The best Canadian album of the last 12 months could come courtesy an Edmontonian who used to write for Pitchfork or a guy previously known as Wheelchair Jimmy.
The Polaris Music Prize announced its Short List for 2012, Tuesday afternoon in Toronto, and records by Cadence Weapon, Cold Specks, Drake, Kathleen Edwards, Feist, F*cked Up, Grimes, Handsome Furs, Japandroids and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan make up the 10 nominated discs, each meant to represent the best in Canadian music, on the basis of artistic merit alone.
But before the winner is decided by the Polaris Grand Jury September 24, nominees reflected on what it means to be included on the Short List.
This yearâs honourees may be a diverse lot -- though thatâs not necessarily an anomaly in the prizeâs seven-year history. The list includes past winners (F*cked Up), pop superstars (Drake) and experimentalists whoâve invented their own genre (âNoh-waveâ act Yamantaka//Sonic Titan), but as Short Lister Kathleen Edwards tells Dose.ca, when she learned she was nominated, she suddenly felt very at home. (The fact the Drake Hotel loudspeakers were blaring a track from her Polaris-nominated disc when we found her, probably helped.)
âYou know, I spent a lot of my last year and half away,â says Edwards, whoâs made the Short List with an album she recorded between Toronto and Wisconsin, home of producer Justin Vernon (Bon Iver).
The same day she was asked to attend the announcement, the Ottawa native says she went to a concert in Toronto.
âI looked around and realized I am part of a community here,â she says -- a feeling that extended to the scene around her at the Polaris event. âI know a lot of people in the room and theyâre people who helped me with where Iâm going.â
âYou really respect the other bands youâre up against,â says Josh Zucker of short listed group F*cked Up, explaining why a Polaris nomination has him âthrilled.â The Toronto actâs hardcore opera David Comes to Life marks their second time on the Short List; they took home the Polaris Prize in 2009.
âIt seems like a diverse list, and some adventurous picks, which is, I think what Polaris is known for,â adds Zuckerâs bandmate Mike Haliechuk, and the musicians say their whole band was making predictions pre-reveal.
One artist they were shocked to see omitted: âWe both picked Dan Mangan, just because heâs been slaughtering us all year at awards shows,â says Haliechuk, deadpan. âTake that, Dan Mangan!â
Just kidding -- as if missing out on the prize money that comes along with a Short List nomination wasnât enough of a burn. Nominees receive $2,000 courtesy prize sponsor Slaight Music, but the winner will be awarded $30,000, presented in oversized cheque-form the night of the Polaris Gala.
Yamantaka // Sonic Titanâs John Ancheta and Ange Loft are âfeeling really excitedâ about their nomination, but if they win, they already know what theyâd do with the prize money.
âFirst of all, weâd get a big van,â says Loft. Investment No. 2 should be apparent when you consider the Montreal troupeâs summer plans involve mounting a performance art production called 33 for Pop Montreal -- an endeavour Loft describes as âsort of a drag opera in our Noh-Wave style.â
âThe vanâs the priority,â says Loft, âand then weâll invest a lot of money in costumes.â
The winner of the 2012 Polaris Music Prize will be named Monday, Sept. 24 in a gala event. A televised special of the evening will air Sunday, Sept. 29 on MuchMusic at 10 p.m. ET. Before then, everyone -- the nominees included -- may have a lot of listening to do.
âThe best part of the Polaris Short List is it makes you want to listen to records you didnât know you wanted to listen to,â says Edwards, who admits sheâs unfamiliar with much of this yearâs nominated albums And if anyone tells you otherwise, she jokes, âtheyâre full of sh*t.â
Your 2012 Polaris Music Prize Short List is:
Cadence Weapon â Hope In Dirt City
Cold Specks â I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Drake â Take Care
Kathleen Edwards â Voyageur
Feist â Metals
Fucked Up â David Comes To Life
Grimes â Visions
Handsome Furs â Sound Kapital
Japandroids â Celebration Rock
YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN â YT//ST