DrunkenWerewolf’s Alternative Mercury Prize List 2017

Alternative Mercury Prize 2017It's that time of the summer when every UK music fan stares at a list of albums - one that somehow, unfeasibly, seems to include The xx every year - and shouts about how terrible it is. In fact, this year's token MOR superstar is Ed Sheeran; if anything, the people are frothier than ever. Yes, the Mercury Prize 2017 shortlist is upon us.

The fact is there are some cracking records on there - Stormzy, Glass Animals, The Big Moon, and the bizarrely maligned Kate Tempest are all worthy inclusions. But after watching Marcus Mumford, one of this year's judges, attempt to explain what he believes to be the current state of British music (something about how making music on a computer is cheating? I don't know), inevitably the temptation arises to share one's own divine, iconoclastic taste with the nation. And so, like others before us, we'd like you to spend a moment admiring just how incredibly à la mode we are at DrunkenWerewolf.

Naturally you'll have your own opinions about what's been missed, from both the official Mercury Prize list and ours - do let us know.

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Billie Marten - Writing of Blues and Yellows

"In truth, whether lionhearted or lying through her teeth, the songwriting never veers into self-pity, and the whole record feels absurdly confident. It's the kind of album audibly crafted by someone who obsesses over colours in art, and while she talks of getting lost in greys, and the brief spells of orange that fill her bedroom in the evening, it's always the primary colours that she returns to, both dark and bright. For Billie Marten, the blues are as much a gift to the world as the yellows." (Matthew Neale)

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Joshua Burnside - Ephrata

"Borne out of the artist's native Northern Ireland, alongside travels to and from Scotland and Columbia, the full-length seamlessly combines elements of music that he's found across the globe, sometimes within the same track. But as much as the style of the album represents new beginnings for Burnside, Ephrata takes in the earworm melody that's punctuated his work since the release of his 2013 EP If You're Going That Way. Combined, the result is an impressive and year-defining release." (Tiffany Daniels)

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British Sea Power - Let the Dancers Inherit the Party

"British Sea Power’s recent form gave every impression of a band retiring into graceful middle age, and that’s still not wide of the mark. The difference now is something that sounds like acceptance, eschewing the frantic diversity of a Valhalla Dancehall and focusing on what they do best - as a result, Let the Dancers Inherit the Party might just be their finest album in a decade. “Say a little prayer for halcyon days,” they ask of us halfway through the album, and we surely will; forever and ever, the Power and the glory, amen." (Matthew Neale)

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Petrol Girls - Talk of Violence

"Defiance is key to Petrol Girls’ sound. They are by turns manic and desperate, but always uncompromising. In a time when the future seems to be growing more uncertain and less kind by the day, hardcore acts like Petrol Girls could prove vital to alternative music fans." (Liam Konemann)

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Natalie McCool - The Great Unknown

"There's also an appealing overarching style to The Great Unknown that would put it on the front cover of Vogue, if only the fashion world gave a genuine gubbins about decent musicianship. McCool hasn't built a brand so much as served her impeccable self up on a plate: from her sharp-edged hair to the disco stutter of "When You Love Somebody", she oozes quality control and authentic uniqueness." (Tiffany Daniels)

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Marika Hackman - I'm Not Your Man

"Lyrically, I’m Not Your Man swoops in with a heady charisma that screams of the talking forests and lakes that Hackman's work once revolved around, but it doesn't revel in make believe. Likewise, ideologically the biggest influence on I'm Not Your Man is not, ironically enough, two men in the form of Barrett and Pigott. It's Marika herself. The album has already been heavily publicised as a record about sex and sexuality, and early singles "Cigarette" and "My Lover Cindy" reinforce this. While it's true Hackman has used the space to explore femininity and feminism, her personal experience and honesty seem to be a more poignant theme for this writer." (Tiffany Daniels)

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Laura Marling - Semper Femina

"Whatever her conclusions on the nature of the male gaze, Semper Femina finds the true source of its anxiety right at the death: the love of a sensual world that defines itself by the brevity of its passing. We should do well to include Laura Marling’s exquisite work in this bracket. “We’ve not got long, you know, to bask in the afterglow,” she sings. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”" (Matthew Neale)

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And a few we missed first time around...

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Profusion - Where Do I Begin?

Moving through hip hop, jazz, electronic and even drum and bass, you could be forgiven for thinking this was a Mercury Prize-style token leftfield nod. Which would be fine - except that it's also one of the most intensely listenable records of the year, somehow challenging and comforting all at once.

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Siobhan Wilson - There Are No Saints

The Elgin-via-Paris chanteuse is no stranger to genre explorations herself on this LP, including the wonderfully weird "Dystopian Bach". But it's the playful scenes she portrays - falling in love at terrible discos, in particular - that made us swoon this year.

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IDLES - Brutalism

 

The Bristol band's music has often been painted as dark and nihilistic, ignoring the fact that tracks like "Stendhal Syndrome" and "Mother" deal in a wicked sense of humour (we especially appreciate the latter's advice on how to scare Tories). They're guaranteed to be making a reappearance in lists like these in the future - unless the actual Mercury Prize sweeps them away from us, of course. Don't rule it out.

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Who's your winner? Tell us which albums you'd like to have seen in this year's Mercury Prize in the comments

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