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Taite Music Prize Finalists

I entered the Taite Music Prize competition this year, which is a music award with that rare quality that the choice of winner (ostensibly at least) has no bearing on the popularity or affiliations of the artist. The actual judging criteria are:

* Please consider the artistic merit, creativity, innovation and excellence of each album in its entirety.
* Judging criteria does not include album sales, artist popularity, recognition, previous awards, live or international achievements.

Finalists have just been announced. That article has kind of sucky formatting. Here's the list with listening links for all of them (my descriptions added):

If the entries do reflect who's popular, I suspect it doesn't help that there were 77 entries this year and a month to judge. Both the official judges and IMNZ members are asked to judge each album in its entirety, but that's about two and a half hours of unpaid listening to albums per day for a month. I'd hardly expect anyone to actually do that, and I wonder if a limit should be put on the number of entries. IMNZ members aren't forced to submit their top-10 selections, but of the preliminary judging board and the over 80 IMNZ members, there are only six hits recorded (not necessarily unique) to the listening link for my entry over that month.

Anyway, I went through all the albums and gave them at least a chance, and my shortlist came out quite different to the official selection. So here are some albums I think deserve a mention:

  • Bury Me Low - Bury Me Low
    Unpretentious, perfectly-executed folk (and it's not all quiet folk - listen to Chariot). This is my favourite nominee.
  • Urbantramper - Internet Freedom is Love
    I know the title sounds lame but give it a chance and it's actually some very clever and original electronic rock. Too bad about the auto-tune
  • Zen Mantra - How Many Padmes Hum?
    Another weird album title that turns out to have a great original sound. Too bad about Amplifier's 30-second-preview limit here
  • Minuit - Last Night You Saw This Band
    You've probably heard of Minuit already. Smart, original music here with pretty clever lyrics too
  • The Golden Awesome - Autumn
    Stupid band name. Terrible MS Paint artwork. Incredible sound! Shoegaze meets rock and they have a beautiful child. But very derivative of Loveless et al
  • The Whyld - Preface
    Interesting blend of “hip-hop/rap indie rock nz hiphop nz indie rock nz rap indie rock” (their tags). Some good lyrics. Tries to be more than just a collection of tracks (which is good)
  • James Duncan - Vanishing
    Commendable original sound. This is the sort of thing that we should probably be giving the Taite prize too. But then the music itself doesn't really grab me
  • Craig Tennis - Bleat Your Heart Out
    This is really decent indie pop stuff