Page last updated at 22:59 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 23:59 UK

Mercury Prize 2009: The nominees

Rapper Speech Debelle has been named winner of the Mercury Prize and its £20,000 prize money for her album Speech Therapy.

Find out more about Debelle and this year's other nominees below.

SPEECH DEBELLE - SPEECH THERAPY
Speech Debelle
Released: 15 June, 2009
Highest chart position: n/a

South London rapper Speech Debelle released her debut record, Speech Therapy, on the Big Dada label in June.

It features contributions from Micachu, Tunng's Mike Lindsay and label-mate Roots Manuva. The album includes the single The Key.

Reviewers have picked up on the stark contrast between the 25-year-old's "honeyed" delivery and her gritty subject matter: Living in hostels, gangsta boys and absent fathers.

MusicOMH website says: "Speech Therapy is a startlingly good debut album from a woman who could well be the biggest thing in UK hip-hop for many a long year."

BAT FOR LASHES - TWO SUNS
Bat For Lashes
Released: 6 April, 2009
Highest chart position: 2

Bat For Lashes, the pseudonym of singer-songwriter Natasha Khan, was the bookmakers' favourite to win the Mercury prize in 2007 with her debut, Fur and Gold, but she lost out to Klaxons.

Her ethereal follow-up, Two Suns, includes a duet with US veteran singer Scott Walker, titled The Big Sleep.

Khan supported Radiohead on their European tour last summer: "Thom Yorke having said he was a fan really worked in our favour, because people listened and paid attention," she says.

The singer was a nursery school teacher before she turned her attentions to music.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE - LUNGS
Florence and the Machine
Released: 6 July, 2009
Highest chart position: 2

Already the winner of the Brit Awards' Critics' Choice prize for best rising star, singer-songwriter Florence Welch and her backing band have been making waves since their debut single, Kiss with a Fist, in 2008.

After the July release of first album, Lungs - which missed the top spot in favour of a Michael Jackson re-release - the band were regulars on the summer festival circuit.

The 22-year-old from south London has been likened to Kate Bush, Bjork and PJ Harvey.

"People see my lyrics as crazy, but to me it's an honest, heartfelt album. I didn't set out to be wacky. I just want it to be emotive," she says.

FRIENDLY FIRES - FRIENDLY FIRES
Friendly Fires
Released: 1 September, 2008
Highest chart position: 37

Dance-rock trio Friendly Fires have had a slow ascent to stardom since releasing their debut single, On Board, in 2007.

Despite being championed by the likes of Radio One's Zane Lowe, their singles have generally stalled just outside the top 40.

Instead, it is their carnival-esque live shows that have attracted fans' attention - ultimately propelling their funky, bass-heavy debut album to number 37 in June.

Hailing from St Albans, the band is led by Ed MacFarlane whose "expressive" dancing has become a YouTube phenomenon.

GLASVEGAS - GLASVEGAS
Glasvegas
Released: 8 September, 2008
Highest chart position: 2

Led by James Allan, Glasvegas hail from the down-at-heel Dalmarnock district of Glasgow.

The four-piece have won praise for their grim tales of deprivation, broken homes and stabbings in the Scottish suburbs.

In contrast to the dark subject matter, the band's anthemic pop is life-affirming and melodic - and they shed some of their dour image by releasing a Christmas EP just months after their debut album.

Championed by Creation Records' Alan McGee, the band were hailed as the saviours of rock in their earliest appearances in the music press.

"You're going to be the most important British band of your generation," one NME writer told Allan, while the magazine named Daddy's Gone its second-best single of 2008.

THE HORRORS - PRIMARY COLOURS
The Horrors
Released: 5 May, 2009
Highest chart position: 25

Faris Badwan fronts Southend rockers The Horrors, who released their first single, Sheena is a Parasite, in 2006 ahead of their debut album, Strange House, the following year.

Their second album Primary Colours won critical acclaim when it came out in May 2009.

Produced by Portishead's Geoff Barrow, it reached number 25 on the UK album chart.

But their singles rarely make it into the top 40. Most have been classed as ineligible for the chart, owing to them being packaged with stickers, which breaks guidelines.

