Irish band Villagers get second Mercury nomination

Stiff competition for overall prize from nominees David Bowie and Arctic Monkeys

Dublin band Villagers have been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize – the Booker Prize of the music world. It's a second nomination for the band but they face stiff completion for the overall award from fellow nominees David Bowie and Arctic Monkeys.

The 12 strong shortlist for the best British or Irish album of the year was announced yesterday. A guitar rock driven list which also includes nods for Savages, Foals and Jake Bugg, the winner of the prestigious prize will be announced on October 30 at a live event in London.

With no room on the shortlist for commercial big-hitters such as Mumford and Sons and Bastille, the only big surprise is the exclusion of Primal Scream. For Villagers it’s a second Mercury nomination after their debut album was nominated in 2010.

The chair of the judging panel, Simon Frith, says of the shortlist: "It's been a fascinating year for British and Irish music, marked by a wonderful range of musical voice – urgent, reflective, upbeat and tender, acoustic and electronic".


With dance related music being the dominant force in today's music world, there was surprise that only three dance-related albums made the shortlist – James Blake, Disclosure and Rudimental.

Villagers have been widely praised for their nominated album Awayland. The Mercury judging panel — made up of musicians, media and industry figures – hailed it as “song writing at its most wilfully romantic – imaginative, inviting and musically adventurous”. It’s very much a long-shot for the award though at 10/1 with the bookies.

Villagers front man Conor O’Brien said of becoming the only Irish act to be nominated twice for the award: “We are surprised and honoured to be nominated for the Mercury Prize withAwayland ; we put a lot of love into this album and the attention that this will afford it is currently warming the cockles.”

David Bowie’s surprise album release this year is expected to win the overall prize. It was his first album of new material in over ten years and its no-hype release came as a shock as many had thought he had long since retired. While not a classic Bowie album such as “Low” or “Aladdin Sane”, there was enough on The Next Day to convince that he was still a vital creative artist not content to go through the motions.

Between now and the end of The October all the shortlisted acts will be playing their albums live but it is still unclear if Bowie will return to the live arena.

The full Mercury Music British or Irish Album of the Year is:

David Bowie – The Next Day

Arctic Monkeys – AM

Disclosure – Settle

Foals – Holy Fire

Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

James Blake – Overgrown

Jon Hopkins – Immunity

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon

Rudimental – Home

Savages – Silence Yourself

Villagers — Awayland

Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd

Brian Boyd, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes mainly about music and entertainment