The Australian Music Prize (The Amp) have announced the shortlist for this year’s awards including the usual suspects littered with a few surprising entries, including The Middle East who broke up last year.

The inclusion of The Middle East is especially bizarre given that the award comes with $30,000 of prize money designed to help launch the careers of the recipient and help them break it locally and overseas. Obviously this isn’t particular relevant to The Middle East even if their LP ‘I Want That You Are Always Happy’ was a hit critically.

“2011 was a big year for Australian artist album releases – The 7th Amp produced a long list twice as long as most of the previous prizes highlighting how many great albums were released in this country,” says The Australian Music Prize Director Scott B. Murphy.

“It was tough on the judges – they had to spend their festive season listening to over 50 albums and making experienced judgments on each. It was tough to determine the top 9 of these and many artists – like The Panics, Oh Mercy and The Orbweavers – were very close to the final cut.”

“Some of the other albums singled out by the judges were by: Skipping Girl Vinegar, Oscar & Martin, Ben Salter, Big Scary, Eagle & The Worm, Grace Woodroofe, Husky, Leader Cheetah, Phrase, Teeth & Tongue, Josh Pyke and Drapht. We congratulate all entrants for their efforts and especially the nine which are now shortlisted for The 7th Amp.”

The winner of the prize will be announced at an event on March 8th.

See the full shortlist below:

ABBE MAY
‘Design Desire’

ADALITA
“Adalita”

BOY & BEAR
“Moonfire”

GOTYE
“Making Mirrors”

GURRUMUL
“Rrakala”

JACK LADDER & THE DREAMLANDERS
“Hurtsville”

THE JEZABELS
“Prisoner”

KIMBRA
“Vows”

THE MIDDLE EAST
“I Want That You Are Always Happy”