Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Next week – Monday at 8:00pm EDT to be exact – the 2011 (Canadian) Polaris Music Prize will be handed out to one of the ten short listed albums. This year, just like the past five years that the prize has been given out, there are a few albums on this list that I think are very deserving of the prize. I should also say that I've never once been able to select the winner before they've been announced, so I'm certainly not one to place bets on. That said, it's not going to keep me from breaking down the short list right here for your enjoyment:

Albums I don't think will win:
  • Galaxie - although I'm enjoying this album, with last year's winner (Karkwa) being a French -language album, I don't see the jury selecting two French -language albums in a row.
  • Hey Rosetta! - I'm a huge fan of their first EP and their last full LP, I can't get through this album. I don't know if it's just too much of the same thing or what, but I'm just not connecting with it.
  • Ron Sexsmith - I hate to do it, but I'm going to pull the "too mainstream" card for this selection. It might also have something to do with the use of auto-tune on the album that bothers me.
  • Timber Timbre - you're not supposed to compare a selected album to the artist's back-catalogue, but there was something about this band's previous release that I enjoyed more than I do this album. It's still a very solid album, but I don't see it taking the prize.
  • The Weeknd - not being a huge fan of this genre, especially the amount of swearing and generally crude language featured in these songs, I don't love this album. Long list, yes; short list, maybe not.

Albums I think have a shot:
  • Austra - not only is this a strong album (it was a 'grower' for me), but does Polaris need/want a female winner this year?
  • Braids - these kids seem to be having a really great time (I mean, did you hear their Breakfast Club show?!) and they've put out a solid debut album. This album could get them the prize, but either way, I can't wait to see what they do next.
  • Colin Stetson - this stuff still sounds like, to quote a popular reference on Radio3, "humpback whales mating" to me, but Stetson might be this year's Owen Pallett (who won the 2006 Polaris prize as Final Fantasy) who also played on three of the nominated albums that year and, since then, has proven to be a staple in the Canadian indie scene.

Albums I'm rooting for:
  • Arcade Fire - they've won it all this year. More importantly, I think they've deserved to win it all. The Suburbs is an album that I continue to find new depth in, months after it's release. It's an album that I've continued to go back to, to find new favourite songs on, to sing-along with and to want to hear. If this album wins, it won't be the jury going along with the masses, it'll be on the strength of the album itself.
  • Destroyer - I'm late to the game on Destroyer/Dan Bejar... but this album has really grabbed me. The lead track/single, Chinatown, is an incredible start to a very complex LP. It's one of those albums that takes you on a trip from start to finish; you get to see/hear various things along the way and there isn't a low-point along the way.
Sure, maybe it's a cop-out to select two albums to win, but that's what I've done. Sorry! Now, if you haven't had a chance to hear something from each of these albums, I've linked all the artist names to the CBC Radio3 pages that have even more links to various audio clips, videos, etc. for the band/album, so go have a listen.

Whatever the case, whoever the winner, Polaris has again shown the world that Canada has an incredible music scene. Good luck to all the artists; I can't wait to see how it plays out Monday night!

» Found at: Polaris Music Prize, 2011

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