Mercury Prize nominees a mixed bag

Radiohead, Robert Plant, Adele among contenders

LONDON -- Rock veteran Robert Plant squares off against teenage singer-songwriter Adele on the 12-album shortlist for the 2008 Nationwide Mercury Prize, announced in London on Tuesday.

The list reflects "a remarkably rich year for British music," according to chair of judges Simon Frith.

"I think (this shortlist) shows how much musicians still do treat the album as a significant, formal way of making music," Frith said. "Whatever anyone says about people don't listen to albums, they download tracks. Most of these bands have deliberately made albums, which you couldn't do any other way."

However, there was no place for such multiplatinum albums as Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" (Parlophone/EMI) or Duffy's "Rockferry" (A&M/Universal) on the list, selected by a panel including representatives of the media, academics and musicians.

The shortlist, chosen from an entry of more than 240 albums by British artists, was announced by radio/TV presenter Lauren Laverne at London's Hospital Club. The 12 nominated albums are:

-- Adele, "19" (XL)
-- British Sea Power, "Do You Like Rock Music?" (Rough Trade)
-- Burial, "Untrue" (Hyperdub)
-- Elbow, "The Seldom Seen Kid" (Fiction/Universal)
-- Estelle, "Shine" (Atlantic)
-- Laura Marling, "Alas I Cannot Swim" (Virgin/EMI)
-- Neon Neon, "Stainless Style" (Lex)
-- Portico Quartet, "Knee-Deep in the North Sea" (Vortex)
-- Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, "The Bairns" (EMI)
-- Radiohead, "In Rainbows" (XL)
-- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, "Raising Sand" (Rounder/Decca)
-- The Last Shadow Puppets, "The Age of the Understatement" (Domino)

The Mercury judges will select their album of the year from the shortlist at a ceremony set for Sept. 9 in London. The ceremony, which will feature live performances from nominees, will be announced live on national TV channel BBC 2, which will also broadcast the awards show on Sept. 12.

Those programs will be fronted by radio/TV presenter Lauren Laverne. The show itself will be hosted by musician and presenter Jools Holland.