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Mercury's In Retrograde - It's The Jovian Bow Shock Award 2013!
The Quietus , 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

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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

Click here to read our review

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

Click here to read our review

Tim Burgess - Oh No I Love You
(O Genesis)

"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

Click here to read our review

Factory Floor - Factory Floor
(DFA)

"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

Click here to read our review

Fat White Family - Champagne Holocaust
(Trashmouth Records)

"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

Click here to read our interview with Fat White Family

Grumbling Fur - Glynnaestra
(Thrill Jockey)

"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

Click here to read our review

Heterotic - Love & Devotion
(Planet Mu)

"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

Click here to read our review

Hey Colossus - Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo
(MIE)

"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

Click here to read our review

Holden - The Inheritors
(Border Community)

"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

Click here to read our review

Pet Shop Boys - Electric
(x2)

"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

Click here to read our review

Rolo Tomassi - Astraea
(Destination Moon)

"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

Click here to read our review

Young Echo - Nexus
(Ramp)

"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

Click here to read our review

The winner of the prize - a curry in Stoke Newington - will be announced on Wed October 30

J M
Sep 11, 2013 10:59am

I'm not entirely sure what the criteria for a list of this ilk is. You seem to have chosen albums from both this year and last. That being said, your list is excellent. Mine would look something like this:
Suede- Bloodsports
EL-P- Cancer 4 Cure
Dragged Into Sunlight- Widowmaker
Savages- Silence Yourself
Factory Floor- Factory Floor
Kurt Vile- Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Sadistik- Flowers for my father
David Bowie- The Next Day

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grit bin
Sep 11, 2013 11:05am

In reply to J M:

Kurt Vile's not British...

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Ed
Sep 11, 2013 11:10am

Holden to win, please!

Bit disappointed not to see Hacker Farm or Lee Gamble's Diversions 1994 - 96 on there: both brilliant if unsettling albums, and also express something uniquely British (one of the criteria the Mercury is supposed to follow but usually just ignores).

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Rory Gibb
Sep 11, 2013 11:10am

In reply to J M:

It's the same as the Mercury Prize criteria - catchment zone runs from around the 10th Sept 2012 until this Monday just gone. So the albums from last year were all released in those last three months

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Rory Gibb
Sep 11, 2013 11:11am

In reply to Ed:

Both were on the longlist - t'was a challenge to whittle down, there's been a lot of great UK music over the last year.

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Ben Walker
Sep 11, 2013 11:14am

I was born near Bingley, you give it too much credit. I'm not sure anyone would even leave anything there.

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J M
Sep 11, 2013 11:17am

In reply to Rory Gibb:

Ah I see. That makes the choice of EL-P redundant, but I've only just picked up on the fact that these are exclusively British choices, so it doesn't matter anyway.

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S D
Sep 11, 2013 11:19am

I was about to castigate you for leaving out Dethscalator - Racial Golf Course No Bitches, but then realised my petulance was leading me astray, and you were merely showing an extraordinary restraint and responsibility, as however slim the chances, the possibility of that winning the Mercury Prize must not be prematurely forsaken.

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John Doran
Sep 11, 2013 11:23am

In reply to S D:

There were several teeth knocked out and pints of claret spilled during the epic 'Who goes in the short list; Dethscalator, Hey Colossus or Palehorse?' dust up, but HC pipped it.

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Andy Parsons
Sep 11, 2013 12:27pm

As good as the HC album is ( and it's very good), I've listened to the Dethscalator album more of the two after the excellent review on here

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John Doran
Sep 11, 2013 12:35pm

In reply to Andy Parsons:

And it was a close run fight in the office. You should see the state of us... eyes hanging out of sockets and all sorts...

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Neil
Sep 11, 2013 12:51pm

the Fat White Family have already won.

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lodgerdannn
Sep 11, 2013 12:51pm

Suede - bloodsports
David Bowie - the next day
white lies - big tv
depeche mode - delta machine
Sigur Ros - kveikur
Austra - Olympia

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YRL
Sep 11, 2013 1:27pm

How about These New Puritans?

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Mr K
Sep 11, 2013 1:57pm

Good list - I love some of the albums listed, actively dislike a couple and haven't heard five of them. Pleased to see Heterotic in there, a wonderful suite of sounds. Since it seems the done thing to go "what about..., what about...?"

What about Out Cold - Invasion of Love? Sonically rich and gleaming, with a set of electro torch songs as fine as I heave heard for ages and Aldred's voice is as sweet as Green Gartside, but with soul. It's decent, I reckon.

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Steve
Sep 11, 2013 4:21pm

Jon Hopkins - Immunity. Album of the year for me

Do you include Irish albums too?

If so

Supermigration by Solar Bears
and
Monochrome by I am the Cosmos
should be taken into consideration.

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Wim van der Wom
Sep 11, 2013 7:24pm

Not heard enough British stuff this year am afraid. I genuinely liked but wasn't blown to pieces by Hey Colossus, King Krule, Camera Obscura, The Focus Group and Gnod. Heard a couple of recent things by The Rebel too but they might be last year. Fat White Fam sounds up my street.

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S D
Sep 11, 2013 7:42pm

In reply to John Doran:

I'll admit Hey Collosus is probably the right choice, I just enjoy recommending the Dethscalator in all caps more.

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grit bin
Sep 11, 2013 8:06pm

In reply to Steve:

<33>

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burialchamber
Sep 11, 2013 11:26pm

A metal threesome: Altar of Plagues - Teethed Glory and Injury, Light Bearer - Silver Tongue and Sonance - Like Ghosts.

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abhorred ceremony
Sep 12, 2013 8:08am

I'd go for Grumbling Fur or Young Echo on that list, but only because more deserving artists were omitted.
My own Anusol Uranus Prize has nominations for Lee Gamble, Forest Swords, Mount Kimbie, The Haxan Cloak and Miles Whittaker.

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Dave Spart
Sep 12, 2013 10:56am

What about Everybody Loves The Cotswolds by Alcoholics Anonymous (on Mates Rates)?

Album of the year for me...

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aaron.
Sep 12, 2013 12:49pm

You know, looking through my recent records and Last.fm charts... I'm not sure I can find any British music this year that I'm, like, reaaaaally excited about. I suppose the Dalhous and Haxan Cloak albums were quite good. Demdike Stare Test Pressing series, too. Forest Swords seems like an obvious choice, but I'm sure that's going to get enough of a public applause to not be worth mentioning. Damn.
I actually didn't like 'The Redeemer' as much as 'The Narcissist II'. And I preferred Mike P's solo stuff to that Heterotic album - too saccharine and flabby.

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aaron.
Sep 12, 2013 12:51pm

In reply to aaron.:

Oops, forgot to mention, Chris Watson's 'In St. Cuthbert's Time' is one of the most engrossing pieces he has done yet. Though maybe not in the same category as the rest of this article. Definitely worth checking out, though.

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