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Friday, 2 November 2012

Mercury musings

Every year it feels like all I do is bitch and moan about the Mercury prize, and sadly this year is no different.

This year’s nominations drew nothing more than a groan and a shrug when announced, but it's the same gripe that rears its head again. What is the point of this award?

While the last two winning albums may have deserved the award, they didn’t really need the recognition, which I thought was the point of the whole process. If this is just another award for Britain’s best album then, with all due respect, should Roller Trio and Sam Lee really be in the top 12?

This award seems to have literally no purpose. It doesn’t recognise obscure music often enough to make that the point, and it won’t make the rest of the nominations sell millions. With a thousand blogs, radio stations and music services like Spotify making recommendations, do we even need awards like this to draw our attention to what we already know?

And for those who do still go out and buy the winning album each year, will Alt-J really make them excited about British music in 2012?

Everyone who will enjoy Alt-J most likely knew them by now. They were already the darlings of NME, the Guardian and Radio 1, and the pre-awards favourites. I like The Maccabees and Richard Hawley, but again what would the point be?

Maybe I’m just being arsey because Alt-J are a band I find it very difficult to get excited about. They leave me cold at every listen, because when you take away the trying-to-be-weird-on-purpose vocals, this album has nothing different to offer. There is worse stuff out there true, but that’s just my personal opinion.

However, I feel that someone like Jessie Ware – admittedly well known in the already mentioned circles – could have a real impact on the charts, bringing some talent and soul back to mainstream pop. She hopefully will anyway, but the award could have served a purpose if she had been given it. And she can sing. Rant over.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Cocteau Twins - Sugar Hiccup

Having vaguely been aware of Cocteau Twins, in particular Liz Fraser for her work with Massive Attack and Craig Armstrong, for a while, I finally gave them a listen recently, and one song in particular grabbed me and has dominated my listening ever since. Despite its lack of lyrical content, whenever I listen to Sugar Hiccup I find myself transported somewhere else, with its dreamy, ethereal swirling guitars and heavenly vocals soothing and drenching my ears in loveliness. Like all good things, it’s addictive, and I’ll admit that several times I have played this song on repeat for up to and over an hour. The definition of dream pop, this truly mesmerising piece of music is instantly one of my favourite songs.

"He pulled the mirrors off his Cadillac 'cause he doesn't like it looking like he looks back." - Tame Impala - Elephant