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Mercury Poisoning? The Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Prize 2014!
Luke Turner , September 11th, 2014 07:12

As the annual Mercury Prize once again keeps music fans around the country away from their work as they have a moan on social media, we pick 12 albums that have provided us with a hoot over the past 12 months

And so the time comes again for The Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Prize, our alternative to the annual Chicken Cottage Mercury Prize (formerly The Holland And Barrett Mercury Prize, Werthers Originals Mercury Prize and before that the Mmmm Danone Mercury Prize). That award is all well and good, and this year we're especially pleased to see our old mucker East India Youth nominated, alongside FKA Twigs and Polar Bear, who surely must win something, one day, else they'll just stop turning up and Seb Rochford will forsake his drums for a life of monastic quietude. Given that he plays for half the artists under the sun, the affect on contemporary music will be catastrophic. Anyway, our place is not to slag off the Mercury Prize (formerly The Holland And Barrett Mercury Prize, Werthers Originals Mercury Prize and before that the Mmmm Danone Mercury Prize), but to celebrate twelve of the British-made albums that we've been loving over the past year.

A couple of omissions, you might think: East India Youth's TOTAL STRIFE FOREVER isn't in there not because we released it (it was the lovely people at Stolen) but because he was featured in the Jovian Bow Shock Prize 2012 shortly after he'd first given John a copy of that LP at a Factory Floor gig - evidence here, along with the er original artwork. The other glaring omission, you might argue, is Grumbling Fur's Preternaturals which, personally speaking, is my favourite album of the past 12 months by far. As we did release it (AVAILABLE HERE GIVE US SOME COIN) we're leaving it off, but do have a listen and enjoy the photograph of John and I enjoying the album in the manner to which we have become accustomed here. We did actually enter the Mercury Prize with said album... presumably the judges were having a funny turn when it came up for discussion. The Jovian Bow Shock Prize winner will be announced later this year, with the prize being a special Quietus Hamper, contents especially selected by ourselves with the winning artist in mind. Past victors Carter Tutti Void had a vegetarian meal at Rasa, Stoke Newington, while last year we put some meat on Fat White Family's bones by sending them a Chinese takeaway. So with out further ado the nominees for The Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Prize 2014 are...

Bong - Stoner Rock
(Ritual Productions)

"It is a tongue-in-cheek dig at our usual classification as stoner rock and what the term has come to represent. The idea is to create our own definition of 'stoner rock' by creating an album so utterly stoned and repetitive to be a million miles away from the usual definition. Those who know Bong already will get both the humour and the philosophical redefinition... those who don't know us will either get it when they listen or will never understand Bong at all." - Bong

The Bug - Angels & Devils
(Ninja Tune)

"Still possessing that knack for unearthing pop from the most shadowy of places, here he's pinpointed a zone where the furious party impulses and black humour of early incarnations of The Bug are threaded through with vulnerability and tenderness, and where sound system wreckers coexist alongside tracks that battle through the city while enclosed in their own space, hood up and headphones on. As a result, the urban world it evokes feels distinctly contemporary. Listening to the MCs pick their way through the volatile, ambiguous and ever-shifting terrain of Angels & Devils you can't help but feel echoes of our own increasingly fraught efforts to negotiate our own individual roles and opinions in a society whose battle lines are being constantly redrawn and reframed." - Rory Gibb; read the rest of the review here

Daniel Patrick Quinn - Acting The Rubber Pig
(Self-released on Bandcamp)

"Where have all the awkward bastards gone, the square pegs in round holes, those who willfully follow difficult paths, to their own detriment, in a time where society at large, not just music, is increasingly conformist, commodified, and keeps calm as it carries on? In a careerist age, there seem to be too many who'd compromise rather than jack it all in if they can't realise their vision. Daniel Patrick Quinn, then, is a rarity in his generation." - Luke Turner; read the rest of the review here

FKA Twigs - LP1 (Young Turks)

"FKA twigs has managed to explore this existential condition of the performer, succeeding in accepting, diverting, turning and owning the male gaze. At the same time, she explores the strangeness of the dom, sub and switch that exists in all relationships, as they sit on a sliding scale between old-time monogamy, the letters pages of Cosmo and the hardest BDSM. That she's done this on such an uncompromising and weird album - and one which is now flying so far into the mainstream - is surely one of the most exciting things to happen in pop music for quite some time." - Luke Turner; read the rest of the review here

