Polaris Prize Round Up

Last week the top 10 for this years Polaris Prize were announced. I had planned to chime in on the issue, but had yet to hear a few of the albums. But now I'm all up to date! I've given the top 10 a thorough listen, and I'm a bit surprised at some of the choices.

About a month ago, Polaris released their top 40. It was great to see a few of my favorites on the list. From the top 40, I came up with my 10 favorites:

Bell Orchestre - As Seen Through Windows
Bruce Peninsula - A Mountain Is A Mouth
Coeur De Pirate - Coeur De Pirate
Malajube - Labyrinthes
K'NAAN - Troubadour
Land of Talk- Some are lakes
Joel Plaskett- Three
Timber Timbre - Timber Timbre
Pink Mountaintops- Outside Love
Patrick Watson- Wooden Arms

This is their top 10:

Elliott Brood - Mountain Meadows
Fucked Up - The Chemistry Of Common Life
Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels
Hey Rosetta! - Into Your Lungs
Malajube - Labyrinthes
K'NAAN - Troubadour
Metric - Fantasies
Joel Plaskett - Three
Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane
Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms

So, I got 4 out of 10. I've been hearing a lot of people talking about how this list is pretty safe. I agree that some of the choices are less then inspired. Hey Rosetta and Elliot Brood don't get much of a rise out of me. Metric is Metric, no surprises on Fantasies. Although everyone loves Chad VanGaalen, I personally don't think the album is perfect (although tracks like "Phantom Anthills" suggest brilliant albums to come).

So, who's gonna win? Personally, I think Patrick Watson's album Wooden Arms is the best thing on the list by far. It's a incredibly focused album, the vocals and instrumentation are moving, and inspired. The album is full of surprises, it's one of those albums that improves with every listen. My only concern is that Patrick won the Polaris back in 2007, so maybe the jury will try to give it to someone else.

Maybe K'NAAN's album Troubador will take the prize. K'NAAN is one of the most important artists on the list. His lyrics are worth listening to, and he speaks for people who's voices never get heard. But, unfortunately, if history is any judge, Polaris tends to be an indie rock show. K'NAAN may be overlooked like he was in 2006.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Joel Plaskett will take the prize. His triple album release Three is nothing if not ambitious. One expects a lot of filler on any album over 9 tracks, but Joel manages to make 27 tracks of passable to great music. On top of that, Joel is proving to be one of Canada's greatest personalities. He's loved by everybody who's seen him live, or met him.

To sum up:

My Choice: Patrick Watson - Wooden Arms
What will probably win: Joel Plaskett - Three
Wildcard: Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life (if only to hear the word "fuck" on CBC, and to piss off the conservatives a little more).

Anyways, we'll find out on September 21st. What are your picks?


Lesley Denford said...

I think the only album I've heard from these lists is Coeur de Pirate, and she didn't even make the short list. Boo. Can I like, write in a nomination?

Dave Marcotte said...

Well, it's a flawed list for sure. I agree with most or all of what you said.

I don't think it will happen, but I'd love it if Fucked Up won. I really love this album, and I just find them to be what I wish punk would sound like. The tempos are slower, the message positive (though serious), and most of all, I don't fully understand the music. If you listen to early Stooges stuff, there's a bit of Ornette Coleman mixed in with the Velvet Underground. I just think The Chemistry of Modern Life is such a cool album. I can't wait to listen to it more.

On another note, I wouldn't mind Chad VanGaalen getting the prize if for nothing else than to make up for his omission in 2005. Infiniheart is his best album to me.

But I think you're right. It seems like Plasket's time is now. Though it wouldn't surprise me if Patrick Watson gets it.

great topic. Thanks for putting up your list too. It's always neat to debate this stuff.

One more thing: Even though Dan Snaith (Caribou) is brilliant, I think Plants and Animals should have won last year.

Colin Medley said...

Interesting choices. You're the first person I've read who feels Patrick Watson should win. I haven't heard that album yet but I'll definitely be giving it a listen now that it's on the short list. I only liked parts of his last one, so I'm not expecting to love Wooden Arms, though I'll give chance. My personal choice to win out of the top 10 would be Fucked Up. Their album successfully combines all their influences and comes off sounding wholly unique and fresh. Plus, a band winning would be a nice change of pace from years past (Patrick Watson is a person despite what he says).

PS: Thanks for checking out my blog Shawn! I like your site! I hadn't been here before.

Shawn William Clarke said...

Hey thanks for commenting Dave and Colin. Both of you are into the Fucked Up album. I think it's pretty good, not my favorite on the list though (although I find myself digging it more every time I listen to it).

Dave: While I'm into Plants and Animals, I think Andorra may be a perfect album. It's so layered, I'm amazed everytime I hear it!

Colin: Thanks for dropping by, I'll be checking out your blog more and more, good stuff!