20 Years of the Mercury Prize - Winners Poll

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What's wrong with Heather Small's voice?!

We don't like it, so there

Euripides Trousers (Tom D.), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

You're the Queen?

Tuomas, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

At one point Heather actually got paid by Woolworths to search for the Aero inside your coat iirc

Geirge Hongriot (NickB), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

Heather Small's voice obviously isn't as bad as say, the gargly bloke from Gomez, but everything else on that album is so obviously inept that it's barely a talking point, whereas I usually love euphoric early 90s diva house so the voice getting in the way becomes twice as annoying.

Matt DC, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:29 (3 years ago) Permalink

The word "foghorn" comes to mind, not as strongly as when listening to Florence + the Machine but...

Euripides Trousers (Tom D.), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

She had a TV show over here where she read out the names of anybody convicted of shoplifting during the last week, it put a lot of people off her Tuomas.

― placeholder for weak pun (Noodle Vague), Thursday, September 8, 2011

This doens't tell the whole story, think you are being kind of disingenuous here, Payne Stewart out of the arctic monkeys was also on that show and I don't recall him getting the same levels of criticism

post, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:31 (3 years ago) Permalink

Wait, I don't get it? You hate her voice because everything else on the album is worse than it? What?

Tuomas, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:32 (3 years ago) Permalink

She's the Dorothy Squires of "euphoric early 90s diva house", that's a reference you should have no trouble with I am sure, Tuomas

Euripides Trousers (Tom D.), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

Wait, I don't get it? You hate her voice because everything else on the album is worse than it? What?

No I mean the exact opposite. I was talking about the Gomez album where everything else is as bad as the voice.

Also, anyone repping for the XX album please remember that this is David Cameron's sex music.

Matt DC, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:33 (3 years ago) Permalink

1992: Primal Scream - Screamadelica
Voted this one cos I've been listening to it again. By no means the monster of a record it was made out to be and the second side has one too many sandbags. Still, as a Weatherall advocate, I have to give it its dues.

1993: Suede - Suede
Not heard the whole thing. I quite like the singles off of it. I always feel as though I have to check over my shoulder with one hand hovering over ALT-TAB button when I listen to these guys.

1994: M People - Elegant Slumming
A bit smooth and adult for me - makes me think of people trying out sofas in DFS. At least it's not the Lighthouse Family. I liked "Don't Look any Further" when it came out - sounded like the Sanatogen advert - but didn't realise it was a cover for a long time. "One Night In Heaven" and "Moving On Up" are more refreshing and upbeat than I remember them.

1995: Portishead - Dummy
I actually owned this at the time. This and The Bends were my teenage misery soundtracks, so I've never gone back to Dummy at all.

1996: Pulp - Different Class
Have never actually listened to this all the way through - Pulp are a one-song-at-a-time band for me. A true singles band.

1997: Roni Size / Reprazent - New Forms
Coffeetable Jungle. Apart from one or two tracks I always despised this for putting an acceptable face on drum'n'bass. Polishing up all the ruff edges and adding jazz-wank live instrumentation just goes against my values, basically.

1998: Gomez - Bring It On
Meh, I only heard a couple of songs off it. It was okay I guess. Pretty unremarkable students-go-blues.

1999: Talvin Singh - OK
Not heard it. I'm sure it's "OK", woo-hoop!

2000: Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
A load of fucking bullshit.

2001: P J Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Already expressed my feelings about PJ. Trying to rectify it through increased exposure.

2002: Ms. Dynamite - A Little Deeper
I like everything I've heard, but not check this yet.

2003: Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner
2003 was a weird year for me when I pretty much missed out on any new music. As such I'm ashamed to say I haven't heard this.

2004: Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
Not my cup o'cha.

2005: Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
Passable.

2006: Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Arctic Shitkeys

2007: The Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future
The Cacksons more like

2008: Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Zzzzz.....

2009: Speech Debelle - Speech Therapy
Me neither..

2010: the xx - XX
Cold cold music. Never quite got into this.

2011: PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
See 2001.

