Search Results - "2007 Polaris Music Prize Gala Phoenix Toronto September 24, 2007"
Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
Review of Dan Mangan’s Oh Fortune
Jonathan TaggartAs one of the most social media-savvy musicians in the country, it’s not unreasonable to say that Dan Mangan reads his own press and so he’s probably seen the phrases “everyman”, “coffee shop”, “roots-rock” and variants thereof in regards to his breakout 2009 record Nice, Nice, Very Nice many, many times. And while these descriptors were usually meant in most complimentary ways – one does’t make the Polaris shortlist on the back of negative press – his just-released follow-up Oh Fortune gives you the impression that he didn’t take those writeups as incentive to stay the course.
From the very first heavily-reverbed piano chords which open leadoff track “About As Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All” before giving way to strings, it’s clear that this record is built on a different game plan than its predecessor. Throughout, there’s plenty of elegantly orchestrated horns and woodwinds, but also feedbacking, layered, wall-of-noise guitars – often all side-by-side or on top of one another – and if that sounds like the complete opposite of what you’d have expected a Dan Mangan record to sound like, well I suspect that’s the point. This is not a record that can be pigeonholed as the work of a singer-songwriter or folkie; it’s brimming with full-on pop ambition and if Mangan had kept such lofty musical aspirations in check before, he’s certainly enjoying the artistic freedom that success engenders now.
But for all of that, as soon as the vocals come in it’s unmistakably a Dan Mangan record. Not having the most elastic voice becomes an pro rather than a con as it remains warm and comforting like a woollen blanket, delivering poignant and poetic lyrics that; another Mangan trademark still intact, if perhaps darker in tone this time out. And it’s Mangan’s voice and the words it carries that act as a sturdy, reliable centre amidst the swirling sonic proceedings; it’s as if between Very Nice and Fortune, Mangan was transplanted from the setting of a comfortable stool in his local into… well, it’s hard to say, exactly. The atmosphere of Fortune is consistent but difficult to pin down, also certainly part of the overarching strategy to head off preconceptions and expectations and forces the listener to consider the record on its own merits rather than what they figured a new Dan Mangan record would sound like.
It’s no small thing to shift gears or change lanes immediately after a breakthrough record; the temptation to stick to what worked – at least for the follow-up – must be immense, particularly when what worked was a time-tested, meat-and-potatoes sort of approach. So Mangan should be praised for going as conceptually far afield as he has on Oh Fortune without abandoning his core strengths and lauded for making it work so well. If it wasn’t clear from any of the above, Oh Fortune is an excellent record, expansive in scope yet efficiently delivered and both musically and lyrically rich. No, there’s nothing as immediate as “Robots” but in lieu of that degree of immediacy, you get songs that continue to reveal themselves over repeated listens. Oh Fortune confirms Mangan as one of this country’s best new songwriters and, as a bonus, forces those who’d seek to dismiss him as too conventional to find a new line of criticism. Maybe that he’s too tall. Because he’s pretty tall.
Southern Souls, The Vancouver Sun, The Winnipeg Free Press and Exclaim have interviews with Mangan and he chats with Rolling Stone about his just-released new video; there’s also
three four videos from a full-album performance Mangan gave at the CBC presently online, with more to come. His Fall tour brings him to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on October 28.
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune”
Video: Dan Mangan – “Rows Of Houses”
Video: Dan Mangan – “About as Helpful As You Can Be Without Being Any Help At All” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Rows Of Houses” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Post-War Blues” (live at CBC)
Video: Dan Mangan – “Oh Fortune” (live at CBC)
Stream: Dan Mangan / Oh Fortune
Also out this week is Ohbijou’s Metal Meets. Exclaim and Toro talk to bandleader Casey Mecija about making the new record. They play a release show at Trinity-St. Paul’s on September 30.
Boasting a similar album title and gracing this month’s Exclaim cover is Feist; Pitchfork also has an interview. Metals is out October 4 and she plays Massey Hall on December 1. Update: And now the album is available to stream if you sign up for her mailing list. Preview the album AND get emails from Leslie!
