Shortlist unveiled July 18.

Only eight days after its release, Radiohead frontman Thom Yoke's solo debut "The Eraser" (XL) was installed today (July 18) as the bookmakers' joint favorite for the 2006 Nationwide Mercury Prize alongside alternative rock quartet the Arctic Monkeys' "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" (Domino).

The two albums were named as 5/1 favorites by bookmaker chain William Hill when the shortlist for the annual British/Irish album of the year award was announced this morning at London's Commonwealth Club.

The 12 shortlisted albums were chosen by 12 judges from an entry of more than 200 albums submitted by labels. To qualify, an album had to be recorded by a British or Irish artist and released between July 25, 2005 and July 17, 2006.

The judging panel of media representatives is chaired by academician Simon Firth. In a statement, he said: "above all, this year's shortlist for the Nationwide Mercury Prize is about the art of the songwriter-if you want to know what life is like in Britain today, listen to the country's musicians."

This year's shortlist contains fewer long-shots than in previous years; odds vary from 5/1 to 10/1, according to William Hill. As always, the list includes artists covering a variety of genres, ranging from jazz pianist Zoe Rahman to electropop quintet Hot Chip or the Roy Orbison-styled soulful country stylings of U.K. critics' favorite Richard Hawley.

The 12 albums make up a "pretty classic Mercury nominees list," says HMV U.K. & Ireland head of music Gary Rolfe. "Two nominees that particularly stand out for me as seemingly ticking all the judges' boxes are Richard Hawley and The Guillemots -- so I'd look out for these as potential winners come September."

The winner will be announced at a gala evening in London Sept. 5, with broadcast coverage being shared between BBC Radio 1, national TV network BBC 2 and digital TV channel BBC 4.

The shortlist, with William Hill odds, is:
Arctic Monkeys, "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" (Domino), 5/1
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, "Ballad of the Broken Seas" (V2), 10/1
Editors, "The Back Room" (Kitchenware), 6/1
Guillemots, "Through the Windowpane" (Polydor/Universal), 6/1
Richard Hawley, "Coles Corner" (Mute/EMI), 8/1
Hot Chip, "The Warning" (EMI), 8/1
Muse, "Black Holes & Revelations" (Helium 3/Warner), 8/1
Zoe Rahman, "Melting Pot" (Manu), 10/1
Lou Rhodes, "Beloved One" (Infinite Bloom), 10/1
Scritti Politti, "White Bread Black Beer" (Rough Trade), 10/1
Sway, "This is My Demo" (Dcypha) 8/1
Thom Yorke, "The Eraser" (XL), 5/1