The Kaiser Chiefs' debut album, "Employment" (B Unique/Polydor), is the leading contender for the 2005 Nationwide Mercury Prize, the shortlist for which was unveiled today (July 19) in London. The pri

The Kaiser Chiefs' debut album, "Employment" (B Unique/Polydor), is the leading contender for the 2005 Nationwide Mercury Prize, the shortlist for which was unveiled today (July 19) in London. The prize recognizes the best albums of British and Irish music.

Bookmakers William Hill have installed the Leeds, England,-based act as favorites with odds of 4/1. "Employment" is one eight debut sets to make the final list of 12 albums.

Coldplay's third album, "X&Y" (Parlophone), Wichita-signed Bloc Party's debut, "Silent Alarm" and Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall's "Eye to the Telescope" (Relentless) are next up, with odds of 6/1.

Other albums to figure highly include the Magic Numbers' self-titled debut for Heavenly and Hard-Fi's first release, "Stars of CCTV" (Necessary). Also making the list are Antony and the Johnsons' "I Am a Bird Now" (Rough Trade), Maximo Park's "A Certain Trigger" (Warp) and M.I.A.'s "Arular" (XL).

Comparatively obscure acts also make a showing, including Polar Bear's "Held on the Tips of Fingers" (Babel), Seth Lakeman's "Kitty Jay" (Fish Records) and the Go! Team's “Thunder, Lightning, Strike" (Memphis Industries).

The prize is voted on by a panel of music industry experts, journalists and artists, and is based on a longlist of more than 170 entries. The winner will be unveiled Sept. 6 at the Albums of the Year gala in London. BBC Radio 1, BBC 2 and BBC 4 will broadcast the event.

Franz Ferdinand won the 2004 prize for its self-titled Domino debut.

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