The 2010 Polaris Short List

About a month after releasing the long list, the people at the Polaris Music Prize have announced the short list of the ten albums in contention for the $20,000 prize. The award is annually given to the "best full-length Canadian album based on artistic merit, regardless of genre, sales, or record label" and any album (more than 30 minutes/8 tracks long) out from June 1st 2009 to May 31 2010 is eligible. Past winners are Final Fantasy, He Poos Clouds (2006) Patrick Watson, Close to Paradise (2007) Caribou, Andorra (2008) Fucked Up, The Chemistry of Common Life (2009)
The winner will be announced at a gala on September 20th.

So let's see how this year stacks up, shall we? Here they are, in a vague order of the ones I want to win least to most, with some comments by me. Mostly just snap-judgments, so I may revisit this post closer to the date when I have more time to digest the list and listen more to the albums in question.

Sainthood by Tegan & Sera
I fully admit, I was disappointed when this one was announced. I have never been a fan of Tegan & Sera. I don't find anything remarkable about them, and I think there are many other artists on the list that are more deserving. They're not bad, just... bland.

TSOL by Shad
One day soon I am going to get around to listening to this album; I have it sitting next to me, on my desk. I've never really gotten into his music that much. He is certainly talented, but I guess just not my thing. Perhaps that will change after giving the album a spin, but for now this is low my want-to-win list. Which, given the Polaris track record, means it will win this year.

Belmundo Regal by Radio Radio
There are a few albums on the list that I am woefully unfamiliar with, and Radio Radio is one of them. What little I have heard of them, I have been on the fence about, but I'll have to listen to the full album before forming a better opinion.

Darker Circles by The Sadies
Another one I am not as familiar with as I should be. Again, I have nothing against them, and I have been meaning to pick up the album based on the few songs I've heard, and word of mouth.

The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night by The Besnard Lakes
This is a band that I should like. In theory. They are good, for sure, but for whatever reason, I have just never gotten in to them. Nothing has ever jumped out at me. Maybe I just need to listen to them more. I guess I am completely neutral about this pick. There are better albums on the list, but there are worse.

Swim by Caribou
One of two previous winners to make the list again. There has been chatter of saying that if a band has one once before, they should not be able to qualify. But that is crazy talk. Imagine if any other award did that. Anyway, the album itself is really well done, and while I don't think that Caribou will repeat, I wouldn't be too disappointed if they do.

Heartland by Owen Pallett
The second of the previous-winners, and one of my top picks. Though, as brilliant as it is, the one thing that nagged me about the album that it was a lot what you'd expect from an Owen Pallett album. Nothing too out of left field. That being said, still amazingly good and deserving to win.

Forgiveness Rock Record by Broken Social Scene
No surprise here. They were not just nominated for their name, but because this was a fantastic album. Too soon, perhaps, to say better than their others, but definitely worthy of the seemingly endless praise BSS seems to get. I will be more than happy if this one wins.

Nice, Nice, Very Nice by Dan Mangan
One of my hopeful picks from the start, Dan has had a stellar year since the album came out. I don't think anyone was surprised by this, and I don't think anyone will be surprised if he wins. Some naysayers claim he's "just a singer/songwriter" and nothing innovative. Well I say it doesn't have to be innovative to be brilliant, and that they are missing the raw emotion Dam pours into his music.

Les chemins de verre by Karkwa
Yes, yes, yes! I have been rooting for Karkwa since before the long list was even posted. I was thrilled when they made that, and for some reason did not think they would ever make the long list. This is one of my favourite albums of the year, Canadian or not, and I am really, really hoping they win it -- even though my Polaris track record has been abysmal for the last four years.

The last four on the list there were in my hopeful top ten, and here are the rest that did not make it were: Mt Chimaera by Brasstronaut; Rat A Tat Tat by Jason Collett; Together by The New Pornographers; This Is Good by Hannah Georgas; Say Us by Zeus; Pink Strat by Bahamas.