After following the Polaris Long List announcement tweet by tweet on my way to the airport a few weeks back, I'll be happy to sit back and enjoy the CBC Radio 3 coverage today at 1:30ET (2:30pm for those of you here on the East Coast).
The list is stacked - as always - and I thought it would be fun to throw a few predictions "out in the universe." I've come up with 5 records I think will make the list hands down, 5 records I think are definite maybes and 3 records I think are wildcards. At the end of this post, I'll also tell you who I think should win the $20,000 prestigious prize.
THE SURE THINGS
The Besnard Lakes - Are The Roaring Night
Sonically amazing and musically compelling, previous Polaris-nominees The Besnard Lakes have yet again received tremendous critical acclaim for their latest album. Having had the good graces of seeing them two weeks ago in Hamilton, ON it's safe to say The Besnard Lakes are on of the best bands in Canada. LISTEN
Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
Back with a vengeance, this is not only a great summertime album but is also the band's best release (solo efforts included) since 2002's "You Forgot It In People." Catchy hooks, multiple layers and dirty drums make this pick a no-brainer. Need more convincing? Read the Bloody Drum Knuckles review. LISTEN
Caribou - Swim
Dan Snaith's latest record has moved the band back into the dance realm and back into the hearts of Canadians (not that they ever really left). The lead track "Odessa" is enough to make this album a contender, not to mention they were the first ever Polaris Prize winners. LISTEN
Hannah Georgas - This Is Good
Canada's new indie darling has received so much acclaim for this album, I would be surprised if this was overlooked on the shortlist. One of my favorite albums of the whole year, the songwriting is heartfelt and incredible, the production rivals the best Tegan & Sara records, and Hannah's voice is unmistakable. It doesn't hurt that several people have called her "the new Feist" either. LISTEN
Dan Mangan - Nice, Nice, Very Nice
After winning the $25,000 XM Verge Music Award for Artist of The Year last fall, I would be very surprised if Mangan didn't make the cut. The past two winners of the same award - Hey Rosetta and The Weakerthans - have popped up on the last two Polaris short lists but didn't take home the grand prize. Will he win? I don't think so, but he'll make the cut for sure. LISTEN
Bahamas - Pink Strat
Admittedly, I don't know much about this record but the name and the greasy character of Bahamas has been popping often to ignore. LISTEN
Crystle Castles - Crystle Castles (II)
Again, not super familiar with this record nor a big fan of the band, but it was hotly anticipated and fits in with the Canadian indie dance landscape. LISTEN
Holy Fuck - Latin America
After the whole targeting Holy Fuck's name as one of the reason for federal art cuts a few years ago debacle, I would be surprise if the band didn't reap vengeance by making the short list. The band is also a previous nominee (2008) and they have been ripping it up not only in Canada but also across the globe. All this, plus the song "Stilettos" is one of the best things the band has ever released (second only to "Lovely Allen"). LISTEN
Owen Pallet - Heartland
The first ever Polaris winner, Pallet is almost sure to make the cut again with his latest record. I've never been super into his stuff, but his talent is undeniable and he is a great showman. LISTEN
Plants & Animals - La La Land
It seems other than Holy Fuck, the maybes I've chosen haven't really registered with me personally, but that doesn't mean other people aren't picking up the albums and finding something they like. This Montreal trio were nominated in 2008, and will probably earn the same this year. LISTEN
Apollo Ghosts - Mount Benson
Apollo Ghosts came out of nowhere and blew people away with their debut full-length record. Their appearance on the long-list says something about the quality of their songwriting, and the critics agree. Herohill has already called the album one of the best albums this year to date. LISTEN
New Pornographers - Together
A Canadian indie-rock institution, New Pornographers could slide into the short list with no complaints based on reputation alone. LISTEN
Zeus - Say Us
Storming out of the gate with their first full-length, Zeus is a 70s-piano-man inspired kind of band who's songs have been used in commercials and have been blazing up the charts on Radio 3. They could very well make the cut. LISTEN
AND THE WINNER IS...
I think The Besnard Lakes' Are The Roaring Night will take home the $20,000 prize this year. Traditionally the Polaris Prize hasn't really been taken home by someone with a whole lot of "commerical" success, thus excluding bands like Broken Social Scene and artists like Dan Mangan who already has $25,000 under his belt. Polaris jurors tend to pick timeless albums that will be remembered in the Canadian music legacy for making an impact on music fans across the board. The Besnard Lakes aren't a niche market, they're not surviving on indie cred, and they're not a new band who is trying to break through. They simply are one of the best bands in Canada, and this record is the best Canadian album that has been released this year. Not only do I think they deserve to win, I think that after being slighted in 2008, they will win.