Archive for the ‘Polaris Music Prize’ Tag
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.
I had a hard time determining my final ballot for this year’s Polaris Music Prize. As I assume do the other jurors, I take my responsibility as a Polaris juror seriously and hate to think that any ballot is just five names entered at random or on a whim.
After the ‘long list’ was revealed last week- and I found that only one of my ‘top 5’ albums made the list of 40- I had a lot of listening to undertake. Of course, this is also one of my busiest times of the year as a school teacher and administrator, so it was a challenge to find time to concentrate on listening to albums I had previously either passed over as a result of my roots-centric focus or only listened to casually.
The full Polaris 2011 Long List is posted here http://www.polarismusicprize.ca/2011/ and while one would think that such a list is pretty comprehensive and
would be generally accepted as [- why can’t I come up with the word I want? Generally accepted as appropriate, a commonly agreed upon set or selection….what is the word I need??? Carrying on] that some type of consensus has been reached (as it is drawn from some 200+ ballots), the discussions within the Polaris Juror list these past several days revealed the widespread and individual nature of its members- we are far from one mind about what is Canada’s best album of the year.
I spent this past week listening to albums on the long list, ones that I hadn’t heard (or really listened to) the first time around: Austra, Rural Alberta Advantage, D-Sisive, Land of Talk, The Weeknd, Women, The Luyas, Little Scream, Buck 65, Ron Sexsmith, Tim Hecker, Dirty Beaches, Hooded Fang, Stars and many more. I couldn’t believe how uninspiring and plain boring and redundant some of those albums sounded to these old ears. Obviously, I am missing something lots of my Polaris colleagues aren’t. Still, Tim Hecker, Land of Talk, Ron Sexsmith, and Austra impressed enough that they received considerable additional listening before I finalized my ballot. But stuff like D-Sisive…I just don’t get. When cussing serves as the strongest argument an artist can make within an artistic statement, one needs to go back to the junior high playground.
Unless I discovered something totally surprising this week, moving from # 5 on my first ballot to #1 on my short list ballot was going to be Luke Doucet & the White Falcom’s Steel City Trawler, and that is how things turned out. I’m no longer sure I know what rock is, but I’m fairly certain this eleven track slice of brilliance qualifies.
“Thinking People” reminds me a little of Ray Davies and The Kinks and “The Ballad of Ian Curtis” captures the steely warmth of Joy Division’s sound in a way I wouldn’t have expected. “Sundown” is just a great song (DUH!) and even reinvented as a power chord-rich slice of pop it works. “Love and a Gentle Hand” is the best Cheap Trick song I’ve heard in a decade. “Hey Now” makes me think a little more everytime I hear it- I’m not always sure where it is going to take me, but it takes me places- the past, missed opportunities of last month, confrontations avoided and the wrong ones chosen. It is a gentle song that speaks volumes. “Magpies”, too- “All I see are the stepping stones. I don’t see the body for the bones.” Not sure what it means to everyone else, but I know what the phrase means to me.
So, that is my #1 album (now that the others I voted for have fallen to the wayside) and my recommendation to all readers of Fervor Coulee- give Luke Doucet’s Steel City Trawler a listen.
After that, I had lots of tough choices- had to dig deep and came up with six albums fighting
for four spots. There were lots of good albums on the Long List to select from…and even more that were near unlistenable as far as I’m concerned…but a few finally rose above others. I actually lost a couple minutes of sleep while considering ballot slot #5- Austra vs One Hundred Dollars and went into last night (the ballot deadline) still not final on that decision. As it turns out, by the time I hit Submit on my final ballot, things had changed considerably.
Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creepin On had been solidly on my ballot all of last week, but kept slipping down and eventually fell off as I spent more time with other albums. And I really enjoyed that one, even bought the album with my own hard earned money.
At number 2 I dropped in Shotgun Jimmie’s Transistor Sister; it is an album I shouldn’t love as there is nothing rootsy about it at all- it is all over the place, but all the places make stellar listening. Every year through Polaris deliberations I discover an artist (or two) and their albums that I have not only never heard of before but whom I would never have found independent of my Polaris commitment. Transistor Sister is one of those recordings. I’m not sure if it is about anything, but the words and sounds just flow with such energy that I can’t stop listening to it.
