by carl wilson


Polaris climactic moment, photo swiped from Chromewaves.

I join the chorus of bafflement at Patrick Watson's Polaris win last night, though I felt a lot better about it when the band said they had thousands of dollars in rental-van damage bills to pay off, so at least there was some needs-and-means convergence going on. I think what we've seen is just the lead-in to Watson getting some real commercial viability going - I'd bet his/their next album might be on a major label and have some radio-playable singles - and I suppose one of the things the Polaris can do is boost people along that route. But it's not one of the things I'm most interested in seeing the prize do. And can I just raise a general principled objection to the whole naming-your-band-your-own-name thing? It made the Globe this morning sound like it was claiming Watson himself is eight years old, which is in fact how long the band's been together. Sure, "the Patrick Watson Band" would be fine, but I feel sorry for the guys who play with him who have to tell people, "Yeah, I'm in Patrick Watson." Yes, and I'm deep inside Jenna Jameson. (It's just occurred to me that this is sort of a bandonym in reverse.)

I'm curious who the second-place finisher was, which rumour has it was very close. In the live performances, Chad VanGaalen and Miracle Fortress both delighted me, and the Julie Doiron/ex-Eric-Trippers rock-out was a cool, bold choice for the room, though in some ways it didn't show off Julie's skills to best advantage. You can hear for yourself if you go download the CBC Radio 3 podcast of the awards. (Speaking of which, Grant Lawrence did an ace job hosting.) For further Polari-palaver, I highly recommend Michael Barclay's and Helen Spitzer's amusing, hungover breakfast-table dialogue from this morning.

General | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, September 25 at 2:05 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (7)



just a quick comment on your assumption that patrick watson would choose major label-ism as his next step. In fact, I think it couldn't be further from the truth. The majors have been after Patrick for the past year, and this is one frontman who knows that he wants a certain level of creative control. Also, he's not necessarily interested in being just a band who puts out records, one of his main personal interests is composing for film, something that often comes out in his live show set ups that use visuals as an extension of his/their music. Although i think you're right in that he could have a substantial amount of commercial success, those boys are way more interested in exploring noise than you might think. Their Harbourfront set recently kicked of with a blistering 5 minutes of improvised yet orchestrated music which then segwayed (sp?) into the beginnings of a more accessible track.

I'm sure I have more to say, but i thought I'd just make this comment above and leave it at that. If anything, the second Polaris gala served to highlight the fact that the 10 nominees were in fact not ALL one genre of music and definitely not all hype. Each had a viable shot at the prize. I know the money will be put to good use with the Patrick Watson gang and they were certainly honoured to be chosen....

Posted by curlybecs on September 28, 2007 2:03 PM



I'm completely down with what j.s. just said. It's great that the prize is unpredictable, and I'm not at all saying that the Patrick Watson folks are unworthy or that it's any problem for them to have gotten it. It just wasn't one of my more preferred outcomes.

Caitlin - you've listened closer to the record than I have clearly, but most of the experimental stuff strikes me more as atmosphere and ornamentation than the main action. I wasn't saying this record is radio-playable, just that it's easy to imagine this band making one that is, and I wouldn't be surprised if post-Polaris some big A&R; folks start imagining just that.

Posted by zoilus on September 27, 2007 1:56 PM



whats awesome about Patrick winning is that its further proof that anything in the world can happen. I love being wrong, it is the fabric of hope. Record prizes are kind of silly anyways, its nice that its going to some good, hard working people.

Posted by j.s. on September 26, 2007 10:53 PM



i feel like i'm the only music/media person on this great green earth who was pleasantly surprised by the polaris outcome.

i actually think a lot of reactions to patrick watson (and yes, i agree about the individual-as-band-name thing) are of the knee-jerk variety, where people automatically equate patrick's vocals with jeff buckley and the occasionally-swooping melodies with coldplay. i don't hear it. (ok, maybe a little bit on "luscious life," but that's about it.) i just hear a band who writes well and made a lovely record.

i also don't think it's that commercially viable. maybe a couple of the piano ballads, but many of the songs have an experimental bent. how could a band influenced by satie ever be that famous? could you honestly hear "weight of the world" as a single?

perhaps my opinion is shaped by the fact that i produced a cbc session recording where the band stretched out their music, improvised other parts, collaborated with torngat and just generally went wild with their own songs. i found their sense of play and their musicianship to be really incredible. especially that guitarist simon angell--he's trained with marc ribot and it shows.
and the record's songs just came alive with this vibrant creativity, but still within the framework of a solid pop song.

close to paradise is probably not canada's best album, not at all (my personal picks didn't even make the shortlist). but out of the 10 finalists, it was the one that i rooted for. i think the arcade fire and feist records were somewhat uninteresting, and although i understand what people see in miracle fortress and junior boys, i just can't get behind them myself. patrick watson's album managed to straddle pretty melodies and creative arrangements, and i'm not usually into that kind of sound at all. (in my heart of hearts, i wanted feuermusik to make the shortlist. not bloody likely, i know.)

in the end, i think close to paradise isn't a perfect album, but i do think it's just a hint of what patrick watson is/are capable of, and i look forward to what they do next.

Posted by caitlin on September 26, 2007 4:10 PM



for the record, i have no inside information on jury room proceedings, even though i know three people who were there (laurie brown not being one of them). hell, i don't even know inside information about LAST year's jury meeting--even though my secretive girlfriend was on the jury (as was carl). steve jordan is a persuasive fellow when it comes to confidentiality. any "truthiness" in my blog post is entirely happenstance.

Posted by barclay on September 26, 2007 7:29 AM



Key quote from Mr. Barcley:

"the first Polaris-related email I got was from Jon Bartlett, gloating about the fact that he totally called a Patrick Watson win. I think he pegs it on Laurie Brown being on the jury."

Its not factually true but it has truth in it.

Posted by guy tanentzapf on September 25, 2007 4:10 PM



Better Watson than Arcade Fire, I guess...but still pretty weak.

Posted by matthew on September 25, 2007 3:43 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson