Friday, June 18th, 2010
2010 Polaris Music Prize long list revealed
Christine LimThough not technically related, yesterday afternoon’s announcement of this year’s Polaris Music Prize long list in the midst of all the NXNE hubbub was no coincidence. What better time to reveal the consensus cream of the Can-con crop than in the smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest festivals and conferences in the country? A perusal of the 40 albums that made the cut reveals a lot of the names I’d have expected, based on factors such as public profile, track record and oh yeah, artistic merit, though some others that I thought might have eked onto the list are absent and others that I thought would have been too under the radar to gather sufficient support have moved onto the next round.
Net result? An interesting and diverse list of albums that should provide sufficient grist for acclaim, angst and analysis, at least until the short list when it’s announced on July 6, and then the fun part – endless back and forth about which of the ten finalists should take home the $20,000 cheque – begins and continues until the winner is announced on September 20. For my part, since I was on the Grand Jury in 2008, my duties end this year with submission of my second ballot in a week’s time. And considering that I’ve only got one record from the first ballot that’s not still in the running and a pool of 36 records to choose from, that should be relatively easy. What’s that? What was on my first ballot? Well I’m glad you asked. In order, they were:
1. Shad / TSOL
In a perfect world, my Polaris ballot would write itself. Albums up for the title of “best in Canada” should announce themselves as such and not give you the option to not include it. Not a lot of records do this, but Shad’s third album did. Its blend of heart, humour and hooks are irresistible. TSOL demands its place on the long list, will almost certainly find its way on the short list and I give it good odds of going all the way.
2. Reverie Sound Revue / Reverie Sound Revue
I knew this album wouldn’t make the long list without some sort of divine intervention, but with each successive listen in the year or so since its release, it has won me over more and more. What it has is understatedly clever wordplay delivered by Lisa Lobsinger’s perfectly matched vocals overtop impeccably conceived and arranged jazzy pop sounds, and the fact that very little out there does what they do this well, from any country. What it doesn’t have is a band able to tour or otherwise promote it as it deserved, and that’s why I’m looking for a new fifth album for ballot #2. But this album should be heard.
3. Owen Pallett / Heartland
Just five years in, repeat short list nominees are hardly uncommon but we haven’t had a repeat winner yet. And with the name change before this record’s release, pedants could argue it wouldn’t be a repeat, but I digress. Truth is I don’t even know how much I like it – there’s so much going on that even months on I find myself overwhelmed and still haven’t fully absorbed it – but the artistic ambition and achievement of it transcends subjective opinion.
4. Dan Mangan / Nice, Nice, Very Nice
What I said about the Shad record applies here as well, though not quite as emphatically. Some naysayers have criticized Mangan’s album for being just another indie-folk singer-songwriter record and technically, they’re quite correct. Which is why the degree to which Nice, Nice was able to stick and resonate for so long marks it as noteworthy. There’s unquestionably something going on here above and beyond what you get on paper.
5. Basia Bulat / Heart Of My Own
Any reservations I had about nominating Basia’s second album amounted to it being so similar to Oh, My Darling and not yet being the masterpiece statement that I’m sure she has in her. But then I listened to it – and “The Shore” – again and tossed those reservations out the window. I don’t know that I’d go to the wall for it as best album of the year, but thankfully I don’t have to.
Stream: Wolf Parade / Expo 86
Diamond Rings has released the video for his new single – the most elaborate one so far – just in time for the 12″ release at Wrongbar tonight. He’s on at 11 and a certain peacock costume may well be making an appearance. His debut full-length Special Affections will be out in the Fall.
A few show announcements to cap off the week – after first cancelling the Toronto date and then the whole tour back in May, reunited shoegaze forebears Chapterhouse have re-booked their North American tour for this Fall and T.O. is back on the agenda – this time it’s set for October 6 at Lee’s Palace, again with Ulrich Schnauss supporting.
Video: Chapterhouse – “Pearl”
If you look at my schedule for SxSW in March, you will see no less than seven Local Natives shows marked down, some of them flagged as “high priority”. Needless to say, I missed them all. I’ll finally get to make that up on October 19 when the Los Angeles outfit bring Gorilla Manor to town for a show at the Mod Club, tickets $17.50 in advance.