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The Australian Music Prize Has Unveiled Its 2019 Finalists

Now in its 15th year, the winner of the Australian Music Prize is set to be announced next month, with judges revealing their list of finalists today.

2 panel image of Amyl and the Sniffers and Sampa the Great, two nominees for the Australian Music Prize

Amyl and the Sniffers and Sampa the Great are among the nominees for the Australian Music Prize

Ellen Virgona, Barun Chatterjee

The race for one of the most coveted awards in local music is heating up, with the Australian Music Prize announcing the finalists for its 15th edition.

Long considered to be “Australia’s richest music prize” due to its $30,000 cash award, some of Australia’s best and brightest musicians have shared in the honour over the years. With the inaugural award going to The Drones in 2005, the likes of Lisa Mitchell, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and A. B. Original have served as winners in the past, with last year’s honour going to the late Gurrumul.

With the judging panel comprised of 40 of the country’s most admired tastemakers, retailers, media and artists, an initial list of 107 nominated albums has now been whittled down to just nine, with finalists being revealed today.

An eclectic list of records, the styles range from the ferocious punk of Amyl and the Sniffers’ self-titled debut to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ heartbreaking Ghosteen, to the unapologetic sounds of Dispossessed’s Warpath Never Ended.

Also featured is the folk-pop of Ainslie Wills’ All You Have Is All You Need, Julia Jacklin’s impressive Crushing, Thelma Plum’s tribute to Indigenous culture with Better in Blak, Sleep D’s Rebel Force, Methyl Ethel’s Triage, and The Return, the latest album from previous winner Sampa the Great.

“It’s always great when an album as a body of work is recognised, The Return was one hell of a journey,” Sampa the Great explained. “Being nominated again feels very special.”

While any music fan would contend that picking nine albums for the shortlist – let alone one as the overall winner – would be an almost impossible task, the winning record will be selected by a final judging who will meet in person for a day of discussion, debate and perhaps argument to decide the musical merits of each release, before selecting Australia’s most prestigious music prize recipient, which be announced in March.

“As a first time AMP judge, binge-listening was a chance to revisit great albums and discover albums that had slipped through the cracks now we’re all seemingly bombarded with more music than ever before,” explained Cameron Adams.

“Heaven knows how they managed to cull all those albums down, but they’ve come up with a fine nine that is a killer snapshot of Australian music in the last 12 months.”

Inspired by the likes of the UK’s Mercury Prize, the Australian Music Prize continues in its goal to shine a light on the fine efforts from stunning Australian artists, while continuing to thrive thanks to the support of the local music industry.

“The Australian Music Prize has never been more vital in our music ecosystem, providing a separation from the fight for commercial success and encouraging a reconnection to the very heart of what draws us to music,” explained Australian Music Prize director Scott Murphy.

“We are proud to lift up music that inspires lives and change our culture for the better.”

For more information, head to the Australian Music Prize website.

The 15th Australian Music Prize Finalists:

Ainslie Wills – All You Have Is All You Need
Amyl and the Sniffers – Amyl and the Sniffers
Dispossessed – Warpath Never Ended
Julia Jacklin – Crushing
Methyl Ethel – Triage
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
Sampa The Great – The Return
Sleep D – Rebel Force
Thelma Plum – Better In Blak