Barclaycard Mercury Prize Recommends brings you some of the week's most interesting online music from around the world...


This week, Recommends sees sterling returns from Tom Vek, Herbert and The Go! Team, as well as more new music from a rejuvenated Blur. There's also an incredible self-directed video from FKA twigs, albums from Polar Bear, Ryley Walker and Henrik Schwarz and news on upcoming festivals in both Glasgow and North Yorkshire.

Tracks: Blur, Johnny Flynn, Dutch Uncles, Herbert


Videos: FKA twigs, Tom Vek, The Go! Team


Albums: Polar Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Ryley Walker, Henrik Schwarz


Live: Death From Above 1979, Outskirts Festival, The Deer Shed, Crimson!

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    The Sick Bag Song

    It's been said that many a great idea has been hatched on the back of an envelope, though it's fair to say not quite as many books have started - and finished - their lives on the side of an aeroplane sick bag... In fact it's probably just the one: Nick Cave's new book was written in its entirety on sick bags during the singer and author's recent tour with his band The Bad Seeds.

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    What Did David Bowie Do At Your Age?

    One of modern music's greatest performers, David Bowie has been actively challenging convention since he was still sporting short trousers. Intended as a motivational tool to take you out of your comfort zone - though equally likely to make you feel inadequate in comparison - there's now a website which can tell you exactly what the Pop polymath was up to when he was your age. 

  • Blur

    Lonesome Street


    Since the news arose of their unexpected return a couple of weeks ago there’s hardly been a day go by without some mention of Blur making its way online, be it the succession of new tracks that have emerged or last week’s tiny West London concert attended by an audience of extremely lucky ballot winners. Taking to the stage at Mode in Notting Hill the band performed their highly anticipated new album The Magic Whip in its entirety, kicking off with album opener Lonesome Street.

  • Johnny Flynn


    Earth Recordings

    Shirley Collins’ continued contribution to the English Folk tradition could never be underestimated, the singer still as keenly involved in both protecting and promoting the movement now as when she first began recording over fifty years ago. Her impact and influence on successive generations rings true on Shirley Inspired, a compilation Earth Recordings have arranged for Record Store Day. Amongst contributions from Will Oldham, Angel Olsen and Stewart Lee the album also features this wonderful cover from Johnny Flynn.

  • Dutch Uncles


    Memphis Industries

    Artful Pop has always been a predilection of Dutch Uncles, the Mancunian quintet who on their recent long player O Shudder presented a crystaline version of intelligent Indie that felt as tightly coiled as it did elegantly arranged. Showing that the sessions which fed into the record were creatively fertile affairs the band have just revealed non-album track Realms, a poignant piece of orchestrally led Pop which sounds far too accomplished to ever be considered an off-cut. Catch the band when they set off on tour next month. 

  • Herbert


    Accidental Records

    Of late Matthew Herbert has been making the transition from experimentally-minded outsider to a hero of high culture thanks to critically lauded appointments with the National Theatre and the Royal Opera House. Interestingly the producer has countered this shift with a concerted effort to realign with his roots in Dance music, and ahead of the arrival of his new album The Shakes in June - the first he’s released under the Herbert moniker since 2006’s seminal Scale - he's unveiled the collection’s bubbling opener.

  • FKA twigs

    Glass & Patron

    Directed by FKA twigs

    A flurry of incredible promos were released in conjunction with the recent YouTube Music Awards, though of all the many captivating clips uploaded none felt more ambitious than this visionary video directed by FKA twigs. The worlds of conceptual art, high fashion and contemporary dance colourfully coerce in a challenging piece of filmmaking that also boasts new music and an upward shift in tempo from the seemingly unstoppable artist.

  • Tom Vek


    Whilst coming up with ideas for a clip to accompany his returning single Broke - a track inspired by the financial sacrifices artists are usually forced to make - Tom Vek wonders which music video must have cost the most to make. His informed answer? The KLF’s startling 1994 artwork How To Burn A Million Pounds. In re-appropriating the legendary film Vek now presents a piece of Pop Art he proudly calls “the cheapest most expensive video ever made”.

  • The Go! Team

    What D’You Say?

