RICHARD HAWLEY AND PLAN B JOINT FAVOURITES TO WIN MERCURY PRIZE
On the list, there are the usual lone jazz and folk albums, though there are notable absences of any pop or electronic music at a time when both genres are arguably booming. Plus, as usual, there's not the slightest sniff of any metal or punk. Though it may actually be that these genres are all under-represented due to a lack of entries rather than any snub from the judges - the fact that there were about 250 entries means that the vast majority of British albums released in the last fourteen months were not put forward.
Amongst the nominees, pre-announcement bookies' favourites to win Alt-J appeared as expected, though William Hill has now put Plan B and Richard Hawley in the lead, giving both odds of 4/1 to take the £20,000 prize in November. Alt-J are joint second, along with Django Django at 5/1, no odds go further than 10/1 at this stage. Rupert Adams of William Hill told CMU: "This has been a year of musical excellence with these albums representing a diverse range of styles from UK artists. This quality is reflected in the closeness of the odds we've given to the 2012 Barclaycard Mercury Prize 'Albums Of The Year' - every album here could be a winner".
Meanwhile chairman of the Mercury judging panel, Simon Frith, added: "This year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist showcases a wonderful variety of musical voices, emotions and ambitions. There are eight debut albums on the list and four albums from more established artists. The sheer range of music here celebrates the abiding ability of British musicians to find new ways to explore traditional themes of love and loss while making an exhilarating soundtrack for life in 2012".
Also commenting on the list yesterday was HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo, who told CMU: "This has got to be one of the most open Mercury fields we've seen for a while. Quite a few of the nominees have a genuine shout of winning, so there's a chance we could have another Antony And The Johnsons moment, with the spotlight shining on something quite new and leftfield, rather than an Elbow one, when an act that's been bubbling under for a while goes mainstream in a big way".
And here's that shortlist in full:
Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
So, now you've seen it, why not revisit CMU Editor Andy Malt's earlier look at the top 20 contenders for this year's shortlist.
RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS PUSSY RIOT THREE SHOULD BE FREED
As previously reported, Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in jail after being convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for performing a protest song against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.
Many reckoned that the conviction and sentencing, which was widely criticised by artist and free speech groups around the world, were politically motivated, and the three women are currently in the process of appealing the ruling.
Medvedev is clearly no fan of the Pussy Riot performers, saying that the band's appearance and the "hysteria" accompanying them makes him sick, but in a televised meeting with members of his United Russia party he said he believed the three jailed members should now be given suspended sentences, and therefore let out of jail.
The PM said: "In my view, a suspended sentence would be sufficient, taking into account the time they have already spent in custody".
Medvedev's comments, as well as criticism of the sentencing from other Putin allies, including the country's former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, has increased optimism amongst Pussy Riot supporters that the jailed members of the band could be freed in the next month.
MODEST MANAGEMENT SUES FORMER X FINALIST
Relationships between the singer and the management company seemingly deteriorated earlier this year, with the dispute going public in July when Ferguson called the Modest team "vile" on Twitter, before tweeting: "Be nice to have a nice new responsible caring management team! Who care for me and my children's wellbeing. See you in court!"
According to the BBC, the previous month Ferguson sent Modest an email accusing them of failing to take her health and wellbeing into account, and requesting to terminate her working relationship with the company. In the lawsuit, Modest is seeking damages, and a percentage of the singer's earnings for the remainder of her original five year contract with the company.
As previously reported, Quest Management recently signed a deal to get the first option rights for signing 'X-Factor' finalists in future.
MUSE RESPOND TO ROCK OPERA RIP OFF CLAIMS
As previously reported, Bollfrass has claimed that the last three tracks on that album, a trilogy under the title of 'Exogenesis', were ripped off from a concept he had devised in 2005 for a rock opera of the same name. Bollfrass alleges that he approached Muse about them collaborating on the project, but that they declined the offer, and then used his ideas for 'Exogenesis'.
