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Skepta, The 1975 and David Bowie are among the artists shortlisted for the South Bank’s Sky Arts Awards.
All three were nominated for the 2016 Mercury Prize and will go up against each other in the best pop category.
David Bowie has been nominated posthumously for his final album Blackstar while Skepta’s Konnichiwa and The 1975’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It are up against him.
Other music categories include classical music and opera. In the former Tom Coult’s Spirit Of The Staircase, performed by the London Sinfonietta is among the shortlist alongside the Dunedin Consort’s performance of Monteverdi Vespers at the Lammermuir Festival.
In the opera category 4.48 Psychosis at the Royal Opera House and Nothing by the Glyndebourne Youth Opera were among the nominees.
Now in their 21st year, the South Bank’s Sky Arts Awards will be held on Sunday 9 July and hosted by Lord Melvyn Bragg.
Skepta was the recent winner of the songwriter of the year award at the Ivor Novello Awards.
It might’ve been four years since London Grammar released their debut If You Wait, but their second offering sees the trio extending rather than reinventing their style. The sophomore album Truth Is A Beautiful Thing is another colossal epic of a record that intertwines cinematic-style orchestral scores with dreamy pop.
Over 11 tracks, we hear Hannah Reid (vocals), Dan Rothman (guitars) and Dot Major (drums and electronics) ponder life on the road and their relationships with a new perspective since we last heard from them.
Opening with debut single ‘Rooting For You’, frontwoman Reid’s signature sonorous vocals loom over distant piano and guitar. Released on New Year’s Eve, the angelic single was the perfect way to toast the trio’s second chapter. Not bad for a tune that was apparently written in the acoustic haven of her shower. Produced by Jon Hopkins (Brian Eno), follow-up single and second track ‘Big Picture’ is an unlikely coupling of melancholy and uplifting hope.
“Don’t say you ever loved me, don’t say you ever cared,” Reid laments. ‘Wild Eyed’ and’ Oh Woman Oh Man’ are pierced by Reid’s heavy coos and laden with rich but restrained guitar rhythms. Meanwhile, ‘Hell To The Liars’, like a few songs on the album, is inflated with heavenly strings and a 32-piece orchestra. ‘Everyone Else’ is another dreamy electro-pop gem that slowly builds into one of the catchier choruses on the record.
Next up, ‘Non Believer’ cuts through the previously sombre pace with a slapping bass beat and fuzzy production on Reid’s vocals that gives off some serious Imogen Heap vibes. But it’s the beautifully-titled ‘Bones of Ribbon’ that is laced with the ghostly layering of Reid’s vocals to create a spine-tingling anthem that could rival big hit ‘Strong’.
‘Who Am I’ opens with Rothman’s spritely arpeggio, but later strips back to a bare piano melody as Reid’s rapturous warble ponders the question. “I’m trying my best to fit in with the rest,” she sings. Reid co-wrote ‘Leave The War With Me’ with Greg Kurstin (the musical genius who has crafted pop hits with Sia and Adele), so, naturally, the result is a lyrically-lush masterpiece.
The album’s bookend and title track is a devastatingly beautiful piano ballad. Despite apparently only taking half an hour to create, it embodies all of the nuances, emotion and stunning vocals we’ve come to associate with the London locals.
If you treat yo’ self to the deluxe version, though, the album is far from over with another seven luscious tracks left to devour. Including the electronic minimalism on ‘Control’, raw demos of ‘Trials’ and ‘Rooting’ and a haunting cover of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, it’s a spellbinding body of work in itself.
Despite new inspirations and experiences, Truth Is A Beautiful Thing is a quintessential London Grammar record. The trio barely step out of their well-honed comfort zone for the second album, but the result is an incredibly polished and rich parade of the grandeur of sound they do best.
Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this new series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.
Gideon Priess, Husky: Pink Floyd – ‘Dark Side of the Moon’
In high school, there was this rumour going around that if you watched The Wizard of Oz and played it in time with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, all of these great things would happen in time with the music.
This was years before the internet and these kinds of rumours became legends spread by excited teenagers, faithfully committed to whatever bands they were into at the time. To find out whether or not these legends were real or not meant taking matters into your own hands and doing some of your own research.
Like most kids, the first records I came across were the ones my folks had at home. Luckily they had pretty good taste in music. For years I’d rush home from school and head straight to the record player. We had this great Sony hi-fi system from the ’70s that I still occasionally listen to records on. When you’re a teenager there’s nothing like being able to disappear, even for just a moment. Records gave me this ability to check out. When I listened to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, I did just that. As soon as that first groove dropped on track one, after a swell of wild and haunted psychedelic sounds, I was gone, no longer in the family living room, but floating somewhere far away. It was magical.
I became obsessed with this record. For me, it had it all. Great songs, grooves, solos and themes that I could connect to at that time in my life. It also had that mystical and iconic album artwork that always gave me this feeling that there’s something else out there. I never really knew what the something else was, but I wanted to chase it as far as I could.
My piano teacher taught me the chords to all of the songs on Side A. I was around 14 then, and for the first time, I was learning that playing the piano could be hip. Until then, all I could play on the piano were these corny numbers from some student exercise book that no one had heard of. I’d play songs from this album and freak out with my friends at how wild the songs were. The thing about music is that it can make you feel like you belong like you’re part of something special. Something that only you or your close friends are privy to. Great music makes you feel understood. Lost perhaps, but also less isolated somehow.
I used to drag the speakers from the lounge room to where the TV was, get the VHS ready with The Wizard of Oz, wait for the lion’s third roar (that was apparently how you made the synch work) and drop the needle onto the vinyl. Still, to this day I have no idea whether it was real or imagined, whether Pink Floyd even knew anything about it, but man it was amazing. Especially when you flipped the record and ‘Money’ kicked in and the film turned to colour.
This record made me want to make music. It made me want to disappear into that world. I often think about creating something that could transport someone else the way this record transported me, and how special it would be to be able to pass this magic onto someone else.
The annual Radio Festival, which was postponed following the Manchester Arena attack, will take place on 21 June, organisers have confirmed.
Originally scheduled for 23 May, it will now take place in two weeks’ time at the British Library, with BBC Radio 5 Live’s Colin Murray hosting the festival.
The day will also feature appearances and talks from MOBO Award winning songwriter, DJ and producer Goldie and BBC Radio 6 Music’s Shaun Keaveny, alongside sessions on podcasting, Instagram and the future of social media and radio.
Roger Cutsforth, chief executive of Radio Academy and organiser of the Radio Festival, said: ‘It felt wrong to be holding a celebration of our industry against the backdrop of such a tragic event. It also would have been disrespectful to many of our members who were covering the story.
‘We have been encouraged by the goodwill and support demonstrated from across the industry with offers of assistance and many contributors already indicating their willingness to change their diaries in order to take part at the restaged event. Thanks must also go to the British Library and our sponsors, PPL and PRS for Music, who will once again also be supporting Radio Festival.’
Tickets already purchased for Radio Festival will be valid for the new date and any ticket holders unable to make the new date should contact the Radio Academy on email@example.com to make alternative arrangements.