THE 2015 POLARIS MUSIC PRIZE of 40 albums, announced in Halifax yesterday, includes 18 returning and 22 new nominees and barely a smattering of anyone heard outside of campus or CBC Radio.
But that’s the idea, right? Promoting the best of the best, unearthing the gems that everyone but a small number of musicologists and ear-worn music pundits have missed out on.
Among the titles vying for a $50,000 grand prize — a various artists collection of Native North America Aboriginal folk, rock and country songs recorded between 1966 and 1985; veteran garage folkster BA Johnston’s bizarrely titled Shit Sucks song collection; Alberta post-punk band Viet Cong’s self-titled debut; and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late by Drake.
Godspeed You Black Emperor elected not to participate in this year’s annual after churlishly declining and then accepting the grand prize in 2013, and the 200+ strong jurists elected to give the heave-ho to previous contenders such as Ron Sexsmith, Stars, Dan Mangan, and Great Lake Swimmers this time round.
Returning winners include Patrick Watson and Caribou, who won in ‘07 and ‘08 respectively, as well as artists who have won as members of bands: Young Guv (in Fucked Up in '09), Louis-Jean Cormier (Karkwa, 2010), and Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire, 2011).
In amongst the list, there are some remarkable recordings living quiet lives, heard occasionally on the aforementioned radio outlets and on a few of the Galaxie Music channels — recordings such as The Weather Station, linked below.
And this year’s nominees are:
Absolutely Free – Absolutely Free
The Acorn – Vieux Loup
Lydia Ainsworth – Right from Real
Alvvays – Alvvays
Arkells – High Noon
Rich Aucoin – Ephemeral
BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
Bahamas – Bahamas Is Afie
The Barr Brothers – Sleeping Operator
Braids – Deep In The Iris
Steph Cameron – Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady
Caribou – Our Love
Jazz Cartier – Marauding In Paradise
Jennifer Castle – Pink City
Cold Specks – Neuroplasticity
Louis-Jean Cormier – Les grandes artères
Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Frazey Ford – Indian Ocean
Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon
BA Johnston – Shit Sucks
Pierre Kwenders – Le dernier empereur Bantou
Lee Harvey Osmond – Beautiful Scars
Jean Leloup – À Paradis City
METZ – II
Milk & Bone – Little Mourning
Tre Mission – Stigmata
The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
Joel Plaskett – The Park Avenue Sobriety Test
Buffy Sainte-Marie – Power in The Blood
Elizabeth Shepherd – The Signal
Siskiyou – Nervous
Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld – Never were the way she was
Various Artists – Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, And Country 1966–1985
Viet Cong – Viet Cong
Patrick Watson – Love Songs For Robots
The Weather Station – Loyalty
White Lung – Deep Fantasy
Whitehorse – Leave No Bridge Unburned
Young Guv – Ripe 4 Luv
In total 197 titles made the first ballots of the 196 member jury.
The 10 album Short List will be announced on July 16 at The Carlu in Toronto. The Polaris Gala will be held at the same venue n September 21 and will be broadcast live by AUX TV.