From IDLES record-breaking amount of nominations to the record labels breaking boundaries
Jessie Atkinson and Shannon Cotton
11:54 29th August 2019

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It’s almost time for this year’s AIM Independent Music Awards. The not-for-profit trade body exclusively represents the UK’s independent music sector which now makes up a quarter of the recorded music market. This year sees AIM enter it’s 20th year and they’re celebrating with an award ceremony which looks set to be bigger and better than ever. 

In the unlikely event that IDLES don’t clean up at the Roundhouse next week, here’s who we would like to see scoop an award:

UK Independent Breakthrough (in association with YouTube Music)

The nominees: black midi, Ezra Collective, Gerry Cinnamon, IDLES, Jade Bird

There’s always been an air of mystery surrounding black midi. So much so, the band didn’t even reveal the titles of the tracks on their debut album, Schlagenheim, until the day it was released. It’s this secretive attitude, paired with their mismatched time signatures and jarring vocals, that has made them all the more compelling. It goes against the grain and only makes you more intrigued. (SC)

International Breakthrough 

The Nominees: Afro B, Jade Bird, Maribou State, Nilüfer Yanya, IDLES

By writing songs that add some much-needed excitement and modernity to guitar music, Nilüfer Yanya has enjoyed great signs of early success - particularly with her inventive debut album Miss Universe. Plus, the indie-soul artist enjoys almost as many listeners out in Berlin, Istanbul and USA’s East and West Coasts as she does in her hometown of that’s the ‘international’ element covered. (JA)

Best Independent Track (in association with Facebook)

The nominees: Dave - Funky Friday (ft. Fredo)’, FKA Twigs - ‘Cellophane’, Fontaines D.C. - ‘Boys In The Better Land’, Georgia - ‘About Work The Dancefloor’, JARV IS - ‘Must I Evolve’, Jai Paul - ‘Do You Love Her Now’, Holly Herndon - ‘Eternal’, Little Simz - ‘Selfish (ft. Celo Sol)’, Sharon Van Etten - ‘Seventeen’, Four Tet - ‘Teenage Birdsong’

It’s a song subject that has been done to death; the big dreams, the struggle and the escape from the small town, but somehow Fontaines D.C. manage to make the theme of making a better life for yourself a refreshing and inspiring jaunt on ‘Boys In The Better Land’. With pulsating percussion and soaring riffs spurring us on, you really believe it when Grian Chatten sings, “if you’re a rock star, porn star, superstar, doesn’t matter what you are, get yourself a good car and get out of here,” in his overtly Irish drawl. (SC)

Best Independent Album (in association with Spotify) 

The nominees: Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center, Christine And The Queens - Chris, Dave - Psychodrama, Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - End of Suffering, Jade Bird - Jade Bird, Jordan Rakei - Origin, Little Simz - GREY Area, Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury, Swindle - No More Normal

The raw passion and honesty flowing through Dave’s Psychodrama is unrivalled. The poetic tendencies the South London rapper possesses are enough to make this record generation-defining. With astute social commentary running through the veins of the album, enhanced by delicate piano-led compositions, is it any wonder Psychodrama is the fastest ever streamed British debut? (SC)

Best [Difficult] Second Album

The nominees: Erland Cooper - Sule Skerry, IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance, Julia Jacklin - Crushing, Maribou State - Kingdoms In Colour, SOAK - Grim Town

IDLES pull flowers out of the sleeve of punk so well that 20,000 people have sold out Alexandra Palace twice over to go and see them do it this December. Their effortless second album Joy As An Act Of Resistance is the perfect combination of optimism and fury; a manifesto for loving yourself and everyone else to the max (except the Tories). (JA)

One To Watch (in association with BBC Music Introducing)

The nominees: Arlo Parks, Barney Artist, Georgia, KOKOROKO, Larkins

Her mind! A poet as much as she is a singer and rapper, Arlo Parks is a nineteen year-old with exceptional hooks and generation-defining lyrics cued for the big time. Who knows what gems are hiding out on her hard drive, but we’ve already been treated to a handful of them, and they’re all softly-lit, genre-blurring, groundbreaking bops. (JA)

Best Small Label

The nominees: Fuzz Club Records, Killing Moon, Local Action, Scruff of the Neck, Speedy Wunderground

Brainchild of Dan Carey, the producer and mixer behind so many of the last decade’s hit alternative bands (Toy, Hot Chip, Goat Girl), Speedy Wunderground is a label with a stubbornly avant-garde outlook. Yeah, it’s a cool idea to record, produce, mix and output singles all within a twenty-four hour period, but the important thing is that this label always follows through with the goods. Recent releases include Squid’s Town Centre EP and Black Midi’s ‘bmbmbm.’ (JA)

Best Creative Packaging (in association with MCPS)