Although the lawsuit doesn't list Muse as defendants, the band have responded to the litigation. According to the NME, a rep says: "The claim is complete nonsense and is categorically denied. It appears to be based on a 'screenplay' which the band never received or saw, produced by someone the band has never heard of. It speaks volumes that the album in question was released a full three years ago, and yet this is the first that has been heard of these groundless allegations".
Warner Music has reportedly said it will "aggressively defend" itself in the legal action.
JOE MCELDERRY' WINS HARASSMENT SUIT AGAINST ASDA STALKER
Addressing judge and jury earlier this week, McElderry remembered an incident when, having been initially sighted by McElderry's mother Eileen Joyce at a supermarket last 24 Dec, McBride was then arrested outside her house.
He said: "My mum rang and said 'the stalker is back and he's in Asda'. She sounded really upset but she was more concerned where I was and if I was with anyone. After that I went and locked the door. I felt intimidated that someone would be standing in the dark outside my house, and scared because it was Christmas Eve and it was the last thing I wanted to think about".
On a more positive note, McElderry has a new album just out, which is the first to feature his own original 'co-writes'. Here he is talking about that to Digital Spy: http://bcove.me/fy5vdgmp
JONNY GREENWOOD STREAMS MASTER SOUNDTRACK
Nonesuch Records isn't officially releasing the long playing version of the soundtrack until 5 Nov, so why it's on Spotify now, I have no idea. But it is, which is good.
As are Jonny's compositions, as you'll hear by clicking this link.
DIPLO KEEPING BACK MAJOR LAZER LP UNTIL 2013
Diplo's own label Mad Decent hasn't yet explained the delay, but I'm sure the producer/DJ has an excellent excuse for it. Perhaps he's waiting on final verses from Shaggy, who guests on the record amid all-star cameos by Bruno Mars, Wyclef Jean and Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig.
As consolation for this most crushing of disappointments, have a glance instead at the very good video for the long player's present single 'Get Free', featuring Jamaica, Amber Coffman and lots of just about SFW 'twerking'. Oh, and talking of twerking, you may as well also listen to Diplo talking about it on Kreayshawn's new single 'Twerkin!!!', which is released on Monday as part of Kreay's debut 'Somethin Bout Kreay'. But it's not essential that you do.
FRIENDLY FIRES SHARE LATE NIGHT TALES TRACKLISTING
There's also some vintage disco and the trio's own version of Sting and Eberhard Shoener's 'Why Don't You Answer', while the customary spoken word comes from 'Parade's End/Sherlock' thespian Benedict Cumberbatch. It will all be released as a highly collectable CD/MP3/LP set on 5 Nov.
Fast-forward across it now via this partial preview.
Junior Boys - Under The Sun
CEE LO TO RELEASE CHRISTMAS LP
The new season of 'The Voice USA', on which Green appears as a celebrity 'coach', has just started, hence his unveiling the project now to assure optimum publicity. He's smart, I'll give him that. But also pretty silly, as the collection's artwork proves. 'Camp R&B Santa Claus' doesn't quite do it justice.
Anyway. Feted as a "soulful take on a host of Christmas classics", 'Cee Lo's Magic Moment' will also host guest artists in rapper BOB and a capella choir Straight No Chaser. Whether they're doing 'Silent Night' or 'You're A Mean One Mr Grinch' is still a Christmas mystery, but one that'll be solved when 'Magic Moment' is released on... 29 Oct.
October, so festive.
CLIVE DAVIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY INCOMING
Co-written with music journalist Anthony DeCurtis, the press bumpf is promising "never-before-heard tales" about Davis's work with the likes of Whitney Houston, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan, and all "the excitements, the disappointments and the triumphs" of his career.
PAUL BANKS TOURING IN JANUARY
20 Jan: Dublin, Academy
And this is a link to download the long player's very first track, 'The Base', for free.
CHRIS MOYLES, ZANE LOWE PROCLAIM SOLO TOURS
Zane's is a uni-specific, Nokia Lumia-sponsored affair, and will comprise Lowe doing a DJ set at universities around the country. Look, he's even doing two PA's in a single night!