It was a Thursday night. I was working late... (dog latin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:40 (3 years ago) Permalink

i think if Roni Size wanted to make a coffee table d'n'b album he was well within his rights but as Tim F sorta points out above Disc 2 isn't like that at all and when he made Disc 1 the live instrumentation and songs and shininess was new and fun and fitted right in iirc

the Dorothy Squires of mean-spirited moaning and cynicism (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

i like the ones i haven't heard more than the ones i have heard, from that list

post, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:43 (3 years ago) Permalink

some of the ones you haven't heard are terrible ffs, get a clue

the Dorothy Squires of mean-spirited moaning and cynicism (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:44 (3 years ago) Permalink

you should hear the ones i have heard

post, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:45 (3 years ago) Permalink

1997: Roni Size / Reprazent - New Forms
Coffeetable Jungle. Apart from one or two tracks I always despised this for putting an acceptable face on drum'n'bass. Polishing up all the ruff edges and adding jazz-wank live instrumentation just goes against my values, basically.

you will always be wrong

Tim F, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:47 (3 years ago) Permalink

new forms is a great record

do you hate shanks & bigfoot for doing the same thing to garage?

Crackle Box, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

all music ever shd be ruff and shouty and sound like it was recorded in that railway carriage out of I Didn't Know You Cared by feral, fingerless tweens

the Dorothy Squires of mean-spirited moaning and cynicism (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:49 (3 years ago) Permalink

the live instrumentation and songs and shininess was new and fun

flat, repetitive and lacking in momentum, you mean? I hear very little fun on this record. TBF the first two tracks are good enough - i liked high potent too.

It was a Thursday night. I was working late... (dog latin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

fecking repetitive dance music

the Dorothy Squires of mean-spirited moaning and cynicism (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:50 (3 years ago) Permalink

all music ever shd be ruff and shouty and sound like it was recorded in that railway carriage out of I Didn't Know You Cared by feral, fingerless tweens

― the Dorothy Squires of mean-spirited moaning and cynicism (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:49 (19 seconds ago) Bookmark

Now yer talking.

It was a Thursday night. I was working late... (dog latin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

hey, i was fifteen when new forms came out - you were lucky to even know what a coffeetable was back then.

It was a Thursday night. I was working late... (dog latin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:51 (3 years ago) Permalink

Let's be really real, New Forms is way less coffee table than nearly every other drum & bass artist album released between 1995 and 1997.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 September 2011 11:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

ach, I'm being facetious, obviously. this is all based on recollection at the time. i wasn't hugely into drum'n'bass at the time, but i do remember hearing new forms and feeling as though it was bleached of all the things i did like about the genre.

It was a Thursday night. I was working late... (dog latin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

Tim OTM. The beats were great on that record, especially compared to what Bukem or Alex Reece were doing.

I never gave a shit about "coffee table". I remember d'n'b purists getting irate over Everything But the Girl's Walking Wounded and it just seemed pissy and irrelevant to me. Just the usual dance scene politics.

Science, you guys. Science. (DL), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:07 (3 years ago) Permalink

Just remembered how much I love the Bahamadia track on New Forms.

Science, you guys. Science. (DL), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

"Walking Wounded" is awesome btw.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

Why does the concept of "jazz wank" or "noodling" etc have so much prominence in British music conversations. It's such a loaded slur, British people love ridiculing complexity.

LocalGarda, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

Did you ever hear the Reprazent remix of "New Forms" (the Bahamadia track) DL?

Tim F, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

coffeetable was a good thing in my book. that kruder and dorfmeister dj kicks was my favourite cd around this time

Crackle Box, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:13 (3 years ago) Permalink

PROG

xpost

Crackle Box, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:14 (3 years ago) Permalink

K&D Sessions and K&D DJ Kicks definitely coffeetable, and maybe the pinnacle of the form.

Tim F, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:15 (3 years ago) Permalink

British people love ridiculing complexity.

Brian Ferneyhough begs to differ

Euripides Trousers (Tom D.), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:16 (3 years ago) Permalink

i wasn't referring to "complexity". i like complexity in places. new forms isn't that complex a record.

It was a Thursday night. I was working late... (dog latin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:19 (3 years ago) Permalink

New Forms (Remix):

Tim F, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

Hmm. Spring Heel Jack weren't really coffee table D&B either.

Anakin Ska Walker (AKA Skarth Vader) (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:37 (3 years ago) Permalink

xp I remember that remix Tim. I was editing reviews at Mixmag at the time so I got a ton of 12"s from that album.