The nominees: Hand-picked and curated in collaboration with The Rolling Stones, Confessin’ The Blues compilation,Murlo - Dolos, IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance, Various Artists - Sick Music 2019 compilation, Keith Richards - Talk Is Cheap

In the deluxe vinyl edition of IDLE’s Joy As An Act Of Resistance, there are several cover artworks to choose from. Though the vintage bar brawl snap made the cut as the official visual, owners of the glitter frame vinyl can slot whichever piece they favour into its glitzy surround. There are several pieces, including several by frontman Joe Talbot himself, and a couple by Maccabees’ man Orlando Weeks. Collaborative and cross-disciplinary. (JA)

Best Independent Video (in association with Vevo)

The nominees: Christine and the Queens - 5 Dollars, Hot Chip - Hungry Child, John Grant - He’s Got His Mother’s Hips, Caleb Steph - Black Boy, FKA Twigs - Cellophane

The video for FKA Twigs’ ‘Cellophane’ sees the singer not only flex her impressive vocal range, but also her impeccable dance talents too. The visuals start with Twigs pole dancing before contorting herself into an abundance of positions. Before long we’re transported into a CGI world filled with mythical creatures, all whilst being soundtracked by the track’s dreamy soundscape. (SC)

Best Independent Label (in association with [PIAS])

The nominees: Brownswood Recordings, Domino, Nuclear Blast, Partisan Records, Rough Trade

Record labels like these have the power to make an artist - without entrapping them in creativity-bleaching contracts focused only on making lots and lots of money. For this, all of them deserve awards. However, New York City’s Partisan Records has in the last year released Fontaines D.C.’s Dogrel, IDLES’ Joy As An Act Of Resistance, announced a new Cigarettes After Sex album, and broken Australian garage rock band Body Type. Oh, and they have Fela and Femi Kuti on their roster. No biggie. (JA)

PPL Award For Most Played New Independent Artist 

The nominees: AJ Tracey, Cosmo Sheldrake, Freya Ridings, Guru Randhawa, Jorja Smith

AJ Tracey’s self-titled debut album landed back at the start of the year to earth-shattering effect. Several of its upbeat hits have had streams on Spotify in the tens of millions, including the dancey ‘Ladbroke Grove’ and the throwback sound of ‘Butterflies.’ His work is championed by the king of most-played himself, Drake, and was a big presence at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. (JA)

Best Live Act (in association with Songkick)

The nominees: AJ Tracey, Calpurnia, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Gerry Cinnamon, IDLES

Seeing Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes live is the perfect dichotomy between light and dark. Just this past weekend at Reading Festival, Frank dedicated a song to his four year old daughter, standing side of stage, and got her to introduce the track ‘Lullaby’ before ending the set on the venom-filled ‘I Hate You’ (“I hate you and wish you would die”.) The ups and the downs make for a captivating, immersive and enthralling live show, which doesn’t get any less entertaining the more times you watch it. The band’s dedication to crowd interaction, and encouraging female-only crowd surfing so they can feel safe, is also another highlight. (SC)

Indie Champion

Awarded to: Charles Caldas

With offices in Amsterdam, New York, London and Tokyo, Charles Caldas’ Merlin Network represents the digital rights of the independent labels of the world. After 12 years at the head of the independent music business’ most important legal firm, Caldas will retire from his post as CEO at the end of this year. Since its launch - and the beginning of his tenure - it is estimated that Merlin has distributed $2 billion to its independent artists and labels since launch. (JA)

Innovator Award (in association with Amazon Music)

Awarded to: Allen Kovac

Once manager of famously-feral Mötley Crüe, Allen Kovac is the man behind the marketing and management of some of the world’s biggest rock bands. His companies 10th Street Entertainment and Eleven Seven followed managing stints with Meatloaf, Blondie and Duran Duran. His ability to move with the times has ensured the continuing-dominance of rock legends in an increasingly-modern world. (JA)

Outstanding Contribution to Music (in association with Merlin)

Awarded to: Debbie Harry

So entwined is she in the legend that is the band she fronts, Debbie Harry is often incorrectly called simply ‘Blondie’. Now seventy-four, and still with a shock of white hair, Harry continues to front one of the most influential bands of its generation, breaking down barriers for women, and now older women, as she goes. With a memoir no doubt stuffed with mindblowing anecdotes ready for release at the end of this year, the feminist and visionary artist is a legend living among us. (JA)

Pioneer Award (in association with Bucks Music Group)

Awarded to: Johnny Marr

Still best known for his seminal songwriting in The Smiths, Johnny Marr also has fingerprints on projects by Modest Mouse, The Cribs, The The and Electronic - a short-lived electronic band with New Order’s Brian Sumner. Now a solo artist building a discography of ever-improving hits, Marr continues to reign as one of the world’s most-celebrated guitarists - and an all-round nice guy despite it all. (JA)

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Photo: Katie Willoughby