There was disappointment for Irish band Villagers last Wednesday as their second album {Awayland} lost out to James Blake’s Overgrown for the 2013 Mercury Music Prize. The Malahide based indie-folk trio, salve who are fronted by former UCD student Conor O’Brien, were facing their second Mercury Prize defeat, having seen their 2010 effort Becoming a Jackal lose out to xx by The xx.

The announcement of Blake came as a slight surprise in the industry, with many large bets being placed to Birmingham native Laura Mvula to win on the night, the odds of her debut album Sing To The Moon being cut from 16/1 to 8/11 by bookmaker William Hill leading up to the ceremony. Villagers had the worst odds at 50/1 with the same bookmaker, Blake also had far out odds at 21/1.

However it is not all bad news for O’Brien, as  {Awayland}, unlike its predecessor, did get to the number one spot in Ireland. In addition to this, this year’s nomination gave Villagers the title of the only Irish act to have been nominated twice for the Mercurty Prize, with U2, Fionn Regan, The Thrills, Gemma Hayes and Lisa Hannigan all nominated once.

However questions have once again been raised over how much credence the Mercury award should receive within the music industry. Irish guitarist Kevin Shields of the band My Bloody Valentine accused the Mercury Prize of “banning” the shoegaze band from their nominations. Speaking to the Guardian in September of this year, Shields noted that mbv, the band’s first album in 22 years, had been unceremoniously ignored by the Mercury selectors because of the band’s decision to bypass corporate organizations such as Apple and Amazon, as well as bypass record labels. Under the terms and conditions of the Mercury website, qualifying albums must have “a digital and physical distribution deal in place in the UK”.

My Bloody Valentine’s album was self-released, leading them to only make digital copies of mbv available through their own website, which they argue discounted them from having a “digital distribution deal”. Shields went on to state that “It’s interesting to learn that to be as independent as we are is … virtually illegal. Our album’s not a real album because it’s independent. The corporate-ness has got to such a point where we’ve essentially been told that we don’t exist. So, technically, that album doesn’t exist. OK? It’s not allowed to exist according to the Mercury prize”.

Diarmuid Burke