Mercury's In Retrograde - It's The Jovian Bow Shock Award 2013!
, September 11th, 2013 06:27
Another year has come full circle, and it's once again time for the announcement of another doubtless flaccid Mercury Prize shortlist. So sod 'em, here's the selections for this year's Quietus alternative
After literally three people demanded it, we have been blown into a low geo-stationary orbit by the explosive need for the return of the Jovian Bow Shock Awards. (Whether this demand was from people who work in the Quietus offices or not, is simply neither here nor there.)
The Foxtons Mercury Prize (formerly the Cillit Bang Mercury Prize and before that the Mmmm Danone Mercury Prize) was set up in 1992 as an alternative to the Brits, in the same way that myxomatosis was set up in the Australian outback in 1950 as an alternative to rabbits. It is an annual honour which is bestowed on the UK/Irish group with the best album and designed to stop them from ever having critical or commercial success ever again. The winner is selected from a shortlist of a dozen long players which are supposed to represent the health and vitality of the UK music industry.
And when they say the "best", they mean the best! Past nominees include Sting, Take That, Spice Girls, Propellorheads, Stereophonics, Mumford & Sons, Richard Ashcroft, The Turin Breaks, The Thrills, Snow Patrol, Maximo Park, Hard-Fi, The View, Nurse With Wound, Massive Bereavement and The Guillemots. So they know what they’re talking about.
With all the cultural intensity of a blancmange left on a park bench in Bingley, the Mercury Prize really knows what's what. So there's literally no way we'd just throw together a list in the office in ten minutes flat and then claim it was loads better than the real thing. Yep. There's literally no way we'd claim that ours was superior in every way, shape and form.
So, without further ado, here's the shortlist for the Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Award 2013, listed in alphabetical order. Please let us know in the comments below what your shortlist would contain, what you reckon we've missed out, and who you'd like to see win.
The actual Mercury Prize shortlist is also announced today.
Matt Berry - Kill The Wolf
(Acid Jazz Records)
"What we have here is prog-folk of the highest order. A glance back across sylvan glades to a time when groups such as Trees were releasing albums like 'The Garden Of Jane Trelawney' and sharing bills with the likes of Griffin, The Amazing Blondel, Principle Edward's Magic Theatre and Pople Crump (one of those is made up). Raggle-taggle fair folk one and all, keen to the changing of the seasons and the call of the harvest, to the tinkling of the brook and the creaking song of the old oak." Mat Colegate
Dean Blunt - The Redeemer
(World Music / Hippos In Tanks)
"Even if this is the least 'lo fi' either of Hype Williams have ever sounded, the whole affair still really does sound like it was recorded in either a bedroom or an asylum, which only adds further potency to its tale of a regretful ex-lover's introversion. It's as intoxicating a listen as anything we've heard from the duo to date, drawing its power from the combination of Blunt's ideas, fluid and often semi-literate musicality, and world-weary persona." Tristan Bath
Tim Burgess - Oh No I Love You
"Where Oh No I Love You is at, in a nutshell, is Lambchop circa their masterpiece, Nixon, but with that record's Mayfield soul stylings and Southern country twang transplanted, for the most part, to a small town English bedroom where a young man dreams of making records imbued with compassion, substance and romance." Wyndham Wallace
Factory Floor - Factory Floor
"Listen closer and louder - titling the opening track 'Turn It Up' is no empty instruction - and there's a predatory, serrated edge that's absent in most of the house contemporaries you might otherwise file it alongside. In fact, it's one of the more sinister dance records I've heard in a while, precisely because everything you might expect to hear in a DFA club track is present and correct, but used in a way that feels harsher, starker and slightly sadistic." Rory Gibb
Fat White Family - Champagne Holocaust
"The band were called Fat White Family and they’d crawled out of the squats of South London. They sounded like a mix of Bong Water, Charles Manson, the Butthole Surfers round a campfire, the most smacked out and slowest Birthday Party and Cramps numbers. And someone on Twitter said that one of them had ridden a donkey into a pub. I could imagine it. With every acid head, junkie, squatter, artist, desperado and caner in the area casting palm leaves on the floor before him. I could imagine him riding right up to the bar and saying: "Two pints of Stella please and a pickled gherkin for my ass." John Doran
