Wolf Alice are nominated for the third time and Arlo Parks is an unsurprising first-time nominee.
It’s that time of year again where we try and predict (or fail to) the winner of the Mercury Prize. This year we want to keep our mouths firmly closed, because the talent across the 2021 shortlist is jaw-dropping.
Arlo Parks is shortlisted for the Mercury Prize / Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images
We especially love the diversity of this year’s nominees; in fact, the majority of the names are of ethnic minorities. We have Nigerian/Chadian/French singer Arlo Parks, Trinidadian rapper Berwyn, British soul artist Celeste of American and Jamaican background, African-American saxophone veteran Pharoah Sanders, jazz performer Nubya Garcia of Guyanese and British-Trinidadian origin, British grime MC Ghetts with Caribbean roots, Saint Kitts/Jamaican Neo-soul star Laura Mvula, and the black-centric UK based Neo-soul group Sault.
June didn't deliver 'Hancock's (finest) Half Hour' or Scotland's best 90 minutes but at least it had it's memorable musical moments
June saw summer start and Matt Hancock's reign as Health Secretary finish after he was caught breaking CoVID19 rules by kissing his aide at work. Wimbledon began for the first time in two years and England's inability to beat Germany in a knockout football tournamnent ended after a 55 year wait with a 2-0 win at Wembley. Ed Sheeran arrived with some new, questionable Bad Habits, and Winston Marshall quit Mumford & Sons after 14 years because he was being hounded by the "cancel culture mob" for a personal tweet about right-wing journalist Andy Ngo. Tick Tock artist Mabel returned with her first new single of the year, Jorja Smith went Home, KSI had a Holiday and Lorde made a welcome return with Solar Power. However, our top 5 releases of the month were even better than that - let's take a look.
Doja Cat - Planet Her.
Will it just mean yet more money being generated for the biggest acts as there are calls to reform streaming payments?
In a recent open letter to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, major players in the UK music industry, including Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Tom Jones, have called for a major reform of the way that they, and their fellow musicians, are paid by streaming sites. They argue that, "the law has not kept up with the pace of technological change." It is true that streaming sites pay in a different way to how payments were and are calculated for radio air play, but does that mean that the payment is too small or that the way it is calculated needs to change?
It was recently reported by the BBC that, "On streaming services, labels retain the majority of the money - with the artist receiving about 13% on average, and session musicians receiving nothing." This compares to a radio payment model where "royalties are split evenly between the record label and the artists/songwriters, with a small portion going to session musicians and backing performers, a system known as equitable remuneration."
After Spring must come Summer, and so too some warmer weather and even hotter new releases
It's hard to believe that we are nearing the mid-point in the year but yet here we are. There's a lot to look forward to in the first summer month of 2021. Sadly there will be no live Glastonbury, not in June anyway, but there will be Wimbledon starting at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and there will be the delayed UEFA EURO 2020 Football tournament. If all goes according to plan there should be a further easing of the CoVID19 restrictions on June 21st in the UK, the last significant stage of the Government's 'road map' to recovery. Capacity limited gigs and events should continue to take place and more certainty should be available for this summer's festival organisers. As children start their last term before the summer holidays there will be celebrations on Juneteenth for Freedom Day and also June 21st for World Music Day. Billie Eilish looks set to premier another single from her forthcoming album early in the month, Garbage are set to release their seventh album, No Gods No Masters, Maroon 5 are dropping their new album Jordi and Sleater-Kinney are set to share their album, Path Of Wellness. All very exciting stuff, but they didn't make our Top 5; let's see who did.
Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend.
The London quartet triumphed with their sophomore album 'Visions of a Life'.
London indie band Wolf Alice defied the bookies’ predictions and beat a number of big-name artists to win the 2018 Mercury Prize last night, for their second album Visions of a Life.
The quartet genuinely did seem lost for words as they accepted the trophy and £25,000 prize, having edged out 11 other artists on Thursday night at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, including established names like Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys, Florence + The Machine and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and the hotly-tipped favourite Nadine Shah.
“It means so much to pick this up with my three best friends,” Wolf Alice’s frontwoman Ellie Rowsell said, looking shocked at the group’s triumph, before her bandmate Theo Ellis stepped in.
Continue reading: Wolf Alice Win 2018 Mercury Prize
Frontwoman Ellie Rowsell said that, once the cycle for 'Visions of a Life' ends, the band will go on hiatus for a bit.
After a triumphant year touring their excellent second album, Wolf Alice are planning to “say goodbye for a while” before they get round to recording a third, according to their lead singer Ellie Rowsell.
