It is that time year again, where the shortlist for the 2023 Mercury Prize has been announced! Music fans can finally have a look at the incredible selection of artists and bands, from across a variety of genres, that have been picked out for this year's award and see if any of their favourite album's have been selected.
For those unaware what the Mercury Prize is, the event showcases and celebrates the finest talents in UK and Irish music. It accomplishes this by honouring the 12 outstanding 'Albums of the Year', which recognize exceptional artistic accomplishments spanning various contemporary music genres. Ultimately, the Mercury Prize is there to recognise and commend artist achievement, provide insight of the year in music, and to help spread new albums and genres to a multitude of people.
In recent months, a team of industry experts, comprising some of the brightest minds in the field, has been diligently scrutinizing the latest albums.
So who's in the running in 2023? Check out the full list below, and where you can see them live on tour:
The Car - Arctic Monkeys
Sadly, Arctic Monkeys have finished the UK leg of their tour, but you can keep an eye out on our website for any future shows.
Where I'm Meant To Be - Ezra Collective
Their latest album 'Where I'm Meant To Be', released in November 2022, has earned them a spot on the 2023 Mercury Prize short-list, alongside a number of amazing artist and band albums. The album exudes a pulsating and joyful celebration of life, serving as a triumphant elevation in the Ezra Collective's ever-evolving and sophisticated musical journey. Including a stellar line-up of collaborations from the likes of Sampa The Great, Kojey Radical, Emeli Sandé, Steve McQueen, and Nao, the songs on this album seamlessly blend cool confidence with vibrant energy, creating a captivating fusion that showcases their refined collective character.
Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 2022) - Fred Again..
English record producer, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and DJ Fred Again rose to fame working with amazing artists on their music including Stefflon Don, Stormzy, Burna Boy, and more notably Ed Sheeran's 'I Don't Care' and George Ezra's 'Shotgun', making him the youngest person ever to win the 2020 'Best Producer' Brit Award. Around this time, he had already started working on his 'Actual Life' project - a unique audio diary that artfully transformed spontaneous field recordings, Instagram clips, and heartfelt voice memos from his friends into a tender and intimate rendition of house music.
Last October marked the release of the project's third volume, providing a poignant glimpse into the artist's gradual re-emergence from the confines of lockdown. Throughout the album, he skilfully captured moments while on the go – from tube journeys to airport lounges – or simply basking in the ambiance of London's iconic South Bank. The result was a mesmerizing blend of his experiences, artfully woven into the fabric of the music, a testament to the ever-changing rhythm of life.
We don't have any live dates on sale for Fred Again just yet. But, you'll be the first to find out if you sign up to our newsletter!
Beautiful and Brutal Yard - J Hus
British rapper J Hus has been credited with pioneering the Afroswing, grime and R&B genre since gaining popularity with his 2015 smash hit 'Dem Boy Paigon'. He solidified his mark on the UK music scene back in 2017 with 'Common Sense', an album that skilfully blended the diverse influences of his London upbringing, resulting in a refreshing and original sound. This debut effort earned him critical acclaim, including a Mercury Prize nomination, and caught the attention of rap icon Drake, who publicly supported the rising star. However, it was J Hus's 2020 follow-up, "Big Conspiracy," that truly catapulted him to even greater success.
After a hiatus, he resurfaced in May, unveiling a grittier edge to his music, evident in the provocative comeback single, 'It's Crazy', where he delves into the seductive power of violence and contemplates the presence of darkness within. With his new album 'Beautiful and Brutal Yard', the theme of bloodthirst continues, with tracks like 'Cream', 'Killy', and 'Bim Bim'. However, there's also a spiritual side to his album, where he explores the joy of dancing on 'Who Told You' featuring Drake, and the realms of love on 'My Baby'.
If you want to see J Hus live then you're in luck! He is set to go on tour this November in Birmingham, London, and Manchester. There are still tickets available, so grab your tickets now.
That! Feels Good! - Jessie Ware
Jessie Ware is set to embark on her 'That! Feels Good! Live' UK tour later this year in November 2023 in London and Manchester. Jessie released her newest album 'That! Feels Good!' earlier this year with first single and music video 'Begin Again', reinforcing her reputation as one of the strongest vocalists in UK music. Jessie has succeeded in audaciously mulching several decades of party music into an album so relentless as a playlist, letting her own inhibitions go and at the peak of her game.
The singer-songwriter is behind some of the most memorable hits of the last decade including 'Free Yourself', 'Spotlight' 'Wildest Moments', 'Say You Love Me' and loads more. Be sure to grab tickets to one of Jessie Ware's UK shows, tickets are going fast!
I Love You Jennifer B - Jockstrap
Mercury Prize nominated duo Jockstrap have just announced a headline show at Manchester's New Century this November. Their debut, 'I Love You Jennifer B', was given the five star treatment by NME, and branded "a record emblazoned with such pristine, disorienting, unsettling originality that at first, you don’t quite know what to do with it." The album comes after the duo's previous EPs 'Wicked City' and 'Lost My Key in the <3 Club <3'.
The duo met at London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2016. Their music combines vocalist Ellery's half-whispered vocals and string arrangements with Taylor Skye's electronic production.
Tickets to Jockstrap's UK shows are on sale now.
