The 21 music industry figures* on the Australian Music Prize judging panel have somehow whittled that ginormous longlist (85-strong – the longest ever) down to just nine albums, which are now in contention to win the prestigious prize.

They are deemed the best Australian albums of 2018, based solely on artistic merit, as decided by the panel comprised of artists, journalists, retailers, programmers and more.

Judge Bernard Zuel states: “Looking at the Shortlist as a judge, what’s thrilling isn’t just that there were more than 400 albums from which to choose and somehow we got it down to 9, but that the best of 2018 had such breadth as well as depth. From neo-classical intersecting with traditional indigenous and a record which captured the sounds of the world as heard through Australian ears to electronica with a hard edge, jazz and rock, there was so much to sink teeth into. How good is it that artists still see what an album can do?”

On to the main course: the list! Below are the final nine albums in alphabetical order; the winner of the $30,000 prize will be announced on March 7.

Abbe May, Fruit

Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel

Dead Can Dance, Dionysus

Grand Salvo, Sea Glass

Gurrumul, Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow)

Laura Jean, Devotion

The Presets, Hi Viz

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Hope Downs

Sam Anning, Across A Field As Vast As One

*NB: STACK Music Editor Zoë Radas is a member of the judging panel.