One Hundred Dollars’ Songs of Man is the rootsiest album on the Long List and one that I briefly considered for my original ballot; I was certainly pleased to see it appear on the Long List and it was an easy fit for #3 on my final ballot. The more I listened this week, the more impressed I became. Simone Schmidt has a beautiful voice, the kind of voice you are pleased to find on an album in your uncle’s basement- you’ve never heard it before, no one has ever mentioned her to you, but from the first time you hear the sound you know you’ve been invited into select group of admirers. I loved Forest of Tears a couple years back and this one is even better. The album holds up to listening and is very impressive in all ways- the production- which reminds me a little of Louise Burns’ Mellow Drama (see below)- has that open, hollow sound that I find so appealing.
Austra’s Feel It Break was my #4 album. Comparisons have been made to Kate Bush and I definitely hear the connection, but there is an aural straightforwardness around this release that makes it even more striking. The music is complex and multi-layered- a bit art school- but it doesn’t feel or sound contrived. It takes me back to the 80s without the embarrassment of the hair and pant styles. The album has a consistent overall sound, but every song is just different enough to tie things together into a listen that keeps the listener alert for the next fabulous interlude.
Louise Burns is a Vancouver-based artist that I know little about, but I’ve fallen for her album Mellow Drama. Had I spent even more time with it, it may have moved up on my ballot from #5. It has a rich sound, full and vibrant, but the emotion isn’t lost. She (and it) reminds me a little of the music of the Cocteau Twins and Tarnation- simultaneously very spacy and earthy. She’s coming to Olds July 2 to Track’s Pub. Hmm…I wonder if I can convince my wife to go for a drive…
That is likely my final input into the Polaris Music Prize 2011 because I don’t expect to ever be invited to participate in the final jury process that determines the winner. But I imagine I’ll share my thoughts on the final ten nominees when they are announced in ten days.
Thanks for reading Fervor Coulee. I hope you are finding material and music of interest. Donald
I feel honoured to be part of the Polaris Music Prize jury. All year-long I listen to some of the finest Canadian music released and each June I am asked to narrow these down- for the initial ballot- to five. I’ve spent the last several days finalizing my list, re-listening to albums I previously considered, and catching up on a few I had missed. I’m ready to vote…I think. I entered my ballot this evening, and have the rest of the week to finalize it. As of this minute, these are my top 5 albums for this year’s Polaris:
#1 = Kim Beggs – Blue Bones
#2 = Ben Sures – Gone to Bolivia
#3 = Ohama - Earth History Multiambient
#4 = Ruth Moody – The Garden
#5 = David Baxter – Patina Luke Doucet- Steel City Trawler
No shortage of albums to consider, in my opinion. Some love to Ruth Moody, who I had a bit higher until tonight…I’m really hoping several jury members are considering sending Kim Beggs votes- a beautiful recording. You’ll notice, if you care, that Ohama doesn’t
fit my usual roots bias. I can’t stop listening to it- it has played all through my work day a couple of times in the last few weeks. I love the complexity of the sounds he produces. I’ve been enamoured with his music since university and was disappointed to find that I no longer have his early albums on my shelf- not sure what happened to them. Regrets. The new Ben Sures project sounds gorgeous and includes several excellent songs- it is much more than a folk album, if that is how your brain works. I’ve revised my ballot to include Luke Doucet’s Steel City Trawler, an album that was floating around #7 on my list. It moved up with another listen this week, largely because “The Ballad of Ian Curtis” is legendary, IMO.
Feel free to attempt to sway my votes and certainly consider giving the above a listen if you are open to roots sounds. And really, why would you be at Fervor Coulee if you weren’t? Reviews of all but Ohama are located here at Fervor Coulee. Thanks for visiting- Donald
Along with 200+ writers, broadcasters, and bloggers, I’ve spent recent days and weeks narrowing my list of ‘best’ Canadian albums for this week’s deadline. For more information on the Polaris Music Prize, visit http://www.polarismusicprize.ca/.
Each of the members of the jury independently submit a list of our five favourite albums. The results are tabulated and the top 40 vote-getters become ‘the long list’ for final balloting. The long list will be released on June 17.
Brought to you by the letter W, my Polaris Ballot reads as follows:
1. John Wort Hannam- Queen’s Hotel
2. Jenny Whiteley- Forgive or Forget
3. The Wheat Pool- Hauntario
4. The Wooden Sky- If I Don’t Come Home, You’ll Know I’m Gone
5. Woodpigeon- Die Stadt Muzikanten
I am pleased by the balance I’ve found for my ballot. I didn’t limit myself to the roots world and was able to advocate for and support artists I truly believe produced outstanding albums during the eligibility period. Will any of my nominees make the long list? If my voting history holds true, maybe one. Within the jury there is usually considerable discussion of the Indier than Thou, Central Canada, skinny white boy in need of a shave-composition of the Polaris final nominees- okay, much of that discussion originates with me.
