So, it’s that time of year again. Got to admit, it’s crept up on me and I haven’t really felt a huge urge to write about what a controversial or ‘edgy’ list it is like I do most years. Whether that’s to do with the self-styled independent nature of the awards, the state of the British music industry or whether it’s just a shit list I’m not sure. Anyway, the list and odds.
Florence and the Machine – Lungs 5/1
Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum 5/1
Bat for Lashes – Two Suns 6/1
La Roux – La Roux 6/1
Glasvegas – Glasvegas 6/1
Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy 8/1
Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires 8/11
The Horrors – Primary Colours 8/1
Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew 8/1
The Invisible – The Invisible 10/1
Led Bib – Sensible Shoes 10/1
Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Men 10/1
My heart goes with Bat for Lashes, her sophomore effort is assured and much more than the debut that (unfairly) failed to win in 2007, though the list being as it is, and the judges being as they are, I find it hard to see her winning it; she’s neither unknown enough to be a shock choice, nor safe enough to be a uncontroversial one.
I criticized last year’s list for being ‘predictable’ – I also started the post with ‘It’s that time of the year again!’, whoops – that’s not really a criticism you could aim at the list this year, but I’m not really sure if it’s a particularly strong list, or even if a strong list could have been compiled out of recent British releases.
A quick glance at my ‘Best of 2009’ list and I realise it’s nearly entirely American, apart from Jarvis, Clark and, of course, Bat for Lashes. British music, particularly ‘Indie’, Rock and Alternative music which is where my preferences lie, seems incredibly stale, derivative and well, shit.
We have the NME; America has Pitchfork.
We have Reading; America has Bonnaroo.
We have Glasvegas; America has Grizzly Bear.
We have Kasabian; America has Animal Collective.
Ok, so some of those comparisons are a little facetious, but British rock music and the festivals that it fills are entering a bit of a nose dive. It’s not only a case of the top tiers, the elite of each country’s output that is differing, browse the mid-levels of festivals and the real difference in depth of quality begins to show; Of course, being a different country we don’t have to endure the reams of shit music that American doubtless produces just as they won’t hear much of ours – regardless if it’s good or not – but festivals like Coachella, Bonnarro and Lollapalooza will be stocked with bands like St Vincent, Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter and Dan Deacon in the lower reaches of their line-ups; festival goers to the venerable (and, don’t get me wrong, thoroughly excellent) Glastonbury music festival have to endure the ‘Lad Rock’ parade of NME-backed bands like The View, The Maccabbes and Enter Shikari. And this is ignoring the (mostly) truly awful line-ups at lesser festivals such as V, Reading and T in the Park.
British festivals also have a strange aversion to Hip Hop, something that is perhaps merely a reflection to how bad we are as a nation at the genre, but is genuinely embarrassing at times. One only has to look at last years outcry against Jay-Z to see that the British music scene, and it’s followers, are both perhaps a little introverted and incestuous in what they like and support.
This is not to say we don’t have great bands, we do. Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys are two great examples of innovative and great bands that we should be proud of, but further examples? Radiohead are pretty old now, so arguably you could erase them from that list if you wanted a list of ‘contemporary’ British music, thought I’d strongly argue that they are still very relevant they’re not a product of the current scene as say, the Arctic Monkeys, or worse yet, Kasabian, are.
Maybe it’s just a fallow year for British artists, but as I browse through my last.fm profile, my recently added music on iTunes and the bands I’m generally turned on by and follow, I realise they’re all from Brooklyn, Baltimore or Atlanta, rather than London, Sheffield or Bristol. The listmakers could have included The Doves, Little Boots or any number of fair-to-good albums released in the past year, but would it have really made any difference? There’s definitely no In Rainbows or Untrues that I can think of recently that make me genuinely proud of the country’s music output.
As the decade draws to a close it seems more and more evident that when it comes to fresh, innovative and exciting music, America is where it’s at.