Villagers make the cut for Mercury music prize

DUBLIN band Villagers have been included on the shortlist for this year’s Mercury Prize.

Led by Conor J O’Brien, the band has enjoyed huge success with the album Becoming a Jackal reaching number one in the album charts in Ireland.

Quintet Villagers have appeared on Later with Jools Holland in April and released their debut album to critical acclaim in May.

Chart veteran Paul Weller was also shortlisted for the Mercury Prize for the first time in 16 years — and will battle it out with past winner Dizzee Rascal.

Also in the running are The xx — whose music provided the theme for the BBC’s election coverage — and 40-something Mancunian trio I Am Kloot have made their shortlist debut with their fifth album.

They are among 12 acts battling for the award, officially called the Barclaycard Mercury Prize, which rewards the outstanding album of the year.

Dizzee first won the Mercury with debut release Boy In Da Corner in 2003. This latest nomination for Tongue N’ Cheek is his third in only four albums, as he was also listed in 2007 for Maths + English. Weller has only once been nominated for the Mercury since its 1992 launch. His second solo release, Wild Wood, was shortlisted in 1994, losing out to M People’s Elegant Slumming on the night.

Also finding a repeat inclusion is Laura Marling, whose I Speak Because I Can follows her 2008 debut Alas, I Cannot Swim on to the shortlist.

As well as a £20,000 (€23,000) prize, the award can be an invaluable method of raising awareness for shortlisted acts and many see a huge sales boost.

However, last year’s winner, Speech Debelle, bucked the trend and failed to strike a chord with the public.

Established names on this year’s list include Corinne Bailey Rae — whose album The Sea deals with how she coped following the death of her husband — and Scottish rock trio Biffy Clyro.

Kendal quartet Wild Beasts — noted for Hayden Thorpe’s unusual countertenor singing voice — and Oxford’s Foals are both shortlisted for second albums.

The winner will be announced in September.


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