Stream: Feist / Metals
Canadian Interviews is playing host to a tour diary from Bruce Peninsula. Open Flames is out October 4 but streamable now at Exclaim – they also have an interview and review – and they play an in-store at Soundscapes that evening, then a proper show at Lee’s Palace on October 27.
Stream: Bruce Peninsula / Open Flames
Their record release show for Tosta Mista safely in the books, Hooded Fang have announced they’ll play a free show at the Sanderson Branch of the Toronto Public Library (Bathurst and Dundas West) on October 1 at 2PM. They’ve also put out a new animated video.
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Den Of Love”
Video: Hooded Fang – “Brahma”
Dev Hynes’ Blood Orange has been announced as support on the upcoming tour for CANT, the solo project from Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, as well as being part of his band, all of which means that he’ll be at The Garrison on October 21. And to mark it, a new MP3 from Coastal Grooves is available to grab courtesy of Stereogum.
MP3: Blood Orange – “Champagne Coast”
J Mascis will be in town on November 4 as part of the Sleepwalk Guitar Festival taking place at The Great Hall all that weekend and ex-Television guitarist Richard Lloyd leads off the Saturday night bill followed by The Sadies. And if you were wondering just how “ex” Lloyd was with respect to Tom Verlaine and Television, this exchange documented at The Daily Swarm seems to indicate that bridges are pretty well burned. Tickets for each evening show are $25, all-day and weekend passes also available.
MP3: J Mascis – “Is It Done”
MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”
English songwriting legend Ray Davies has made a date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for November 25 in support of last year’s See My Friends though it’s unlikely any of his big-name collaborators will be joining him for these shows. Tickets are $49.50 and $69.50 plus fees.
Video: The Kinks – “Waterloo Sunset” (live)
Young Galaxy have been added to the Austra show at The Phoenix on December 1, as well as the rest that tour. They’ve also released a new video from Shapeshifting, an animated sequel to the clip for “We have Everything”.
MP3: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
Video: Young Galaxy – “Peripheral Visionaries”
The War On Drugs are coming back to town, making a date for December 9 at The Horseshoe; tickets $13.50 in advance. The Washington Post and DCist have interviews and NPR a World Cafe session.
MP3: The War On Drugs – “Come To The City”
Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians and Said The Whale appear to be a winning combination as a second show has been added at The Phoenix for December 9, the one for the night before presumably just about sold out. Tickets are again $25 in advance.
MP3: Tokyo Police Club – “Party In The USA”
MP3: Born Ruffians – “Sole Brother”
MP3: Said The Whale – “Camilo (The Magician)”
Ryan Adams’ first show back in Toronto since Summer 2007 – he’s retired and come back out of retirement in the interim – will take place on December 10 at The Winter Garden Theatre; tickets are $45 plus fees, fan presale goes Thursday at 10AM and general onsale Friday, same time. His new record Ashes & Fire is out October 11; Exclaim takes a look back over his prolific career.
Video: Ryan Adams – “New York, New York”
Putting lie to my post in July when they announced it, The Radio Dept. have cancelled their entire Fall tour, which was to include a November 17 show at The Mod Club, “due to family related matters”. They hope to pick up again in 2012, perhaps even with some new material to share. Yeah, right.
Salon, Spinner, The Atlantic, Billboard, Paste, JAM, and aux.tv talk to Jeff Tweedy of Wilco while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks to Nels Cline and The Line Of Best Fit to Glenn Kotche. NYC Taper has a recording of their second of two Central Park shows available to download and CBC’s Q has a video studio session with the band.
Spinner talks to Ben Gibbard about the new Death Cab For Cutie video from Codes And Keys.
Video: Death Cab For Cutie – “Stay Young Go Dancing”
Filter, The National Post and NOW have features on Girls.
Spinner talks to The Drums, in town on October 1 with an in-store at Sonic Boom at 7PM and a show at The Mod Club a little later that evening.
Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
Those of you inclined to follow such things may have noted that the members of the Grand Jury for this year’s Polaris Music Prize was announced yesterday and you may also have noted that yours truly is there at the bottom of the list. I’m proud to be taking a great step towards respectability for fake media outlets and helping decide whom out of Black Mountain, Basia Bulat, Caribou, Kathleen Edwards, Holy Fuck, Plants & Animals, Shad, Stars, Two Hours Traffic and The Weakerthans will be taking home the giant cheque for $20,000.
