Announced ealier today, and I am pretty excited. If memory serves, I’ve never before helped three albums make the list.
From the Polaris site http://www.polarismusicprize.ca/article/416/the-2012-polaris-music-prize-long-list-is-here/
“The 2012 Polaris Music Prize Long List is (in alphabetical order):
A Tribe Called Red – A Tribe Called Red
Marie-Pierre Arthur – Aux alentours
Rich Aucoin – We’re All Dying To Live
Avec pas d’casque – Astronomie
Azari & III – Azari & III
Bahamas – Barchords
The Barr Brothers – The Barr Brothers
Blackie And The Rodeo Kings – Kings And Queens
Cadence Weapon – Hope In Dirt City
Kathryn Calder – Bright And Vivid
Cannon Bros – Firecracker / Cloudglow
Coeur de pirate – Blonde
Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Rose Cousins – We Have Made A Spark
Mark Davis – Eliminate The Toxins
Drake – Take Care
Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
Feist – Metals
Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
Great Lake Swimmers – New Wild Everywhere
Grimes – Visions
Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital
Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
Mares Of Thrace – The Pilgrimage
Ariane Moffatt – MA
Lindi Ortega – Little Red Boots
Parlovr – Kook Soul
Sandro Perri – Impossible Spaces
Joel Plaskett Emergency – Scrappy Happiness
PS I Love You – Death Dreams
John K. Samson – Provincial
Shooting Guns – Born To Deal In Magic: 1952-1976
The Slakadeliqs – The Other Side of Tomorrow
Patrick Watson – Adventures In Your Own Backyard
Bry Webb – Provider
The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – YT//ST
Yukon Blonde – Tiger Talk
The 200+ writers, editors, producers and media figures who make up the Polaris Music Prize jury pool will now go back to the ballot boxes again and submit their Top 5 albums, selecting only from what’s on the Long List.
When those votes are in, the Short List comprised of 10 albums will be announced in Toronto on July 17.
Once that’s done it’s on to the big show, the Polaris Gala, being held in Toronto on September 24, where one of the 10 Short List albums will be declared the best Canadian album of 2012 in a secret jury Hunger Games-style argument to the death.”
My Top 5 ballot had a roots focus, as it should, and was published earlier this month in the Red Deer Advocate. I’m pleased that my number 1, 3, and 4 picks made the Long List, as well as two other albums I championed- Rose Cousins’ and John K. Samson’s. I am surprised that the Mark Davis album made it simply because it is one of those ‘under the radar’ releases. As well, I’m surprised BARK made it as the album didn’t seem to generate much buzz amongst the jury members online. I really thought the Cowboy Junkies would have made it, but…such is democracy.
Mark Davis- Eliminate the Toxins Capturing a selection of sounds even more adventurous than created within his previous releases, Davis retains the intense focus and introspection one has come to expect from the Edmonton singer-songwriter. Eliminate the Toxins stands with his best work, and as such can be appreciated on a poetic level while also serving as impetus to slowly dance. Multi-layered, Eliminate the Toxins is so all-encompassing that listeners will find themselves sinking into its warmth. It will take top spot on my ballot.
Cowboy Junkies- The Wilderness Having celebrated 25 years as one of Canada’s most dynamic recording groups, Cowboy Junkies embarked on an ambitious campaign 18 months ago: release four distinct albums within a year and a half. The Wilderness is certainly the strongest of the four. Closest to the ‘classic’ Cowboy Junkies sound, Margo Timmins’ languid vocals and delicately complex, occasionally trippy backing tracks are immediately recognizable. One tranquil song effortlessly slips into the next with little but contributions of visiting musicians distinguishing one from another. This consistency in sound makes The Wilderness appealing: nothing jars the listener out of the inviting, profound sound-space the band has created.
Blackie & the Rodeo Kings- Kings & Queens As far-reaching as Kings & Queens is, producer Colin Linden and his cohorts never lose perspective while singing with fourteen different ladies, among them Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Serena Ryder, and Rosanne Cash. Their contributions bring even greater focus to Lindsn’s, Tom Wilson’s and Stephen Fearing’s singing, and it is this ability to maintain balance that serves as Blackie & the Rodeo Kings’ greatest accomplishment.
Great Lake Swimmers- New Wild Everywhere That rare album that is comprised of thirteen songs with each as strong as those surrounding it: every song stands on its own as a memorable and engaging composition while being all the better because of its place within the greater album. New Wild Everywhere is elaborate. Tony Dekker and Great Lake Swimmers have created an album that is lush and rich. Miranda Mulholland’s background vocal contributions are astounding, adding a depth to the songs that is impressive. Similarly, Erik Arnesen’s guitar and banjo sounds create a lovely and complementary backdrop for Dekker’s words and vocals.
Skydiggers- Northern Shore Lovely songs that are fully realized with beautiful production, gorgeous, uplifting vocals, and a seemingly random mix of sounds that keeps one listening, Especially on shuffle, you can’t be sure what is coming next: a stark aching ballad, a mishmash of strangely musical beats and electronic burps, something piano based that slowly evolves,
a bit of bombast, a choice Mickey Newbury cover, or a sweeping piece that- for three or four minutes- makes the darkness that surrounds us disappear. I’m no expert on the Skydiggers- I only have the The Truth About Us compilation on the shelf- but this recently released album sneaks into my top 5, at the expense of John K. Samson’s Provincial, Fred Eaglesmith’s 6 Volts, or Rose Cousins’ We Have Made a Spark, three albums I also really loved.
In today’s Red Deer Advocate I reviewed the recent Guy Clark tribute, This One’s For Him. I’ll post that in a few weeks, but for now here is the overview of Alberta releases that ran a couple weeks back.