    Directed by Michael Robinson

    Personnel changes in The Go! Team’s ranks have been far reaching since 2011’s Rolling Blackouts, the ever-evolving ensemble now focussed to the sole exploits of founding member and pivotal presence Ian Parton. It was the same arrangement on the group’s debut outing in 2004 though and in many ways new album The Scene Between comes full circle, rich as it is with the same infectious and unaffected charm that charges through What D'You Say?

  • Polar Bear

    Same As You

    The Leaf Label

    Seb Rochford and his partners in Polar Bear had committed Same As You to tape long before last year’s engrossing In Each And Every One had even been released, the proximity of the two albums’ conception prompting a synergy that the drummer has likened to the shift between night and day. It was on a trip to the Mojave Desert that the sound of the band’s sixth set really took shape though, as Rochford’s own experiences within the expanses of nature in turn informed the album’s innate sense of spirituality and serenity.

  • Sufjan Stevens

    Carrie & Lowell

    Asthmatic Kitty

    With his fortieth birthday fast approaching Sufjan Stevens unveils what may well be the most personal and probing record of his decade and a half long career; the unflinchingly autobiographical Carrie & Lowell, a record which takes its name from Steven’s late mother and stepfather. Having left home when the singer had only just turned one, Carrie battled with depression and dependancy until she passed in 2012. Left with a lifetime of questions the celebrated songwriter finds some answers on this beautiful collection.

  • Ryley Walker

    Primrose Green

    Dead Oceans

    On debut album All Kinds of You singer-songwriter Ryley Walker enchanted with a tapestry of finger-picked paeans to the British Folk explosion of the early Sixties, all of which were given a contemporary air thanks to the experimental outlook Walker had cultivated whilst serving time on Chicago’s Noise scene. His second set Primrose Green is an even greater accomplishment, its jazzy licks and roaming arrangements all wearing their influences proudly but never at the expense of the Walker's own voice.

  • Henrik Schwarz


    Sony Classical

    Henrik Schwarz, a name long associated with a cerebral space which exists somewhere deep in the middle of the dance floor, began questioning his music after a chance encounter with the Tokyo Secret Orchestra who re-arranged some of his best known works for chamber orchestra. Schwartz wondered what would be left of productions if the all-important beat was omitted: the answer lies in the brilliantly uplifting Instruments, an engaging outing which emphasises the minimalist link between club and concert hall.

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    Death From Above 1979

    Concorde 2, Brighton

    Sunday 28th June

    Electro Punk pioneers Death From Above 1979 famously hail from Canada, though their first flush of success in the early Noughties coincided with a thriving community of club nights in Brighton who collectively embraced the Ontarian duo’s debut album as a template for surefire dance floor dynamite. This transatlantic love-in must still burn bright a decade on as DFA1979 have just announced a very special one-off show in the seaside town this June.

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    Outskirts Festival

    Platform, Glasgow

    Saturday 25th April

    The peerless Platform presents another day-long celebration of music, performance and visual art, bringing together a cast from Scotland and beyond for this year’s Outskirts Festival. Highlights are set to include Easterhouse Conversation, a specially commissioned collaboration between local favourites RM Hubbert and Wounded Knee, and pianist Matthew Bourne leading an analogue appraisal of Kraftwerk’s seminal set Radio-Activity.

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    Deer Shed Festival

    Baldersby Park, North Yorkshire

    Friday 24th - Sunday 26th July

    The family-focused Deer Shed festival returns to the bucolic surrounds of Baldersby Park for the sixth year straight this summer, and in the offing presented its most impressive line-up to date. This week organisers filled in any remaining gaps with the last run of artist announcements: Du Blond (the new nom de plume for Beth Jeans Houghton) and Villagers will be joining John Grant, The Unthanks, Ibibio Sound Machine and more in July.

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    St John’s Smith Square, London

    Friday 1st May

    When The Delta Saxophone Quartet’s Chris Caldwell first crossed paths with composer Gwilym Simcock it wasn’t through music but rather a shared passion for Stoke City FC. After much talk of The Potters it also transpired they both harboured a deep love for Prog icons King Crimson, whose material directly inspires this new project. The fivesome perform this improv-heavy work for the first time in the UK in celebration of Delta’s thirtieth anniversary.