You might think you know from my personal tastes how my vote is going to swing, but you might be surprised about where my thoughts are leading. For my ballot that went toward the long and short lists, I just went subjectively with the eligible albums I liked best but for the grand prize, I’m taking the more objective approach and considering the prize’s stated purpose of rewarding the record with the “highest artistic integrity”… and whatever that means, it’s not the same as “I like this one best”. I think. I’m not sure. Anyway, what this all means is that this year, since I’ll be locked in a dark, smoky room with ten others figuring out who gets to be this year’s Patrick Watson, I won’t get to sit in the balcony of the Phoenix with the cream of the Canadian music industry’s b-list (a-list gets tables down on the floor) and snap photos like last year.
But apparently you can – there’s a contest on to give away six passes to the Polaris Gala on September 29 in Toronto. The performers for the gala haven’t been announced yet but I can’t help but notice that Black Mountain, Holy Fuck and Two Hours Traffic all have local shows scheduled around the time of the festivities, while Stars and Kathleen Edwards are on the road and almost certainly no-shows. Either way, it’s a fun night and they have decent cheese and cracker platters in the cheap seats.
So what does this have to do with the handsome group of people in the photo up top? Nothing and everything. That up there is Calgary’s Woodpigeon, whom I first heard of from discussions in the Polaris jurors Google group as being a worthy nominee for last year’s list for their 2007 release Songbook. That prompted be to see their showcase at last year’s Pop Montreal, which I enjoyed quite a bit. And even though their set opening for Calexico back in June was even more impressive, I still wasn’t prepared for how revelatory their new record Treasury Library Canada is.
The first and prevailing impression is – “damn, this thing is pretty”. Listening to the record is like trying to carry on a conversation with an uncommonly attractive person – you want to listen to what they’re saying, to get to know them better, but you can’t help being distracted by just how good they look. Or in this case, sound. And when you finally do manage to pay proper attention, you discover they’re just as interesting, witty and/or charming as you could possibly hope… and you’re smitten.
Orchestral folk-pop at its core, Treasury is a remarkable achievement of songwriting, arrangement and performance. Built around bandleader Mark Hamilton’s soft vocals and stunning harmonies from almost everyone in the band, the eight-piece outfit strike a perfect balance of grandeur and intimacy, delight and melancholy. When things sound like they might get too twee, a well-placed bit of electric guitar toughens things up just enough. I don’t know if Canada really needs its own Sufjan Stevens, but in Woodpigeon we may just have found one – just as delicate but not nearly as precious. But what I do know is that if “7th Fret Over Andres” doesn’t break your heart, at least a little, then you don’t have one. Go see a doctor immediately.
Treasury Library Canada is being released independently by the band – an ambitious move to say the least, and one that I commend them on though I do worry a bit that this might keep the record from reaching as many ears as it deserves, which is to say all of them. They’re selling the album on their website digitally using the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, pay what you can model, digitally via Zunior with a bonus ten track album of rarities called Pixie Children Crying and for old schoolers like myself, as a physical CD though only in limited quantities. Fans of tactile objects, get a move on.
The band have also gained friends/fans in high places – in addition to opening for Calexico on their North American tour, they’ll also be joining them for a string of dates in the UK in September and also support Iron & Wine for a pair of Alberta shows in October. The Calgary Herald has an interview with head ‘Pigeon Mark Hamilton. And to bring it all back home, even though we’re just over two months into the eligibility period for NEXT year’s Polaris prize, Woodpigeon have already got the inside track to one of the spots on my ballot. And if their already in-progress next album Die Stadt Muzikanten, slated for early 2009 release, is anywhere near as good, maybe they’ll have two.
MP3: Woodpigeon – “Knock Knock”
MP3: Woodpigeon – “I Live A Lot Of Places”
Stream: Woodpigeon / Treasury Library Canada
It’s been out since May but I think I only just noticed that Basia Bulat has a 7″ out via Rough Trade featuring the Sam Cooke cover that’s been a staple of her live set, “Touch The Hem Of His Garment”, and on the b-side, an extended version of “Before I Knew” which you’ve probably also heard live.
