The shortlist for the Polaris Prize was announced this past Tuesday 6 July in Toronto at the Drake Hotel Sky Yard. The Polaris Prize is a $20,000 prize given to the Canadian artist that a panel of almost 200 judges (bloggers, broadcasters, journalists and programmers) think produced the best album of the year. Sales and commercial success are not taken into account. Artistic merit and the personal tastes of the judges are all the weigh in on the voting. The 40 album long list was announced June 17th and included new releases from Blue Rodeo, By Divine Right, Crystal Castles, Jason Collett, The New Pornographers, Hawksley Workman, and Young Galaxy. But the fat has been trimmed, and then 10 album shortlist is as follows:
The Besnard Lakes – Are The Roaring Night
Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
Caribou – Swim
Karkwa – Les Chemins de Verre
Dan Managan – Nice, Nice, Very Nice
Owen Pallett – Heartland
Radio Radio – Belmundo Regal
The Sadies – Darker Circles
Shad – TSOL
Tegan and Sara – Sainthood
The list includes five artists who’ve received nods from the prize before. Owen Pallett under the nomiker Final Fantasy was the winner of 2006 prize for his album He Poos Clouds. Broken Social Scene made the shortlist the same year for their album of the same name. The Besnard Lakes were shortlisted in 2007 for their album The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, and Shad for The Old Prince in 2008 although Caribou’s Andorra took the prize home.
The shortlist also contains a few newcomers, including the Acadian hip hop trio Radio Radio and BC singer-songwriter Dan Mangan. Montreal indie rockers Karwa are also in the running, along with scene veterans and queer rockers Tegan and Sara, and Toronto’s own The Sadies.
Overall I’m pretty happy with the list. It’s diverse enough with electronic, rock, country, folk, and English and French hip hop to choose from. Over the next 10 weeks I will be taking a deeper look at each of the 10 albums on the list, reviewing each and taking a look at the band’s history starting with the Sadies. That’ll take us almost up to the date of the awards ceremony and gala on September 20th. In the meantime, let the debate begin.
© Natascha Malta, Music Vice