Walking Wounded was classic - unlike many d'n'b producers' vocal tracks it was a brilliant song with or without that production. That album has far outlasted all the petty shit it got at the time, especially as Ben Watt has devoted himself to dance music ever since.

Science, you guys. Science. (DL), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

like i was joking about up there, i think it's a lingering idiocy from the punk critical hegemony, the equating of youth and rawness and enthusiastic shamateurism with excitement and the insistence on excitement as the only game in town. boring boring fetishes one and all.

the Dorothy Squires of mean-spirited moaning and cynicism (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:48 (3 years ago) Permalink

i've never heard the talvin singh (actually i've only heard about 7 of these in total but nm), was it really so worthless? and if so what kind of worthless was it?

everytime i see its name it's such a pure rush of 1999 boho lolz, i almost feel wistful for it.

'traveller' was uh pleasant no?

r|t|c, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:54 (3 years ago) Permalink

What Christgau had to say about (most of) the winners:

Screamadelica:

Suede:
Make-or-break is "Sleeping Pills," when Brett Anderson drawls/whines/croons "You're a water sign, and I'm an air sign" so tunefully, repetitively, naggingly, inescapably that you swear he said "I'm an asshole" even though he pronounces "air sign" a lot more clearly than the line about Valium that follows. It's fingernail-on-blackboard city for anyone who doesn't believe Marc Bolan is Chuck Berry, and at first I couldn't stand it. Now it's a fave moment on this appropriately overhyped, surprisingly well-crafted coming out. More popwise and also more literary than the Smiths at a comparable stage, Suede's collective genderfuck projects a joyful defiance so rock and roll it obliterates all niggles about literal truth. If you think their victories over depression have nothing to do with you, be grateful you can make do with a report from the front. A-

M People:
Perfect records are so rare that it's foolish to cavil about the scope of the great disco album Soul II Soul and Yaz never got near (although Donna Summer did once). Each five-minute song clicks into its slot on the Michael Pickering-Paul Heard beats and hooks and special effects, with low tenor Heather Small gender-bending her diva devotion and deep, robust, confident shout over the top. What's a rock and roller to do with such music? Proud Heather puts it perfectly in her angriest moment: "Take it like a man baby if that's what you are." A

Portishead:
Sade for androids ("Sour Times," "Wandering Star") *

Pulp:
This year won't produce a more indispensable song than "Common People," but that doesn't mean young Americans know enough about the bourgeoisie to get it. And when sex gods are added up, Bryan-Ferry-plus-Blurandoasis won't equal George Michael. But beyond his devotion to songcraft, Cocker isn't Bluroroasis--Culture Club with lyrics is more like it. Smart and glam, swish and het, its jangle subsumed beneath swelling crescendos or nagging keybs and its rhythms steeped in rave, this isn't pat enough for the disco-still-sucks crowd. And although Cocker's stick-to-itiveness over four expendable albums suggests that he's attained a measure of maturity, his breakthrough is a mutation, not a fruition. If "Common People" should fall short, I recommend Island proceed directly to "Something Changed," a happy love song every bit as clever and realistic as his class war song. A-

Roni Size:
in the mildly overrated tradition of Massive Attack and Soul II Soul ("Digital," "Electricks") **

Gomez:
Really the roots-rock-they mean it, man ("Whipping Piccadilly," "Love Is Better Than a Warm Trombone"). ***

Talvin Singh:
Not reviewed

Badly Drawn Boy:
Damon Gough sounds a lot sadder than he is. It's more like he muses a lot, is easily distracted. On the page, "You left your shoes in the tree with me/I'll wear them to your house tonight" looks hopelessly stupid; on record, it's quite wry. Nor is he undemonstrative--unlike low-affect codependent Elliott Smith, he fusses so much over his tunes, crooning and segueing and arranging and stuff, that you know he loves them to death. You can imagine him being just as nice to a real live girl one of these years. A-

PJ Harvey (1):
If Nirvana and Robert Johnson are rock's essence for you, so's To Bring You My Love. But if you believe the Beatles and George Clinton had more to say in the end, this could be the first PJ album you adore as well as admire. It's a question of whether you use music to face your demons or to vault right over them. Either way the demons will be there, of course, and nobody's claiming they won't catch you by the ankle and bring you down sometime--or that facing them doesn't give you a shot at running them the fuck over. Maybe that's how Harvey got to where she could enjoy the fruits of her own genius and sexuality. Or maybe she just met the right guy. Tempos and pudendum juiced, she feels the world ending and feels immortal on the very first track. The other 11 songs she takes from there. A+

