Things We Love This Week: Mercury Prize noms, Doe, Wolf Girl

The biggest thing to happen in music this week was, without a doubt, the announcement of the Mercury Prize nominations. You’ve probably read way too much about it already, so here’s some more opinions (and also two fun songs you might like).

Mercury Prize Nominees

There is SO much to say about this, but I shall rein it in. Firstly, here’s full the list of nominees:

Arctic Monkeys – ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’
Everything Everything – ‘A Fever Dream’
Everything Is Recorded – ‘Everything Is Recorded’
Florence + The Machine – ‘High As Hope’
King Krule – ‘The OOZ’
Jorja Smith – ‘Lost & Found’
Lily Allen – ‘No Shame’
Nadine Shah – ‘Holiday Destination’
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – ‘Who Built The Moon?’
Novelist – ‘Novelist Guy’
Sons of Kemet – ‘Your Queen Is A Reptile’
Wolf Alice – ‘Visions of a Life’

Last year Sampha won with ‘Process’ – unsurprisingly one of the best albums of the year. We all have a lot of re-listening to do this weekend, but for now here are my preliminary bets.

Nadine Shah’s politically-charged album was awesome, tackling the refugee crisis, a “fascist in the White House” and a lack of empathy in human beings. It’s a touching record from a woman with an INSANE voice. Love it.

Jorja Smith’s debut as been storming its way across everything. It’s vibey, smooth and delicious in every way, with some serious Lauryn Hill vibes. She wrote Teenage Fantasy at the age of 16, and has a Mercury Prize nomination at the age of 21. The songs can get a bit samey, and often I find her voice a little cringey. But we will see.

The Everything Everything record has some absolute bangers. Catchy and clever synth pop is everyone’s favourite blend of synth pop, and Jonathan Higgs’s exceptional vocals truly are something to behold.

Finally, Arctic Monkeys probably have a good chance. I dislike the album (sorry). But, they’ve been nominated four times before, winning with their awesome debut ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’. People just can’t get enough of ‘em.

Doe – Heated

I’m loving lots of stuff on the Big Scary Monsters label at the moment. Doe, an indie-punk band from London, shared a new single Heated this week that comes alongside news of a fresh new album, ‘Grow Into It’. More than anything, to be honest I think I just love the colour scheme of the video. Hello new interior design project…

Wolf Girl – Toast For Dinner

I love toast. I love toast for breakfast, and also for dinner. To be honest, any meal of the day works for me. The DIY vibes of the video combine with a fun kids-disco-esque backdrop and a whole magician theme going on. FUN. The track comes from ‘Every Now & Then’, the band’s sophomore album, scheduled for October 19 through Everything Sucks Music. Get your eyes and ears on this.

Till next time, pals.

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Festival Preview: What To Expect From All Points East

The festival market is HUGE. There are hundreds to choose from in the UK alone. So, taking a huge leap and starting a brand new one in the current landscape is a risky decision. How do you stand out?

Well, it helps to be backed by the organisers of Coachella, and to slot in at a venue that’s been part of the scene for a while. All Points East will take place in London’s Victoria Park this weekend, and it’s being pitched as a fest for discerning music fans.

It arrives complete with claims of the best sound the park has ever heard, along with the obligatory fairground rides and hipster street food vans. But the real answer to standing out? Same as it ever was. Get the right line up.

On paper, the All Points East bill is forward-thinking, eclectic, and most of all cool. Just like you, right? First up, comeback kings LCD Soundsystem take over the East Stage on Friday night. Last September saw the release of their critically acclaimed comeback ‘American Dream’, the first new material from the Brooklyn dance-punks since their 2011 Madison Square Garden sign off.

Frontman James Murphy will be hitting the decks throughout the weekend too, with his side project Despacio – a collaboration with David and Stephen Dewaele of Soulwax and 2manydjs.

The Saturday night headliners showcase smooth laid back beats, distinctive vocals, flawless productions skills and even a Mercury Prize – it could only be the XX. The idea will very much be to lose yourself in a concoction of Jamie XX, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s vocal plaits, delicate reverb and ambient backgrounds.

Sunday’s headliner might be one of the most eclectic singers of a generation, and one of the few genuine legends we have left. Björk will draw a line under things with colourful art-pop and avant-garde everything. There’s a decent gender balance on the bill – no, it ain’t a 50/50 split, we’re a long way off that yet – but it is far more diverse than some.

Across the weekend, expect to see performances from genre-spanning giants like Sampha, the international-pop-band-of-the-moment Superorganism, the returning shimmering indie band Friendly Fires, as well as the hugely popular Lorde, Father John Misty, Glass Animals, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Stefflon Don, Soulwax… you get the picture.

Thankfully, there isn’t too much overlap in terms of stage clashes – a sticking point often met with disappointment from die-hard festival-goers. On this bill, the most difficult decision you’ll make will be between Flying Lotus 3D and Father John, or Rex Orange County and Laura Misch.  

Possibly one of the most interesting parts of All Points East is the accompanying side shows. They make the festival feel like more of a sprawl, with an eclectic list of big names set to step in. On June 1, indie types Catfish and the Bottlemen like will be joined by fellow indie types Blossoms and the Hunna, while the National take over on Saturday June 2 with their biggest headline show to date.

Support there comes from from the War On Drugs, Public Service Broadcasting, This Is The Kit and loads more, while Nick Cave and some particular Bad Seeds close the entire event – after sets from none other than Patti Smith, St. Vincent and Courtney Barnett – on June 3.

All Points East is an interesting proposition. It could be big, judging from the organisers and stellar line up. By the time Björk is done with us, it might be one of those events that elicits a response of jealousy and awe from your mates.

But it if it sounds like an overload of great bands all in one go, you’re also possibly on the money. Like most festivals it’ll likely be chaotic, expensive, and difficult to see past the tall guy in front of you while Matt Berninger does his thing or the many colours of Beck pass you by.

These are the risks, but early suggestions are that All Points East will hand you some of the best around on a historical-park-shaped platter.

 

When? May 25 – June 3

Where? Victoria Park, London

How much? £39.95 – £169.95

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This Week’s New Releases: Big Sean, Elbow And Sampha

2017 is well underway and the records keep on coming. Big Sean is following up 2015’s ‘Dark Sky Paradise’ with ‘I Decided’, Elbow are racking up LP #7 and Sampha has put out his eagerly awaited debut album, ‘Process’.

If none of that is up your street, check out the rest of our pick of this week’s new releases below.

Beachheads – ‘Beachheads’ (Fysisk Format)

Big Sean – ‘I Decided’ (Virgin EMI)

Cigarettes After Sex – ‘EP I.’ (Spanish Prayers)

Elbow – ‘Little Fictions’ (Polydor)

Fenech-Soler – ‘Zilla’ (So)

Homeshake – ‘Fresh Air’ (Sinderlyn)

Lower Than Atlantis – ‘Safe In Sound’ (Easy Life Records)

Sampha – ‘Process’ (Young Turks)

Surfer Blood – ‘Snowdonia’ (Joyful Noise​/Secretly Canadian​​)

Syd – ‘Fin’ (Columbia)

The Dears – ‘Times Infinity Volume One’ (Dangerbird)

The Menzingers – ‘After The Party’ (Epitaph)

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