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July, 26

The 1975, Foals and Dave among acts up for Mercury Prize

Foals, The 1975, Dave, Anna Calvi and Cate Le Bon are among the artists whose albums have been shortlisted for this year's Mercury Prize.

Other acts up for the prestigious award are Fontaines DC, black midi, IDLES, Little Simz, slowthai, Neyo and SEED Ensemble.

Many of the albums address social and political issues, with race, Brexit, climate change, Grenfell, immigration and the NHS among the subjects touched upon.

The 12 shortlisted Mercury Prize albums for 2019 include five debuts: Dave's Psychodrama, Fontaines DC's Dogrel, black midi's Schlagenheim, slowthai's Nothing Great About Britain and SEED Ensemble's Driftglass.

For Foals, who have been nominated twice before, it could be third-time lucky for their fifth top 10 album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1.

"Hopefully it means we're still making good music," guitarist Jimmy Smith told Sky News as the shortlist was revealed at a launch event on Thursday. "We put a lot of effort into this album and it's nice to get recognised."

And with Part 2 out later this year, maybe they could find themselves back on the shortlist in 2020?

"Well, I think the chances are slim but never say never."

Rapper slowthai said being shortlisted "feels like angels have come down from heaven".

Previous nominees The 1975 and Anna Calvi are also in the running, for the Brit-award-winning A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships and Hunter respectively.

Little Simz's GREY Area, IDLES' Joy As An Act Of Resistance, Cate Le Bon's Reward and NOA's Saturn make up the list.

"I feel really honoured," Nao told Sky News. "There's some amazing albums shortlisted so I figure it must mean something if my name's on there too."

IDLE's frontman Joe Talbot said: "It means a lot… It's something we want to be a part of.

"It's a celebration of necessary art and necessary conversations that are happening from all different parts of the country.

"It's a beautiful thing... something you dream of."

Judges including Stormzy, who was shortlisted for the prize in 2017 for his debut album Gang Signs And Prayer, Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, Jorja Smith and Jamie Cullum, chose the finalists from more than 200 albums.

The overall winner will be revealed at a ceremony in September.

With odds of 4/1 from William Hill, Dave, IDLES and The 1975 are joint favourites to take the prize.

Last year's ceremony saw rock band Wolf Alice scoop the accolade for their album Visions Of A Life, beating some high profile nominees including Lily Allen, Arctic Monkeys and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

The Mercury Prize, which started in 1992, when it was won by Primal Scream's Screamadelica, honours British and Irish artists and is open to all genres of music.

The overall winner will receive a cash prize of £25,000, as well as the raised profile offered by the award, seen as the musical equivalent to the Booker Prize for literature and the Turner Prize for art.

Coombes, who has been nominated twice before - with Supergrass for I Should Coco in 1995 and solo record Matador in 2015 - said as a judge he understands being shortlisted is a "great honour" for any artist.

"The Mercury Awards has always been great at highlighting forward-thinking records with emotional power and with real focus, so it's great for an artist to be nominated," he said.

"It was really tricky to get it to 12, but they're all brilliant records. I've got a huge amount of respect for all the artists."

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