Cut Copy's breakthrough sophomore album "In Ghost Colours" and labelmates Presets' rampaging album "Apocalypso" have both landed on the shortlist for the 2008 Australian Music Prize, due to be presented March 13.

The diverse list of nine AMP nominees was unveiled Sunday (Feb. 8) at the St Kilda Festival in Melbourne, where onlookers were treated to a performance by the Cut Copy DJs.

The other seven albums nominated for the fourth annual AMP gong are Beaches' self-titled Mistletone set, the Drones' "Havilah" (ATP Recordings/MGM), CW Stoneking's "Jungle Blues" (King Hokum/ Shock), Jack Ladder's "Love Is Gone" (Spunk), Tom Cooney's "Presque Vu" (El Nino El Nino/Inertia), Eddy Current Suppression Ring's "Primary Colours" (Aarght/Shock) and Ross McLennan's "Sympathy For the New World" (Mistletone).

"In Ghost Colours" and "Apocalypso" -- both signed to Sydney-based label Modular Recordings -- have already scaled great heights in both a critical and commercial sense, with each set enjoying No. 1 debuts on the national albums chart last year.

The Presets' record has since pushed through the double-platinum (140,000 units) milestone. And by the end of 2008, the Sydney duo had scored a stack of tropies, including the best album and best group categories at the ARIA Awards and national public radio network Triple J's highest album honor, the J Award.

The trajectory for Melbourne's electro-pop outfit Cut Copy has been no less spectacular, with the band's fanbase swelling across Australia, the U.S. and now the U.K. on the back of "In Ghost Colours." Cut Copy hit the road later this month for a tour of the Americas, beginning Feb. 28 at the MX Beat Festival in Puebla, Mexico.

Cut Copy guitarist Tim Hoey tells the band is thrilled with their AMP nomination. "We've followed this one in the past. It's quite an honor to be shortlisted, and it's definitely a feather in our cap," he says.

"The AMP is a real creatively-focused award, which is based on the quality of the albums rather than being a popularity contest. And the bands who are nominated are always artists I really expect and admire. Lots of great groups such as Beaches and Eddy Current are going to benefit greatly after being nominated."

A music industry panel whittled down the nine AMP albums from a longlist of more than 200. The winner will ultimately receive $30,000 Australian ($20,000) donated by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA), while a cash prize of $15,000 ($10,000) will be handed to the winner of the Red Bull Award, which recognizes "outstanding potential."

The annual AMP borrows the blueprint from Britain's coveted Mercury Music Prize. And like the British version, the AMP fetes acts and genres from well outside mainstream.

"It's great to see a real range of styles and artists in this year's shortlist," comments prize director Tracey Grimson. "In fact, the only thing they've got in
common is that they're all highly creative, quality releases. The diversity is fantastic."

In a break from the AMP's four-year tradition, organizers had announced Cut Copy's nomination early. The previous three winners of the award are The Mess Hall's "Devils Elbow" (Ivy League), Augie March's "Moo, You Bloody Choir" (Sony BMG) and the Drones' "Wait Long By The River and the Bodies of Your Enemies Will Float By" (In-Fidelity).