Feel free to insert your own comedy item here about how the ill fated telecoms company has somehow become immortalised in an annual music award that other sponsors have come and gone from while all keeping the original name. Now owned and promoted by the BBC, it is an odd award, with no category or criteria, just a shortlist of 12 and one "winner" decided on the night.
So, this years list, I already owned half of them, and have listened to all the rest a couple of times to get my opinion. First impression is quite a sad one that four, if not five of the nominees have been previous nominees. To me it just seems hard to fathom that out of the thousands of albums released each year that the best are by the same, if not very similar artists.
Anyway, in the order that they are listed on the site my short comments are as here:
Aphex Twin - "Syro". An artist that certainly splits opinion, but has a unique sound and style that has lasted many a year. That is my question on this one really, is this even his best album, let alone the best overall album of the year. Very enjoyable as long as you are in the right mood for it, not an album that is background music, it takes over. Good, but not excellent.
Benjamin Clementine - "At Least For Now". New to me, but when listening I recognised a couple of the tracks from radio play. Supreme voice, and lyrics that are challenging and funny. Musically wonderfully built and it really grabs the attention to make you concentrate, which is a good sign. First listen was magical, second listen was hard to get through the whole album, but one more I bought as I know I will listen to it more. Definite contender.
C Duncan - "Architect". Totally inoffensive and pleasant enough, but I finished listening to it about 5 minutes ago and could not describe what it was like. Sadly very much background music IMO. Not in the running.
Eska - "ESKA". Excellent. Grabbed in from the opening, wonderful mix of blues, country, soul and faster dance beats and much more. Entrancing vocals over a wide range of tracks, really really good. Possible favourite to win for me.
Florence + The Machine - "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful". I do like Florence, and her voice and style is distinctive, but this is just not different enough to previous work to warrant being listed in the best of the year. Very listenable to and good but not a winner.
Gaz Coombes - "Matador". Ex Supergrass lead showing a different side to his talents. It is OK and not a bad listen, but would it be anywhere near this list if released under a different name, no would be the answer. It is OK as it is a known entity, it wouldn't raise a ripple let alone a wave if you just heard it blind.
Ghostpoet - "Shedding Skin". Another previous nominee, but this is a far superior album to his earlier one. Superb mix of musical styles and forms with an excellent voice that is a great hook to get you listening to the words and not just doing something else while it is on. Split decision for me between this and Eska.
Jamie XX - "In Colour". Does nothing for me at all, Really strange and doesn't hang together as an album, more some work playing around over a year and released. Can't see myself wanting to listen to it again.
Roisin Murphy - "Hairless Toys". Another artist from a well known band with a good history. I think the difference here is that this stands out despite her background, not because of it. While her voice is fairly recognisable, the album stands up as a solid piece of work, not just a solo release from the singer from Moloko. Great album, not the best of the year, but deserving of a nod.
Slaves - "Are You Satisfied". If you asked me from this list who is my favourite band currently, it would be Slaves. Live. Not necessarily on record. They are energetic, fun, talented, fit as hell to play the sets they do, but as a lasting artefact, this is not the album of the year. Live band of the year there are few who could challenge them, but fun though the album is it is not a classic.
SOAK - "Before We Forgot How To Dream". Haunting voice over what I guess is a cross between folk and pop. Individually pretty much every track is excellent, just starts to get a bit hard to listen to all the way through. If I had it on vinyl I would happily play one side and then move on to something else and come back a few days later for the rest. While not my favourite, if I was going to bet it would be on this to win.
Wolf Alice - "My Love Is Cool". Probably the album that sits closest to my core listening. Grunge / shoegaze / indie rock music. Nothing wrong with it at all, and one of my favourite albums of the year, but not groundbreaking or anything new, just good music and a good listen.
There you go then, I find it impossible to think of a list of 12 so I have just dismantled theirs for fun instead.