Our pick of the best British albums of the past 12 months.
Phantasy Sound, October 7th 2013
Daniel Avery's debut album was that rare record that managed to bring the intensity of the dancefloor to a format for home listening without watering down the sound or dropping on the energy. Read Dummy's interview with Daniel Avery here.
Warp Records, October 14th 2013
Kwes's debut 'ilp' combined the vivid personal history of its maker with some seriously inventive production and diversions into pop music. Read Dummy's interview with Kwes here.
Keysound Recordings, November 18th 2013
Logos exorcised the phantoms of pirate radio on his debut album for Keysound Recordings. A sparse, ice cold, experimental grime record, it was a fitting soundtrack to the winter months when it came out in November last year. Read Dummy's Found Sound interview with Logos here.
Ninja Tune, January 27th 2014
For what was touted to be the final Actress album, 'Ghettoville' was a remarkably bleak listen that felt like a shedding of the skin rather than going out in a blaze of glory. We can't really see the Mercury judges going for something so muted and austere, mind. Read Dummy's review of 'Ghettoville' here.
Big Dada, February 3rd 2014
Three guys from Edinburgh make a not-quite-rap record exploring their individual heritage. Dark, but with a solid pop foundation that separates it from your Actresses and Logoses, 'Dead' is deservedly in with a chance of a nomination this year. Read Dummy's interview with Young Fathers here.
Warp Records, February 24th 2014
patten's second album and his first for Warp was a cerebreal yet playful record, full of layered textures and audio collages that built up and inhabited its own unique little world. Read Dummy's interview with patten here.
Because Music, March 10th 2014
The odds of Metronomy's fourth record winning the prize are slim given that their superior third album, 'The English Riviera', didn't win after it was nominated in 2011. Still, 'Love Letters' is a really excellent record, containing some of Metronomy's best songwriting and enough new ideas in its production to keep things feeling fresh. Read Dummy's interview with Metronomy here.
'Under The Skin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'
Milan Records, March 31st 2014
In which one of Britain's oddest pop musicians goes and does a lurching, unsettling, often transcendant and divine score for a Scarlett Johansson film. It's hard to imagine the film being half as successful without Mica Levi's soundtrack. It's unlikely that a soundtrack will take home the prize, but Levi deserves a nod if only to acknowledge how far one of the country's most hardworking and innovative musicians has come.
Local Action Records, March 31st 2014
The Mercury judges are far from averse to giving a UK dance pop album a nod. DJ Q's debut album expresses his obsessions with club and pop music past and present with a technical brilliance and, more importantly, a sheer love for the music that he's making. Read Dummy's review of 'Ineffable' here.
R&S Records, June 16th 2014
Lone's 'Reality Testing' is probably his strongest statement yet. Switching up technicolour rave for old school boom bap and dusty house music, its reference points might be nostalgic, but 'Reality Testing' feels like a record for the city streets of today. Read Dummy's interview with Lone here.
Young Turks, August 11th 2014
A pop musician with an instantly-iconic look, a modern sound, and a unique, artistic visual identity is a dead cert for a Mercury nomination. But the reason FKA twigs's debut deserves it is that the music is downright remarkable. Read Dummy's review of 'LP1' here.
'Angels & Devils'
Ninja Tune, August 25th 2014
Few records have captured the social climate of 2014 as brilliantly as Kevin Martin's latest opus. 'Angels & Devils' is a hard and heavy album with a huge cast of guest collaborators, and although it's hard to imagine the Mercury judges getting behind an album of industrial ragga, it's also not impossible.
At 5.30pm today, the Mercury Music Prize will announce their shortlist for nominations, with a panel of industry bods selecting the 12 albums that they feel represent the best that Britain has had to offer in the past 12 months. One of those albums will go on to win the award, which includes a nice trophy, some £20,000 upfront, and a lot more from the sales generated by the exposure.
We've chosen 12 albums that we think should be in with a shot of winning. Like the real Mercury shortlist, our criteria for selection is based on records by British passport holders that were given a physical release between September 10th 2013 and September 8th 2014 that we believe are the best albums that the UK has to offer. This isn't necessarily an 'alternative' albums list, as we fully expect some of these to get nominated, and maybe even win the prize - after all, last year we included James Blake's eventual winner 'Overgrown'.