Laura Marling – Legendary Status Assured

This was the first time I’ve felt old at a gig. Plenty where I’ve felt young but never previously old. Laura Marling has a lot of young fans. Who like to ‘woooo’ at their favourite songs. Mainly the girls, to be absolutely fair, although there were many ludicrously complex hairstyles from the lads, so as not to let the side down. Pleasant bunch, nonetheless. Just very young. Did I mention that?

Furnishing the assembled throng in Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre with not one but two high quality support acts was rather generous and the first of these, Boy And Bear, might be best described as a cross between Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons with additional ‘wooos’. Which is not to say they’re made up of young, female Laura Marling fans. It’s more to convey their fondness for rather lovely harmonies. Decent stage banter and a splendidly warm sound too, topped off by a bloody wonderful rendition of Bon Iver‘s ‘Flume‘. They did point out that you can get some free music from their Myspace, so it seems only polite to do so

Next up was Alessi’s Ark, and Alessi’s initial, fluttery, kooky utterances make me worry that I might be about to witness a low budget Bjork impression, but she soon gets into her flow. She passes on wisdom learnt from one of Marling’s band too: "Did you know that the supermarket Iceland is run by a company from Iceland?" Such irreverent banter is entirely at odds with her bewitching songs and I look forward to getting to know her better when she releases an album on Bella Union in the second half of the year. Her thoroughly splendid EP, ‘Soul Proprietor‘ is already available and you can sample it on Spotify.

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The night, perhaps unsurprisingly, still very much belonged to Laura Marling, however, and her set demonstrated exactly how far she has come since the relatively tentative steps of ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’. The peroxide hair colour now transformed to autumnal browns (something she appeared to have at least partly reversed by the time she appeared on Later) and stage banter something which has been thankfully added to the repertoire, this performance had little in common with the last time I saw her, towards the end of 2008, in a small venue in Nottingham. Equally spellbinding, I’ll concede, but on this evidence, Marling will be a musical force for decades to come because there is something genuinely distinctive about her style, her performance and her music.

The set was heavily weighted in favour of the new album which suited me just fine, only serving to further clarify just how strong the new material is. She’s a captivating presence from the off and when her band melt into the shadows leaving the entire middle section of the show as a solo performance, it’s hard not to sit there slack-jawed in conspicuous awe. Unassuming, pathologically straight-forward and simply magnificent, Marling’s recent surge in popularity is both heartening and just. With a third album on the way before the end of the year, there will surely be another tour. I will consider you something of a fool if you don’t possess yourself of a ticket.

Can a serious font succeed?

After declining sales and declining standards with Conor McNicholas at the helm, the NME has undergone a major facelift and an editorial repositioning under the direction of Krissi Murison. The new editor of one of the music world’s legendary publications certainly talks the talk, as evidenced by a great interview in Monday’s Guardian, but can the redesigned magazine walk the walk?

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It’s certainly a striking new look, whichever of the ten covers you happen to end up with, even if Laura Marling‘s drooping fag isn’t the greatest stylistic decision I’ve ever seen. Most of the ten are worthy cover stars (Kasabian can piss off though) even if I’d have been a little more impressed if someone like Marling had got the cover in a normal week. Everywhere I went today, there were plenty of Florence, Jack White and Kasabian covers but less of the others. To continue to use Marling as our example, I saw one copy across a massive city. Still, I’m being picky.

The new main font is best described as ‘serious’ and, whisper it, it does bring back a few memories of the ill-advised and short-lived Q redesign from eighteen months ago. In Monday’s Guardian piece, Murison talked of focus groups wanting the NME to be "heavyweight." I can’t help wondering if that, rather simplistically, played into the font choice. That said, I think it looks rather nice, if not especially urgent. Pages seem simultaneously airy and ‘busy’, deliberate space contrasting with little fact sections and overspilling reviews. The idea seems splendid, even if the initial execution is a little cluttered. The format for the ten features for the ‘State of Music Today‘ piece is excellent: simple, clear and easy to read. It looks authoritative, informative and, unusually for the NME, like it’s designed with a slightly older reader in mind.

Praise be for the continued presence of the muso-baiting Peter Robinson and the reintroduction of a singles review. The redesigned news section is perfectly satisfactory, although the notion of a big piece on the big story, entitled ‘The Main Event’, is spoiled by it being yet another puff piece about The Libertines. Album reviews are now considerably less garish, though little else appears to have changed. ‘On The Road with…’ looks promising, a little like the main live review in Q where the journo has spent time with the act prior to the gig in question. All jolly entertaining stuff.

