The odds of a Scottish act reclaiming the Mercury Music Prize would appear to be at an all-time low.
After handing the gong to a bunch of grizzly Northerners last year, the judges reverted to type and bestowed the £20K cheque upon the talented but hardly groundbreaking rapper Speech Debelle
(above) last night.
And Glasvegas frontman James Allan couldn't even be bothered to show up
But on the other hand, if the type of winner does really run in cycles, that could
mean that a Scottish win is in the pipeline. First it was Primal Scream in 1992, then a long gap until Franz Ferdinand in 2004, but who will be our nation's next media dahlings?UtR writers offer their tips...We Were Promised Jetpacks - nominated by Aimi Gold
We Were Promised Jetpacks can multi-task.
Like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time, the Jetpacks have managed the tough task of tapping into the UK and American market simultaneously; making fans and selling albums on both sides of the Atlantic.
Their beautiful debut album These Four Walls
gut-punches with emotionally driven lyrics and music that compliments, rich in dynamics and confident in delivery. Opening track 'Thunder and Lightning' is a statement that demands attention, with vocalist Adam Thompson's performance sung and shouted with obvious passion.
In quieter moments, such as 'This is my house, this is my home', the album shimmers with stunning melody and subtle guitar hooks.
Accessible without trying to be, We Were Promised Jetpacks should be given every accolade that raises their profile and ensures These Four Walls
reaches every house in the country.Play: Quiet Little VoicesBroken Records - nominated by Andrew Learmonth
Apart from great songs and great musicianship, what Broken Records have that makes them potential Mercury winners is commercial appeal.Until The Earth Begins To Part
) is an album like Elbow's Mercury-winning Seldom Seen Kid
. Those already aware of the band love them wholeheartedly, but UTEBTP
is a record that can induce plenty of potential converts.
It's clever, affecting, complicated music they write, not introspective self indulgent nonsense. That doesn’t stop them being a band who would be equally at home on the playlist of Radio 1, 2 and 6, and there's probably some folky, world music show on Radio 3 that they could be shoe horned into.
The true test of any song on any album is how it would sound on the radio. ‘If The News Make You Sad...’ sounds amazing.Play: If The News Makes You Sad Don't Watch ItBeerjacket - nominated by Elaine Liddle
Alongside the token jazz act of the year, the Mercury judges have often seen fit to shine a light on solo singer-songwriters. Granted, it's not since Badly Drawn Boy in 2000 that someone of this ilk has won, but take a look back at almost any year in the last decade and you'll spot one: Laura Marling in 2008, Fionn Regan in 2007, Seth Lakeman in 2005.
The styles might differ but the common thread is of solitary, guitar-strumming writers stringing their emotions into a well-crafted song. Beerjacket certainly has that in hand on latest album Animosity
. Meanwhile his Springsteen-covering ways have brought Peter Kelly the attention of a wider audience in recent months, just the kind of buzz Mercury judges adore.
And can't you just picture Lauren Laverne smiling over 'Dancing in the Dark' during one of those awkward nominee interviews they show on BBC2 before the announcement is made?Play: DrumMaple Leaves - nominated by Clare Sinclair
Having adorned the T Break stage after just three months of being and armed with the sort of summery melodies and harmonies that leave you with no choice but to sing along to, who else could storm future Mercurys Award shows but Glasgow triad Maple Leaves?
Not every three-piece can make such a big, voluptuous sound, and it’s their sheer musicality that does it for me every time. Having been spotted so quickly in their careers, and with an eagerly anticipated EP due for release this autumn, this is a band capable of taking us back to the roots of music, much like Belle & Sebastian once did.Play: Easy SpeakMeursault - nominated by Stevie Kearney
On sheer omnipresence alone, Meursault deserve an award. There is a credible rumour doing the rounds that the Edinburgh band have pioneered cloning technology and there are actually seven Meursaults – one for each day of the week.
Other than their ferocious schedule, there are lots of reasons to love this band. Last year’s Pissing on Bonfires, Kissing with Tongues
was a superb mixture of structured songwriting and strange electronic noises, which may be just the right combination to appeal to the Mercury judging panel. The new material currently doing the rounds at their many gigs is, in a word, awesome.
With the backing of Song, by Toad
records and plans afoot to tour a little further from home, next year should, if there is a God, see Meursault break into the mainstream both in the UK and abroad. Like a favoured son leaving home, Meursault need to be packed off into the big bad world. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.Play: A Few Kind WordsWithered Hand - nominated by Lisa-Marie Ferla
Okay, I'll admit it: on first listen, the odds look steep. Scratchy vocals which could at best be described as eccentric, lo-fi production; lyrics which reference loneliness, depression, religious guilt and masturbation... Withered Hand is hardly a mass-market proposition.
A listen to debut album Good News
however reveals an accomplished singer-songwriter in his Sunday best, face washed and long hair tucked behind ears. It's just as clever, just as raw - but laced with moments of sublime singalong harmony which couldn't help but raise a smile in the grumpiest of judging panels.
Every one of these lists needs a singer-songwriter, and you'd be hard placed to find a better one in Scotland than Dan Willson. Antony and the Johnsons' strangled frog vocals took the Mercury crown, Badly Drawn Boy strummed and hummed his way to the prize - if there was any justice, Withered Hand should too.Play: No CigarettesWounded Knee - nominated by Billy Hamilton
The roll call for this year’s Mercury Music Prize suggests the odds of Drew Wright (AKA Wounded Knee) one day emerging victorious with a cheque for £20K are fairly slim. But, think about it: is it really that preposterous?
Sure, his freeform expressionism is hardly in keeping with the mainstream-manicuring of the modern day; then again didn’t Talvin Singh (who?
) encounter the same protestations?
Likewise, Wright’s indecipherable intone may seem too obscure for the MP3-attuned masses, but , let’s face it, Dizzee Rascal’s elocution left a lot to be desired.
And as for being from north of the border? Well, if a transvestite American can win it then, hell, surely a robe-adorning Scot with a penchant for hymnal skatting [keep it clean gents] is in with a chance?
In fact, the more I think about it the more it becomes clear: Wounded Knee is a shoe-in for the Mercury Music Prize.Errors - nominated by Nick Mitchell
The precedents for an instrumental electronica Mercury winner are practically non-existent - unless you somehow squish Roni Size's hyper-speed D'n'B into that particular musical cookie cutter ... maybe not.
But that surely means that Errors' time is ripe for some breakthrough recognition.
Last year's ungrammatically-titled debut LP It's not something but it is like whatever
- and indeed the How Clean is Your Acid House?
EP that preceded it - were both thrilling portals into their unique sound world, lying somewhere on a weird continuum between Warp Records and Mogwai.
The Rock Action-signed Glasgow quartet are currently busying themselves with album number two, and you can bet they'll be pushing their abstract yet danceable crossover jams even further forward.
If Led Bib can make the shortlist this year, then why not Errors for 2010?Play: Salut FranceDo you have a future Mercury tip? Let's be hearing it...
Labels: beerjacket, broken records, editorial, Errors, maple leaves, mercury music prize, meursault, withered hand, wounded knee