U.K. alt-rock veteran Paul Weller's 10th solo album and Dublin-based quintet Villagers' debut share space on the shortlist for the Barclaycard Mercury Prize, announced today in London.

The 12-strong shortlist was unveiled at London venue the Hospital Club today by BBC radio and TV presenter Lauren Laverne. The annual "album of the year" award is open to albums by British and Irish artists; eligible albums this year had to be released between July 2009 and July 2010.

According to the chair of judges Simon Frith, "this year's Mercury list includes musicians from all stages of their careers and from contrasting parts of the British Isles. It features music that is urban and rural, light and dark, joyful and profound. The records have wit, an abundance of musical energy and their own distinct voices. There is music here to make you laugh, cry, dance and sing."

The full list is:
Biffy Clyro - "Only Revolutions" (14th Floor/Warner)
Corinne Bailey Rae - "The Sea" (EMI)
Dizzee Rascal - "Tongue N' Cheek" (Dirtee Stank)
Kit Downes Trio - "Golden" (Basho)
Foals - "Total Life Forever" (Trangressive)
I Am Kloot - "Sky At Night" (Shepherd Moon/EMI)
Laura Marling - "I Speak Because I Can" (Virgin/EMI)
Mumford And Sons - "Sigh No More" (Island/Universal)
Paul Weller - "Wake Up The Nation" (Island/Universal)
Villagers - "Becoming A Jackal" (Domino Records)
Wild Beasts - "Two Dancers" (Domino Records)
The XX - "XX" (Young Turks/XL).

"All these people have very distinct voices and you feel they're doing exactly what they want to do," Frith tells Billboard.biz. "And some of it is commercial, some of it isn't."

Villagers performed at the launch event along with Corinne Bailey Rae, who sang the title track for her album "The Sea" accompanied by a keyboard player.

Bailey Rae said she is a fan of the Mercury award. "It's always going to be relevant, it's for music lovers so it's not a straightforward sort of pop chart," she said. "It's what happened to come out, what stories are being told and what's new and what's not new, and what's actually good. I like it."

Bookmaker William Hill makes Dizzee Rascal and The XX the early joint favourites, at odds of 4/1. Weller, Bailey Rae, Mumford & Sons and Marling are placed at 6/1, Foals, Wild Beasts and Biffy Clyro are at 8/1. The relative outsiders are Villagers, the Kit Downes Trio and I Am Kloot at 10/1.

According to a William Hill spokesman, “this has been a year of excellence with these albums representing a diverse range of styles from British and Irish artists. This quality is reflected in the closeness of the odds we’ve given.”

The shortlist is chosen by an judging panel consisting of musicians, producers and media representatives. The winner of the 2010 Prize will be decided and announced at the Barclaycard Mercury Prize Awards Show, which will be televised live on BBC 2 on Tuesday 7 September 2010. Laverne will present the program: the awards ceremony itself will be hosted by BBC presenter and musician Jools Holland.

Last year’s winner was female rapper Speech Debelle’s “Speech Therapy” (Big Dada).