Photograph by Caroline Desilets

The Polaris Music Prize was first awarded in 2006, serving as the Canadian equivalent of Britain’s Mercury Prize, or the United States’ short-lived Shortlist Music Prize. 40 eligible Canadian releases are chosen for the longlist by the Polaris Jury, who then pare the group down to a 10 album shortlist before the final vote. Previously, the award has been given to Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson, Caribou, Fucked Up, and Karkwa. The disparity between those winners suggests little rhyme-or-reason is involved with the eventual winner, so the list-making process remains entertaining as ever, as it’s usually anyone’s game.

The most recent winners have come with some stigma attached. Both Fucked Up and Karkwa came completely out of left-field as winners, making many question the final 10-person vote. However, having seen both acts live within the past few months, with Fucked Up making for one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve seen in a long time, and Karkwa completely stealing the show from Plants and Animals, I can no longer say their wins were completely undeserved. I will make no defence for Patrick Watson.

The 2011 shortlist was released yesterday, and despite boasting eight first-time shortlist nominees, it seems to be eliciting more grumbling than previous years. We’re not on the jury, but Ca Va Cool favourites PS I Love You, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Young Galaxy inexplicably did not make the jump from the longlist, and we’re scratching our heads at some of the inclusions. So, without further ado, the artists on the Polaris Music Prize 2011 shortlist:

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— , July 7, 2011    Comments Off on Polaris Music Rant

The albums were reduced from forty to ten, but there can be only one winner. We gave our opinions on the Shortlist, but the winner of the 2010 Polaris Music Prize is Karkwa, in what is likely the biggest surprise in the history of the award. Unleash your rage, lavish your praise, or express your bafflement in the comments below.

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— , September 20, 2010    7 Comments

Photograph by Jonathan Taggart

Just over a week ago,  the long list for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize, honouring the year’s best Canadian album,  was announced. The eclectic mix of artists includes former Polaris winners Owen Pallett and Caribou, as well as an array of previous Shortlisters and newcomers to the award. Having only heard about a quarter of the albums on the list, it’s hard to say if there’s a frontrunner. Like Frank Yang over at Chromewaves, I was a big fan of Reverie Sound Revue, so that snub leaves me a little cold. Forgiveness Rock Record is undoubtedly the most widely heard nominee, but as Patrick Watson’s win in 2007 proved, the Polaris jury doesn’t take popularity under consideration. That said, I’ll be pulling for Basia Bulat. Heart of My Own is a pretty good album of pretty good folk. The list of forty will be narrowed down to ten on July 6th, with the winner to be revealed September 20th. Check after the break for the full long list, and enjoy some tracks from the nominees while debating your own personal shortlist.

Dan Mangan – Robots
Basia Bulat – Heart of My Own
Owen Pallett – Lewis Takes Off His Shirt

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— , June 30, 2010    Comments Off on Polaris Prize 2010 Long List Announced
Photograph by David Waldman

Photograph by David Waldman

Recently, we at Ca Va Cool turned to our crystal ball to foresee the winner of this year’s Polaris Music Prize. In a choice that can be described as coming out of left field, the 2009 Polaris Music Prize has been awarded to Toronto hardcore group Fucked Up for The Chemistry of Common Life.

When the shortlist was released, our general consensus was that Chad VanGaalen was the clear winner, but the grand jury chose to award the $20,000 (CAD) prize to a group that is completely different from previous winners Final Fantasy, Patrick Watson and Caribou. Perhaps giving the award to a band that has twice trashed MTV Canada’s studio by rocking out way too hard is a sign that the panel is becoming more open to new genres. There were several deserving acts on the shortlist, but it’s difficult to argue with this pick. After all, Joel Plaskett could have won.

Fucked Up – Black Albino Bones

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— , September 22, 2009    6 Comments

Handsome Furs

A couple of weeks ago, the Polaris Music Prize announced its  long list of nominees for 2009. Each year the prize is awarded to the best Canadian album chosen by a jury of a hundred-odd music writers, editors and bloggers from all over the country. Any album produced in Canada within the last year by a Canadian band is eligible for nomination. How it goes is that jury members select their five favourite albums, and the top forty make the Polaris long list. A few weeks later, after the albums on the long list have been played repeatedly and agonized over, the Jury selects their top ten for the Polaris short list. This year the short list will be announced on July 7 and the grand prize, an amazing $20,000, will be awarded on September 21.

The Polaris Music Prize was started a mere three years ago in 2006. The very first winner of the prize was Final Fantasy for his album He Poos Clouds. Since then the contest has served to assist numerous Canadian artists by promoting their albums and giving a massive boost to its winners. In 2007, Patrick Watson won for his album Close to Paradise and in 2009 Caribou won for Andorra. Other giants have been included in the Polaris short list for their remarkable releases, including Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Feist, Miracle Fortress, the New Pornographers, Sarah Harmer, the Weakerthans, and the list goes on and on.

This year’s long list features a ton of amazing Canadian talent. Many bands are fresh members of the music scene and many are well-established veterans. The Arkells, Beast, and Coeur de Pirate have all been nominated for debut albums, whereas Metric, The Stills, Martha Wainwright and Leonard Cohen are all recognized for their ongoing work. Patrick Watson is back with another album after his big win two years ago, as are Wolf Parade, Junior Boys, Joel Plaskett and Chad VanGaalen who also all made the short list in 2007. Finally, Ca Va Cool favourites Japandroids, Handsome Furs, and Pink Mountaintops made this year’s long list, much to Ca Va pride.

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— , July 1, 2009    27 Comments