Since the end of 2017, the London-based four piece have been on a triumphant world tour in support of their second album Visions of a Life, which last month was nominated for this year’s prestigious Mercury Prize alongside the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Florence + The Machine.
However, speaking to DIY Magazine this week, frontwoman Rowsell confirmed recent rumours that the group will be “having a party” at the end of the current tour and promotional cycle, although she did deny recent reports that a blowout at the O2 Arena was on the cards.
Continue reading: Wolf Alice Will "Say Goodbye For A While" Before Third Album
Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the band's UK and Ireland tour. On the one hand, filmmaker Michael Winterbottom had complete access backstage, so he catches the band members on the tour bus, in the dressing room and around town. But nothing very interesting happens with them, and their performances are cut short on-screen. Instead, there's an awkward fictional storyline stirred in that feels like little more than a distraction.
This artificial plot centres on 21-year-old London music executive Estelle (Leah Harvey), who joins Wolf Alice as they travel to Belfast and Dublin, then crisscross England, Scotland and Wales before heading to London. Along the way, Estelle falls for roadie Joe (James McArdle) and they have a rather torrid fling. Meanwhile, the bandmates (Ellie Rowsell, Joff Oddie, Joel Amey and Theo Ellis) are lounging around, trying to find time to sleep, doing interviews with local press and having photo shoots in between their gigs, at which they're supported by Bloody Knees and Swim Deep.
Oddly, the film doesn't really work as a rock doc, since Winterbottom only includes snippets of the songs. This is a shame, since Rowsell has so much stage charisma, elevating Wolf Alice's distinct brand of edgy pop. But the strangest thing is that the bandmates never get up to any backstage antics at all. They have some late-night raves in pubs, but they otherwise reveal very little about themselves. Even in the interviews, the questions are all resolutely superficial. Instead, the movie seeks some emotional interest in the romance between Estelle and Joe, cross-cutting their languid sex with the band's stage performances. Both Harvey and McArdle are solid in the roles, but there's no context to their interaction. And the meeting with his mother (a cameo from Shirley Henderson) in Glasgow is bizarrely pointless.
Continue reading: On The Road Review
Wolf Alice have gone through the newcomers stages, they have nailed all their live shows to date and are still getting better each time. Debut album 'My Love Is Cool' was an amazing first record and they really showed Glastonbury what they are made of.
All this and their feet are still firmly on the ground, not allowing themselves to be pressured into release another album and yet still not sitting back on what they have achieved so far. Wolf Alice have been teasing us with new songs for the difficult second album and with the opener 'Yuk Foo' it seems that we are in for a treat.
Rather than taking some time-out, Wolf Alice are out doing a mini tour before the release of the new record, to be followed by a full UK tour later in the year. Tonight is the turn of The Venue at Derby, and it's a breath of fresh air to see that they are not hitting arenas; these are the places where music lives.
Continue reading: Wolf Alice - The Venue, Derby 16.08.2017 Live Review
'Visions of a Life' is Wolf Alice's forthcoming second album.
Wolf Alice are set to return with their second studio album later this year entitled 'Visions of a Life'. They have also dropped the first song from the record, 'Yuk Foo', and announce dates for their summer North American tour and their Fall European tour.
Wolf Alice to launch new album 'Visions of a Life'
The Grammy and Mercury Prize nominated London four-piece follow up their 2015 debut album 'My Love Is Cool' with 'Visions Of A Life' this September. They have just premiere their new track 'Yuk Foo' on Annie Mac's BBC Radio 1 show as her Hottest Record in the World.
2015 was a massive year for Wolf Alice and it looks like 2016 could be so much bigger, after finishing their current UK tour, the group will travel to America for a national headline tour.
Tonight Wolf Alice are gearing up for their show and it feels like you can't fit another person in the venue! The band enters the stage with Ellie sporting a long white t-shirt dress and Dr Martins, and pulls the look off effortlessly.
We are treated to an instrumental intro which smoothly changes into 'Your Loves Whore' then, for me what is the best song on the album (somehow not made the top 40 charts!!!!), 'You're A Germ. A great build up and the the whole of Rock City began bouncing along to Ellie's standout vocal: "You ain't going to heaven (eyes wide, eyes wide)
Continue reading: Wolf Alice - Rock City, Nottingham 23.03.2016 Live Review
Wolf Alice and Ellie Rowsell - Wolf Alice play live at Cambridge Junction, Cambridge at Cambridge Junction - Cambridge, United Kingdom - Friday 10th April 2015