Q Awards 2015: Blur and Noel Gallagher renew rivalry as African refugee band Songhoy Blues breaks through

The awards will see Albarn renew his Britpop rivalry with the Noel Gallagher, the former Oasis songwriter

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A desert blues punk band from Timbuktu, forced to flee their homes when Islamic radicals took over Northern Mali, have been nominated for Best New Act at the Q Magazine awards.

Songhoy Blues, a quartet who were forced into exiled in Bamako, Mali’s capital and discovered by Damon Albarn’s touring Africa Express project, will compete against chart-toppers James Bay and Jess Glynne at next month’s ceremony.

Influenced by Jimi Hendrix and African guitar legend Ali Farka Touré, Songhoy Blues’ groove-based songs and energetic live performances have made the band a hit on the UK festival circuit. Their album, Music In Exile, was released to critical acclaim.

The awards will see Albarn renew his Britpop rivalry with the Noel Gallagher, the former Oasis songwriter. Blur’s surprise comeback album The Magic Whip competes against Chasing Yesterday by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in the Best Album category.

Blur and Gallagher are also to go head-to-head for Best Act In The World Today, alongside Foals, Muse and Ed Sheeran. Relations between Blur and Gallagher are much improved, with Albarn even appearing onstage with his former rival.

Florence + The Machine enjoy three nominations, including Best Album for How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. The Libertines’ reunion earns Pete Doherty’s band two nominations.

Voting opens today on the Q website for the awards, which will be presented by Absolute Radio DJ Christian O’Connell.

Matt Mason, Senior Editor of Q magazine said: “While Noel Gallagher and Blur may have been battling it out for Q readers’ hearts and minds like this two decades ago, they’ve both produced some of the most adventurous music of their career this year. Whoever wins on the day, the Q Awards is certain to be a fitting climax to a fantastic 12 months for music.”

Full list of nominees in voted categories

Q Best New Act

* Soak

* Slaves

* The Bohicas

* James Bay

* Circa Waves

* Years & Years

* Wolf Alice

* Jess Glynne

* Songhoy Blues

* Courtney Barnett

Q Best Track

* Foals – What Went Down

* The Libertines – Gunga Din

* Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk

* Florence + The Machine – What Kind Of Man

* New Order – Restless

Q Best Video

* Muse – Psycho

* Foals – What Went Down

* The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

* Florence + The Machine – Ship To Wreck

* Miguel – Coffee

Q Best Album

* Jamie XX – In Colour

* Everything Everything – Get To Heaven

* Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

* Blur – The Magic Whip

* Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Q Best Live Act

* Royal Blood

* Catfish & The Bottlemen

* Ed Sheeran

* Mumford & Sons

* The Libertines

Q Best Solo Artist

* Ed Sheeran

* Sam Smith

* Kanye West

* Taylor Swift

* Noel Gallagher

Q Best Act In The World Today

* Blur

* Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

* Foals

* Muse

* Ed Sheeran