Following on from ‘tweaking’ their entry guidelines earlier in the year, in response to the controversy surrounding the ‘indie’ legitimacy of its entrants, The Australian Music Prize (AMP), which recognises an Australian artist with a cash prize based on the decision of a judging panel charged with selecting the Australian Album of the Year.

The first 26 albums that have been officially invited as official entrants to The 8th Australian Music Prize include the likes of dynamic Brisbane garage duo DZ Deathrays, for Bloodstreams, Melbourne’s Alpine, for their debut A Is For Alpine (which Tone Deaf reviewed here), Tame Impala offshoot Pond‘s Beard Wives Denim; along with Xavier Rudd’s Spirit Bird (which gets the Tone Deaf verdict here), Milling The Wind the solo debut from Boy & Bear’s drummer, Tim Hart (reviewed here) and many more.

Previously considered the ‘Long List’,  The Coopers Australian Music Prize has identified over 230 Australian artist album releases for 2012 and this list may still grow before the year is out, with judges having listened to over 130 albums so far – drawing the first round of 26 (which you can view below).

AMP has already shaken things up this year by removing the entry fee and automatically considering ALL Australian releases for the prize, while setting up a new platform for digital submissions rather than the previously restrictive ‘CDs only’ policy.

The changes to this year’s entry guidelines signals a further push to making the music prize as democratic as possible.

The inaugural AMP winner was The Drones, for Wait Long By The River And The Bodies of You Enemies Will Float By in 2005. Other previous prize recipients include Augie March (for Moo, You Bloody Choir in 2006), Lisa Mitchell (for Wonder in 2009) and The Jezabels, who took home $30,000 donated by the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited (PPCA). A win that split public opinion so fiercely that The Jezabels felt it necessary to issue a statement with their acceptance of the 2010 prize for Prisoner.

The winner of this year’s AMP will be determined by the judges and announced in early March 2013 and will receive the $30,000 cash prize money courtesy of PPCA.

This year, the judges include Chris Berkley, Deborah Conway, Dave Faulkner, Tim Freedman, Mike Glynn, Chris Johnston, Shannon Logan, Christopher Powell and Bernard Zuel – together with first time judge, Sam Lockwood, a member of last year’s winners, The Jezabels.

The Coopers AMP list of 26 albums to be invited to enter as Official Entrants are:

Alpine –  A Is For Alpine
Bearhug – Bill, Dance, Shiner
Bushwalking – First Time
Catcall – The Warmest Place
Charge Group – Charge Group
Children Collide – Monument
Deep Sea Arcade – Outlands
Dirty Three – Toward The Sun
DZ Deathrays – Bloodstreams
Emma Russack – Sounds Of Our City
Forty Thousand Sisters – Goodbye Broken Sled
Grand Salvo – Slay Me In My Sleep
Hermitude – Hyper-Paradise
Hilltop Hoods – Drinking From The Sun
House Vs Hurricane – Crooked Teeth
Jess Ribeiro & The Bone Collectors – My Little River
Liz Stringer – Warm In The Darkness
Made In Japan – Sights & Sounds
Missy Higgins – The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle
Ollo – Ape Delay
Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim
The Bamboos – Medicine Man
The Hello Morning – The Hello Morning
The Maple Trail – Cable Mount Warning
Tim Hart – Milling The Wind
Xavier Rudd – Spirit Bird