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Black Sky Thinking

Never Mind The Mercury Prize, It's The Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Award 2010
Luke Turner , July 20th, 2010 13:24

Yah boo! Mercury rubbish etc blah splurge until the internet pops. It matters not one jot in the mighty cogs of the Universe, but here's tQ's Alternative Mercury Prize 2010

As is customary, the announcement of the 2010 Mercury Music Prize has been greeted with much wailing and gnashing of keyboards from the people who spend all day chuntering about music on the internet rather than doing any work. Mercury grumbling is as much part of the prize as a glassy-eyed speech from Lauren Laverne, so we're not going to bother doing that.

Instead, the Quietus is following the tradition we began up in 2009 by running the Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Award. There are many questions to be asked of the Prize and its relevance to leftfield culture (such as what independent label or self-releasing artist can really afford to send in £200 and a massive pile of CDs to be judged?) - we'd rather celebrate the very best in British music over the year from June 2009 to 2010. So while we share two records with the official list in the form of Wild Beasts Two Dancers and The XX XX, these are the dozen records that, over a few freshly squeezed lemons and a pinch of snuff, we've decided will make our Jovian Bow Shock Award shortlist.

The Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Award 2010 is sponsored by Rasa Stoke Newington - we had to shift last year's patronage from Il Bacio because they kept forgetting to slice their (admittedly excellent) pizza.

We hope to invite the winners to sit down for the best in London's Kerala cuisine... perhaps a Chilli Onion Rava Dosa, a Cheera Parippu Curry, or even a Bagar Baingan. And how could we forget our favourite side, the Kovakka Olathiathu?

Broadcast & The Focus Group - Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age

(Warp) It’s true that Broadcast have always been a top group but recently Trish Keenan and James Cargill (along with Julian House, co-founder of Ghost Box and the man behind The Focus Group) have easily outdone themselves with something that explores the hidden histories of British psychedelia in a thoroughly modern way.

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Cathedral - The Guessing Game

(Rise Above) Twenty years in Cathedral release what can be seen as their most Cathedralesque album to date and most enjoyable in ages, replete with Stonehenge-heavy riffs, prog and psych-flourishes and philosophizing of the kind that occurs when you don a crushed velvet smoking jacket and sup blood red wine from a goblet.

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Chrome Hoof - Crush Depth

(Southern) It finally feels like the mighty Hoof have super-collided their multiple strands which include cosmic disco, henge-heavy doom, jittery French prog, metallic cyber funk and sludgy psych rock into one glistening new whole.

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The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter

(Domino) Debut release from little-heard-of Manchester five-piece The Fall, who are fronted by some nice young well-mannered cove named Marky Smith. Keep an eye on these kids - we reckon they've got potential.

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Gyratory System - The Sound-Board Breathes

(Angular) It’s quite amazing to see how wide an audience Gyratory System pull in with their kazoo and treated brass, fourth world rave. After a recent rapturous gig in Fabric one saucer eyed punter came up to 70-something, brass expert Robin Blick saying how much he’d enjoyed the gig and did the veteran trumpeter want some MDMA. Robin said that the profusely sweating raver should talk to his son Andrew, as it was he who dealt with “FX pedals”.

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Lonelady - Nerve Up

(Warp) Julie Campbell’s talent is so brutalist and unadorned that you could be forgiven for having missed it. Nerve Up however is an accomplished and moving statement that channels the spirit rather than the actual style of Kristin Hersh, Linder Sterling and Patti Smith and makes a satisfying riposte to any number of interchangeable singer/songwriters.

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New Young Pony Club - The Optimist

(The Numbers) Bored of the limitations of the Fantastic Playroom they constructed three years ago, New Young Pony Club parted ways with Modular and self-recorded and released The Optimist: a fine cross-pollination of bubblegum pop and melancholic disco which intertwines gorgeous melodies with party-weary blues. Plus, “If I stink of frustration/ It’s the perfume of excess I think” has become my personal mantra for when I feel a bit sweaty.

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Rolo Tomassi - Cosmology

(Hassle) All reviews of amazing UK hardcore act Rolo Tomassi always go on about how petite Eva Spence is like it’s really surprising that slim girls can make good music. In the future I’m only going to go on about the size of this Sheffield band’s shoe sizes. Isn’t it amazing how fucking totally they rock and effortlessly combine electronica, no wave and funk into hardcore punk, for a band with such massive feet?

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These New Puritans - Hidden

(Angular) In a pleasant slumber William Hague hears a gentle brass symphony reminiscent of Antonín Dvořák but he is woken by a tribal tattoo of drummers and citizens come to march him to Albion’s new Golgotha. And... schwinnnng! the guillotine falls. All hail, the New Puritans!

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Walls - Walls

(Kompakt) It would be a lie to say that Walls produce bangers as this is more of a post or pre club record. They do however marshal beautiful washes of digital and analogue noise into a glorious whole which is an ideal soundtrack to lazing in boats, doing the dishes or just lying face down on the kitchen floor for a bit after smoking a lid of white rhino in the afternoon.

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Wild Beasts - Two Dancers

(Domino) Sultry dames, kinky sex and moonlit assignations formed the basis of Two Dancers which is - to two thirds of The Quietus at least - the finest guitar-pop record of the last twelve months. No other band could conjure up lines such as "This is a booty call/ My boot, my boot, my boot up your arsehole"; and no other singer could deliver it quite like Hayden Thorpe, who's breathtaking falsetto soared high above the tales of lustful encounters down darkened streets.

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The xx - XX

(XL) Yes, they're probably favourites to win the gong proper and yes, it's a bit of an obvious choice, but that's only because The xx is so bloody good. XX is a record of immaculate precision: ice-cold guitar lines, sparse drum beats and pitch-perfect breathy vocals that intertwine and overlap seamlessly. And if that weren't enough, Oliver Sim is rapidly assuming pin-up status in Quietus HQ.

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