Pick Your Poison: Thursday 11-1-12
Today was the big day they announced the winner of this year’s Barclaycard Mercury Prize, which goes to the best British album of the past year. This year’s set of nominees was an eclectic bunch, and included such relative unknowns as Sam Lee, Lianne La Havas, Plan B, Ben Howard and Roller Trio. The more easily recognizable names included Richard Hawley, Michael Kiwanuka, Field Music, The Maccabees, Django Django and Jessie Ware. Of all the artists I just listed, the only one I feel was robbed in this case was Jessie Ware. Her record Devotion is one of 2012′s finest. That’s certainly more than can be said about the winners of this year’s Mercury Prize, Alt-J. To be clear, I don’t dislike Alt-J’s record An Awesome Wave. In fact, I think it’s very well put together. My issue is that the record feels like it panders to the lowest common denominator. The band took a bunch of sounds and styles that were popular in 2010 and 2011, and crafted songs based around them. They do a decent job with whatever genre or style they’re trying to imitate at the time, and it often doesn’t allow for any real cohesion between songs. It’s like they took a whole mess of stuff and threw it against the wall to see what would stick. Does Alt-J sound like your favorite band? They should, on at least one song on the record should. Call it a crowd pleaser, but not really a critic pleaser. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle of all that. But congratulations to Alt-J for winning the Mercury Prize. It may seem like validation of a job well done, but there’s plenty more left to do, boys. Speaking of crowd pleasers and incoherent connections between songs, Pick Your Poison has some of those things today. Highlights include tracks from Buffalo Killers, Dumbo Gets Mad, Esben and the Witch, Marissa Nadler (covering Duran Duran), Qurious, School of Seven Bells and Team Genius.