Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Polaris Prize long list overview

36? - Where Do We Go From Here?

The Polaris Prize long list was released last week. I “Moneyballed” it for Maclean’s here.

I didn’t mention there that I had predicted 29/40 in my previous post.

Here are the 11 I got wrong:

36? – This is the one I’m most disappointed in. It was on my ballot. More people should hear it. But as a direct result of this discussion, one programmer at a major Canadian festival told me he put the band “at the top of the pile.” (Aside: What does that mean in 2014? He still listens to discs? He puts their MP3s at the top of his playlist?)

Braids – Slightly shocking, considering their last record was shortlisted in 2011—and this one is better.

Kevin Drew – Kind of shocking, considering Drew’s profile and the strength of this record. Yet his last solo album didn’t make a long list either. Did “Mexican Aftershow Party” kill any buzz this time?

Duck Sauce – Seeing how this album follows up a hit single three years ago, not that shocking.

Egyptrixx – Not surprising; honestly, I had it as a long shot.

Hidden Cameras – I thought this was their strongest album in many moons; clearly I was one of the only ones.

Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra – Again, a long shot; jazz doesn’t travel far in Polaris circles—or at least, a consensus jazz pick is hard to find.

Jordan Klassen – An admitted longshot. But a lovely record.

Lindi Ortega – I didn’t hear half as much chatter about her latest record as I did the long-listed one that preceded it, so perhaps not surprising.

Doug Paisley – Many people were shocked Paisley didn’t make it, considering his increased profile. Yet, as a big fan of the guy myself, I didn’t find Strong Feelings anywhere near as compelling as Constant Companion, so this didn’t surprise me.

Slakah the Beatchild – This is an unfortunate omission; there’s never enough hip-hop and R&B on the list, and this is one of the stronger Canadian releases of either genre I’ve heard in a while. Now if Shad had beats like this, he’d be unstoppable. Can someone please put those two together?

Other albums I would have loved to see get some Polaris recognition, but didn't: Nick Buzz, Shane Abram Nelken, Adrian Raso and Fanfare Ciocarlia. But hey, my #1 pick, AroarA, made the list.

2014 long-listers that surprised me:

Chromeo – This album is rather new; I hadn’t heard it at the time I voted, and I falsely assumed most jurors didn’t take this band seriously.

Cousins – I’m allergic to most things that remind me of lo-fi ’90s indie rock; I’ll admit I didn’t pay any attention to this band after hearing the record once or twice.

Cowboy Junkies’ Kennedy Suite – This is a shocker, considering what a squandering of talent is involved. So many great people involved; maybe one or two songs worthy of them to sing.

Frog Eyes – I’m really excited to see this on the list, as Frog Eyes is a unique force in Canadian music. That said, I hadn’t heard the album at the time of voting; it was released several months ago to extremely low profile, and put out properly by Paper Bag merely a few weeks ago.

Mounties – I did not think Polaris jurors still followed the careers of Hawksley Workman and Hot Hot Heat.

Odonis Odonis – Not that surprising, as this record has had good buzz. But it is surprising when you actually listen to it. Really? I also thought it might just have Toronto appeal.

Philippe B – I wasn’t sure who else other than Jimmy Hunt and Dead Obie$ would rep franco Quebec, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Solids – I honestly had no idea who this band was.

The Darcys – I wish I honestly had no idea who this band was. 
[Aside: Why do Polaris folks alphabetize “the” bands by the letter T? Oh, iTunes, you’ve ruined us all.]

Thus Owls – The Toronto Star’s Ben Rayner firmly believes this band is the second coming. I wasn’t sure who else agreed with him. Was he allowed to fill in all five slots on his ballot with Thus Owls?

Tim Hecker – Not at all surprising, considering he’s been long-listed twice before. But I didn’t sense that this had the same momentum as either An Imaginary Country or Ravedeath 1972.

And the unexpected bonus round this year goes to Winnipeg’s Greg McPherson, who got left off the long list due to some kind of computer glitch in voting. Polaris is not removing anything from the list—for obvious reasons of optics, logistics and politics—so there is, in fact, 41 albums on this year’s long list.

The shortlist will be announced July 15.

1 comment:

Steve Jordan said...

We don't normally order it that way Michael. Good catch and we'll get it fixed up.