Award season is in full flow: this week we have seen the Meteors cancelled, Friday will see the announcement of the live performers and the shortlist for the inaugural Digital Socket Awards, while today saw the announcement of the final ten for the 2011 Choice Music Prize.
The shortlist, if you've missed it, is as follows:
Adebesi Shank “This is the Second Album of a band called Adebisi Shank” (Richter Collective)
The Cast of Cheers “Chariot” (Self release)
Cathy Davey “The Nameless” (Hammer Toe Records)
Fight Like Apes “The Body of Christ & The Legs of Tina Turner” (Model Citizen)
Halves “It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever)” (Hate is The Enemy)
Imelda May “Mayhem” (Universal)
James Vincent McMorrow “Early in The Morning” (Universal)
O Emperor “Hither Thither” (Universal)
Two Door Cinema Club “Tourist History” (Kitsune)
Villagers “Becoming a Jackal” (Domino)
Certainly some great stuff on there but, as is ALWAYS the case with award ceremonies, some fantastic stuff omitted. Which, I suppose, is a true testament to the great state of the Irish music scene in the past twelve months. I can name a dozen acts that could merit a place on this list (Solar Bears, Ham Sandwich, Not Squares, Shit Robot, Somadrone, RSAG, Fionn Regan, Enemies, the Redneck Manifesto, Strands, Groom, Meljoann...), and yet I can't realistically say that any of the final ten don't deserve to be there.
I do feel for the likes of RSAG (my album of the year), Solar Bears and Somadrone, in particular, as I feel all could do with the publicity much more than Imelda May, Two Door Cinema Club or the soon-to-be-winners, Villagers. However, c'est la vie, non?
It seems that already Solar Bears are experiencing a bit of a Patrick Kelleher style boost - Kelleher's phenomenal You Look Cold was left out of last year's final ten despite having been crowned Album of the Year by Nialler9 readers. This led to countless questions, blogposts, etc. asking why... In effect, Kelleher got more exposure by not making the final cut than he would have if he had. Solar Bears, as far as I can see, are the most missed so far - it could be all for the better!
The one complaint I had when looking at the list is that it is as safe a selection as possible in Irish music at the moment. There is no really leftfield candidate like there has been in years gone, a shame really. Davey, May and Villagers all topped the Irish charts last year, FLApes, Two Door Cinema Club and O Emperor were near inescapable in 2010... The most obscure candidates are Adebisi Shank (hardly obscure), the Cast of Cheers (find an Irish blog who didnt champion these guys last year!) and Halves!
As for an eventual winner, well it surely has to be Villagers doesn't it? Paddy Power installed Fight Like Apes as the early favourite, with Villagers at a staggering 6-1. Cue: a flurry of betting, and Villagers' odds slashed instantly.
Who do I hope? Well, seeing as my two favourite albums from last year didn't make the cut, I'm going to plump for James Vincent McMorrow and his mesmerising debut. James built a pretty solid foundation last year on the back of the album and is looking to spread his wings in Europe and America this year, this victory could do wonders for him.