Four-piece indie pop-rock group the Jezabels on Thursday won the Australian Music Prize for their debut album, "Prisoner" (MGM Distribution), during a ceremony held at the Basement venue in central Sydney.
The AMP caps a stunning six months for the alternative rock outfit, whose self-financed debut opened at No. 2 on the ARIA albums chart last September. Hailing from the northern New South Wales beach town of Byron Bay and led by their passionate singerperson Hayley Mary, the Jezabels last year collected gongs for best independent artist and best independent single/EP at the Jagermeister Independent Music Awards for their debut EP "Dark Storm," and they grabbed a hat-trick of ARIA Awards nominations.
Now certified gold (35,000 units), "Prisoner" won for album of the year at the 2011 Australian Rolling Stone Awards.
Fittingly, famed U.S. Rolling Stone writer David Fricke was on hand today to deliver a keynote speech, which delved deep into his love of Australia's music culture, and how the winning AMP album had earlier been gifted to him by his Australian god-daughter.
On a Sydney day which endured a "biblical" downpour -- in the words of Fricke -- it was the Jezabels who shone brightest, beating out albums by Gotye, Boy & Bear, Adalita, Abbe May, Gurrumul, Jack Ladder, the Middle East and Kimbra.
However, the band members are on tour in Europe and weren't able to collect their Australian $30,000 ($32,000) winning check, a task which fell instead to Sebastian Chase, the founder of the band's distributor, MGM Distribution.
Chase read to the audience a statement from the band. "To all involved in the process of awarding the Australian Music Prize, the Jezabels would like to recognize the difficulty with which you have come to your decisions this year, both in the nominations and the final judging process," the statement said.
"What is clear throughout all the difference of opinion, regarding both the politics of the prize and musical tastes, is that the AMP is made up of people who care a great deal about Australian music and the importance of maintaining the ideals that the prize has come to represent."
"Prisoner" was released March 5 in the U.K. and March 2 in Germany, Austria, Holland and Ireland through a deal with leading independent Play It Again Sam Recordings. A U.S. release is expected later this month.
The band operates independently on the label side, but they're represented by Mushroom Music Publishing, booked by Artist Voice and they'll tour Australia with The Frontier Touring Company this June.
Now it its seventh year, the AMP is modeled on Britain's Mercury Music Prize and is decided by a panel comprising more than 40 judges, whose single goal is to identify and reward the outstanding creative album of the past year.