Today the Choice shortlist came out. Here’s what was on it:
And So I Watch You From Afar “And So I Watch You From Afar” (Smalltown America) Bell X1 “Blue Lights On The Runway” (BellyUp) Codes “Trees Dream in Algebra” (EMI) Adrian Crowley “Season of the Sparks” (Chemikal Underground) Dark Room Notes “We Love You Dark Matter” (Gonzo) The Duckworth Lewis Method “The Duckworth Lewis Method” (1969/Divine Comedy Records) Julie Feeney “Pages” (Mittens) Valerie Francis “Slow Dynamo” (VF) Laura Izibor “Let The Truth Be Told” (Atlantic) The Swell Season “Strict Joy” (Plateau)
Here’s what I would have put on it:
Patrick Kelleher – You Look Cold (Osaka) Hunter-Gatherer – I Dreamed I Was A Footstep In The Trail Of A Murderer (s/r) BATS – Red In Tooth and Claw (Richter Collective) David Kitt – The Nightsaver (s/r) Drunken Boat – Plumb The Depths (s/r) Super Extra Bonus Party – Night Horses (s/r) David Turpin – Haunted! (s/r) And So I Watch You From Afar – And So I Watch You From Afar (Smalltown America) Adrian Crowley – Season of the Sparks (Chemikal Underground) Holy Roman Army – How Light Gets In
That’s a taste thing though, obviously.
I understand that getting mad about the shortlist is in part a product of having wrong expectations of what the Choice actually is, and what it’s supposed to do.
But what IS it supposed to do? It’s not supposed to support the starving artist, apparently, and that’s fine. That’s not what England or Canada’s versions do either. If it helps out a struggling band, well and good, but that’s not its function.
And it’s not an annual benchmark for groundbreaking Irish musical talent, we’ve established, because Jim Carroll said it wasn’t in his comments section.
So what is it?
Nialler9’s Irish albums of the year has shown what the relatively well-versed public thinks, democratically. So what does the Choice do? Picks a panel of judges who are evidently quite a bit more conservative than the average Nialler9 reader, and gets them to come up with a consensus album of the year? What purpose does that serve? What does that even tell us?
Last year Adebisi Shank were left off. This year Patrick Kelleher and Hunter-Gatherer were left off. Maybe they’re not consensus material. Or maybe it’s just time to get it straight in our heads that the Choice isn’t there to reward musical risks that pay off.
Next year I won’t get mad. Well I will, but I’ll try not to be on Twitter when the shortlist comes out.