photo by Matea Jocic
A man named Caribou walked home with a symbolic $20,000 cheque last night.
Yes, music critics, bloggers and broadcasters anointed Dan Snaith the annual Polaris Music Prize for his psychedelic electro record Andorra.
The record garnered considerably positive reviews across the board, both in Canada and elsewhere, including gold ole Pitchfork bestowing something above 8. There were exceptions, of course, one of them being this very publication where I will sheepishly raise my hand as one critic would didn't appreciate what Snaith was offering.
However, this year's selection will go down a lot smoother than last year incredulously picked Patrick Watson, a name we haven't heard much of since. I wasn't among that elite jury of music eggheads who chose Snaith so I can only hypothesize as to how he took the indie gold medal. Here's my theory:
Black Mountain were heavy contenders, and if you were going to account for which band made the most impact in and outside of Canuckland, you'd have to acknowledge these Vancouver beardos. But working against them, other than the fact Stephen McBean was quite vocal about how he could give two shits about winning, is that a high-brow stoner metal band isn't something the jury likely wanted to reward as innovative.
Shad's inclusion marked an important step forward from last year's whitey-white list, which completely dismissed hip-hop (or anything with beats) in favour an almost exclusive slate of Montreal art rock.
But we have to face facts, Shad just isn't that well know across the country, and while his works stands out among his genre, he didn't breakthrough to other audiences. Plus, the critics who crown these winners usually aren't as passionate about hip hop.
The Weakerthans lose easily because they've been around too long and their best work is arguably behind them. Not to mention they've become a bit too Cancon for most critical tastes. Kathleen Edwards and Basia Bulat cancel each other out on the ticket, while Stars suffers from their association to the Broken Social Scene zeitgeist that nobody is in the mood for re-celebrating.
Two Hours Traffic felt like a token nod to the Maritimes, thus were huge longshots. Plants and Animals had a great year but didn't create any waves outside of the homeland, and they're from Montreal, which is way too much like Watson's win last year.
That leaves Holy Fuck as what must have been a close second. As we've mentioned, this would have been a grand opportunity for the music/artistic community to send a political message at a pivotal time while acknowledging a group who's been touring the world and creating some really interesting music.
I attended a seminar in the spring with Lou Reed as the guest speaker. When an audience member asked him what inspiring music he's heard lately he actually name checked Holy Fuck. Lou Reed actually listens to Holy Fuck! Who needs 20 Gs when you got that going for you?