Grumbling Fur - Glynnaestra
"Grumbling Fur make me want to take drugs. And I don't mean drugs like a few puffs on a spliff before bedtime or on a lazy Saturday afternoon, or a cheeky dabble at a rave to keep the energy flowing - I mean proper, don't-eat-for-18-hours-beforehand, make-sure-you've-got-a-couple-of-good-people-around-you, psychically prepared voyaging, preferably on a warm and sunny but slightly overcast afternoon in a field somewhere in the West Country, or in a friend's house cluttered to the rafters with fascinating and peculiar objects." Rory Gibb
Heterotic - Love & Devotion
"Though it plays like a loving, if fraught, homage to the music of the 80s and 90s, Love & Devotion always errs on the side of familiarity rather than retro-reverence. Those aesthetic and lyrical allusions to the past are also vehicles for a moral, subtly delivered: that in order for relationships to succeed, life has to be lived in the present. Coupled with very contemporary and spacious production, it throws up more vexing questions about the interplay between past and present than it can possibly answer. It's a powerful conceit that in the hands of lesser musicians might have come off as clumsy or retrograde. Here, though, it's exquisitely realised." Maya Kalev
Hey Colossus - Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo
"Hey Colossus haven't just been a band for a decade, they've been a consistently good one. But with the release of Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo – their eighth album since their 2003 formation – they've suddenly arrived at a place where they're not just a good, but an excellent band. Something in their sound has clicked, but it's no subtle flicking of a switch; this feels like a dislocated shoulder being forced back in to place." Tom Hannan
Holden - The Inheritors
"If Holden was already starting to push the boundaries on his debut, The Inheritors is techno music not so much fragmented as smashed into tiny pieces; rocks ground into sand and cast into the ether. The Inheritors draws as much on ancient Pagan rituals, the repetitions of Steve Reich, Elgar's pastoral majesty, prog-rock, krautrock and Aphex Twin at his wilful best, as it does from the output of Detroit's techno pioneers." Joe Clay
Pet Shop Boys - Electric
"Like the other singers he references, Tennant still sounds "lonely and strange", even after all these many, many years. But "the feeling of the warmth around us" he talks about, the context it provides… it's also hard to deny its power here. Around him, bolts of Euro-trance keys take the listener higher and higher, again and again, and truly this is music "expressing passion, explaining pain," music in which "aspirations for a better life are ordained". This is feeling expressed with meaning in music that makes me fill notebooks with scrawl, that makes me ponce about like a tit, that makes me move and smile and think and speak and be… as it tells me how sublime, and simple, the Pet Shop Boys music can be." Jude Rogers
Rolo Tomassi - Astraea
"Rolo Tomassi are miles ahead of the game not just because they are constantly trying to break new ground but also because they have entered a nuclear arms race of progressiveness with their own back catalogue. Most outliers in any given musical field - whether that's been Brian Eno, Anaal Nathrakh or Lee Perry - realise the importance of treating their back catalogue as if it belongs to the enemy, especially if other people aren't trying as hard as they are." John Doran
Young Echo - Nexus
"As individuals, the members of Young Echo produce entirely different work and until now, have only released music individually, or as pairs and trios. Spread across a number of records, tapes and files, it's not always easy to pin down the connection between the eerie dub techno of Vessel's Order Of Noise, the ethereal drones of Jabu's self-titled album for Astro:Dynamics, and Kahn and Neek's raw grime. But Nexus, as the album art illustrates, draws lines between these points without quite revealing the factor that unites them – something intangible but fundamentally Bristolian. Young Echo's members have already proven themselves to be talented individuals; when they pool their influences and styles as a collective, they draw a musical map of their home city." Maya Kalev
The winner of the prize - a curry in Stoke Newington - will be announced on Wed October 30