Wonderful roots music came out of our province this past year, and today I take a look back on my favourite Alberta roots music albums of 2011.
The rootsy-pop of another era returned this summer with the release of Idyl Tea’s first album in sixteen years. Once a fixture of Edmonton clubs, the Idyl Tea trio surprised with the strength of their double album Song That’s Not Finished Yet- The Unthology. Infectious pop melodies with more than enough country overtones for roots rock- heck, if Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers are considered roots, Idyl Tea certainly qualify. On this double album, Idyl Tea combines that which connects country and power pop: bright melodies, devastating confession through lyric, and the breezy ability to convey unmistakable melancholy. ”A Guitar and A Broken Heart,” “Just a Road”- an Americana gathering in hell-”Penitent Song,” and “Dark Day in Edmonton” are simply wonderful while the companion collection of outtakes and demos reveal the group’s unrealized, original potential.
Edmonton’s Mark Davis continued his ascension as one of Canada’s critically lauded roots artists. Eliminate the Toxins was even more adventurous than his previous releases but retained the intense focus and introspection one has come to expect from a singer-songwriter whose best works can be appreciated on a poetic level while also serving as impetus to dance, albeit dance slowly. Davis’s music has a cinematic quality that cries out for visual interpretation. In the year we lost Jackie Leven, Mark Davis filled the chasm admirably. Multi-layered, Eliminate the Toxins is so all-encompassing that listeners will find themselves sinking into its warmth.
Captain Tractor’s Famous Last Words was largely ignored at radio but served as a welcome return for the Edmonton collective. Lively stuff, based in tradition (Celtic sing-alongs including “Diamond Joe” “Johnny’s Ghost”) but with no lack of originality and creativity. The songs possesss universal appeal with lots of Alberta references- hockey games, cannibalism (an epic song from Australia sure, but the events described could have just as easily happened on western Canadian prairies), open highways, and local rebellion. This well-played album benefited greatly from the contributions of fiddler Shannon Johnson.
Previously unknown to me, on Valley Home Joe Vickers documented the history of the Drumheller Valley with a focus on the stories and impact of the coal mining experience. Utilizing a variety of approaches, sounds, and tempos, Vickers created a compelling and insightful account of his home community. His music was rustic with acoustic guitar, fiddle, and banjo coming through the neo-traditional mix. More than a history lesson, Valley Home was an engaging set of lively folk-inspired music touching on a broad cross-section of tales: pit ponies, the flooded Red Deer River, Allan Cup champions, ghost towns, miners, and madams.
Collecting 14 seamlessly brilliant offerings, this spring Ben Sures released his most fully-realized recording. Gone to Bolivia opened with a pair of absolutely devastating songs including “American Shantytown” and “High School Steps.” “The Boy Who Walked Backwards Through the Snow” deserves to become a Canadian folk standard. Creating wonderful, fully realized songs of depth with lyrical gems hidden throughout, Sures remains an invigorating voice within the crowded Canadian folk market.
In today’s Red Deer Advocate Roots Music column, I am pleased to advance the local roots happenings and review Mark Davis’s album Eliminate the Toxins. Released Tuesday, this third album from the ex-Old Reliable co-frontman is- as expected- very impressive.
As a musician matures, their music must progress. The most accomplished artists frequently undergo their metamorphoses undetected by listeners: the changes are natural and organic, perhaps individually insignificant but which collectively become apparent in retrospect. I think that is what we have here with Davis. Garnering a lot of airplay on CKUA, the songs work both collectively and as single snapshots of a greater work. Wonderful stuff.
http://www.markdavismusic.ca/home.html will get you information about purchasing- I’m guessing Edmonton outlets such as Blackbyrd and Permanent will have it available.
http://tinyurl.com/42whb48 will get you to the column and review.
Originally published in my Roots Music column in the Red Deer Advocate, June 3, 2011
Mark Davis Eliminate the Toxins Saved by Radio
Edmontonian Mark Davis didn’t grow up playing music, but over the past 15 years has become one of the stalwarts of the province’s independent music community. Since the release of Old Reliable’s Gone Are the Days in 1999, his distinctive voice and astute vision have provided perceptive listeners with much to contemplate and relish.
With the release of his ambitious two-album set Don’t You Think We Should Be Closer? and Mistakes I Meant to Make four years ago, Davis became the most played Canadian roots artist on Galaxie radio. Eliminate the Toxins is every bit as strong and invigorating as that substantial project.
Eliminate the Toxins has a sound that is even more adventurous than his previous releases but retains the intense focus and introspection one has come to expect from a singer-songwriter whose best works can be appreciated on a poetic level while also serving as impetus to dance, albeit dance slowly.
Similar to Stan Ridgeway, Davis’s music has a cinematic quality that cries out for visual interpretation. “Go to Ground,” one of Eliminate the Toxins’ more catchy numbers, is easy to imagine as soundtrack to a dark, desolate desert pursuit from which the conflicted protagonist has no hope to escape. “In the Waters” and the title track are cleverly-crafted pop songs bathed in a wash of guitars and harmonies harnessed from years of exposure to The Byrds, Nice Cave, and Calexico.
The eight-minute epic “Throw it Away” is a composition of swirling guitars and keys that evokes a trance-like sensation through remarkable execution. This journey of perception concludes with “Wounded King,” yet another song where Davis evokes other-worldly mystery. With a similar musical genesis, these songs wouldn’t sound out of place on Iron & Wine’s latest if Sam Beam rocked a lot harder.
Working with Calgary’s Lorrie Matheson, Davis benefits from his co-producer’s willingness to consider sonic possibilities. Multi-layered, Eliminate the Toxins is so all-encompassing that listeners will find themselves sinking into its warmth.
Thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald