I'm hardly alone in pondering this, but what exactly is the point of the Mercury Prize these days? Well done to this year's winner Sampha and all that, but any award for which abominable albums by Ed Sheeran and Blossoms can be nominated (as well as The XX's substandard third LP I See You) and which is judged by a panel that includes Jessie Ware, Marcus Mumford and Jamie Cullum clearly no longer constitutes any mark of exceptional quality.
Much more worthy of interest is Drowned In Sound's alternative, the Neptune Prize, which this year pleasingly features Blanck Mass' World Eater, IDLES' Brutalism, Sacred Paws' Strike A Match and Sleaford Mods' English Tapas. While I enjoyed Honeyblood's Babes Never Die, I'm not convinced it's quite worthy of this company, but the list has reminded me of a clutch of records I haven't yet listened to: Ride's Weather Diaries, The Moonlandingz's Interplanetary Class Classics, Slowdive's self-titled comeback and Jane Weaver's Modern Kosmology. (I've got Weaver's new EP The Architect to review for Buzz, so listening to the album will help to put it into context.)
Anyway, voting is open until midday on Sunday, with the winner due to be announced next week. I'm currently favouring Sacred Paws.