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Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

Arctic Circle

Since it’s pretty obvious from the photo who won, I’ll start by congratulating Owen Pallett – aka Final Fantasy – on winning the first annual Polaris Music Prize for his album He Poos Clouds. The award was given out last night at the Phoenix at a mildly fancy awards gala featuring performances from half of the 10 finalists for the prize – K’Naan, Sarah Harmer, Cadence Weapon, Malajube and the eventual winner, Final Fantasy. The other nominees got a little video montage comprised of clips from their promo videos and MuchMusic interviews.

All of the performers were terrific, making compelling arguments for why they are some of the top talent in the country but really, Final Fantasy’s two-song set of looped violin-driven classical pop stood head and shoulders above the rest. The finalist judges could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if they had just watched him play instead of being sequestered away deliberating – they could have handed him the giant cheque right there and gone to enjoy some nachos. I’ve not been a huge fan of Final Fantasy but after seeing him perform last night, I will have to reevaluate.

Also impressive were Montreal’s Malajube, who though they didn’t win, have probably gained the most out of being nominated than all the others in terms of exposure and profile. Because the singer was sick they only played one song of high-energy guitar pop but they definitely made the most of the opportunity. BrooklynVegan, who has probably been following the awards far closer than any Canadian outlet, has an interview with the band.

Though I don’t think there was any real concensus favourite coming into the night, it was evident from the response from the audience, made up of media and industry folk, that no one really wanted any of the high-profile bands (BSS, New Pornographers, Metric) to win – after all, Canadians do love an underdog. But I’m sure that as thrilled as Pallett is to be taking home $20K (maybe he can buy himself back a website), it was Wolf Parade who did the most celebrating when the award organizers announced that the sponsors would indeed be picking up their bar tab from the night before.

It was kind of an interesting experience for me because even though I was a judge and was invited to the event, I don’t actually work within the industry in any meaningful way and thus, didn’t know anyone there. So when I say “interesting”, I probably mean “kinda dull”. But even though I was up in the balcony with the hoi polloi, I was able to shoot a few decent photos of the performances. In hindsight, I probably could have walked down to where the media photogs were and shot from there, but eh. Lazy. The awards themselves were farily low-key with some minor technical difficulties, a not-terribly funny host and no shortage of digs at Broken Social Scene. But still, it was nice to be a part of what should be a worthwhile annual event and though it sounds like such a cliche, after last night I have a few CDs to pick up.

Canada.com and The Toronto Star reports on the awards outcome while Zoilus offers no info about how the final judging process went. Rock? Scissors? Paper? Come on!

Update: Just got a link to the video for the title track of the winning album.
Update 2: Pop (All Love) liveblogged the event… in his head. ESSENTIAL READING.

Photos: Polaris Music Prize Gala @ The Phoenix – September 18, 2006
MP3: Final Fantasy – “If I Were A Carp”
MP3: Final Fantasy – “Many Lives 49 MP”
MP3: Malajube – “Montreal -40°C”
MP3: Malajube – “Le Metronome”
Video: Final Fantasy – “He Poos Clouds” (YouTube)
MySpace: Malajube

Keeping it Canuck – is Ottawa the next big scene? Simultaneous lists on the best bands in the nation’s capital from Cokemachineglow and I Heart Music tip the magic eight ball towards “possibly”.

I Heart Music also has an interview with Andrew Scott of Sloan, while The Canadian Press talks to Chris Murphy. Their new one Never Hear The End Of It is out today and apparently it’s something more than business as usual from the band? They’ve also announced a Toronto date at the Kool Haus for October 11 6 – thanks to For The Records for the tip.

Victoria News chats with Amy Millan and The London Free Press talks to Metric. The AV Club shuffles Emily Haines’ iPod, Pitchfork reviews her solo record and there’s a new MP3 and video to check out:

MP3: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – “Dr Blind”
Video: Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton – “Dr Blind” (MOV)

Pitchfork interviews John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats and Carl Wilson also has an expansive review of Get Lonely at The Globe & Mail. The Goats are in town tonight at Lee’s Palace.

My segment on The New Music is now available to view online at MuchMusic but only within Canada – something to do with broadcast rights to the music used in the piece, etc. And it’s too bad, because the CGI is really impressive. It really looks like I’m breathing fire and crushing Neo-Tokyo under my giant lizard feet. But my thoughts? They say some people have a face for radio – I apparently have a voice for the internet (and I’m not talkin’ podcasts).

np – Sarah Harmer / I’m A Mountain

By : Frank Yang at 8:36 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this postNo Responses.
  1. gurple says:

    dude this blog has morphed into a major snoozefest in the last few months…..no more Emily Haines…..please.

  2. Frank says:

    where’ve you been? it’s always been a snoozefest.

  3. mike says:

    Gurple, you weren’t around for Frank’s ‘Torontopia’ post? Commentary galore from both Frank and readers. Good stuff.

  4. Quinn says:

    not to mention that he just gave a rundown and pics from an awards show that wasn’t given any mainstream coverage, and that most people couldnt get into.

  5. aj says:

    Big up Ottawa. It’s been a long time coming, nice to see the scene getting a little more lively.

  6. gurple says:

    Yeah I dunno….I guess I started coming here because it was one of the only blogs I had seen that didn’t seem to be a slave to blogger hype and trends…..I mean it’s named after RIDE song….but yeah….I’d say for the past couple of months it seems like the usual suspects………

  7. PG says:

    the only thing more surprising last night than final fantasy’s win is steve jordan wearing a suit and tie!

  8. Scott says:

    Frank! Get on the Annuals hype-train! They’re the only band the blogs have been right about yet! Their guitarist alone is worth the price of admission.

    But great news on Final Fantasy. He absolutely deserves this. Nice to see the Polaris folks make an unexpected choice.

  9. palpable says:

    gurple … we don’t care