And then there were ten.
That’s how many albums will be vying for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize, which has fast become the brightest symbol of Canadian music excellence. To quote from their mantra, Polaris “awards $30,000 to the artist who creates Canadian Album of the Year. It is judged solely on artistic merit, without consideration of genre or record sales.” So in contrast to the Juno Awards, where a Michael Bublé CHRISTMAS CD is lauded by the industry, something much more good is likely to be acknowledged as the best our country has to offer. So, without any further ado, let’s get right into the contenders…
While genre is not supposed to be in the equation, will this be the year Canadian hip hop comes to the forefront? Drake’s Take Care appears to be a front runner, but with Arcade Fire prevailing in 2011, the unpredictable Polaris may want to give someone less prominent a break…someone like Edmonton’s poet laureate Cadence Weapon?! A lot of knowledgeable fans, and not just hip hop heads, think he has a better than decent shot with his Hope in Dirt City.
Guitar-driven music is in short supply, as it is everywhere, but Celebration Rock by Japandroids almost makes up for the dearth of six-strings worldwide all on its own – It actually came out one week earlier in Canada so it could sneak in under the Polaris wire for 2012. Oh, and don’t forget Fucked Up’s punk opera concept David Comes to Life, released way back in June of 2011. Damian Abraham and his bandmates would become the first ever 2x Polaris Prize winners, which leads me to believe it won’t happen.
There has been oodles of talk online since the short list was announced about how a FEMALE deserves to take home the oversized novelty cheque this year. The odds seem to be in the fairer sex’s favour, as two of the country’s premier indie darlings are in the running for the big prize – Leslie Feist and Kathleen Edwards with Metals and Voyageur, respectively. And Claire Boucher, AKA Grimes, has buzz galore going for her and her beat-friendly Visions.
Speaking of albums with an electro lean, hipsters everywhere rejoiced that Sound Kapital by Handsome Furs made the short list, even though the band itself sadly called it quits a couple of months ago. Thankfully, members Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry are still happily married from what I can tell on Wikipedia.
Then there’s the more, uh, experimental stuff…I unfortunately missed them at NXNE, but Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s performance art-inspired live act got rave reviews. I am also intrigued by the little I’ve heard of Cold Specks and what she describes as “doom soul” on her I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. Let’s just call them “wild cards” for the purposes of handicapping the field, shall we?
The 2012 Polaris Music Prize will be awarded on Monday, September 24th at a gala broadcast from Toronto’s historic Masonic Temple. Until then, let’s debate, and bet freely of course!