Let me start by saying I have no attraction to anything on this list and there’s better music on this island that didn’t get a sniff, but we can only go with what’s in front of us. Obviously there are other categories but you’ll excuse me for only listening to albums… won’t you?
All Tvvins: llVV
This is the most polished effort on the list. So competent, so sweet, so textured. I could easily see this getting the nod with “Darkest Ocean” being on the FIFA 16 soundtrack and it reaching number two on the Irish charts last year. This stuff is kitsch, outdated for ten-years-ago’s standards, and so saturated in the current music world I don’t want it near anything. But the list here is full of decorum-setting safe-bets I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the winner’s enclosure. Chorus effects and overdone vocals are such the craze it’s a perfect fit for the industry. Not for me.
This was up there with my favourites on the list. I really enjoyed the opening two tracks with their metallic repetitiveness. When Rusangano Family came floating in I thought that was it, I thought I was done. Their flow is dull and the lyrics were stupid to typical. But the female soul vocals that ended the record saved it and I thought added more context to his instrumentals. Don’t mind seeing this get the nod. There are too many big names ahead of him for that to happen, I would think. We’ll keep an eye on this guy and hopefully he’ll stick to some more long-ranging instrumentals in the future.
Wallis Bird: Home
It grew on me for the simple fact it didn’t hold any preconceptions that life will be great forever. She sees the pitfalls and I enjoyed her message even if she can’t see the hardship in the normal Joe Soap leaving the 9-to-5 and shitty relationship. Not much else to say on it, really. Solid album. Don’t really want to see it win, but there were worse.
The Divine Comedy: Foreverland
The historical vaudevillian performances didn’t tickle my fancy at all until “To the Rescue” and the eccentricity of “How Can You Leave Me on My Own” kicked in. The second half makes up for the very weak first half and the final upsurge in the finale leaves you agog for Neil Hannon’s revelations on the wonders of life. I’m probably overdoing it. I’m entitled to sometimes. A big name and wouldn’t be shocked if it got the nod. Its performance in the Irish and UK charts could be a decider with it appearing in the top three and top ten, respectively.
Lisa Hannigan: At Swim
“Snow” is a fabulous little track and the best song on any of the albums on the list. Another big name and a typical choice. One that won’t bug me getting the nod. The theme and lyrical content of the album didn’t bother me too much but her vocal performances on some of the songs were gorgeous, particularly the aforementioned “Snow”.
Katie Kim: SALT
Don’t like it as much as everyone else and I’m fine with that. It’s so overworked and you have to work so hard to get into it and understand what she’s going on about. Not necessarily the content but the actual projection of it. The enhancements inhibit a comprehensible listen, certainly on the first go. A lot of publications and people will want to see this get it. I don’t.
James Vincent McMorrow: We Move
McMorrow’s seamless switch from folk to R&B was a good one commercially, professionally, and artistically. This one getting the win I can take even if the authentic black musicians can do We Move better than McMorrow himself. Nevertheless, a tact and successful attempt.
Overhead, the Albatross: Learning to Growl
They’ve given me a new lease of life on today’s post-rock. I’m not sure how much longer that’ll last for but I took this in my stride more than the trebly and pretentious efforts of their influences and predecessors. Maybe we do post-rock better than everyone else? I don’t know. It’s been a breakthrough year for Overhead, the Albatross and fully deserved. Will we see them take the prize for their “atmospheric” piece here? I don’t think so. One of the better ones on the list, however.
Rusangano Family: Let the Dead Bury the Dead
We know ye’re from Ireland, lads, we get it. The diversity factor is a winner and will definitely be a key element if they’re to take the prize, which is very plausible. So far I’m not into their flow and words. They nearly fucked BANTUM’s record for me with that Doc Martens lyric. Their case for immigration on this record is a good one, I will concede. I can definitely see this winning on the diversity factor alone and many will see the album as worthy of the prize in itself. But I think their ethnicity in the depths of Limerick culture will be the telling factor above the record which I don’t think is up to much overall.
We Cut Corners: The Cadences of Others
The worst album on the list. I don’t think the production of the album in a chapel did them any favours, actually. I thought everything was too sparse and separated. It wasn’t as good as it was letting on to be. It won’t win it.
Now; who do I want to win? Well I gave seven of the albums 7 out of 10s, two albums 6 out of 10s, and one 5 out of 10. I obviously want one of the 7s to win it. I’m good with BANTUM, Lisa Hannigan, or James Vincent McMorrow doing it. They held the best songs, concepts, and sounds.
Who will win is another issue. My money would be on Rusangano Family even with my disregard for their stuff so far. The diversity factor is too strong and the fact that hip-hop is extremely under-represented on this island and has been on the Choice Music Prize over the years, I think they’ll get it.