There’s a new video from Mogwai’s forthcoming release(s) – The Hawk Is Howling, the new album out September 23, and the Batcat EP, out September 9 – that’s just all KINDS of unsettling. They’re at the Phoenix on September 24.
Video: Mogwai – “Batcat”
Pitchfork has, via Norwegian TV, a live performance from Okkervil River of a song on the forthcoming The Stand-Ins, out September 9. They’ll be at the Phoenix on October 12.
RCRDLBL has an exclusive first MP3 from The New Year, the new album from The New Year. They also have an interview with Bubba Kadane. The record is out September 9 and they play Lee’s Palace on October 15.
Thanks to Adam for the tip that Frightened Rabbit are finally coming to Toronto! The date is October 21, the venue is Lee’s Palace and the context is as support for The Spinto Band… I don’t know who that is. But Frightened Rabbit! Yeah!
Also newly announced – Yeasayer will be at the Horseshoe on October 25 and Dungen will be there on October 31. Full tour dates for each are available at Pitchfork and BrooklynVegan, respectively.
Opening up for Iron & Wine on their Toronto date at the Danforth Music Hall on November 13 will be Blitzen Trapper – those expecting a nice, quiet night are advised to show up a bit late. The Trapper dost get raucous. Full dates at Pitchfork. Blitzen Trapper’s new record Furr is out September 23.
MP3: Blitzen Trapper – “Furr”
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Well I certainly wasn’t expecting THAT outcome at the Polaris Music Prize gala last night.
A year after reaching into left field to declare Final Fantasy’s He Poos Clouds the winner of the inaugural prize, the grand jury reached even farther into left field to name Montreal’s Patrick Watson and his album Close To Paradise as Polaris champion for 2007. I’m actually not in a position to comment on whether Watson is a deserving winner or not because he was one of just two finalists whose work I am completely unfamiliar with – his two-song performance to open up the night’s ceremony was the first I’d heard of him and from that, I have to say I wasn’t especially overwhelmed.
Actually none of the performances had the same eye-opening effect that Final Fantasy’s did last year when you couldn’t help but wish that the grand jury could have seen him play as that would have settled all discussion right then and there. Which isn’t to say they weren’t good – they were all decent and made a case for why their albums had been nominated – but weren’t revelatory. The Besnard Lakes were certainly the loudest act and Julie Doiron the most jubilant – she seemed absolutely thrilled to be playing with her Eric’s Trip bandmates again. The Joel Plaskett Emergency delivered a raucous set and Chad VanGaalen opted not to play a selection from his nominated Skelliconnection but instead to unveil new material, including one song that sounded like he was channeling Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Miracle Fortress, who I was rooting for, closed the show out with a set that was in some ways better than the last time I saw them back in June but in other ways, still not nearly as tight or polished as the other performers. They did, however, have the best songs. Hands down. My hands, anyway.
The host for this year was Grant Lawrence from CBC Radio 3 and he was a huge improvement from Jian Ghomeshi last year. Simultaneously more succinct and still funnier, he kept things moving well though Ghomeshi still turned up to introduce The Besnard Lakes in monumentally long-winded fashion. Dave Bookman from CFNY was also a return presenter from 2006 and again proved he has no shame by singing an introduction for Julie Doiron to the tune of “California Girls” (he did the same thing for The New Pornographers last year, also cringe-worthy). But on the whole the evening went quickly and smoothly and was entertaining, even from the cheap seats (read: balcony) where I was again relegated. The production values of the event were far superior as well, with a much nicer and fancier stage setup at The Phoenix and – I think – better hors d’oeurves. Though we only got one drink ticket instead of two this time. Boo.
