After lasts year’s ‘obscure’ Mercury Prize nominations, it was a surprise to see few well-known friendly faces in the list this year, but not a bad one nonetheless. Heading up nominations this year and David Bowie’s first album in a decade, Next Day, and Arctic Monkey’s latest effort, AM, along with Disclosure, Laura Mvula, Foals, Jon Hopkins, Savages, Rudimental, James Blake, Laura Marling, Jake Bugg and Villagers. If you slept on some of these albums, worry not, here’s our quick guide to the 2013 nominees…
Arctic Monkey’s fifth studio album, AM, was recorded in Los Angeles and only saw its release on Monday, but has managed to secure itself a place in the nominations list. A fine return to form from the band, the album feels a lot more mature than their previous efforts. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the bookies faves to win.
David Bowie’s first album in a decade, The Next Day was a huge surprise to music fans when it was released on Bowie’s sixty-sixth birthday. His twenty-fourth studio album, this was his first to reach number one since 1993. It is not yet known if Bowie will attend the ceremony if he wins or perform in the annual run of Mercury Nominee concerts, but the album is frontrunner to win the competition.
Settle, the debut album from sibling dance-duo, Disclosure, went straight in at number one in the UK Album Charts when it was released in May this year, and features the vocal talents of Sam Smith, Aluna Francis, Jessie Ware, Ed Macfarlane, London Grammar and Jamie Woon. It received widespread critical acclaim, and has helped to put intelligent dance music back on the mainstream map. Disclosure have just announced a huge date at Ally Pally next March, following their entire UK tour selling out, tickets for the date are on sale here.
Foals’ third studio album, Holy Fire, reached number 2 in the UK Album Charts when it was released back in February, and was only pipped to the post the the Les Miserables soundtrack – perhaps an oversight by the British public. The album saw the band move to a slightly darker, more ‘funky’ sound, after they discovered a plethora of new sounds for the album. You can catch Foals in Glasgow, Newcastle and Birmingham next February, tickets are on sale here.
The eponymous debut from Nottingham teenage Indie sensation, Jake Bugg, caused waves in the industry when it was released back in October last year, his age defying his beyond-his-years vocals. The judges said that the album was comprised of “fluent, restless, acutely observed songs of teenage life in contemporary Britain”. jake Bugg begins a huge UK tour towards the end of October, tickets are still available (except for London) here.
Overgrown, the self-produced sophomore album from James Blake, featured guest appearances from Brian Eno and RZA and was released back in April. Reaching number 8 in the UK Album Charts, this is Blake’s highest charting, and arguably best work to date. The album was widely well received, receiving a five star rating from The Guardian. James Blake steps out on tour in just six days, you can check out the dates and get tickets here.
Jon Hopkins’ fourth studio album, Immunity, was released back in June, and received widespread critical acclaim from the likes of Mixmag, who awarded the album five stars, to the NME, who gave the album a solid 8/10. The album is structured around the highs and lows of a night out, and closes with an eleven minute techno-piece, followed by the title track. After selling out KOKO in record time for his upcoming live AV show, Hopkins plays Oval Space in February 2014, tickets are on sale here.
This is Laura Marling’s third Mecury Prize nomination to date, this time for fourth studio album, Once I Was An Eagle. The album went into the charts at number three. Marked as her “break away from the nu-folk label she shared with former bandmates and lovers Noah And The Whale and Mumford And Sons” (Clash), this album saw Laura truly come into her own. Marling plays Shepherds Bush Empire on 2nd October, you can still get your hands on tickets here.
Laura Mvula’s debut studio album, Sing To The Moon, reached number nine in the UK Album Charts, but topped the UK R&B Charts when it was released back in March. She has gone on to perform twice at this year’s Glastonbury and supported Prince in Sweden, a far cry from her previous role in teaching. You can catch Laura playing in London and Bristol this October, tickets are on sale here.
Another group putting Dance music back on the map are Rudimental, who kickstarted the revival back in 2012 with their John Newman-featuring track, Feel The Love. The debut album, Home, went straight in at number one on the UK Album charts, and featured 2013 summer smash, Waiting All Night. Rudimental’s UK tour sold out in a flash, but you can still get tickets to catch them on a few of their DJ set shows here
Silence Yourself is the debut album from post-punk band, Savages released on Matador Records, as well as singer Jehnny Beth’s own label, Pop Noire. Although the album only reached number 19 in the UK Album, it was received well, with Pitchfork describing it as “one of rock’s most commanding and ferociously poised debuts in recent years”. Savages play Glasgow this November, tickets are available here
The only entry to come in from the Republic of Ireland, Awayland is Villagers’ second studio album and second Mercury Prize Nomination, with their debut, Becoming A Jackal receiving a nomination back in 2010. Domino Records’ third album in the nominations list, Awayland receiving glowing reviews in the press, with The Quietus challenging you to find a better opening line this year than “naked on the toilet with a toothbrush in his mouth, when he suddenly acquired an overwhelming sense of doubt” from Earthly Pleasures. Villagers are on tour this November, you can get tickets here.