We're back again with some thrilling content, from big festivals, to niche ones. We question the merits of the Mercury prize that announces its winner tonight. And talk to some bigger and lesser known names...
What does the Mercury Prize mean anyway?
When Lauren Laverne and the panel for this year’s Mercury Music Awards are all in Hell they will walk with their heads on backwards. For this year’s nominations are not a case of rewarding progress and innovation but are a case of rewarding fiscal success. We all know that awards ceremonies are self-serving, a shot in the arm for the industry, and are wholly redundant. However what is different about this years is that tastemaking is as high on the agenda as artistic merit. There are the usual anomalous entries, which are frankly ridiculous as this event is squared mainly at the mainstream Radio 1 market. Gone are the days when Roni Size or Talvin Singh could win it. Who decides these lists? Rather than judiciously root out the chaff and choose the most invidious and rewarding listens from the last year, they have more than half an eye on the mainstream and the rest on what will be popular over the rest of the year. Vested interests mean that this is no longer really an award that rewards artistic merit, or am I going to be really surprised? If any of the NME approved acts win, you know the answer...Mercifully they resisted the urge to include White Lies, but I think that excluding Doves was disingenuous. Because of Elbow's success last year they were proclaimed as favourites, but I believe the judges wanted to avoid falling into a trap of handing out awards due to sentiment. Kingdom Of Rust has its merits, but it falls short of the high watermark that their first two albums set and is simply not good enough to win this award.
READING FESTIVAL REACTION
Reading Festival has become so regimented these days. The hordes of yellow jackets reinforced by sniffer dogs at the station, who pluck bemused travelers from the crowd and escort them, arm tightly gripped, to the make-shift Transport Police marquee outside the entrance. The vast police presence on-site, many of whom were on horseback in an apparent bid for intimidation (although, admittedly, they offered to most a decent photo opportunity); and chiefly, the riot squads drafted in to control the ensuing mayhem on the sunday night which has become synonymous with the festival itself. Sub-contracted security firms were hired in and given fluorescent reign and a free license to prowl the campsites, ears pricked and itching for the slightest sign of back-chat and non-compliance. Of course, the reasoning behind all of this is the growing problem of controlling such a vast and often hot-headed amount of revelers, all of whom are drunk, drugged and seemingly separate from the toils of day-to-day life. The price of cigarettes alone is enough to convince one that he is in another world. More than with any other festival I've found Reading has this sense of a separate entity; that different rules apply here and all are happy to exploit. A close friend overheard a conversation between two lads, whose solution to a lack of money was to 'pick-pockets some mugs.' Couple this mentality with the descent into a primal state on the Sunday evening - mass burnings of tents, beating of oil-drum bins, intoxication from chemical fumes, and you have your justification for such a hefty presence of enforcement. However, although I rarely find this imposing (after all, I have no particular need to), I also fail to find encouragement or need in such a heavy handed approach. It's a sad state of affairs which detracts from the festival as a whole.
Green Man Festival 09
In its seventh year the little festival that could sees its capacity further increased, its site extended and the reach of its musical scope broadened, pushing past the boundaries of what you might broadly call ‘folk’ to offer a festival-going experience genuinely unlike any other. Plus it doesn’t rain as much as it normally does. Before getting to the talent it’s worth noting that, music aside, the main draw here is the festival’s idyllic country setting, unbelievably helpful staff and, without wanting to sound like a tree hugging bitch, the incredible sense of joyous community that infects the atmosphere throughout.
INTERVIEWS: MAXIMO PARK
GIITTV's Luke Hannaford caught up with lyricist and lead vocalist Paul Smith of the group Maximo Park, at last weekend's Leeds festival.
INTERVIEW: DAN AMBORISE
Every time a talented musician picks up an acoustic guitar and starts playing, you can almost guarantee the media cries of the next Bob Dylan or so on and such forth, such is the stagnant nature of the genre to date. Every year, a large portion of these artists will arrive and then fall without a trace but there are a handful who contain enough substance and invention to stick around, the likes of Fionn Regan, Bon Iver and Laura Marling have been the most recent that will spring to most peoples minds but sooner rather than later, Dan Arborise will be added to that list.
INTERVIEW GLASS DIAMOND:
Steven Morgan got in touch with Hsin Yi Chang (vocals) and Vincent D (Synth / Bassist) of the chaotic electro trio Glass Diamond whose 8-bit punky electro has been tearing up numerous venues around the capital recently. They’re unafraid to experiment with avant-garde soundscapes and are as happy throwing raw aggression against childlike melodies as hitting four to the floor and proactively getting an entire room dancing.
THREE TRAPPED TIGERS
YO LA TENGO
BLEEDING HEART NARRATIVE