Image via BBC
The Mercury Prize is an annual award recognizing the best UK and Irish musicians. Each year they compile a shortlist of their 12 best albums for the year, and 2015’s list is loaded with gems. From artists established in their career (Florence and the Machine) to newcomers having a breakout year (Wolf Alice), here is a quick rundown of who has been nominated. This year’s winner will be announced Nov 20th. Visit the Official Site for a chance to win all 12 albums on CD!
Syro – Aphex Twin
The 6th release from electronic guru and Warp artist Richard D. James has already taken the Grammy for 2015 Electronic Album of the Year, beating out Deadmau5 and Little Dragon. By fusing glitch, atmospheric melodies and jungle beats, the release did very well on charts across the globe.
At Least For Now – Benjamin Clementine
Showing a vast range of influences, avante-garde composer Benjamin Clementine‘s debut shows promise for the future of the young artist. His emotional performance on Later with Jools Holland was called “one of the greatest Jools moments of any era” by BBC and gained him many notable fans, including Bjork and Sir Paul McCartney. The pianist will be touring Europe through the remainder of the year.
Architect – C Duncan
The premiere album by Scottish indie-pop prince Christopher Duncan recalls the best moments of The Shins and Fleet Foxes. Drawing upon the influence of his classical musician parents and his experience attending The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the songs on his debut are lush and brilliantly arranged. He’s signed to Fat-Cat Records and will be touring the UK in November.
ESKA – ESKA
Eska Mtungwazi ‘s first full length highlights the singer-songwriter’s ability to merge traditions and inject her unique, soulful vocals into a variety of styles. Blending jazz, soul, world-folk, and pop, the London musician has already worked with artists such as Grace Jones and Zero 7, cementing her place as one of the UK’s leading talents. She is currently making festival appearances and touring across Europe.
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful – Florence + the Machine
After being the first woman this century to headline Glastonbury in June, Florence Welch and friends are having a terrific year. The group’s third effort topped charts across the world. Collaborations with Calvin Harris and A$AP Rocky have given them new crossover power, bringing the baroque pop-rock champs superstar status. The act will be on the road extensively through spring, finishing up a tour here in the US, before making way to Australia, UAE, Europe and South America.
Matador – Gaz Coombes
The second release from the former Supergrass singer shows a peculiar vulnerability on tracks like “Detroit”, where he affirms “There’s panic in my heart.” A step away from the fun, near-madness Brit-pop that became a cult favorite in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, Coombes’ solo work documents his transition from one of the boys into a mature artist. Gaz Coombes will be touring the UK this fall.
Shedding Skin – Ghostpoet
This marks the second shortlist appearance for musician Obaro Ejimiwe, having also been nominated in 2011 for Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam. Bouncing between a poetic spoken word delivery and a conscious hip-hop flow, the London musician tells stories of love and leaving over dark but chill and soothing tones. The artist will be touring the UK late November.
In Colour – Jamie xx
After a Mercury Prize win back in 2010 with band The xx’s debut record, Jamie xx (aka Jamie Smith) earns his own nomination with one of the year’s most forward thinking electronic albums. Featuring a variety of textures as variable as the palette on the release’s cover art, the chillrave journey catapulted the DJ/producer into festival slots all over the world. “Loud Places” stands to be one of the anthems of youth for 2015. Jamie xx continues to tour across Europe before heading over to play numerous festivals in Australia this fall.
Hairless Toys – Roisin Murphy
The quirky, art-pop of Irish songstress Roisin Murphy infuses dicso grooves and electro-dance on her third solo work. Known for her off-kilter fashion choices, Murphy continues to have influence on the mainstream after decades in the music industry. The artist will embark on a UK/EU tour later this year.
Are You Satisfied? – Slaves
Heavily influenced by classic British punk, this two-piece English duo have impressed critics and music fans alike with their breakout album. “Put another 0 in your paycheck/Are you done?/You’re dead, already!” Attempting to rally the youth into action throughout the album, Slaves socio-political questions are begging for answers. The band will be playing the UK/EU in November, before heading to the U.S. for 7 shows in December.
Before We Forgot How to Dream – SOAK
Teenage singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson chose the stage name SOAK as an acronym for soul and folk, genres which she names as descriptive of her sound. However, what stands out about the young Irish artist’s style is her depth of commitment to explore the intense emotions of youth. Laced with dream-pop soundscapes, SOAK’s debut has garnered her festival spots, such as Southbound Festival in Australia this January. She is touring the UK for the next few weeks.
My Love Is Cool – Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice have been having a very successful year, with their first full-length LP reaching number two in the UK leading up to three-night stint at London’s O2 forum next spring. At first glance, the London post-grunge outfit, led by Ellie Roswell, certainly could charm you into believing their innocence. However, when the front-woman belts out lyrics such as, “….feel like going out and smashing windows”, the sheep’s clothing falls to the wayside. The group will be touring Europe, Japan and the UK through spring.