Schmercury Awards 2010: Shortlist announced

schmercuries

Not one to be left out of all this Mercury spoofing, FFS is delighted to announce this year’s Schmercury Awards shortlist. We had such a hard time whittling all the fantastic albums released this year down to just 12 that we had to have a sit down with some tea and Belle & Sebastian to calm our nerves. However, it is done, and here – in alphabetical order – are our finalists.

  • Broadcast 2000 – Broadcast 2000
    Gemma Hampson said: “This album is a hit waiting in the wings. It’s eclectic enough to be accepted by some of the alt-folk fanatics, different enough to be listened to by those dipping a toe into the more avant-garde acoustic and commercial enough to be played all over every radio station and snapped up by the masses.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Caitlin Rose – Own Side Now
    Helen True said: “Caitlin Rose is a young, fresh, twenty-something who knows her way around country music backwards and upside-down. There’s nothing remotely cheesy or outdated about her lyrics, and yet they fit beautifully over what is undeniably very traditional country music.  She writes witty words packed with verve and intelligence, all set alight when she sings with the most gorgeous Tennessee drawl.
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Cocos Lovers – Johannes
    Alice Knapp said: “Kentish folk stalwarts Cocos Lovers’ latest album, Johannes, captures all the beauty of their live singing. The clear-toned guitars, flickering mandolin and chorus vocals are filled with British tradition. At the same time, other worldwide musical references can be heard in the use of upbeats, hand drums, accordions and operatic vocal cords.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Field Music – Measure
    Liane Escorza said: “A kaleidoscope of textures and a versatile canvas of sounds… it opens up shyly, gets confident and alert on its own toes and then bursts into wings of indulgence… a brilliant surge of compelling music and a jungle of brilliant surprises.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
    Lynn Roberts said: “Mixing Beach Boys’ sunny Californian harmonies and Simon & Garfunkel’s syncopated rhythms with a raucous, upbeat and infectious dollup of youthful energy, Local Natives’ soaring vocals and everyday, truthful lyrics make Gorilla Manor a true delight… and what’s more, one you can dance to.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Interview)
  • Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
    Lynn Roberts said: “The most surprising aspect of I Speak Because I Can is just how robust the once painfully shy Laura now sounds. With rousingly primal tracks like opener Devil’s Spoke, she has extended her repertoire from the meeker sounds of Alas I Cannot Swim. In fact, this LP is in danger of totally overshadowing her Mercury-nominated debut.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Midlake – The Courage of Others
    Stephen Thomas said: “Present on Courage is the sort of sweeping majesty that was a staple ingredient of the folk scene in the early seventies. With this album Midlake have realised their position in the world, and in the music industry – and it’s right at the top of the pile.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Anais Mitchell – Hadestown
    Lynn Roberts said: “It’s been all I could do to tear myself away from Anais Mitchell’s concept album/folk opera Hadestown. A modern retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, it features guest vocals from Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Ben Knox Milller from the Low Anthem as well as Greg Brown and Ani DeFranco. It’s definitely one of the best things I’ve heard all year.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Mountain Man – Made the Harbor
    Ali Mason said: “Bluegrass-tinged folk songs bringing to mind the vast sweeping landscapes of the United States, from the New England hills through the Rockies and the Deep South and beyond, as they sing about buffalos and herons and rivers and bees. What marks it out more than the complex, three-part harmonies which flit so gracefully on the air is the sense of stillness and calm which pervades. A perfectly-formed work of understated joy.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Noah & the Whale – The First Days of Spring
    Lois Jeary said: “A lifetime of heartbreak away from the whistling and clapping of their twee-folk debut, the album is Charlie Fink’s brutal confession on the state of his heart following his relationship with Laura Marling. But with the imagery of approaching “blue skies” recurring throughout, the lingering impression left by this beautiful album is not of desolation, but of the broken heart’s cautious optimism at the freedom to pursue new possibilities and loves.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Peggy Sue – Fossils & Other Phantoms
    Mary Machin said: “Peggy Sue have concocted a heady mixture of blues, rock and doo-wap with their debut. Fossils is a flawlessly contained world all of its own. Its remarkable coherance makes it a body of work to be cherished for years to come.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)
  • Sea of Bees – Songs for the Ravens
    Nikki Dodds said: “This sweet and complex record presents a hybrid of tunes all tied together via the lazy warmth of Baenziger’s voice. It is interesting and moreish as you witness the tracks tumble between dark and light.”
    (Spotify, MySpace, FFS Review)

Like last year — when The Leisure Society’s debut album The Sleeper won the first FFS Schmercury Poll after a battle with Camera Obscura’s My Maudlin Career — we’ve refused to be constrained by geography as the Mercury Prize is, and so this list features our favourite records from around the world.

Have yourselves a listen, and then vote for your pick of the bunch below (you can vote once a day, if you’re keen). But whichever wins, know that we recommend all of these records very highly indeed and urge you to seek out the ones you haven’t heard. Because there’re few things nicer than discovering another brilliant album.

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