by carl wilson

Polaris Top 40 Announced

Still in the maw of distraction, but didn't want to let this innovation in the Polaris Prize process go unmentioned. Instead of just announcing the nominees, the Canadian best-album prize - judged by critics and broadcasters (including yours truly), sponsored by Rogers and carrying a $20,000 purse - is now spreading the love (and publicity bump) around by making public the 40 strongest contenders in pre-voting by the entire jury pool: We each chose 5 albums released between June 1/07 and May 31/08. The most frequently mentioned (and highest ranked) got onto the long list. This allows for strategic voting - we can (but are not obliged to) replace or re-rank the no-hopers on our ballots in order to elevate the prospects of favourite up-and-comers.

Here it is in alphabetical order - just think, an extra month to complain about jury bias and imbalance! For the record, four of my five picks made the list, the exception being The Reveries' Matchmakers Vol. 1: The Music of Willie Nelson. I'm left wishing I'd made my jazz/improv selection more strategically - perhaps I could have boosted Feuermusik or David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana over the wall. At least Sandro Perri is there representing the improvising massive (arguably along with Thee Silver Mt Zion and Socalled's sui generis disc Ghetto Blaster which crosses four or five genres). Perri would be my no. 1 were it not for the true object of my upcoming lobbying efforts, Veda Hille's This Riot Life.

At quick glance hip-hop, electronic, country-folk and francophone representation all seems to be improving; harder rock/emo get some 'spect, but not hardcore or metal; pop music registers not at all unless you count City and Colour. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell likewise draw blanks. Regional balance doesn't look too shabby: Someone do the math - which city's musical cuisine reigns supreme? And who the hell is Gatineau?

Finally, sympathies to the unheard and unsung. Remember, there is joy in being barred from the temple.

2008 Polaris Music Prize Long List (alphabetical)

The Acorn, Glory Hope Mountain
Attack In Black, Marriage
Black Mountain, In The Future
Born Ruffians, Red, Yellow and Blue
Buck 65, Situation
Basia Bulat, Oh, My Darling
Cadence Weapon, Afterparty Babies
Cancer Bats, Hail Destroyer
Caribou, Andorra
City And Colour, Bring Me Your Love
Constantines, Kensington Heights
Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
Destroyer, Trouble In Dreams
Fred Eaglesmith, Tinderbox
Kathleen Edwards, Asking For Flowers
Christine Fellows, Nevertheless
Gatineau, Gatineau
Hayden, In Field And Town
Veda Hille, This Riot Life
Hilotrons, Happymatic
Holy Fuck, LP
Islands, Arm's Way
Karkwa, Le volume du vent
Corb Lund, Horse Solider! Horse Soldier!
The New Pornographers, Challengers
Pas Chic Chic, Au Contraire
Sandro Perri, Tiny Mirrors
Plants And Animals, Parc Avenue
Ghislain Poirier, No Ground Under
Protest The Hero, Fortress
Justin Rutledge, Man Descending
Sadies, New Seasons
Shad, The Old Prince
Socalled, Ghetto Blaster
Stars, In Our Bedroom After The War
Tegan And Sara, The Con
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band, 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
Two Hours Traffic, Little Jabs
The Weakerthans, Reunion Tour
Wintersleep, Welcome To The Night Sky

General | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, June 12 at 2:37 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)



my top 5

The Acorn, Glory Hope Mountain

Wintersleep, Welcome To The Night Sky

Plants And Animals, Parc Avenue

Caribou, Andorra

Attack In Black, Marriage

Posted by jimmy J on June 19, 2008 1:10 PM



I'm sorry to say, but Winnipeg is only west if Ontario is the centre of Canada. It is not.

Posted by Danica on June 18, 2008 1:28 PM



Schmatta - Nope, doesn't matter at all that Buck's on a major label.The SOCAN songwriting prize, for example, specifies that the record in question must have sold below Gold levels, but the Polaris prize can go to any album at all the jury deems worthy.

In 2006, Sarah Harmer, K'Naan and Metric were basically all major-label acts and Cadence Weapon, Broken Social Scene and the Deadly Snakes all were on labels with major-label distribution. 2007 was a little more independent-label-centric, with only the Dears, Julie Doiron (I think), Feist of course and Joel Plaskett on majors-distributed labels. Now, Buck might be the first nominee to be on a major with no intervening boutique-label entity. What that means is your interpretation.

The reasons mainstream records don't get nominated are complicated, having partly to do with the Canadian branch-plant music industry, the fact that mainstream albums are seldom "albums" in the united-work-of-art sense that rock-based critics want (they are usually singles and B-level tracks in all but arbitrary sequence), and sheer critical snobbery.

Posted by zoilus on June 17, 2008 12:52 PM



isn't buck 65 on a major label?
or does that not matter?
cause, i thought it did...

just checkin.

Posted by schmatta on June 17, 2008 12:30 PM



Gatineau is a Montréal Hip-Hop band:

Posted by Simon on June 13, 2008 9:13 PM



Barclay -I know! Feeling a lot of things tied in my critical judgment, I ended up going with what I'd listened to the most, and this hasn't been one of my most adventurous years. But I also felt like some longtime favourites just had really strong outings this time, perhaps, while some of the further-out records were less consistent. My list:

Veda Hille
Sandro Perri
Christine Fellows
The Reveries

But for example I could have put Feuermusik, Ghislain Poirier, Odessa/Havana and Cadence Weapon in any of the spots after no. 2 and felt just as solid in it. I'd be very interested in hearing other people's also-rans...

Posted by zoilus on June 13, 2008 4:04 PM



Like a true Canadian federalist, I've done the geographical math.
Ontario: 20/40 (13 from Toronto, the rest from the regions including 3 from Ottawa)
Quebec: 8/40
West: 9/40 (5 Vancouver, 2 Edmonton, 2 Winnipeg--and they're married to each other)
East: 3/40 (includes expat Buck 65)

Carl: really? 4/5? I only scored 2/5. I had no idea you were so mainstream! ;0

Posted by barclay on June 13, 2008 2:01 PM



Wow, I hate to be so boring, but on the back of that list, I guess I'm rooting for Constantines/New Pornographers/Weakerthans. Or maybe Two Hours Traffic, I need to listen to that record again. I need to hear that Veda Hille record, too!

Posted by Ian Mathers on June 13, 2008 1:41 PM



Well I'm glad to see Wintersleep up there. They have been having a great year and I wish the best for them. They deserve all the praise they get, as they're one of the many talented bands we have in this fine country of ours.

Posted by Ronatron on June 12, 2008 4:54 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson