dead albatross prize 2015

dead albatross prize 2015As the Mercury Music Prize announces its shortlist, a timely reminder that the only music prize dedicated to the best album by a UK / Eire artist in the preceding year that matters, The Dead Albatross Prize, is approaching its closing stages.

As we reported a month or so ago, the shortlist for the 2015 Dead Albatross Prize has officially been announced and is also a total belter. Since then blogs and radio shows have been going up on the Prize’s website at a rare old pace, so in case you’ve missed any we thought we’d round everything up for you with handy links and everything. After a quick dig at the Mercury Music Prize that is anyway.

So – the Mercury Music Prize shortlist. What can we say? Other than with the odd exception (I know, I’m being generous) it’s as predictably “ho hum” as we all thought it’d be. I can’t even conceive of the possibility that anyone who knows anything about UK music can consider it to have any sort of credibility or merit when it clearly ignores most theoretically eligible music. Unlike what I guess I’ll term “the good old days of the Mercury Music Prize” (yep, I’m being generous again, goddamit) when the prize always included “a” folk and “a” jazz album, the prize is now restricted to a narrow tranche of music genres which fit in with what we must assume is the judges’ narrow (and perhaps prejudiced?) purview of music.

So, as we explained last year, and the year before, people perturbed by the MMP should fear not as it’s effectively been made obsolete by a far more relevant and worthy music prize – The Dead Albatross Prize.

A quick recap: similarly to the MMP, the DAP awards a gong to the best album by a UK / Eire artist in the preceding 12 months. And that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Because unlike the MMP its chosen album is the result of an ever increasing panel of music fans (over 100 as we speak) voting on a shortlist which is definitely NOT compiled by asking artists to nominate themselves AND by then making said artists them jump through hoops AND by insisting same said artists cross palms with silver to be considered eligible.

The astute amongst you will be aware that we revealed the short list a month ago – well done for paying attention – and having now lived with the albums for over four weeks we can assure you they’re a mighty worthy bunch. They’re a varied bunch too, covering all these genres between them (and more)…

Deep House, Punk, Roots reggae, Dub reggae, Reggae / Rap Hybrid, Experimental Noise, UK Rap, Techno, Electronic / Musique Concrete, Experimental Electronics, World, Funk, Electronic, Other world, Grime, Stoner Rock, Black Metal, Alt Rock, Industrial Electronic, Heavy Metal, Instrumental Folk, Dark ambient and Afrobeat.

Although the DAP has, starting this year, been trying to shrug off it’s admittedly self-appointed title of “a Mercury Music Prize alternative”, it’s hard not to compare the two in every respect, not least the passion, dedication and hard work that the Prize’s founder, Paul Ackroyd, and his insider team of DJs and writers, put into the prize each year. Not for them a lazy “‘oh let’s see who applied this year and try to make it look like we care’ announcement of the shortlist followed by silence till the winner’s announced” approach to the prize. Not in the least – in fact, the DAP website has been a veritable hive of activity over the last few weeks, with articles and radio shows going up at a rare old clip about the albums, the artist behind them and the label behind the artists – and there are many still to come.

So we think today marks a great time for us a round up what’s been going on at these last few weeks, and to link you up with some of those radio shows and written word articles we mentioned above.

NB Bear in mind that this year’s prize includes a separate contest for the best reissue, archive release, compilation or retrospective.

The first thirteen albums to be covered in depth on the Dead Albatross Prize website so far are (all include a radio show and a written piece about the album).

  • A Middle Sex – Experimental noise from Manchester.
  • Bourbonese Qualk Industrial minimalism from the band’s hey day in the mid 80s.
  • LV & Josh Idehen Bass music meets grime with soca, minimalism and all manner of afro-centric mutations thrown in for (very) good measure.
  • The Fear Ratio Tuff techno released via legendary IDM imprint Skam.
  • Michael Valentine West Experimental avantgarde electronica, brought to us via the German vinyl and cassette label Ana Ott.
  • Annabel (Lee) An electronic collage of jazz instruments over which you hear soft, dreamy vocals.
  • Singers & Players The reggae collective made up of vocalists and musicians associated with Adrian Sherwood’s On-U Sound Records.
  • The Mouse Outfit A UK (obvs) hip-hop production team.
  • Crying Lion An English folk album by members of Trembling Bells and Muldoon’s Picnic, via the ever brilliant Honest Jons.
  • Muslimgauze Experimental ethnic electronica by one Bryn Jones.
  • Roger Robinson Gritty dub poetry on Jahtari
  • Sloath Psychedelic drone from a sabbath-worshipping 5 piece sludge metal band.
  • Twisted Garage punk from South Wales.

Keep your eyes peeled on the Dead Albatross Prize’s website ( and it’s social media accounts (Facebook and twitter: @funfairbonanza) for both radio shows and written articles about the remaining 12 / 25 albums on the shortlist…

  • Orlando Julius & The Heliocentric
  • Liberez
  • Laura Cannell Beneath Swooping Talons
  • Cathode Ray Eyes
  • Defenders Of
  • Ginger Johnson & His African Messengers
  • Perfume Advert
  • Cut Hands
  • Lost Wax
  • Ramson Badbonez
  • Sarpanitum
  • Va – A New Life

On top of all this there are other treats to be found on the website including guest mixes by Michael Valentine West, Laura Cannell and Liberez as well as one by Night School Records. There are more mixes in the pipeline too – so again, keep your eyes peeled on that website / those social media accounts.

There are also some bonus radio shows on the website including one about the Honest Jon’s label because Paul Ackroyd “loves it dearly”  (a sentiment we all should echo) and there’s also a Muslimgauze documentary.

And don’t forget if you like the sound of any of the albums above you can get 10% off them at Norman Records atm!


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Guy is a former full time member of the Louder Than War editorial team, who's since moved on to pastures new. Music's been a large part of his life since he first stumbled across Peel on his tranny as a fifteen year old. His whole approach to music was learnt from Peel in fact, which includes having as inclusive a taste in music as possible. Guy devotes most of his time looking for new music & although he's been known to say "the only good music is new music" he pretty much accepts this is bollocks. Favourite band The Minutemen.


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