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However, while much of the effort seems to have been concerned with making NME a publication to take seriously, the letters page is a bit like Jonathan Ross‘ appearance at the Brits. For a start, it is trying far too bloody hard to be cool and, secondly, it might think it looks good, but it appears to have got dressed in the dark. We just want largely inane missives being ripped apart and mocked by a rotating collection of NME staffers. Putting ‘From’ and ‘To’ before each letter AND reply, is just rampant twattery. Oh, and just call it ‘Letters’ again, please. Sadly, nothing from Kinross in this week’s mailbag.

‘We Want Answers’ is now ‘Speed Dial’, which is a marginal improvement in name despite there being no discernable change in content. The usual ‘music that matters to me’ page is now called ‘Pieces Of Me’, while the ‘Talking Heads’ bit is basically the old section they got rid of that used to have a regular column by Mark Beaumont in it. Only without Mark Beaumont in it, sadly. But with Kate Nash guest writing this week, even more sadly. ‘What Rock’n’Roll Has Taught Me’ has been binned in favour of entertaining quiz feature, ‘Does Rock’n’Roll Kill Brain Cells?Johnny Marr is a fine first contestant and this does have the potential to dig up some cracking anecdotes from music royalty.

In conclusion, it looks largely lovely and I genuinely believe that Krissi Murison is capable of great things as NME editor, having already improved things greatly in recent months. The change is not as massive as you might be expecting and a lot of it seems to hinge on a typographical shift, but it’s nice to see someone aiming high. How many of these changes will still be in place in six months? Who knows, but there’s plenty there to enjoy and if you’ve not purchased for a while, now might be the time.

From: Just Played
To: NME

Good work. But, next time you put Laura Marling on the cover, wait till she’s finished her cigarette.

March Reviews

See what I did there? No? Me neither. After rejecting several tortured puns on ‘March’ and then several more about the fact there are six of these, I thought I’d go literal. Never mind, eh? As per last month, here are my six published reviews of records released this month. Obviously, it would be nice if you went out and spent actual money on the ever-so-shiny Clash Magazine, but should that be unlikely to happen, I can assuage my vanity by publishing them all here. And so it begins…

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LAURA MARLING – ‘I Speak Because I Can’ (VIRGIN)

Laura Marling’s debut set the bar high and this eagerly anticipated follow up confidently dispels any concerns about quality control. Her second album is an enchanting collection of beautifully raw songs, the faint trace of tape-hiss in the quieter moments combined with the rootsy feel of songs like ‘Alpha Shallows’ and ‘Devil’s Spoke’, making for a more laid-back affair than her debut. Marling’s songwriting has taken great strides forward; recent single ‘Goodbye England’ is a lullaby about the English countryside while ‘What He Wrote’ tells the haunting tale of separated lovers, belying the fact that its author only recently turned twenty. A remarkable record; you’ll want to play little else. 9/10

Last week’s New Music Monday has rather more about this album, should you need further info. It really is as good as this suggests. Having continued to play it solidly for a further month or so, I only love it more.

THE KISSAWAY TRAIL – ‘Sleep Mountain’ (BELLA UNION)

Some records are so bursting with ambition and invention that it’s impossible to not be charmed by them. Boasting a wealth of grandiose, uplifting and downright epic tunes, all accompanied by an ethereal yelp pitched somewhere between Wayne Coyne and Jonathan Donahue, ‘Sleep Mountain’ is one such record. At the risk of drowning in comparisons, it’s only fair to flag up the Arcade Fire debt. For those who felt let down by ‘Neon Bible’, ‘Sleep Mountain’ will give you a big hug and reassure you that it’s all going to be ok. ‘Don’t Wake Up’, the most transparent offender, is a fine piece of work. 7/10

A good, but not great, record. Plenty to enjoy but not exactly one that I reach for regularly. I suspect it may click with me at a later date and it has continued to slowly unfurl its charms.

