P.J. Harvey

Mercury rising: The top 20

The 20th Mercury Prize is awarded this week. To celebrate, Simmy Richman presents the greatest hits of the 'alternative to the Brits'

I'll Be Your Mirror: Portishead, Alexandra Palace, London

Portishead's 1994 debut, Dummy, was so perfect it almost instantly became a cliché, a cul de sac they only escaped with 2008's aptly titled Third. But on the first night of a festival the Bristol band curated and headline, they dig deeper into songs it had seemed would bury them, expanding their sonic terrain of scratched hip-hop, vintage vinyl spookiness and Cold War spy movie cool, Billie Holiday and John le Carré.

Mercury Prize nominations revealed

Record-breaking star Adele will battle it out with two previous winners PJ Harvey and Elbow for this year's Barclaycard Mercury Prize.

Album: PJ Harvey, Let England Shake (Island)

The word "Gallipoli" is, of course, one that still has the power to make Antipodeans flinch, even if to most Britons it vaguely summons an acclaimed film from the 1980s, if at all.

Album: Anna Calvi, Anna Calvi (Domino)

It is almost certainly for the best that, although longlisted for the BBC's Sound of 2011 confection, 28-year-old Londoner Anna Calvi did not make the top-five cut.

Album: Imelda May, Mayhem (Decca)

The Dickie Davies-haired queen of the rockabilly revival has already been number one in her native Ireland for most of the summer with her third album.

Album: Adem, Takes (Domino)

On Takes, nu-folk philosopher Adem takes time out from the space metaphors and cosmic speculations of 2006's Love and Other Planets to offer covers of some of his favourite songs from the Nineties – a decade when he was immersed in largely fun-free indie music, judging by his choices.