With the short list announced coincidentally close to Canada Day, the Polaris Music Prize has been cleverly disguised as an icon of national pride. The saga of Polaris says that not only are we geographically gargantuan as a nation, but musically we’re in fine proportion to our size. It takes time to look at all the details, since we as a nation put out an obscene amount of music, but an award like Polaris gives us great cause to wear out our Canadian vinyl through the summer months. From the Besnard Lakes to Broken Social Scene and from Shad to the Sadies, the short list has once again rolled out a tight batch of competition spanning a wide array of genres. Splicing and comparing the ten albums selected for the short list this year can be a daunting task, so we at Ca Va Cool have decided to divide and conquer, to leave you more time to enjoy and celebrate not only the ten albums on the short list or the forty albums on the long list, but as many Canadian albums from the past year as you possibly can.

Broken Social Scene – All to All
Radio Radio – Tomtom
Shad – Rose Garden

Photograph by Chris Gergley

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)

If there’s a dark horse in the Polaris race, it may just be the Besnard Lakes. The second-time shortlist nominees are once again looking to take home the big prize. An album blending shoegaze, progressive rock, and psychedelic rock, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night harkens back to the 1970s, drawing comparisons to bands like Fleetwood Mac and the Alan Parsons Project. Husband-and-wife team  Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas trade vocals throughout.  Goreas takes centre stage on album highlight ’Albatross’, bursting through the droning guitars, singing of a heartfelt remembrance of an age long since passed. ‘And This Is What We Call Progress’ eschews that beauty, preferring a condemnation of the darkness of the surrounding world, soundtracked by a workman-like drumbeat and some of the sweetest guitar licks heard since the days of classic rock. Their world is on fire, and the Besnard Lakes channel that intensity into 10 tracks of Polaris-worthy goodness. — Kevin Kania

The Besnard Lakes – And This Is What We Call Progress

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— , July 31, 2010    8 Comments
Photograph by Chris Gergley

Photograph by Chris Gergley

Call them shoegaze, call them progressive rock, call them what you will, the Besnard Lakes specialize in creating a hazy atmosphere that gives way to soaring vocals and majestic soundscapes. Revolving around the core duo of husband and wife Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, the band is set to release the follow-up to their breakthrough album The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse, entitled The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night. If lead single ‘Albatross’ is any indication, we are in for a treat. Jace Lasek was kind enough to answer a few questions ahead of the album’s release.

The Besnard Lakes – Albatross
The Besnard Lakes – For Agent 13
The Besnard Lakes – Disaster

Kevin: Why call yourselves the Besnard Lakes?

Jace Lasek: I grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan and in 1995 I started traveling up to Besnard Lake as a summer trip with my friend. We loved it so much we made a promise to return every year to clear our heads. Olga and I had our honeymoon at Besnard Lake. It’s a very secluded place, and very hard to get to. You really feel like you are the only people there.

Kevin: With …Are the Dark Horse receiving critical acclaim, including being short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize, did you feel pressure to top it with …Are the Roaring Night?

Jace: We tried very consciously to forget about Dark Horse. We made our first two albums without any preconceived notions of anyone wanting to hear them. We wanted to approach this record in the same way – to close ourselves off from the outside world and write without distractions.

Kevin: ‘Albatross’, the lead single from your new album, seems to be more immediate and direct than much of …Are the Dark Horse. Was this a conscious decision?

Jace: It’s just what we were feeling at the time. ‘Albatross’ was a really old song that we resurrected and rearranged. It was actually the first song we completed for Roaring Night. It came together quite quickly.

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— , February 18, 2010    Comments Off on The Besnard Lakes