Perth psychedelic rockers Tame Impala, below, are the hot favourites to take out the eighth Australian Music Prize after their album Lonerism was announced as part of a nine-strong short list for the coveted award in Melbourne last night.
Triple J, Rolling Stone magazine and UK music bible NME have already named Lonerism as the best album of 2012 but Tame Impala still need to triumph over releases from first-time finalists Flume, Grand Salvo and Hermitude, plus previous nominees the Presets and Urthboy.
Albums from Melbourne singer/songwriter Liz Stringer, Sydney hip-hop crew Daily Meds and Darwin country-roots outfit Jess Ribeirio and the Bone Collectors are also in line for the $30,000 prize.
While Tame Impala, whose debut Innerspeaker made the short list in 2010, are clear favourites, the Amp has a habit of springing surprises, such as in 2009 when former Australian Idol entrant Lisa Mitchell beat the highly fancied Sarah Blasko.
Sydney electronic producer Flume's self-titled debut made a big splash last year, making its debut at No. 2 on the ARIA album chart and producing four tracks in the Triple J Hottest 100.
Fellow Sydneysiders Presets were nominated in 2008 for their hit album Apocalypso and make the cut for their third release, Pacifica.
And Sydney-based hip-hop label Elefant Traks boasts two albums in the final nine - Smokey's Haunt by label founder Urthboy and Hyper-Paradise from Blue Mountains group Hermitude.
Previous winners include the Mess Hall, Cloud Control, Augie March and the Jezabels, who took out the prize last year. This year the Amp is judged by a pruned-back panel of 10 industry figures, including veteran musicians Deborah Conway, Dave Faulkner and Tim Freedman.
After a field of more than 300 albums was trimmed back to 71 official long-list entrants, the judges spent six months deciding on the final nine, according to prize founder and director Scott Murphy.
The winner will be announced on March 7.