The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Cheesed Off With The Mercury? It's tQ's Jovian Bow Shock Prize
Luke Turner , October 19th, 2015 11:52

The week after an arse-crimpingly boring list from the Mercury Prize, Britpop berk Alex James has proclaimed that independent music is over. Here are the 12 nominees for The Quietus Jovian Bow Shock award that proves them wrong:

Another Monday - another superannuated pop star complaining that things aren't what they used to be when they started out. Alex James of Blur was getting misty eyed in the blue tops today about jumpers for goalposts, for when the milkman liked to spend his hard-earned on vinyl and for when the nation sat down eagerly round their radiograms to hear John Peel play the new Lawnmower Deth EP. 

The Britpop generation were the last to really coin it in from the music business and some of its top earners, like James, are swiftly becoming as tedious as the baby boomers in their myth-making and cultural cock-blocking. Announcing a new role as brand "ambassador" for a Lidl beer range, the bassist claimed: “That culture of independent music that I grew up with has disappeared really. All those bands that I used to see when I went to school, such as Gay Bykers On Acid, it’s really hard to exist like that now." 

It's not our job to tell you that the only independent culture Alex James knows about is the artisanal quince and asparagus yoghurt available in Dalesford Organic Shop, but even a cursory glance at the short list for tQ's annual Jovian Bow Shock award will tell you that independent music of all sorts is currently in glorious, fecund health. This year's official Mercury Prize list is the most boring in years, bar a well-deserved nod for RDJ. Personally, even though we had to leave out forward-thinking artists like Carter Tutti Void, East India Youth, Kevin Martin, Daniel Patrick Quinn for prior appearances, we've still managed to really celebrate the new music currently being made in the UK and Ireland. 

Of course, there's no doubt that making a decent living from the sort of music made by any of our 12 nominees in this day and age is going to be a struggle. Would a young Alex James have picked up a guitar today? Perhaps not. Perhaps music's loss could also have been pickled onions loss. "If you can make pickled onion in your garage, rather than be a garage band, you’re in business, and there’s a market for interesting artisan foods," he continued in the interview. "The spirit of independence has been transferred to food." 

Speak for yourself, mate. 

For the rest of us, here are the 12 nominations for the Quietus Jovian Bow Shock Award 2015 In Association With A Reasonably Priced Eatery To Be Announced (But None Of That Helmet's Cheeses):

Call Super - Suzi Ecto

"For several years the dominant strains of techno have tended either towards cavernous and warehouse-ish, or punky and distorted. In contrast, the delicacy with which Seaton handles his materials - and the giddy tingle of serotonin his tracks provoke as they gradually and inevitably build, crest and tumble forwards in a white-water rush - has made for some of the most refreshing and memorable records of recent memory."
Read our Call Super interview here

Cooly G - Wait 'Til Night


"This feels like the first phase in a shift towards a broader audience. With Wait 'Til Night, Campbell has constructed a record that rightly confirms her as a main player in UK production; watch this space..."
Read The Quietus review here

Dean Blunt - Black Metal

(Rough Trade)

"What makes Black Metal so remarkable is that, on face value at least, it leaves behind the pretensions that have cut him off in the past. There may be caveats to his revelations, but those are fortunately subtle enough to balance both aspects of Blunt's image: the one of non-committal joker and the other, most importantly and most visibly, of earnest lyricist. Strip away the peculiar MacBook sampling and eccentric, accompanying messages, and left behind is an expressive writer and producer responsible for some truly enthralling and sensitive work–a vein that Blunt will hopefully continue to pursue."
Read The Quietus review here

Gazelle Twin - Unflesh

(Anti Ghost Moon Ray)

"Anyone who discovered the Brighton musician via her 2011 debut, The Entire City, is in for a shock - possibly literally, as the industrial rumble that opens Unflesh is ruptured by a sudden, sustained scream."
Read The Quietus review here

Girl Band - Holding Hands With Jamie

(Rough Trade)

"This is poised, nuanced and manicured noise; noise, delivered with flair, imagination and real intent. Originality may be hard to conjure but personality is a different matter altogether. Girl Band have it in spades, and on Holding Hands With Jamie, it feels great."
Read The Quietus review here

Jam City - Dream A Garden

(Night Slugs)

" As Latham says, this album is the logical next step; a move to leave no doubts as to his intentions and to, most importantly, contribute to a more optimistic conversation on how we can truly open up new, radical outlets of expression for all."
Read our interview with Jam City here

Jane Weaver - The Silver Globe

(Bird / Finders Keepers)

"Where so much space/kraut/psych rock quickly disappears into a formulaic miasma, referencing everything but signifying nothing, Weaver's strong melodic sensibilities and incisive songwriting powers here alchemise raw genre material and turn it into, well, silver."
Read The Quietus review here

Kemper Norton - Loor

 (Front & Follow)

"I'd like to think Loor's potent collision of memory and place, of ancient and modern, of hand-me-down stories and personal dreamscapes, might be excavated one day in the far future and puzzled over anew; where Kemper Norton's extraordinary music would continue to extend myths of old, as well as creating new ones."
Read The Quietus review here

Laura Cannell - Beneath Swooping Talons

(Front And Follow)

"She still recorded all these pieces in one take, taking inspiration from traditional tunes and reworking them through improvisation until they became entirely hers, preserving their atavistic power whilst modernising them through the prism of her emotions and perceptions of the world in 2015... Beneath Swooping Talons stands as an essential work of modern British folk and avant-garde composition."
Read The Quietus review here

Lonelady - Hinterland


Click here to listen on Spotify

"Hinterland is playful – a vibrant and urgent combination of genealogy and vision – and it is this that truly makes it a masterpiece. Not only does Campbell have the creative chops to create such richly evocative music, but she does it with a wink and a smile... By simply adding the rhythm of her shoes hitting the pavement, she's transformed a nostalgic archive into tightly executed, profoundly new, dance music."
Read The Quietus review here

Membranes - Dark Matter/Dark Energy

(Cherry Red)

Click here to listen on Spotify

"Dark Matter/Dark Energy is the sound of a band that's acutely self-aware of its own legacy and where it fits in on the cultural landscape. Crucially, it doesn't attempt to be something that it's not and the honesty contained within is one of the album's greatest strengths. That The Membranes do so creating a fabulously infernal racket is life-affirming stuff. But is 25 years between albums too long? On the strength of Dark Matter/Dark Energy then the answer is no because the results have been worth the wait. By the same token, though, you wouldn't recommend The Membranes waiting until 2040 to deliver their next album. But for the here and now, this is (big) bang on."
Read The Quietus review here

Richard Dawson - Nothing Important

(Weird World)

Click here to listen on Spotify

"Nothing Important is a remarkable record – at times deeply, painfully intimate, but also witty, bawdy, surreal, disquieting, nostalgic, brash and fearlessly individual... Domestic mysticism. Football. Folk horror. Childhood. Looking back to move forward. A voice like a domestic heating appliance."
Read The Quietus review here