This year’s Polaris Music Prize, given to the best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label, will be announced on Monday, September 24th. We’re pretty stoked about the award, since The Scope’s Editor Elling Lien took part in the early selection process. (Although none of his choices made it to the final ten… (ha.))
The Polaris Music Prize 2007 Nominees is a compilation of tracks from the finalists. We thought we’d have a go at their selections, and pick our own favourites from the bunch.
The Besnard Lakes – “Devastation”
From The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse
Rachel Jean Harding: Big fuzzy walls of sound, with swirling come-downs. What is with Canada and large ensemble bands? It’s like the new hockey.
Sarah Smellie: Good song title-the gigantic, almost classic-rock guitars, coupled with some epic keyboards and drums, crash down in a totally devastating way.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: A stoner Beatles B-side, complete with pouring arrangements and cheesy chord-crunch. Dudes should’ve called themselves The Polyphonic Brie.
The Dears – “Hate Then Love”
From Gang of Losers
Rachel Jean Harding: If Murray Lightburn possessed the subtlety of Morrissey, to whom he is often compared, it could have saved this track.
Sarah Smellie: It’s like a prissy, pouty stand-off between Morrissey and Nick Cave at a rock bar in Alberta, where someone definitely gets a drink thrown in their face.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: A monolithic, tear-soaked ballad that could mosh the Titanic; nicely done, gang.
Julie Doiron – “No More”
From Woke Myself Up
Sackville, New Brunswick
Rachel Jean Harding: Endearing recording indeed. Pretty melodies, brushy drums, and Julie Dorion’s beautiful voice. This is my favourite of the ten.
Sarah Smellie: Her brilliantly unsteady voice sings the most heartbreaking lyrics to a real headboppin’ beat, of all things. It works.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: “No More Singing” sounds like Doiron doing a boring impression of Regina Spektor doing a boring impression of Aimee Mann. Any more of a downer and this would read like Ron Sexsmith’s secret list of hopes and fears.
Feist – “Sealion”
From The Reminder
Rachel Jean Harding: Feist’s cover of the Nina Simone’s “See Line Woman” is one of the stranger songs I’ve ever heard. In one breakdown the riff goes from indie to rhythm and blues, with hints of gospel too.
Sarah Smellie: This is really well done. She somehow gets four completely different directions converging to one incredibly rockin’ point.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: I’d give this track more respect if Leslie Feist wasn’t crammed down my throat every time I turn on the radio. Ok, I get the joke: Nan likes it.
Junior Boys – “In The Morning”
From So This is Goodbye
Rachel Jean Harding: The refreshingly whispery electro duo have a keen ability to make subtle danceable music that stands apart from the rest.
Sarah Smellie: I love this song. It’s almost “hey baby” -handlebar-moustache cheesy, but it’s somehow bitingly clever and best-dance-song-ever-written instead.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: Synth hooks and dizzying 808 spitfires dance to a tune so charming it would actually make that dude from Phoenix quit burying his rocket in Sophia Coppola and take notice.
Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”
From Five Roses
Rachel Jean Harding: Promising shoegazer sounds created by keyboards and fuzzy guitar, fleshed out with programmed hand claps, and vocals that at times border on falsetto.
Sarah Smellie: This is the 2007 indie rock version of the Beach Boys. Which is not necessarily a bad thing…
Anshuman Iddamsetty: Unexpected pop melodies play dress-up in an indie rock period piece. Miracle Fortress is possibly the best Polaris nominee since 06’s Wolf Parade. Also: A killer joint for, uh, joints.
Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Fashionable People”
From Ashtray Rock
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Rachel Jean Harding: Reminds me of Tom Petty and John Mellencamp in his Cougar days. The hook is really strong, and the tune is well-written.
Sarah Smellie: Raffi for adults.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: By now, Plaskett’s figured out the innate mathematical formula for Haligonian power pop. A shame it was totally phoned in.
Chad VanGaalen – “Sing Me 2 Sleep”
Rachel Jean Harding: The humble vocal and guitar plucking opening of the song sounds familiar, but the recorder accompaniment later adds a unique touch.
Sarah Smellie: I hope he wins. He builds this dark, lonely song, capturing the innocence behind the “sing me to sleep” request with a recorder solo. He’s wonderful.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: Mission accomplished dude.
Patrick Watson – “Drifters”
From Close to Paradise
Rachel Jean Harding: A piano-driven piece that starts stripped-down, builds orchestrally, but manages to stay subtle and pretty.
Sarah Smellie: A soft, tinkling piano manages to carry the weight of about five seemingly disparate layers, all sewn nicely together by the vocals.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: This is the aural equivalent of BBC’s Planet Earth series of docs: a gorgeously arranged epic of gurgling ivories and ethereal voices. Watson might win this.
Arcade Fire – “No Cars Go”
(not on compilation)
From Neon Bible
Rachel Jean Harding: One of the most critically successful bands this country has ever produced. What can I say that hasn’t been said? I hear the real magic is in the live show.
Sarah Smellie: The brief part beginning at 2:59 in the song and ending at 3:13 is phenomenally good. Unfortunately, the rest of it is kinda lame.
Anshuman Iddamsetty: The sprawling indie juggernaut from Mons-treal is this close to eclipsing the sun. Fact.