Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Bright Lights

So it’s finally here – Polaris Music Prize Weekend! As the city, nay – the COUNTRY – gears up for what’s surely the biggest event in the Canadian cultural calendar with the always popular Polaris Parade, the Polaris Hot Dog Eating Contest, the Polaris Dirigible Race, the Polaris Ultimate Fighting Championship… there’s just too much to do!

Okay, that’s not really true at all. The ceremony is Monday night, and as a member of the grand jury I’m personally starting to get a little excited/antsy, but there’s really not much to do except show up and see what happens. I’ve been spending the last few months getting acquainted and re-acquainted with the ten nominated albums, and while I bet you think you know where my inclinations like, I can tell you you might be wrong. Or right. Or neither. Records that I previously liked have not fared as well under the critical assessment that this responsibility demands, and other records that I’d dismissed have revealed new facets of themselves that have definitely given me pause. And others are exactly what I thought they were in the first place. If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve said absolutely nothing of value in the past paragraph.

But the purpose of this post isn’t to get in my head – it’s a scary and boring place – but to offer up some interesting linkage to those who are playing Polaris-spotter on Monday night. Radio Free Canuckistan has spent the past week doing a fine job of analyzing and handicapping all the nominated albums, two per day. Check out his thoughts on Black Mountain and Basia Bulat, Caribou and Kathleen Edwards, Holy Fuck and Plants & Animals, Shad and Stars and Two Hours Traffic and The Weakerthans. He also offers up some worthy records that he thinks should have made the short list.

Chart rounded up half the nominees – Holy Fuck, Shad, The Weakerthans, Two Hours Traffic and Caribou – to ask them what it’s like to be nominated and what they’d do with the $20,000 prize. NOW covers a lot of the same ground. The London Free Press – and fellow Grand Jurist James Reaney – talks to hometown noms Basia Bulat and Shad, The Globe & Mail’s Robert Everett-Green (a member of last year’s Grand Jury) looks at how the process of picking a winner works (or is supposed to work), while Zoilus (2006 Grand Jurist) responds. And more 2006 Grand Jurists comment at the National Post and Edmonton Journal. Chart is trying to guess the winner. BrooklynVegan commentates.

If you’re interested to follow along with the ceremony in real time Monday night and listen to the performances from the nominees – and thus enjoy more of the show than I will, since I’ll be sequestered away in a little room – it’s being webcast on CBC Radio 3 starting at 7PM Eastern time. And if you’re curious about the little bits of art that make up today’s image, they come from the lovely posters that were created to honour each of the nominated records – you can see the full pieces at the Polaris website.

And, if you’ve forgotten, here’s the ten nominees.

Black Mountain / In The Future / MP3: “Tyrants”
Basia Bulat / Oh My Darling / MP3: “In The Night”
Caribou / Andorra / MP3: “Melody Day”
Kathleen Edwards / Asking For Flowers
Holy Fuck / LP / MP3: “Lovely Allen”
Plants & Animals / Parc Avenue
Shad / The Old Prince / MP3: “I Don’t Like To”
Stars / In Our Bedroom After The War / MP3: “The Night Starts Here”
Two Hours Traffic / Little Jabs / MP3: “Stuck For The Summer”
The Weakerthans / Reunion Tour / MP3: “Sun In An Empty Room”

So who’s your pick to win and why? If I like your reasoning, maybe I’ll just use that instead of my own.

By : Frank Yang at 9:18 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post8 Responses.
  1. Jim says:

    I put my two cents in here:

    I would love to know what happens in that little room on Monday night.

  2. brockmasterflex says:

    I’m thinking that this year the winner is going to be a band (unlike the last 2 winners Owen Pallet and Patrick Watson). I’ve got my money on Black Mountain.

  3. Jacko says:

    The Weakerthans should win. Hard-working band from the neglected city of Winnipeg, it would be only fair for them to reap the cash.

  4. Jacko says:

    And that song about bingo night is quintessentially Canadian.

  5. kb says:

    they just won a tonne of cash from the xm awards!

  6. mike says:

    re: what you said – "Records that I previously liked have not fared as well under the critical assessment that this responsibility demands, and other records that I’d dismissed have revealed new facets of themselves that have definitely given me pause."

    From that statement I read that you’d want to vote Basia Bulat or Two Hours Traffic on purely musical grounds(ie. musical tastes) but might end up voting for Shad. Am I close?

  7. Matt says:

    Personally, Id like to see plants and animals win. There material is experimental in nature but yet seems like theyve been playing it for years. Each song brings something new to the table and frankly after 3 months of solid listening I still cant get enough.

  8. Allan says:

    I think I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Go Shad!

    I really enjoyed the Two Hours Traffic record but like most, I guess it doesn’t fit the nature of the definition.

    Shad would be perfect for that. I think Plants and Animals is the boring pick. "Experimental" music that critics easily fall head over heels for.