BABYBIRD – ‘Ex-Maniac’ (UNISON MUSIC)

Fourteen years on, it’s time to forgive Stephen Jones for ‘that’ bloody song. If one track can ever stain your reputation for more than a decade, ensuring you are written off as a novelty act, then that track is ‘You’re Gorgeous’. It was never a fair representation of what Babybird’s music can be and, thankfully, still is. He’s still prone to the odd clunker; ‘Drug Time’ lumbers along with clichéd drug metaphors aplenty. But, despite these minor niggles, Jones is still capable of some genuinely engaging storytelling and ‘Bastard’ and ‘Black Flowers’ cover both ends of the Babybird spectrum: chaotic fast one and dramatic slow one. Both are excellent. 6/10

Ok, so those of us who are fond of a bit of Babybird will likely end up enjoying it slightly more than a 6/10 suggests, but in the sense of people coming to this fresh it’s, well, ok. It does similar things to lots of his records and has some moments of wonder and then some lazy lyrics and lumpen tunes.

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KRIS DREVER – ‘Mark The Hard Earth’ (NAVIGATOR)

Sometimes you encounter a voice that has that indefinable something: it conveys emotion, commands attention and sounds unapologetically lived in. Kris Drever is not only the owner of one of these voices, but he’s also one of folk music’s great hopes. He is rightly lauded for his impassioned moulding of traditional sounds into contemporary songs that have the capacity to melt the heart. With a more complex sonic palette than his debut, ‘Mark The Hard Earth’ contains a number of absolute gems. The highlight, ‘The Crown Of London’, features a truly beautiful cascading guitar part that you’ll not be able to forget in a hurry. 7/10

Think this one might have climbed up to an 8 in the intervening time period. Recent FUTUREMUSIC coverage made my appreciation of Drever clear for all to see. He really is worth investigating and genuinely something ‘different’ to listen to.

NORTHERN PORTRAIT – ‘Criminal Art Lovers’ (MATINEE RECORDINGS)

I don’t think it would be too far-fetched to suggest that this lot own a few Smiths albums. In fact, some of the vocal affectations and extravagantly jangly guitars on this record would suggest that the band name is a gentle and affectionate nod to their Mancunian forefathers to acknowledge their not inconsiderable influence. This is, let’s be clear, a very good thing. ‘New Favourite Moment’ is glorious indie pop with a crowd pleasing chorus while ‘When Goodness Falls’ features the lyric, “I’m so glad to disappoint you”, making you wonder if there’s a punctured bicycle somewhere nearby, on a hillside, desolate. 8/10

As I pointed out when this lot came up in FUTUREMUSIC, I took a few liberties with this piece, overdoing the Smiths references so as to encourage as many people as possible to give them a listen. In a similar way to how Neil Hannon claims to have only really discovered Scott Walker after people kept telling him how much he sounded like him, Northern Portrait are fairly recent converts to The Smiths, for similar reasons. Oh well, point made, I think.

LOU RHODES  – ‘One Good Thing’ (MOTION AUDIO)

Staring out at rain-soaked countryside through train-carriage windows heavy with condensation, the sparse beauty of Lou Rhodes’ voice is absolutely charming but, once everyday life cuts in, it becomes a little bit forgettable. This collection of minimalist acoustic numbers is a soothing and gentle listen but it never quite establishes itself as an album deserving of regular listens. Nice is such a bland word that it veers close to being an insult but there’s no better way of describing this album. ‘It All’ and ‘Baby’ are particularly charming, but unfortunately it suffers from the perennial problem of all blending together and, while it certainly won’t disappoint, it won’t excite either. 6/10

Oh. I’d actually forgotten that I’d reviewed this one. That probably says it all, really.

2010 on the record

New Music Monday – Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’

How do you follow a debut record of such quality, such depth and such beguiling songwriting that nobody was able to believe you were still in your teens when you made it? With relative ease, it would seem. At the risk of getting repetitive, it’s hard to believe she made this record whilst still in her teens too.

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I Speak Because I Can’ was largely recorded live to tape, Laura Marling and her assembled band rattling through these tunes in one room under the guidance of the esteemed Ethan Johns. It should be noted that there’s a little less jangle than on the debut and this is a rather more intense affair. Opener ‘Devil’s Spoke’ is an all out folk assault, before the quieter textures of ‘Made By Maid’ and ‘Blackberry Stone’ move into view, the latter a rather more fulsome rendering than the b-side incarnation which previously accompanied ‘Cross Your Fingers’. Between these two sits the first of the album’s true gems, ‘Rambling Man’. A fine example of how to build a song slowly but surely, with no need for epic strings or ludicrous guitar breaks, it is also home to one of Marling’s best vocal performances to date. She languidly curls her larynx around the opening verse, gathering in intensity as the band come shambling in and yet still holding back until the final renderings of the chorus. This transcendent vocal flourish follows a quite startling breakdown in proceedings in which, with almost eerie conviction, Marling tells us that, “it’s funny how the first chords that you come to are the minor notes that come to serenade you. It’s hard to accept yourself as someone you don’t desire, as someone you don’t want to be.” The song seems to suggest that the character in the song, be it autobiographical or otherwise, is happy to not fit in, provided they be accepted for who they truly are. The almost euphoric chorus, reminiscent of ‘Blue’-era Joni, belies the rather more complex undercurrent.