False Lankum - Lankum
Dublin Irish folk natives Lankum have announced a UK tour for January - February 2024. The band released their latest album 'False Lankum' in March earlier this year. The album follows their 2019 breakthrough album 'The Livelong Day', which paved the way for critical and commercial success, earning them that year’s RTE Choice Music Prize (the Irish equivalent of the Album of the Year Grammy) and the #8 spot on NPR Music’s Best Albums of the Year list.
Drawing on traditional folk songs, Lankum put their own dark, distinctive mark onto each, leaning into heavy drones and sonic distortion that imparts new intensity and beauty into each track. This record sees the band cement their breakout from the folk genre, creating bold, contemporary music that may be fashioned from traditional elements but is firmly new, sitting comfortably alongside Rough Trade labelmates like black midi and Gilla Band. False Lankum also features two original tracks, ‘Netta Perseus’ and ‘The Turn’, both penned by the group’s Daragh Lynch.
Tickets for Lankum's UK tour are on sale now!
hugo - Loyle Carner
South London-born Loyle Carner first made his breakthrough in the late 2010s with the Mercury Prize nominated ‘Yesterday’s Gone’. Carner possesses a distinct and deliberate approach to his rhymes, effortlessly weaving them with an intentional and poetic flow.
‘hugo’ is Loyle Carner’s third album, where he starts with blinding fury and ends with acceptance and forgiveness. Carner has always drawn inspiration from real life when writing his lyrics, and this record tells the real-time story of fatherhood prompted him to confront his relationship with his own absent father. They eventually reconnected by bonding over a series of driving lessons in his father's car, nicknamed Hugo. In this profoundly personal exploration, Carner artfully addresses broader themes of race, identity, and a sense of belonging.
Unfortunately, we don't have any live shows for Loyle Carner at the moment. But, you'll be the first to find out if you sign up to our newsletter!
Messy - Olivia Dean
Even though this is Olivia Dean's debut album, she has been building towards since the age of eight listening to Carole King, Aretha Franklin, and Ms. Lauryn Hill. The album remained in the UK's Top 40 Official Charts, where it reached fourth place, leading her to claim her spot on the Mercury Prize shortlist. The album's title 'Messy' embodies the transformative and sometimes turbulent journey of maturing and finding one's true self. However, the music within is far from chaotic. Some of the album's highlights include 'Dive', a Motown-influenced track, and 'UFO', a delicate, tender ballad sparked by a heartfelt line from a Valentine's card card that reads "You're the best version of love I've ever seen."
If you want to see her live then you're in luck, as she is set to perform in Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds in April 2024! Her Manchester show is already sold out, so hurry and grab your tickets now.
My 21st Century Blues - RAYE
'My 21st Century Blues' is RAYE's long-awaited debut album, after finally becoming independent from a major record label that tried to confine to being a well-behaved pop girl.
The album includes many incredible hits including 'Escapism', a brutally honest account of her experiences with alcohol abuse after a break-up, which went to number one in January. From the soaring big band ballad 'Oscar Winning Tears' to the simmering and roiling 'Black Mascara' over a filtered house beat, and the dark and foreboding trap-pop vibes of 'Flip A Switch', her versatility shines. She never fails to push her opinions and life experiences forward to the limelight no matter now dark they may come across, addressing body dysmorphia, drug addiction, anxiety, and on the devastating 'Ice Cream Man' her life-changing experience with sexual assault.
With RAYE's immaculate writing, this album is too good to ignore. Tickets for her September - December 2023 tour are almost completely sold out! Grab tickets to her Bridlington show or sign up to our waiting list for any of her other dates in case any additional tickets are released!
Nymph - Shygirl
Blane Muise, better known as Shygirl, is an English rapper, DJ, singer, songwriter and co-founder of the record label and collective Nuxxe. 'Nymph' is her long-awaited debut album, released in September 2022, including singles ‘Firefly’, ‘Come for Me’ and ‘Nike’. She impresses us with her clever fusion of electronic music, grime, rap and pop, incredible production and lyricism. She initially rose to fame through TikTok, where fans know her as a constantly shape-shifting idol —new multi-coloured hair, long alien nails and larger-than-life costumes are always in the mix" (Resident Advisor). She has worked with an array of talented artists including Tinashe, Lil Uzi Vert, PinkPantheress, slowthai, and more.
Heavy Heavy - Young Fathers
Alloysious Massaquoi, Graham 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankhole make up the Scottish three piece Young Fathers. Known for their skilful blends of indie-rock, soul, and lo-fi, this trio have already made their mark on the UK music scene with award wins under their belt. Their second EP 'Tape Two' won the 2014 Scottish Album of the Year Award and they have already been awarded the Mercury Prize for their debut album 'Dead', back in 2014, as well.
Their new album 'Heavy Heavy' has re-earned them a spot on the Mercury Prize shortlist for this year. The album portrays the band's evolution from boys to mature men, embracing the joys and burdens of life, relationships, family, and the changes they've witnessed over time. 'Heavy Heavy' ingeniously blends diverse influences, ideas, and scenes, infused with boundless energy, passion, and soul.
If you want to see Young Fathers live, then you are in luck, as they have just announced a string of headline shows for October 2023! Tickets go on sale Friday 4th August at 10am! Set your reminders.
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