GIT Award Shortlist – Bang On?

With less than a month to go before the GIT Award has its first winner we take a look at the shortlist…

We don’t mind telling you it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that we opened the e-mail entitled GIT Award Shortlist 2012. The award, brainchild of Peter Guy, editor of the Getintothis music blog at the Daily Post, has been dividing opinion since its inception at Liverpool Music Week’s closing party in November 2011. What is the point? Who will it benefit? Will it bring new music to a wider audience?

All these questions and more have been thrown in Guy’s direction, and though mostly fair, he must at times feel more scrutinised than the bands vying for a place on that shortlist. It’s that last question dealing with ‘wider audience’ that is perhaps most pertinent; both to the bands involved, and others with a less tangible interest in the award’s success. Guy has certainly left few stones unturned in his attempt to secure broader appeal, garnering an impressive supporting cast of judges, including Alexandra Topping of The Guardian, and New Music Editor of the NME, Matt Wilkinson, and with sponsors such as Vice Magazine, The Quietus and Mercy lending a more national flavour.

In light of this, you’d hope that the profile of the award and the buzz it generates won’t be confined simply to Liverpool. Perhaps the true measure of the award’s success won’t be revealed until well after the dust has settled on the announcement of the winner, and a single has been recorded. Let us for now deal with the things we do know, that is to say, those all important names on the shortlist:

Bang On!
Ex-Easter Island Head
Forest Swords
Loved Ones
Miss Stylie
Bill Ryder-Jones
Stealing Sheep
The Tea Street Band
Esco Williams

What struck us first was the breadth of genre covered by the bands and artists on the list, dispelling in one fell swoop the idea that GIT would be a closed shop, featuring only the traditional ‘white guys with guitars’ that so often dogs peoples’ idea of what it is to be a ‘Liverpool band’. The judges have deftly sidestepped that potential pitfall with more than the blindingly obvious genres represented. Those bands feature, of course – simply because they fall somewhere along the spectrum of indie, shouldn’t mean they are overlooked – but you also have the soul of Esco Williams and the lyrical wit of Elliott Egerton, AKA rapper Bang On!

Secondly is the fact that, while there are at least a couple of names in the mix that will be familiar to those with anything more than a passing interest in the local scene, there are sure to be one or two surprises as well; a wild-card inclusion like the Toxteth rapper Miss Stylee, while we wouldn’t expect her to win, is a refreshing addition, and certainly new to us.

Less of a surprise to readers will be the inclusion of the likes of Outfit, Forest Swords and Stealing Sheep. Each has a considerable profile and fan-base with vast potential for growth, and are decent tips to be outright winners. The fact we can reasonably describe Forest Swords as an ‘obvious choice’ goes to show how deeply at odds the reality of our burgeoning music scene is with any traditional stereotypes that might still be doing the rounds.

The final thing to note – and this is where the GIT has probably been successful even before the first beat is dropped in anger – is the way in which attention has been focused on these acts in such a unified and coherent way, where previously it would, no doubt, have been more sporadic. Guy must hope (without a hint of cynicism) that if nothing else, the award will act as a metaphorical lightning rod, delivering the bolt of energy required to shine a light on a music scene worth illuminating, in and beyond the boundaries of our city.

With each of the shortlisted artists expected to perform at the Award show on April the 27th in Leaf on Bold Street, we can at least, look forward to an evening of varied entertainment. And who knows, along the way, it may force one or two people beyond their usual comfort zone of tried and tested habitual music taste. That’s a good thing, right?

Posted on 09/04/2012 by thedoublenegative