laura marling i speak

Alpha Shallows’ appears in a more concise and haunting fashion than its previous outing on the ‘Night Terror’ single quite managed, while Christmas single ‘Goodbye England’ seems strangely at home amongst the other nine songs and its festive associations do not hinder its role within the wider confines of an album. ‘Hope In The Air’ continues the moody and intense celtic folk tones first established by album opener, ‘Devil’s Spoke’. ‘What He Wrote’, on the other hand, tells the haunting tale of separated lovers over a sparse acoustic backdrop. ‘The waves came and stole him and took him to her’, sings Marling, and by God she sounds every bit the wronged wife. It is this subtle but quite magnificent vocal dexterity that sets ‘I Speak Because I Can’ apart from ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’, in the same way that that debut was a subtle, but notable, shift on from the sound of her early demos and EP. Progression is obvious, but in a fashion that I can only imagine will win favour with devotees of that stunning initial outing.

Darkness Descends’, replete with beautiful, double-tracked vocal, has a levity of touch that is welcome after the intensity of ‘What He Wrote’. The galloping drums are back on what is perhaps the most obvious indication of the album having been recorded with the whole troupe playing together in the same place. There’s a gentle, rough-around-the-edges feel to the arrival of some of the backing vocals and the halting of bits of percussion that is utterly, utterly charming. You’re probably smiling by this point. Album closer, ‘I Speak Because I Can’ quickly puts paid to that, opening with the line, “my husband left me last night, left me a poor and lonely wife.” The title track builds to a suitably wrought conclusion before simply stopping and bring the album to an atmospheric, anticipatory and downright amazing conclusion. The fact that there is to be a second album from Laura Marling this year is fine news indeed as, however many times you listen to this record, those final moments will still leave you wanting more.

I Speak Because I Can’ is a less immediate record than ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ and it is a step on from that record’s sound also, but it is a superb second offering and of a consistently high standard. While it doesn’t scream instant classic at you, after a dozen or so listens you’ll feel like there was never a time you hadn’t heard it. And that will make you feel good.

2010 on the record

Song Of The Day 17: Laura Marling – Devil’s Spoke

I’m not sure that it’s possible to overstate the greatness of Laura Marling. I had a go when writing the piece to accompany her debut album’s appearance in 40 From The Noughties at the heady heights of Number Four, but it was all entirely fair and thoroughly deserved. That record is an absolute beauty: perfectly assembled, delicately performed and magically sung. Marling’s voice is utterly entrancing and she’s showing no signs of losing the ability to wow. ‘Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)’ made for an utterly charming festive offering and suggested that nobody was going to be disappointed by her forthcoming second offering, ‘I Speak Because I Can’.

Devil’s Spoke’ is further proof that Laura Marling has every chance of being an artist of enduring appeal and with a catalogue of music with which to take on the very best. Even listening back to those early demos that peppered in the internet in the months before she properly released anything, you can hear a wonderful talent but it’s still some leap from ‘everybody knows that you’re a posh girl’ to the all out avalanche of sound on this particular track. Bloody good though.

Here’s the NME’s first thoughts on the album.

04. Laura Marling – Alas I Cannot Swim

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There was a time when Later… was worth watching from start to finish. This then morphed into a time when it was worth taping so that you could skip the odd poor performance. These days, it seems a programme well suited to Sky+, so sporadic are the truly captivating performances in any one series of the one remaining music show on telly. One Saturday morning in November 2007, I was flicking hastily through the previous night’s episode so as to find the two songs performed by Richard Hawley. I must have been in a charitable mood as, for those artists I didn’t really know, I was allowing each song about thirty seconds to impress itself upon me before I pressed down on the fast forward button again. So utterly beguiling was Laura Marling’s performance of ‘New Romantic’ that by the time the song was finished it was actually rewind that my thumb was hovering over. I played the performance again before grabbing the good lady to confirm that this was indeed something pretty special. I completely forgot that I was waiting on a second song by Richard Hawley and went charging off to the computer to attempt to find anything and everything that featured this stunning voice.