17 Sep: University of Lincoln
But now to Chris 'King Herod' Moyles who, as retired radio royalty (well, until he gets his next gig), will appear live and laughing amid the "non-stop banter" and "fun and games" of his own off-air jolly. 'Chris Moyles Live' will feature a live band, live singing and live comedy as Chris 'and friends' (presumably his soon-to-be-jobless Radio 1 colleagues) encourage crowds to participate across the nation.
He says: "This is my first chance to get out and see the fans since I left the radio show. It will be a night of singing and laughing and messing about. If you share my same sense of humour and love for bad karaoke, then this is the show for you".
If so, read on:
14 Nov: Birmingham Academy
LADYHAWKE ADDS NEW DATES
And that's it for now, bar the relevant dates:
5 Nov: Brighton, Concorde
MUSICTANK REPORT FOCUSES ON ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF STREAMING PLATFORMS
The document, titled 'The Dark Side Of The Tune', asks whether the energy consumption and resulting carbon footprint involved in streaming content online will be sustainable if and when cloud-based services go truly mainstream, comparing the energy used to operate such services with the that required to provide a download, or even content via a physical format like a CD.
The report, authored by music technology innovator Dagfinn Bach, claims that streaming an album over the net 27 times can use more energy than the manufacturing and production of its CD equivalent, meaning that you relatively quickly reach a point at which playing that record over the net will use more energy and have a bigger environmental impact overall than the old CD model.
There are, of course, a lot of variables at play here, and Bach has had to make some assumptions along the way that not everyone will agree with, though the main concerns he raises seem valid, as does the over-arching question posed by the report: "Do ever more complex cloud, mobile and streaming services represent sustainable consumption models or do they present us with an environmentally unsustainable digital future?"
The report hopes to kickstart a debate on the environmental impact of the growth in cloud-based content services and on the possible solutions to reduce energy consumption, ranging from the more obvious, like the increased used of caching, which obviously is already employed by some streaming platforms (not least to reduce bandwidth costs), to other more innovative approaches.
Commenting on the new report, MusicTank Chairman Keith Harris told CMU: "The uptake of smart devices, combined with the advent of mass connectivity and high speed broadband continues to revolutionise our consumption of music. These changes also have considerable implications for the environment. Whereas in the pre-digital era, music fans stuck a needle on the groove or hit a play button, today they are increasingly turning to cloud-based streaming services powered by energy-hungry server farms".
Bach himself added: "Digital music is not distributed in an environmental vacuum. While CD and vinyl pressing plants are becoming rarer, the growth in data traffic caused by digital content services comes with its own risks and problems. I hope this report shines a light on the issue and opens an important debate, both in the music industry and beyond".
This MusicTank report is available for free thanks to sponsorship by HP. Meanwhile, an event will take place to discuss the implications of the report at the University Of Westminster's Fyvie Hall on 11 Oct.
APPLE PREVIEWS IPHONE 5 AND ITUNES REVAMP - BUT NO ISTREAM
Anyway, the iPhone 5 was debuted at a press event in San Francisco yesterday. It's 20% lighter than its predecessors, has a bigger and better display, ultra-fast wireless technology, improved battery life, an enhanced camera and expanded iCloud and Facebook integration. It's the "thinnest smartphone in the world", apparently, with a lovely maps widget offering turn-by-turn navigation and a 'passbook' thing for managing tickets, vouchers and store cards. Oh, and the Siri voice support thingimy will tell you who won the football.
Pre-orders will be taken for the new Apple smartphone from Friday, with the first devices expected to ship on 21 Sep. It looks likely that the device will be quite a bit more expensive in the UK than the US, initially at least, with talk of a £529 price-point, presumably for the highest capacity model, which will sell for $399 in the US. Obviously some networks may offer better deals if locked to a contract.
