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This past week saw the release of the “long list” of albums nominated for the “Polaris Prize,” which is basically the critic’s choice for best Canadian album of the past year. If you want to see the list for yourself, check it out here. Now the only “problem” I have with the Polaris prize (this is the fourth year of the award), is that it seems to have drifted away from choosing the singular “best” album of the year, towards others who are more deserving for other reasons… like who has the most debt to pay off (like some say is the case with previous winners Patrick Watson), who is under-recognized, or who is simply the only album the final panel of 10 critics can agree on (Caribou last year?).
Before finishing up the blog portion of the podcast, and explaining who I think “Should” win the prize, I’ll toss a little plug your way first. Wednesday night the Silver Speakers (my band) played at the Horseshoe Tavern here in Toronto, and it was a great night, also featuring sets by Meredith Luce, Graven and the Gentleman Husbands. Here’s a clip from the show, it was our first of the night, “Chemical Reaction.” If you’re interested in hearing more, you can download the new CD from iTunes here, or you can pick up a physical copy of the album from Soundscapes in Toronto.
Finally, here’s the list. If I had to honestly pick “the best” from the long list, I would have to pick Wolf Parade and their album, “At Mount Zoomer.” The band has finally learned to work together, and are far more adventurous, accessible and well, rocking, than any other. If they wanted, they could be Modest Mouse, but I think they’d prefer to just be Wolf Parade. With that said, Bruce Peninsula’s “A Mountain is a Mouth” is the album I’ve played the most in 2009, and it’s all-out incredible. I feel like it actually has a chance at winning the whole thing. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s game… without further ado, here’s 10 of my favourite tracks from the long list, which coincidentally, are all from artists that have been featured on “Put Yr Heart Into It” this year.
10. “Legal Tender” by the Handsome Furs from “Face Control”
Probably won’t win, because between Dan’s “solo/duo” project and being in one of Canada’s biggest bands, he has all the exposure he needs, and doesn’t need the prize.
9. “Hazel” by Junior Boys from “Begone Dull Care”
I think they have a decent shot, but considering that Caribou won last year, I don’t know if two “electronic” artists are going to win in a row. Amazing album though, will be a summer jam record for sure.
8. “Group Transport Hall” by Women from “Women”
This album also has a decent shot, it was recorded by Chad Van Gaalen, which means good band pedigree, and they’ve actually had a pile of world-wide success and acclaim from Pitchfork.
7. “Trouble Comes Knocking” by Timber Timbre from “Timber Timbre”
6. “Pulling on a Line” by Great Lake Swimmers from “Lost Channels”
Both great albums here, but won’t win because it’s a crowded field of white guys with guitars, and likely too Toronto-centric to be considered for the prize.
5. “It’s Okay” by Land of Talk from “Some Are Lakes”
This album was probably the biggest dissapointment of the year, but it still had some great songs. What happened to all the rock Liz Powell? I guess this is what happens when you let Bon Iver near your record… it wimps out. She probably won’t win because of her newfound association with Broken Social Scene (too big too win, theoretically).
4. “No Great Leap” by $100 from “Forest of Tears”
This is the best written song of the year, easily. But my only complaint is that the record just doesn’t do the band justice to it’s rollicking live show. Could be a condender though.
3. “Molten Light” by Chad Van Gaalen from “Soft Airplane”
Personally, my favourite CVG album ever… I’d like to see this win, its just too full of good songs not to.
2. “Crabapples” by Bruce Peninsula from “A Mountain is a Mouth”
For some reason it seems like the steam has been let out of this band a little… maybe they’re all gearing up for a big tour? I’m still in shock they haven’t taken over the world by now… destined to join the ranks of Canada’s best “big bands” (which includes, in order: Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Broken Social Scene, the Arcade Fire, and the Dears).
1. “Language City” by Wolf Parade from “At Mount Zoomer”
Like I’ve said before, they’re too big to win this one. But is there anyone who doesn’t own this record, or blast it a million times last summer?