Mercury Prize shortlist: the verdict

Posted at 11:00 am, September 13, 2012 in Music & Nightlife
Django Django © David Drake

The shortlist has been predictably unpredictable this year, with only four of our  initial suggestions for inclusion making the cut (where are Saint Etienne and Rustie? Criminal!). So who’s worthy and who’s going to win? Here’s what we make of the shortlist…

Alt-J
Rapidly becoming the bookies’ favourite, this indie-folk group have really captured people’s imaginations with their combination of eerily beautiful choruses, catchy vocal harmonies, plucked guitars and bubbling electronics.
See live | Buy album 

Jessie Ware
We’re predicting a tough fight between Alt-J and Ms Ware to see who’ll lift the prize. ‘Devotion’ is an incredible album with proper grown-up production and spellbinding vocals.
Read album review | See live | Buy album

Lianne La Havas
We were a bit disappointed with Lianne La Havas’s debut, ‘Is Your Love Big Enough’. The breakthrough singer promised a lot, but the magic of that early Jools Holland performance wasn’t quite captured on record.
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Michael Kiwanuka
Not a choice that sets us alight. Kiwanuka’s warm, down-home singer-songwriter tunes will appeal to a certain demographic, but there’s been more interesting music made this year.
Buy album

Sam Lee
It’s very nice to see Sam Lee on the list. We’ve had a lot of time for the London-based, Scots-influenced singer. Lee’s behind a welcome folk resurgence in the city, and his lively tunes have appeal far beyond that scene.
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Richard Hawley
‘Lovely Richard Hawley’ is a phrase that can often be heard around Time Out Towers. Who can begrudge the Sheffield bod a nomination. His deep and rich ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’ is one of the favourites to take the Prize by our estimations, especially after he ‘was robbed’ by Arctic Monkeys for ‘Coles Corner’.
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Plan B
Always a definite for the shortlist, Plan B’s ‘Ill Manors’ album represents the interests of the angry youf in this list. It’s a pretty damn good listen as well.
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Field Music
A leftfield choice – a band who are doing interesting, well orchestrated, unusual pop. This could be a big breakthrough for the Sunderland band.
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Ben Howard
Music that’s been described in the Time Out office as like something you’d hear in a lift. ‘Oh, stab me in the ear,’ was another comment this record provoked. Not a good choice for us.
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Roller Trio
This year’s jazz pick. The band Gilles Peterson (who knows about these things) has labelled ‘the new sound of UK jazz’. So there you go.
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The Maccabees
Anthemic and adorable indie popsters whose last album, ‘Given To The Wild’ managed to sound both mature and immature at the same time. A worthy inclusion.
Buy album 

Django Django
Country meets rave meets math rock. The Djangos’ formula is unique and their cool and catchy debut was always likely to crop up here. They’ve even got an outside shot at winning the thing.
See live | Buy album 

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