The whole idea of music awards kind of rubs me the wrong way. Treating art like a sporting competition just doesn't seem quite right, and for that reason - and a bit of lazyness - I've never voted in the Polaris Prize.
But at the end of the day that $20,000 prize can really help an indie band, and I want it to go to someone who deserves it. As well, if I didn't cast a vote, it would mean I wouldn't be able to complain about whoever wins either.
Turns out all my initial five picks have all made it onto the long list, which either means I'm a music critic cliché without an ounce of creativity, or that I have impeccable taste that no one could disagree with. While most of them didn't get a 5N rating when we ran the reviews, in retrospect they all deserved it.
Here's who I think should win this year (in no particular order):
The moment I heard this album I fell in love. Beautifully restrained blues from an alternate universe. Despite the title, this is not their debut album, but if there is a god, it will be the album that makes them famous, which is more possible now that Arts & Crafts have hooked them up with international distribution.
The concept is simple enough: record your neighbours talking about happiness, find phrases that suggest melody, and write music around these accidental hooks. The result is amazingly compelling, and much more accessible than the experimental approach suggests.
I think a lot of critics are really rooting for this to win, even if it's just to see how mainstream media cope with their name. Then again, considering that their lead singer is now a Fox News commentator (representing the progressive left, in case you were worried), maybe the world is ready for a bit of foul language. No matter what happens, this Toronto hardcore punk band are well on their way to reinventing and reviving the genre, and have forced a lot of us to admit that punk is not in fact dead after all.
Gorgeously intimate electronic pop music, and perfectly understated. Some might complain that it's not nearly the game-changing album their debut was, but I'd counter that it's actually a stronger collection of songs, even if their style doesn't stand out from the crowd as starkly as it once did.
I always respected Joel Plaskett, but to be honest, never really got into him and wasn't expecting amazing things from this record. After all, it's hard to name even one truly great triple album, and the idea seems all the more preposterous in the iPod era. Well, he sure proved me wrong, and I'm still pissed off that someone stole it from my desk shortly after I reviewed it.