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UKNY for September 15

The albums nominated for the 2019 Mercury Prize (collage by Laura Fedele for WFUV)

The albums nominated for the 2019 Mercury Prize (collage by Laura Fedele for WFUV)


All twelve of the artists and albums shortlisted for the 2019 Mercury Prize, one of the most coveted awards given to a British or Irish artist, are very different on the surface, genre-leaping between the brittle poetry of grime, terse post-punk, labyrinthine jazz opuses, and arch alt-rock. But all of the nominees, gleaned from albums released between July 21, 2018 and July 19, 2019, are united on one common front: they cast a smart, worrying eye on a world that's rife with chaos, uncertainty, inequality, a climate catastrophe, and political (and personal) trickery. 

On tonight's UKNY at 11, I'll delve into the nominated albums — and it's a galvanizing palette of outrage, protest, eroticism, and heartbreak. There's three-time nominees Foals and Anna Calvi, the latter of whom has been nominated for every album that she's released. Bristol's IDLES and Dublin's Fontaines D.C. both carry punk's mantle of scathing sociopolitical commentary. There are rappers and storytellers Little Simz, Dave, and Slowthai, all with different perspectives on inequity and a Britain gone haywire. Taking a break from her recent pursuit of learning to make furniture, there's Welsh alt-folk rocker and dreamweaver Cate Le Bon and the vibrant expanse of Cassie Kinoshi's ferocious 10-piece London jazz collective SEED Ensemble. There's the fluid R&B tide of Nao, nominated for her second album, and the gorgeous but thorny pop of The 1975, nominated for their third (they were nominated in 2016 for their second album too). And finally, rugged jazz-rock-funk experimentalists black midi who thrive on an electric unpredictablity.

This year's Mercury Prize winner will be chosen this Thursday, September 19, at a concert and event at London's Eventim Apollo — the judges, a panel comprised of musicians, journalists, and music industry tastemakers, will make their final decision that evening on which band or artist will win the trophy and a £25,000 (approximately $31, 260). Past winners have included PJ Harvey (twice), Wolf Alice, Sampha, Elbow, Pulp, Primal Scream, Young Fathers, alt-j, The xx, and Portishead.

If you can't listen tonight on 90.7 or streaming online, you can always catch up to UKNY's Mercury Prize preview on demand in the Weekend Archives, immediately after broadcast for up to two weeks. And three of this year's Mercury Prize nominees did FUV Live sessions earlier this year too — Foals, Little Simz, and Fontaines D.C., all available on demand.

Songs played:

1. Foals, “In Degrees,” Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Pt. 1
2. Fontaines D.C., “Too Real,” Dogrel
3. Dave, “Streatham,” Psychodrama
4. The 1975, “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You),” A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
5. Cate Le Bon, “The Light,” Reward
6. Little Simz, “Sherbet Sunset,” GREY Area
7. IDLES, “Television,” Joy as an Act of Resistance
8. black midi, “near DT, MI,” Schlagenheim
9. slowthai, “Dead Leaves,” Nothing Great About Britain
10. Nao, “Drive and Disconnect,” Saturn
11. Anna Calvi, “Swimming Pool,” Hunter
12. SEED Ensemble, “Mirrors,” Driftglass