But back to Patrick Watson. After getting back from the ceremony, I’ve listened to the album (conveniently streaming at Spinner.com this week – link below – though as far as I can tell it’s already been released in the US) and am still at a loss as to how it was decided that this record was better than the other ten. Not to say that it’s bad at all, especially if you like the idea of hearing Jeff Buckley fronting a jazzier Coldplay, but I sincerely believe the Feist record or Five Roses from Watson’s labelmates in Miracle Fortress are far superior. But hey, I wasn’t in the grand jury room, I was in the balcony gnarfing down cheese and this is how it played out so congratulations to Watson, who was excited about the win because a) it allowed him to trash talk the Besnard Lakes (affectionately, I assume) and b) pay off a $16,000 bill they’d apparently just gotten for wrecking a rental van. So very rock. What was interesting was that the jury reached a decision far sooner than I expected – some predicted a hung jury, if possible, since no one could read any of the jurors’ particular biases. I guess they were all digging on Patrick Watson.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s Polaris as the 2007-2008 nomination period looks to have a lot of stellar releases that it’s going to be a challenge to have to sort out for my five picks, and not in the “I only own three qualifying albums” way that it’s been in the past. But that’s not till next May – let’s round up some other reactions to the win from Canadian Press (in which Pallett tackles the “they don’t need the money” elephant head on), Pitchfork, The Toronto Star and Drowned In Sound and I’ll add more response and reaction as the day creeps on and people shake off their after-party hangovers. Update: More from Stereogum, Radio Free Canuckistan (a fun, insider-y look at the event. Part two forthcoming), Zoilus, Chart, Macleans and Radio Free Canuckistan Pt 2. One of the grand jurors reports in to The Montreal Gazette.
Photos: 2007 Polaris Music Prize Gala @ The Phoenix – September 24, 2007
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Luscious Life”
MP3: Patrick Watson – “Giver”
MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “And You Lied To Me”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Flower Garden”
MP3: Chad Van Gaalen – “Graveyard”
MP3: Julie Doiron – “No More”
MP3: Miracle Fortress – “Have You Seen In Your Dreams”
Video: Patrick Watson – “Close To Paradise” (YouTube)
Video: The Besnard Lakes – “For Agent 13″ (YouTube)
Video: The Joel Plaskett Emergency – “Fashionable People” (YouTube)
Video: Chad Van Gaalen – “Flower Gardens” (YouTube)
Video: Julie Doiron – “Me And My Friend” (MOV)
Video: Julie Doiron – “No More” (youTube)
Video: Julie Doiron – “Swan Pond” (MOV)
Stream: Patrick Watson / Close To Paradise
MySpace: Patrick Watson
MySpace: The Besnard Lakes
MySpace: The Joel Plaskett Emergency
MySpace: Chad VavGaalen
MySpace: Julie Doiron
Some Polaris-related odds and ends – Bootlog is sharing a Miracle Fortress performance in Kingston a couple weeks ago and Joel Plaskett will play a series of shows at the Horseshoe from December 10 through 13 to celebrate the venerable venue’s 60th anniversary. Each night he’ll be playing one of his albums in its entirety, except not Ashtray Rock as that will henceforth be known as the LOSING record and never be spoken of again.
And completely un-Polaris related, check out one of the songs from British Sea Power’s forthcoming Krackenhaus? EP, out digitally October 9 and in plastic November 20. It’s terrific.
MP3: British Sea Power – “Atom”
Friday, August 31st, 2007
If there was such a thing as the sound of a bird made of honey, it would sound like Jenn Grant. The Haligonian songstress, who I first discovered way back last December, released her debut album Orchestra For The Moon in May and while most everyone I know who’s heard her has been beguiled, the numbers that seems to amount to are far less than she deserves.
Possessed of a marvelous voice that’s sweet, supple and dexterous, Grant has crafted a record that deftly combines pop, folk, jazz and country styles into something that could easily fit into any of those genres yet resists such pigeonholing. But what isn’t up for debate is that Orchestra is a terrific showcase for both Grant’s vocal and songwriting talents that goes down real nice and easy – and therein lies my only complaint, and it’s a minor one. Orchestra is so smooth that it can make one yearn for just a little bit of grit or earthiness. Grant sounds like she’s gliding through the whole record and it might be nice to have her touch the ground now and again, get her feet dirty a bit. The way the best angels do.
Grant has been through town innumerable times since that show at the Drake in December and I’ve, sadly, missed them all – and I’ll probably miss the next one when she plays the El Mocambo this Wednesday, September 5 opening for The Veils, here all the way from Australia. After that, her next date is at the Phoenix on November 8, opening for The Weakerthans. Tickets for that show are $25 and go on sale next Saturday, September 8.
