Sydney blues-rock duo the Mess Hall's second album "Devil's Elbow" (Ivy League) has won the Australian Music Prize (AMP) for 2007, during a ceremony Thursday at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Mess Hall -- comprising singer/guitarist Jed Kurzel and drummer Cec Condon -- took out the A$25,000 ($23,300) cash prize, plus a A$30,000 ($27,900) media campaign courtesy of XYZ Networks' pay-TV music channel Max.

Renowned for their blistering live shows, the Mess Hall's win comes as their new single "Pulse" is scoring high priority airplay on the national youth radio network Triple J and on college radio. In April, they will embark on a headline club tour throughout Australia, and then open for the Foo Fighters later in the month.

The prize will help finance tours through the U.S and the U.K., their Sydney-based manager Michael Stranges tells The duo has toured these territories twice before, the last being in 2006, opening for Aussie retro-rock trio Wolfmother.

"The band didn't even have a label when they started making the album," says Stranges. "They weren't making a commercial record, they were making art. They were after longevity, like Wilco and the Drones who inspired them."

The Mess Hall raised the album's A$50,000 ($46,600) recording cost themselves. When accepting the AMP prize, Kurzel admitted he had got a call earlier in the day from the social welfare department Centrelink, threatening to cut off his allowance unless he came into their office to re-sign claims forms.

With a vision similar to that of Britain's Mercury Prize, the AMP was set up three years ago to judge Australian albums on artistic excellence, rather than chart success or commercial sales.

A judging panel of 22 music executives decided this year's winner.

AMP director Scott Murphy said the Mess Hall was in good company with previous winners the Drones and Augie March, adding, "Their career will receive a local and international kick."

Today's AMP event also saw the presentation of two supplementary awards. Sydney band Bluejuice won energy drink Red Bull's offer of A$15,000 ($13,900) for showing global promise. And New Buffalo was voted by MySpace Australia users as winner of A$50,000 ($46,600) worth of promotional support from the social networking juggernaut. This boost would get the act in front of 3 million Australians, said Rebekah Horne, VP of Fox Interactive.

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