Ibibio Sound Machine - Ibibio Sound Machine

"Rather than simply resting on the reliable universal appeal of the group's dance orientated origins, Ibibio Sound Machine are trying something new, and while it doesn't always astonish, the high points showcase some of the best and most hypnotic arrangements from any band playing anywhere in the world today. At under forty minutes, an album of groove-based music in a foreign language doesn't have much time to make an impact, but it certainly does leave you wanting more. It's clear this is just the very beginning, and that Ibibio Sound Machine have a hell of a lot more to give." - Tristan Bath; read the rest of the review here

Leyland Kirby presents V/VM - The Death Of Rave
(History Always Favours The Winners)

"With The Death Of Rave reframed as a personal document, the mood becomes closer to muted, resigned frustration, making it a tactile pleasure to wallow through. Kirby's inherent awareness that those nights had to end sometime is expressed as a bitter aftertaste - a metallic, hollowed-out roar of sound, burning off whatever dancefloor fuel was once present to leave behind impressionistic smears of smoke and choking ash. This obscuring of the once-vibrant source tells its own message: it speaks to the challenge, if not the complete futility, of gazing backward as a mechanism for salvaging a future in which dance music's infrastructure can escape its current strictures. Twenty years since 1994, in their own way these eight suites - cropped from that original 200 or so - feel as much like postcards of a bygone era as The Caretaker's delicate manipulations of decaying 78s from the 1920s and 30s." - Rory Gibb; read the rest of the review here

Manic Street Preachers - Futurology


"For a band so often accused by their cynical detractors of failing to walk it like they talk it, there's something gloriously vindicatory about seeing Bradfield, Wire and Moore doing exactly what they said they were going to do here. Manic Street Preachers, a quarter-century since their first release, are presenting a face to the world as heroic as those in any Soviet constructivist propaganda poster. And Futurology is more than just THAT version of the Manics, and one of THOSE albums. It's a bona fide, solid-as-granite masterpiece." - Simon Price; read the rest of the review here

Perc - The Power And The Glory
(Perc Trax)

"Perc nails that feeling of loose - and slightly panicked - musical progress that was at the heart of 1993 darkcore/jungle without giving way to twee homage or neatly packaged nostalgia. Assuredly warehouse, and pleasingly warped... The Power And The Glory: a pinpoint-focused derailing of the rotten apple cart, a masterpiece of the hard arts." - Harry Sword; read the rest of the review here

Ronika - Selectadisc

(Record Shop)

"Musically I'm drawn to making feelgood music that takes you away from yourself, because the hard times have been pretty full-on. I'm drawn to dancefloor escapism and physical abandonment. Some of the lyrics reflect my struggle with the illness - like in 'Clock', it goes; "Lightning always hits the heart, to make it start", because when a major crisis happens in your life, I feel it happens to make you wake up and realise what's really important." Ronika speaking to Al Needham; read the rest of the Ronika interview here

Simon Fisher Turner - The Epic Of Everest

"On its own merits, Epic Of Everest is a remarkable exercise in ambient aurora, a gloriously slow awakening of an electronic dawn. The album could easily be tagged as a polar cousin to the KLF's Chill Out, with its similar usage of delicate waves of sound, punctuated by brief fragments of conversation, the braying of Tibetan llamas and E-Bow guitar yawning and seeping through the sunlight. The album is divided into sixteen tracks but is best experienced as an unadulterated whole, an expansive and complex exercise in glorious ambient electronica with these very parameters stretching out into infinity." - Colm McAuliffe; read the rest of the review here

Sleaford Mods - Divide And Exit
(Harbinger Sound)

"Sleaford Mods force you to confront your own fecklessness, your own role and contribution to the English malaise. Sleaford Mods'd probably think I was a twat, and that's what I love about them. Yet you can't write these off as misanthropists. It's hard to place, maybe in the earnestness that's at the back of Williamson's voice, definitely in the humour, but it's as if with all this energy and anger (an attack is always more powerful when it's made by someone on something they love) Sleaford Mods want to do right by this country. There's not many you can say that of, in the spring of 2014." - Luke Turner; read the full review here

Teeth Of The Sea - Master

(Rocket Recordings)

"The album ends on a truly emphatic note with the rapturous 'Responder', ten minutes of bliss that evolves from slow-burning, broiling noise textures into a floor-pounding dancefloor epic buoyed by an infectious back-beat and raucous trumpet blasts. With its gnarly opening and sweeping final segment, it neatly condenses the various moods, textures and sounds of Master into one track, signing off on the highest of peaks. If Fuck Buttons hadn't gone stadium-sized, and instead expanded on the brittle edges of their superlative debut Street Horrrsing, they might have ended up sounding as weird, majestic and abrasive as Teeth of the Sea do on Master. One thing's for sure: these tracks probably won't end up soundtracking a major sports event." - Joseph Burnett; read the rest of the review here