THE INVISIBLE - THE INVISIBLE
The Invisible
Released: 2 March, 2009
Highest chart position: n/a

London three-piece The Invisible originally came together to work on singer David Okumu's solo material. But the collaboration between the friends was so successful they decided to form a permanent group.

The trio have been members of various bands over the years, including previous Mercury nominees Polar Bear, Hot Chip and Jade Fox.

Avant garde jazz, classical, church and dance music meld together on their eponymous debut album, produced by Matthew Herbert, who has also worked with Yoko Ono, REM and Bjork.

They recently completed a tour supporting Doves, and performed at summer festivals including The Big Chill.

KASABIAN - WEST RYDER PAUPER LUNATIC ASYLUM
Kasabian
Released: 8 June, 2009
Highest chart position: 1

Indie band Kasabian released concept album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum in June, describing it as "very psychedelic".

Co-produced by Dan The Automator of Gorillaz fame, the follow-up to 2006's Empire was recorded in the US and went straight to number one.

The five-piece band, from Leicester, take their name from Linda Kasabian, a member of Charles Manson's "family".

Earlier this summer, they completed a stadium tour of the UK with Oasis and The Enemy.

LA ROUX - LA ROUX
La Roux
Released: 29 June, 2009
Highest chart position: 2

London synth duo La Roux have already made an impression on the singles chart with their hit Bulletproof reaching number one in July and their previous hit In For The Kill peaking at two.

Comprised of 20-year-old Elly Jackson and her production partner Ben Langmaid, the pair take their influence from 1980s synthpop acts like The Eurythmics, Depeche Mode and Heaven 17.

The pair have been working together for three years, starting out as an acoustic guitar-based outfit before deciding they were bored of that sound, scrapping their work and reinventing themselves as retro revivalists.

"We're trying to make pop music like it used to be in the '80s. It was so epic in the '80s and no-one makes epic otherworldly pop music any more," Jackson says.

Their debut album was released at the end of June, and was set to enter the charts at number one before Michael Jackson's untimely death.

LED BIB - SENSIBLE SHOES
Led Bib
Released: 4 May, 2009
Highest chart position: n/a

Led Bib have already been called the "token jazz act" on this year's shortlist, but that does a disservice to their raucous, rule-breaking sound.

Fronted by "duelling saxophonists" Chris Williams and Pere Grogan, the quintet were branded the "future of jazz" by The Times.

The music is mostly written by New Jersey drummer Mark Holub, who came to the UK in 2003 and credits his band's success to the fact that "people are dying to hear something different".

Frequently branded as "punk-jazz", the group won the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award in 2005. Sensible Shoes is their third album.

LISA HANNIGAN - SEA SEW
Lisa Hannigan
Released: 4 May, 2009
Highest chart position: n/a

Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan recorded her debut album in just two weeks - and spent almost as long hand-stitching the artwork that makes up the cover.

Many will know her from Damien Rice's albums O and 9, where her sweet, soulful voice provided a counterpoint to the rock singer's more strident vocals - most notably on the hit single 9 Crimes.

The pair's creative relationship ended in 2007, when Hannigan was sent home in the middle of a tour. "I had become pretty outspoken about my frustrations at the direction the band was going in, and I'm sure he was starting to find me a pain," she later said.

The success of her solo material has made up for the split - with invitations to appear on Jools Holland and the main stage at the Latitude festival.

Monthly music bible Q said of the record: "Sea Sew exudes the sort of simple, homespun charm that many strive to achieve but so few succeed in pulling off."

SWEET BILLY PILGRIM - TWICE BORN MEN
Sweet Billy Pilgrim
Released: 16 March, 2009
Highest chart position: n/a

Named after an organisation for ex-Vietnam soldiers, Sweet Billy Pilgrim's Twice Born Men was recorded on a laptop in a garden shed.

It's the second album from session musicians Tim Elsenburg, Anthony Bishop and Alistair Hamar and was released by former Japan star David Sylvian's label.

The band, who formed in 2003, say they "scrape strings and tap away at laptops trying to make beautiful things with steady hands and empty pockets".

Upon its release in March, Twice Born Men was the Sunday Times' Album of the Week. One review said it contained "tiny symphonies in a vacuum".



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