NEXT week sees the result of the Barclaycard Mercury Prize, which looks back at the best British albums of the last 12 months, and it's looking good for local acts - an impressive six of the 12 finalists are Londoners. The Informer takes a look at the local artists nervously practising their acceptance speeches ahead of the big night.
Florence and the Machine - Lungs
South Londoner Florence Welch caused a storm with her debut album Lungs. It went gold in its first week of release back in July and clinched the Critics Choice award at this year's Brit Awards.The bookie's favourite, it established Welch as one of the voices of the year. Singles Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up), Dog Days Are Over and Kiss With A Fist showcased her dramatic gothic-pop, which sets the scene for dark fairy tales with a kooky, uplifting indie twist. After Elbow's victory last year, it could be time for something a bit more light hearted.
Led Bib – Sensible Shoes
The prize is renowned for rooting out gems not even the most dedicated muso has given a spin. This year's wild card is Sensible Shoes - the third album from London based quintet Led Bib.Their brand of hard rock inflected jazz makes for a massive live sound that ripped through the Royal Festival Hall as part of Ornette Coleman's Meltdown festival earlier this year. Saxophonists Chris Williams and Pete Grogan duel it out with such ferocious energy, giving them a credible edge that's helped them win over even jazz traditionalists.
Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy
It's been a good year for British hip hop, and 25-year-old South Londoner Speech Develle has emerged as one of the front runners of the new scene. Articulate, poetic and considered, she lays her soul bare, telling heart breaking tales well beyond her years over a backdrop of warm guitar and lush percussion.Released on Big Dada, Speech Therapy features contributions from Micachu, Tunng's Mike Lindsay and label-mate Roots Manuva, but beyond the big names and production, she's basically an urban Lily Allen, with songs laying into cheating boyfriends, reflecting on a tough upbringing and sneering at street life. Despite the hype the record's not been the smash many expected – a win could propel her to great things.
Sweet Billy Prilgrim – Twice Born Men
The trio's third album is their best yet. From start to finish Twice Born Men floats along in a magical, dreamy haze. Recorded on a laptop in a garden shed with just one mic, it's got the warm fuzzy vibe of Bon Iver, with an intriguing texturing that makes it a challenging but engrossing record and serves as a reminder of how powerful a back to basics approach can be.
The Invisible – The Invisible
With their debut album the genre-smashing trio took Hot Chip's brand of brainy electro and injected it with the rich, soulful rock of TV On The Radio. The result is a confident, satisfying record that makes the bulk of the electro scenesters sound like kids playing with a Fisher Price keyboard. Single London Girl shows off Dave Okumu's velvety vocals over an ambitious, digitised slice of space-pop. Produced by electro pioneer Matthew Herbert, it's one of the cross over records of the year.
La Roux – La Roux
In the battle of the electro girls, Brixton born Elly Jackson has emerged victorious. With two killer singles, Bulletproof and In For The Kill, under her belt, her debut album went straight to number one. A mash-up of 80s synth-pop, it's part Eurythmics, part Yazoo, with a sprinkling of Bananarama, Jackson and co-writer and producer Ben Langmaid have proved themselves as popular on the radio as in clubs.
And the other noiminees are...
Bat For Lashes - Two Suns
Glasvegas – Glasvegas
Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew
The Horrors – Primary Colours
The winner will be announced live on BBC2 on Tuesday.
The Informer has teamed up with the Barclaycard Mercury Prize to give away some Bose music equipment. One lucky winner will receive a Bose sound dock portable digital music system, a pair of Bose headphones and an album featuring tracks from all this year's nominees, worth around £450. Two runners up will win a copy of the album.
To be in with a chance of winning tell us who won last year's prize and e-mail your name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org