MP3: Jenn Grant – “Dreamer”
Video: Jenn Grant – “Dreamer” (YouTube)
MySpace: Jenn Grant
And if you’re not familiar with The Veils, here’s a single and video from their current album Nux Vormica.
MP3: The Veils – “Advice For Young Mothers To Be”
Video: The Veils – “Advice For Young Mothers To Be” (YouTube)
And if that’s not your speed but you’re still looking for something to do next Wednesday, The Bruce Peninsula, who so impressed at Dog Day Afternoon a few weekends ago, have a show at the Tranzac along with Tusks and Snailhouse. eye has an interview with head Bruce Peninsulan Neil Haverty while NOW talks Tusks.
Nicole Atkins & The Sea’s debut full-length Neptune City finally has a release date of October 30 and she’ll be celebrating that night with David Letterman. She’s at Lee’s Palace two weeks prior on October 14 with The Raveonettes. Thanks to For The Records for the info.
NOW five questions Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult, opening up for Land Of Talk at the El Mocambo on Tuesday. The Boston Globe and The Portland Mercury also have interviews.
John Vanderslice’s October 1 show has undergone a change of venue and picked up some support acts. It will now go down at the El Mocambo and feature Two Gallants and Blitzen Trapper. Horseshoe tickets will be honoured at the ElMo.
Also October 1 – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Kool Haus. Tickets $24.50, on sale this morning.
Good news – Patrick Wolf returns to Toronto for a show at Lee’s Palace on October 6. Bad news – I’m in Montreal. Well, bad news for me. Everything else is good news. Tickets are $17.50 and go on sale Saturday.
Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova – aka “the guy” and “the girl” from Once – bring the musical component of that film, The Swell Season, to the Danforth Music Hall on November 23. Hopefully the DVD will be out sometime around then as well – I still have to see it. Tickets are $28.50, on sale September 6.
Longwave, who I’m rather pleasantly surprised to see are still active, will be supporting Robbers On High Street at the Horseshoe on September 24.
Chart has details on the gala ceremony for this year’s Polaris Music Prize. It’s happening September 24 at the Phoenix, is invite-only (sorry) and will feature performances from half the nominees, namely Miracle Fortress, Julie Doiron (in Eric’s Trip band configuration), Patrick Watson, Joel Plaskett and Chad Van Gaalen. And in regards to the Arcade Fire kerfuffle reported on earlier this week, apparently the band did eventually give permission for a song to be used on the Polaris compilation CD but the disc was already at the manufacturers by the time they did so.
Harp gets acquainted with Fionn Regan, in town on September 26 with a show at the Horseshoe.
Will Sheff of Okkervil River insists to The Arizona Daily Star that that’s his natural hair colour. Also check out Down The Oubliette, a new fansite for the band dedicated to cataloguing facts, figures and trivia about the band. Okkervil plays Lee’s Palace on September 21.
Matt Berninger tells The Washington Post the story of The National. They’re at the Phoenix on October 8.
Metro Pulse confers with Jason Isbell.
Spinner interviews Bjork. She headlines day one of V Fest next Saturday.
Friday, June 8th, 2007
So right now everything is all NxNE but there’s another Canadian industry type thingie going on right now with initial nominations for the 2007 Polaris Music Prize wrapping up this evening. Music writers from across the country are nominating their five best Canadian albums from the past year (June 06 to May 07) and the results will be distilled into a 10-record shortlist to be announced July 10 and the final winner to be announced at a gala on September 24.
I got caught a bit flat-footed last year, realizing when I went to compile my list that I actually had very few qualifying Canadian albums in my collection (my favourite releases were mostly EPs which aren’t eligible) so I swore that for 2007, I’d have a much deeper pool of Cancon that I’d be familiar enough with to choose from. Well, it’s a funny thing about plans… I definitely listened to more Canadian music this past year, both because I made and effort and because a lot of what came out was too good to pass by regardless of country of origin, but when I sat down to assemble my list, I was again left a bit more frustrated than I’d expected. Land Of Talk won’t be releasing their full-length until the Fall at earliest. Same for The Acorn, though if they’d put out Blankets! and Tin Fist as a single release instead of two EPs they’d be a slam dunk nomination. And Basia Bulat’s Oh My Darling, though out in Europe, still doesn’t have a Canadian release and is thus ineligible. Grr.
