers’ fifth album marks their third place on the Mercury Prize shortlist – they previously scored nods for their 2010 album Total Life Forever and their 2013 album Holy Fire.

The record, the first of two from the group, peaked at number two in the charts following its release in March this year. The second part to the album will be released later in 2019.

Slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
Northampton-born rapper Tyron Kaymone Frampton, who goes by the stage name Slowthai, released his debut album Nothing Great About Britain in May, with appearances from the likes of Skepta, Jaykae, Mura Masa and Slaves.

The politically charged record sees the MC, who was shortlisted in BBC’s Sound of 2019 poll, speak out for a downtrodden generation while mixing post-punk, dub, hip-hop and grime. The record peaked at number nine in the albums chart.

Fontaines DC – Dogrel
Dublin rockers Fontaines DC released their debut LP Dogrel in April this year, peaking at number nine in the UK albums chart and number four in Ireland.

The post-punk group were given positive reviews across the board for their first record, including five-star reviews from the NME’s Tom Connick and The Guardian’s Ben Beaumont-Thomas, the latter calling it the “perfect debut”.

Black Midi – Schlagenheim
Experimental rock band Black Midi, from London, drew on a range of musical influences and styles on their debut album, which was recorded in jamming sessions using drum machines, banjos, synthesizers and cymbals, among other things.

The record peaked at number 43 in the albums chart following its release in June and received largely positive reviews from critics.

Cate Le Bon – Reward
Welsh musician and producer Cate Le Bon has received her first place on a Mercury shortlist for her fifth album, widely considered by musical insiders as the funk, post-punk and pop artist’s finest work to date.

Reward reached number 86 in the albums chart following its release earlier this summer.

Nao – Saturn
This is the first Mercury nod for London R&B artist Nao (real name Neo Jessica Joshua) whose second album Saturn was named after the astrological phenomenon the Saturn return, when the planet returns to the same place in the sky as when a person was born, typically taking between 27 and 30 years.

The singer-songwriter’s coming of age record – about the big life changes that happen in your late twenties and early thirties – peaked at number 56 in the UK albums chart but hit number two in the R&B albums chart following its release last year.

Seed Ensemble – Driftglass
The 10-piece collective, formed in early 2016 by saxophonist and composer Cassie Kinoshi, is known for combining jazz with soulful, urban London stylings, crossing genres and mixing West African and Caribbean influences.

Their acclaimed debut album Driftglass includes a tribute to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The winner of this year’s prize will be announced at the 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize awards show on September 19 at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith, London.

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