Ms Dynamite:
If all beats are created equal, then Niomi Daley's spare garage is as strong as Kimberley Jones's thick hip-hop. If flow is as flow does, then her earned plasticity is as fresh as Lauryn Hill's easy liquidity. If singing is basically a matter of sincerity, then her straitened cadences express as complexly as Erykah Badu's high-flying scats. If conscious is enough, then "Tell me how many Africans died for the baguettes on your Rolex" will educate as deep as "Black like the perception of who on welfare." But good music isn't the same thing as a catchy feature story, and this Mercury Prize winner has less flavor than a plate of mashed. She's biracial and the eldest of 10 children and manifestly good-hearted, and when she goes ragga on the way out I wish she hadn't been groomed for something bigger and blander. But she made her choice. C+

Dizzee Rascal:
The first thing to understand about Dizzee is that his fundamental appeal is musical, and the second is that there's very little music there. Break down a track and often you'll find only an electro beat--at most three or four sparse elements, rarely long on sustain or tune. Yet as someone who mocked the minimal means of U.K. garage and considered the Streets barely music at all, I was captivated by Dizzee's sound the moment I heard the import. His adolescent gulps and yowls are street-Brit with a Jamaican liquidity, as lean, eccentric, and arresting as the beats. The voice also lends a comic, claustrophobic vulnerability to rhymes whose brilliance varies, though their winning youthfulness does not. Whether he can grow as a lyricist as he struggles to comprehend his success is the old conundrum. The smarts he's got. The right advice will be hard to come by. A-

Franz Ferdinand:
Young enough to only work when they need the money, a musical tradition worth fighting for ("Michael," "Jacqueline"). ***

Antony & the Johnsons:
Whose voice touches who is personal, but that doesn't mean Antony will ever reach as many humans as Aretha Franklin or Billie Holiday, and up against the archer Bryan Ferry, the artier Rufus Wainwright, and the grander Nina Simone, objective physical differences manifest themselves: he's thinner, drier, more strained. Not only is his willingness to express emotion commoner than indie denizens imagine, his failure to undercut that emotion with irony or humor is a spiritual weakness. Right, he suffers. But billions of humans have it worse, and while we who are luckier are morally obliged to remember that, we're not obliged to empathize with any of them. Those convinced of the metaphoric-political centrality of transgender issues and the AIDS epidemic will feel Antony's songs. Those who don't should find a record they enjoy. B-

Arctic Monkeys:
The great thing about this album is how untranscendent it is, as if these lads know the guitar-band pleasures are cons. Sing-along tunes? Breakneck momentum? Next-big-thing ambition? Saturday-night swindles every one. Instead Alex Turner and crew evoke club life as it is actually experienced. They sound like not knowing the doorman, like moving on a girl you think isn't pretty enough, like missing the bus in a leather jacket that doesn't keep out the cold. Many details are too U.K.-specific for Yank-yob gratification. But aesthetes will come to enjoy Turner's nuanced adenoids and his bandmates' thought-through arrangements. A-

Klaxons:

Elbow:
Not reviewed

Speech Debelle:
South Londoner's murmuring flow lets eavesdroppers connect her problems to their own--maybe even suggest solutions ("Daddy's Little Girl," "Finish This Album"). **

xx:
Their minimalism is so contained that as you warm against your better judgement to the well-spaced notes, subtle depth charges, and ostinato hooks with which they couch their gentle cool, you figure that the matched female-and-male drawls the music sets off will prove unworthy of further commitment. But soon you learn that these two Southwest London 20-year-olds--to leave out their ancillary and now departed guitarist and crucial but probably not generative young producer-drummer--aren't being minimal to prove they're any shade of cool. It's more like they're being minimal because they're shy. Rather than resorting to an obscurantism they're too decent for or feigning a sophistication few achieve, they trade ideas about intimacy as contemporaries, comrades, prospects, lovers, ex-lovers, and friends. It's hard to imagine their music getting much better. But it's not hard to imagine their lives getting much better. Which may be all their music needs. A