But even so, my biggest problems were trying to decide which records to exclude rather than trying to find enough records I could get behind to fill out my five (as was the case last year). Particularly difficult was trying to rank them in order of preference, something I generally abhor when compiling lists. But it had to be done and when the dust settled, this is what went into the Polaris Music Prize supercomputers for crunching:
1. Ohbijou / Swift Feet For Troubling Times
2. Feist / The Reminder
3. Great Lake Swimmers / Ongiara
4. Arcade Fire / Neon Bible
5. The Besnard Lakes / Are The Dark Horse
A list that I can happily put my name on, I think. The Ohbijou might seem like a bit of a dark horse number one (no matter what the Besnard Lakes might think) but I can’t think of a Canadian band and record that has come out of nowhere (in my world anyway) to so utterly beguile me more in the past 12 months. The Feist record, though I haven’t done a formal review (and may not because really, do we need more?), has been an entirely satisfying follow-up to Let It Die, a record that set the bar pretty damn high to begin with. The same can be said for the Great Lake Swimmers record, which I expected to be superb and which mostly is. The Arcade Fire I went back and forth on a bit, admittedly with part of the thought process being “do I really need to nominate such an obvious record?” – a no no criteria as far as the official rules go, by the by – but after giving it another listen the other day, it couldn’t be denied that it’s really a very good record. And finally, the Besnard Lakes has been a real grower since I got a copy months ago but like the Arcade Fire, I sat down and gave it a real critical listen this week and yeah. Another really good record.
For the media content of this post, some MP3s and videos from the my nominees.
MP3: Ohbijou – “Misty Eyes”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Steep”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “I Am A Part Of A Large Family”
MP3: Arcade Fire – “Black Mirror”
MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “And You Lied To Me”
Video: Ohbijou – “The Woods” (YouTube)
Video: Feist – “My Moon My Man” (YouTube)
Video: Feist – “1 2 3 4″ (YouTube)
Video: Great Lake Swimmers – “Back Stage With The Modern Dancers” (YouTube)
Paste, The Washington Post and The Hartford Courant talk to Feist. Spinner also has video from a session she performed for their DL program.
The New York Daily News has an interview with Great Lake Swimmers’ Tony Dekker. NPR will be broadcasting a Swimmers’ show from Philadelphia live at noon today.
The Denver Post has a pretty extensive interview with Land Of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell.
Paste declares Miracle Fortress, whose Five Roses nearly made my top five, their band of the week. Maybe I’ll regret passing it by in a few months – we’ll see. Miracle Fortress is at the Whippersnapper Gallery on June 23.
Hillside has released a list of around 50 bands who will be performing at the festival this year, scheduled for July 27 through 29 in Guelph. While the big names in the lineup were rather underwhelming, the rest of the lineup is – as expected – very solid.
Pitchfork offers up some details on the forthcoming solo record from Broken Social svengali Kevin Drew – it bears the unbearably but unsurprisingly precious title of Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew, “Spirit If…”, and a release date of September 18.
Harp talks to Leonard Cohen about his current projects, namely working on the new album from girlfriend Anjani and reissuing expanded editions of his first three albums. He’s expecting to release a new album of his own later this year.
The Guardian talks to Emily Haines. She’s at Harbourfront Centre July 25.
Torontoist wraps up their NxNE previews by offering their picks for Saturday night.
And not Can-rock related at all but worth mentioning – Spoon is coming to town in support of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga with a show at the Phoenix on October 15. Tickets will be $21.50. The album is out July 10 and you can check out the first MP3 from it below. Also note that early pressings of the CD will come with a 12-track, 22-minute bonus disc of this and that called Get Nice! – more details at Pitchfork.
MP3: Spoon – “The Underdog”
And also unrelated – my photos from Venice, Italy. A man, a plan, a whole crapload of canals.