04 Laura Marling

It wasn’t long before the ‘My Manic And I’ EP dropped through the letterbox and went straight on the turntable. ‘My Manic And I’ and ‘Night Terror’ were clearly both terrific, stirringly atmospheric pieces even then but it was that one song, ‘New Romantic’, that I was fixated with. Twice in the song, Laura sings, “and I’m sorry to whichever man should meet my sorry state. Watch my sturdy, lonesome gait and beware: I will never love a man, ’cause love and pain go hand in hand, and I can’t do it, again.” There’s just something about the way she delivers it that surely makes every man listening to her there and then wants to prove her wrong and make her reconsider.

I have never seen an artist captivate a room in quite the way Marling did in Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms last year. The hushed silence between songs as she languidly meandered through the rigmarole of structured chat with the audience was palpably electric. Everyone was hanging on her every ‘erm’ and as she offered us an early listen to what would, some thirteen months later, be her next single, ‘Goodbye England’, the same reverence being meted out to the songs we all knew was present. No chit-chat during the new stuff, no dashing off for a piss. She had us all captivated, and I suspect she knew it. Some performers just have that indefinable something and Marling has more of that something than most.

Alas I Cannot Swim’, the album that appeared in a slightly gaudy cardboard box in February 2008, was every bit as good as anyone had any right to hope it would be. I was initially dismayed to find that ‘New Romantic’ hadn’t made it, but it was pretty quickly clear that it wouldn’t have sat well with the more fleshed out sound of the album. I rather like that it’s out there to be found by those who love the album but missed the early singles – a very special treat in the wilderness. That fleshed out sounding album is a remarkable feat by anyone’s standards, but that idea that this is the sound of an eighteen year old making their first record is plain intimidating. The rich, textured voices belies the lack of living and the music is a complex web of folk, pop and rock that delights at every unexpected twist and turn.

Night Terror’ comes with its own brooding sense of foreboding and really manages to get under the skin like well-crafted songs can sometimes do. ‘Cross Your Fingers’ is, conversely, an upbeat, chipper pop track that confirms a more interesting musical palette than most of Marling’s contemporaries. ‘You’re No God’ builds to a strangely euphoric singalong, while hidden last track, ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’, offers a message for life with its, “work more, earn more, live more, have more fun,” refrain.

I could easily sit here and list each song’s defining (and fabulous) characteristic, but I think your time might be better spent with the record itself. A brief word about packaging. The initial version of the album came as a ‘Songbox’, with wrapping paper, a board game, several postcards and a beautiful lyric booklet and a gig ticket that sadly went unused. I’ve since added in the ‘My Manic And I’ book that came out at the same time as the EP and is worth tracking down, along with a pack of Laura Marling branded playing cards, which are rather less essential. This unique approach to releasing a record only served to further endear her to her target audience and we lapped it up. Similarly, there are two different vinyl pressings available – UK and US, though both are now quite hard to find – with one providing a CD containing a live performance at London’s Union Chapel and the other a DVD with a tour documentary. Both are well worth the cash outlay and the (UK, in particular) vinyl pressing quality is superb. It really is a remarkable debut and Laura Marling really does have as stunning a voice as I suggested at the start of this piece. She is beguiling, bewitching and in possession of a beautiful sound. She is surely capable of great things. Indeed, ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ is the first of such great things.

Mixtape…blah, blah, nostalgia, blah…

I was about to start with a profound and incisive statement, but that new Bloc Party single really is fucking dreadful, isn’t it?

I’ve spent a thoroughly enjoyable day rearranging bits of the record collection and ripping assorted tracks to the computer in order to refresh the content of my mp3 player and contruct a decent mp3 CD for a long car journey that’s coming up. It’s wonderful just browsing through the tunes that have, at various times in the last few years, meant rather a lot to me. I did the slightly embarrassing, but hugely popular, swivelling-a-little-bit-in-a-computer-chair dance to Stardust‘s Music Sounds Better With You‘ earlier and it was hugely satisfying. And what about ‘Forever J’ by Terry Hall? A beautiful, beautiful song which was sampled on ‘Life In Mono’ by Mono, which I’ve also ended up digging out. However, whilst finding out more about it I stumbled upon the Emma Bunton cover version. Eugh. Now, I actually really liked that soul-pastiche album she did a few years back. The one with pink cover. But this is not good. At all. The original is, however, and it would seem you can still buy it via the iTunes empire.