This is what I know. The Polaris Jury is passionate about Candian music. While we all come to the keyboard with biases of one type or another, I highly doubt you will find a jury for any award that is more engaged in the process than this one- and we’re all volunteers- no junkets, no goodie bags, and no lobbying (except from within the group). We care about the music and we care about this award. Period.
I look forward to reading (and continuing to hearing) what my fellow jury members place on their first ballots. I just hope the roots world gets some representation.
Good day, roots music fans,
In this week’s column, I advance several area shows and festivals as well as highlight the five albums I am placing on my ballot for this years Polaris Music Prize: the latest from The Great Lake Swimmers, Maria Dunn, The Swiftys, The Wooden Telegraph, and Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko. More information about the Polaris Music Prize is available from http://www.polarismusicprize.ca/
Thanks for dropping by- Donald
(Written first week of June, 2009) This week I’ll be submitting my first ballot nominees for the Polaris Music Prize. Awarded annually, this prize amounts to $20 000 for the album deemed by a panel of Canadian music writers and broadcasters as ‘best’ of the (June to May) year, regardless of sales or genre.
I’m honoured to be among the jury members from across our country. While my rootsy nominees seldom make it to the ‘short list’ of finalists, I usually place a couple on the ‘long list’ of 40 nominees. So, here they are- the five albums I consider the ‘best albums of the year!’
In no particular order-
Great Lake Swimmers- Lost Channels (Nettwerk) Existing on the fringes of roots music, Tony Dekker’s Ontario-based Great Lake Swimmers are, in my opinion, a perfect listening choice for those tired of Blue Rodeo, ready for challenging sounds that bring to mind Bon Iver, The Black House, Blue Oyster Cult, and XTC. Lost Channels enraptured me from first listen, and Pulling on a Line may be the singular finest new song I’ve heard in six months.
Woodland Telegraph- Sings Revival Hymns (Northern Folklore) Woodland Telegraph comes out of Lethbridge via Kananaskis Country, where Matthew Lovegrove spent the winter of 2007 writing the music that became Sings Revival Hymns; his intention was to re-create the Canadian Rockies and their history in song. Lovegrove’s deep, melodic voice takes some getting used to, but once one accepts it the magic flows from the speakers. The music is charged, and sweeps away musical inertia through challenging melodies and time signatures.
The Swiftys- Ridin’ High (Self-released) Not hearing new material for several years from The Swiftys, I had to reacquaint myself with Shawn Johnson and Co.’s approach to rootsy, country rock. Ridin’ High is a more engaged, mature collection of songs, not as immediately welcoming as their previous material but every bit as attractive. If these guys were from Austin, they might be just another band; since they are ours- well, at least western Canada’s- they ‘ride high’ in my esteem.
Maria Dunn- The Peddler (Distant Whisper) I must stand behind Edmonton’s Maria Dunn and advocate one final time for The Peddler. An album of rare acuity, this disc is populated with characters historical and imagined. Joined by long-time collaborators Shannon Johnson and The McDades, Dunn’s sweet and gentle manner tempers the darkness that shades many of her songs. Her voice and phrasing, as well as her blending of Scots-Irish folk sounds, are immediately and appreciatively identifiable.
Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko- Africa to Appalachia (Self-released) Released last summer, this one was almost forgotten, but the intense exploration of the Malian roots of the 5-string banjo will not be denied. Stone, Sissoko, and their collaborators successfully amalgamate African sounds- kora, percussion, ngoni, and vocals- with the fiddles and banjos of the Appalachia, producing a unification of rhythms that is lively, memorable, and awe-inspiring.
As I am limited to five nominees, I couldn’t put forth terrific albums released by The United Steel Workers of Montreal (Three on the Tree), Rae Spoon (Superioeyouareinferior), David Baxter (Day & Age), Annabelle Chvostek (Resilience), One Hundred Dollars (Forest of Tears), Romi Mayes (Achin’ in Yer Bones), and The Deep Dark Woods (Winter Hours,) all of whom released music worthy of mention and listening.
(For the record, I ended up dropping Maria Dunn’s album-knowing full well it had no chance of making the long list- in favour of David Baxter. That didn’t work out either; as things progressed, only one of my five nominees made it to the long list of 40 albums- Lost Channels. In baseball, hitting .200 is called, I think The Mendoza Line. In nominating albums for the Polaris Prize, it means being out of touch with the ‘mainstream!’ Oh, well. Maybe next year I’ll be able to convince more writers and broadcasters from across Canada of the value held by roots performers. Or, at least, the ones I value! Donald)