PJ Harvey (2):
Polly Jean Harvey was major when she meant to shake the world, a life project she gave up on after releasing her finest album in 2000--much of it set, as must be mere coincidence, in New York City. Creating a suite of well-turned if unnecessarily understated antiwar songs, she's a gifted, strong-willed minor artist bent on shaking England in particular. How much that work enriches anyone's understanding of World War I is open to a debate too niggling to pursue. What's certain is that her special interest in the Great War reflects the changing contours of her chosen chauvinism no less than her evolution from the rough-hewn Howlin Wolf she absorbed in downhome Dorsetshire toward the dulcet clarity of Lancashire's prog-folk Annie Haslam. "I live and die/through England/I live and die/through England"? You said it, lady--twice. B+

Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:55 (3 years ago) Permalink

xp like the wire being all wide-eyed and insistent about TABLAS? AND DRUM N BASS? WITH SQUAREPUSHER? DO YOU SEE?. when did we grow so cold?

r|t|c, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:56 (3 years ago) Permalink

liking xgau's klaxons review there

r|t|c, Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:58 (3 years ago) Permalink

xp It's the school of thought that thinks dance music is only pure when it's lowbrow and self-conscious "sophistication", especially if it dares to invoke jazz, is middlebrow pandering to the coffee-table crowd/indie kids/yuppies/dilettantes/whatever. Thing is, there are more than enough boring, guest-vox-packed, failed crossover albums to enforce that prejudice, and many of my favourite dance producers shoot themselves in the foot trying to do what they think "proper" albums should do but on the rare occasions when it's done well I see no point in knocking it just for not being raw.

Science, you guys. Science. (DL), Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:59 (3 years ago) Permalink

Love most of xgau's write-ups but "Tempos and pudendum juiced" is a phrase to be avoided.

Science, you guys. Science. (DL), Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:00 (3 years ago) Permalink

Primal Scream was a "Neither" icon and the Klaxons a "Dud" icon.

Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:02 (3 years ago) Permalink

yes. yes it was.

the Dorothy Squires of mean-spirited moaning and cynicism (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:04 (3 years ago) Permalink

Maybe that's how Harvey got to where she could enjoy the fruits of her own genius and sexuality. Or maybe she just met the right guy. Tempos and pudendum juiced, s.....(snip)

Unbelieveable, the idea that PJ Harvey made a perfect album because she'd finally had loads of sex.

Mark G, Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:11 (3 years ago) Permalink

Well, it was Vincent Gallo.

Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:12 (3 years ago) Permalink

New Forms (Remix):

― Tim F, Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:21 (44 minutes ago) Bookmark

That was alright. I'm gonna say a few crass things here, mostly based on my attitude to the record when it came out. I won't pretend to be an expert on d'n'b, but I do enjoy it now and again and have been to a fair few raves in my time. Ask me who made what and when and I'm lost though. This track reminds me why I found New Forms so objectionable in the first place. It's the repetition. And no, this isn't a moan about "repetitive dance music", which is a bollocks argument - this is a moan about New Forms, and perhaps other d'n'b of its era. New Forms, to me, sounds particularly repetitive compared to other forms of jungle/d'n'b. Like many tracks on New Forms, it's based around the same break over and over and over and my ears get tired around the 3 or 4 minute mark. There are few breakdowns, build ups or variations and it's not THAT interesting a break to deserve that level of samey-ness. I'd enjoyed the ragga-fied clatter of jungle before, and the intensity and invention of a lot of the stuff that came after (I still adore 'Body Rock' by Andy C for example) - but this stuff, it doesn't move me. It starts off interestingly enough but just kind of "hangs" with the odd vocal snatch or flourish fading in and out for the full 5-6 minutes. If I'm gonna dance to it, I'm sorry but I need more oomph damnit! If I'm going to listen to it at home, then I need more going on. If I wanna chill out, then I prob won't listen to drum'n'bass in the first place.

*puts on blindfold* *back to the wall*

It was a Thursday night. I was working late... (dog latin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:28 (3 years ago) Permalink

i dislike xgau's writing so much

lex pretend, Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:46 (3 years ago) Permalink

listen to it from the drums up (d/latin xp) although ideally they needed to be seen and experienced live.

Here he is with the classic "Poème Électronique." Good track (Marcello Carlin), Thursday, 8 September 2011 13:49 (3 years ago) Permalink


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