The mp3 player will soon be receiving a number of albums that I can’t believe I haven’t felt the need to put back on there since reformatting it a few months back. Most of Supergrass‘ back catalogue is still absent, as are the first two Portishead albums and Thom Yorke‘s ‘The Eraser’. Not for much longer. Also going on will be Madness‘ wonderful track, ‘NW5‘ that came out as a one-off single a little while back, but which will feature on their forthcoming concept album, ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’. If you’ve not heard it, I would put it up there with pretty much anything else they’ve ever done. It’s great.

And with that cunning link (that’s great and so is this) I should probably say a few words about the Jamie Lidell record I was on about the other day. Gilles Peterson has started offering a splendid service via TellJack that allows you to hear albums, in full, before deciding whether or not to purchase. You don’t download anything, it’s all done via high quality streams, but it’s splendid. That’s how I got to hear ‘Jim‘, by Jamie Lidell. I keep calling it ‘Son of Stevie’ because it sounds like that sort of record Stevie Wonder would be making now if he was a) younger and b) as good as he used to be. To me, this album slots in quite neatly alongside ‘Innervisions‘ and ‘Talking Book’. High praise, I know, but it really is the best soul album I’ve heard in yonks. And, I’ve heard Sharon Jones and the new Al Green. Anyway, there’s a track on the newly updated Mux (click on the tape in the right-hand column) along with a chance to hear the Terry Hall track ‘Forever J’ and the Mono track that sampled it. Plus other stuff. Stuff you’ll like, I’d imagine.

I remember now what it was that I was going to talk about when I was going on about mp3 compilations. I was listening to Jeremy Vine‘s show on Radio 2 yesterday (the outraged voice of middle class Britain©) as he discussed the possible charges for broadband customers in the UK. Apparently, devious downloaders will be receiving angry letters in the near future, explaining that what they’re up to is illegal. Assuming, of course, that they are downloading illegally, that is. They wouldn’t make any mistakes, would they? Judging by some of the calls to the programme, mistakes have already been made and there will be more on the way. Predictably, one of the ‘I ain’t paying for it, why should I? I’ve ten CDs over the last twenty years and they were, like, £16 each, so why should I pay now?’ brigade got on air. I’ve never really had a strong opinion about it one way or another, but with the number of independent record stores dying on their arses and bands failing to keep hold of their record contracts, you do have to wonder. Ok, so it’s a symptom of a jaded industry, rather than the cause, but surely nobody who loves their tunes thinks it’s a long-term approach? Weirdly, I’ve just noticed that the good folks at Norman Records are having a similar debate on their blog.

And finally, the nominations for the Mercury Music Prize came out t’other day and I was amazed by just how many I’ve actually heard and liked. The list is as follows:

Adele – ‘19
British Sea Power‘Do You Like Rock Music?
Burial – ‘Untrue
Elbow‘The Seldom Seen Kid’
Estelle – ‘Shine
Laura Marling‘Alas I Cannot Swim’
Neon Neon‘Stainless Style’
Portico Quartet‘Knee-Deep In The North Sea’
Rachel Unthank & The Winterset‘The Bairns’
Radiohead‘In Rainbows’
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss‘Raising Sand’
The Last Shadow Puppets‘The Age Of The Understatement’

It’s only Portico Quartet that I need to do any real research for – and I will, I’m sure. I can’t think of a time when I’ve been so in line with the Mercury choices. It could just be that I’ve bought far too many records recently, and therefore whatever they’d gone for I’d have been in this position, but I’d like to think not. From my perspective, it’s got to be between Elbow, Laura Marling and Radiohead. Radiohead are getting a bit of negativity thrown their way regarding this because of how established they are, but ‘In Rainbows’ really is one of their best albums and definitely one of the best albums of the last twelve months. Laura Marling is someone that I’ve raved about on here for almost a year now and I certainly don’t intend on stopping. ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ will be in my end of the year list and it’s a near-perfect folk-pop album. It’s an exercise in measured understatement, and it’s all the more beautiful because of that. However, I think it should probably go to Elbow. They went off, not in possession of a record deal, and did it all themselves; recording a record that they would want to listen to. It’s a wonderful, wonderful collection of songs and ‘One Day Like This’ could well end up as one of my all time favourite songs.

Any thoughts? Perhaps the blog will get spammed again by the vinyl collectors of Idaho. (See comments for previous post) I’m with Neil Hannon on Idaho.

Like I said, have a listen to the Muxtape.