|Photo By Anna Gulbrandsen|
|This year's Mercury Prize winner, James Blake, performing at First Ave in May|
For a high school/college kid in the early '90s, it was easy to get fed up with the U.S. mainstream's increasingly homogenized take on popular music -- especially whenever the disappointing Grammy Awards came around every February.
The Grammys have always had an elderly, buttoned-down air to their winners, and artistic merit is trumped by corporate strength on a consistent, embarrassing basis. Since its launch in 1992, the Mercury Music Prize has championed the best U.K. and Ireland albums and represented the tastes and trends of younger, more discerning listeners. Based upon its winners, it has always seemed -- despite its ever-present sponsorship straight from the start -- like an award for enlightened music fans instead of ignorant stuffed shirts.
See Also: James Blake at First Avenue, 5/1/13