In terms of British tel cos, EE, the all new brand from Everything Everywhere, which owns the Orange and T-Mobile networks in the UK, will offer the new iPhone as it starts to roll out its new all-singing, all-dancing 4G mobile network. Though those who prefer the third generation mobile internet will be able to use their iPhone on the existing Orange and T-Mo networks (which will continue to operate under those brands for the time being).
The logo map shown at the Apple launch event yesterday implied that O2 was the only other UK network that would have the iPhone 5 at launch, alongside the EE networks, though both Vodafone and Three have since said they'll also start selling the new Apple smartphone soon too.
Although the iPhone 5 was the headline announcement, Apple previewed a range of other product updates yesterday as well, including a pretty major revamp of its iTunes software and store (mainly changing look and feel), though the mooted streaming music service - rumoured to be in development so many times in the last few years - was not part of the overhaul.
Just rumour of a supposed Apple-owned streaming music platform was enough to cause the share price of US streaming service Pandora to wobble last week, even though there has never been any apparent appetite to launch such a thing amongst the Apple top guard. The logic employed by iStream-will-arrive-eventually speculators is that ultimately so called 'access-based services', rather than iTunes-style 'ownership-based services', will dominate in digital content, and that Apple will therefore have to move into that space eventually to maintain iTunes' market-leader status in digital music and media.
Though, of course, launching a subscription-based streaming service is expensive and risky, even if you can use your market dominance in the downloads market to avoid paying the big music companies large advances. All existing streaming services have launched with a 'loss-leader' business model, and most (if not all) are still operating that model. And while Apple may have been an early pioneer in digital music, it has never been that keen on committing its own money (beyond investments in the technology) to get music services off the ground.
And iTunes was always intended to be a means-to-an-end, to provide the content that would motivate consumers to buy an iPod. And while it's proven to be a rather lucrative means-to-an-end, and Cook may claim that "music is deeply embedded in our DNA", Apple has never aspired to be a digital content company per se. If subscription-based access platforms are the future, you suspect Apple would rather ensure other people's subscription content ventures work best in iOS, so that content fans are drawn to its premium-priced devices, but without taking the risk of launching its own proprietary service. And, of course, it can take a cut of the sale of those third-party streaming services via its app store.
SIMON BATES PRESENTING TWO RADIO SHOWS AT THE SAME TIME
Bates has hosted the breakfast show on the main Smooth Radio station since the start of 2011, but his voice can now also be heard in the breakfast slot on digital sister station Smooth 70s, which launched at the end of last year.
But this isn't the same show - or the same show but with different songs (as Absolute Radio has done with some shows on its decade-specific stations) - rather it seems Bates has provided some unique links for Smooth 70s, presumably pre-recorded.
Smooth hasn't so far made much of the appearance of Bates on Smooth 70s at the same time as his show on the main Smooth channel, though the station did confirm to Radio Today that the DJ would be providing "a little content" to the digital service.
CHRIS BROWN FLAUNTS WORLD'S WORST 'MEXICAN SUGAR SKULL' TATTOO
No, no, it's not Rihanna's face - as in the bruised one created by Brown's fists in 2009 - it's a Mexican sugar skull, or so say the MC's reps, who claim it is "associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day Of The Dead and a MAC cosmetics design he saw" (believed to be this one).
Vindicating the controversial image via the same 'Mexican Day Of The Dead' defence as his people, Brown tweeted on Tuesday: "I'm an artist and this is art. Dia de los Muertos".
Okay, so it does bear a semblance to the MAC image, and it would surely be bizarre (even by Brown's standards) to ink a permanent memento of your own public disgrace on your own neck. But you'd think Brown, or someone else within shouting distance of him, might have noticed how the image could be viewed as inappropriate before he got someone to tattoo it somewhere he can't really cover up.
Meanwhile according to TMZ, Brown bought ice creams for 60 children last week, which apparently means he is a "nice guy". The children were guests of the Back To School Festival, a charity event hosted by the Jenesse Center for domestic violence prevention in LA, where Brown and his mother have been volunteering since his arrest in 2009.