Polaris picks 2010, first ballot

My first year as a juror
My first ballot for the Polaris Music Prize is due today. After much deliberation, here are the five albums I’m going with.

This list covers a fairly wide cross-section of Canadian music. Four provinces are represented. I’ve got fuzz pop, folk, jangle punk and dance music. There are albums that sound like they were crafted painstakingly in the studio and albums that sound like shit. That’s Canada for you, I guess.

1. Little GirlsConcepts

Many DIY musicians have cranked the fuzz and reverb on their laptop recordings over the past couple of years, but no one has managed to make it sound creepier than Toronto’s Josh McIntyre, aka Little Girls. His gothic surf jams aren’t instrumentals, but the buried, distorted vocals mean that they might as well be.

MP3: “Youth Tunes”

minibar2. Apollo GhostsMount Benson

The word “funnest” isn’t actually a word, but in the context of Apollo Ghosts, it is. This album is the funnest. The band is still relatively unknown outside of Vancouver, so I can’t imagine that this album will make it onto the long list, but it’s not for lack of talent. Tour, you guys! You could be huge!

MP3: “Things You Go Through”

minibar3. Holy FuckLatin

Sonically, this album is fantastic. It’s got thundering fuzz bass and bludgeoning beats (see: “SHT MTN” or “P.I.G.S.”), but there’s also real beauty and texture—just listen to the synth lines in “Stilettos” or the piano chords in “Latin America.”

MP3: “Latin America”

minibar4. Daniel, Fred & JulieDaniel, Fred & Julie

Authenticity is the name of the game here. Cars drive past, children yell, fingers scrape against strings and guitars fall ever so slightly out of tune as Daniel Romano, Fred Squire and Julie Doiron harmonize beautifully on a selection of traditional folk songs. Initially, I didn’t think an album made up mostly of covers would be a Polaris contender. I was wrong.

MP3: “The Gambler and His Bride”

minibar5. The Besnard LakesThe Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night

The Besnard Lakes were the dark horse (LOL) of my list. My number five spot changed many times over the past few weeks, but this was an album that I kept coming back to. There are plenty of shoegaze and prog influences here, but it’s the glimmers of ’90s rock that always seem to catch my ear. Can’t you just imagine Alice in Chains singing the hook from “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt. 2: The Innocent”?

MP3: “Albatross”
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2 Trackbacks

  1. By Sing it with love on June 23, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    [...] it with love June 23, 2010 The Polaris Long List was announced last week and three of my first ballot picks made the cut (which is at least one better than I expected). I’ve spent the past few days [...]

  2. By Polaris picks, round two on June 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    [...] ballot for the Polaris Music Prize is due tonight at midnight. Three of my five picks from the first ballot made it through to the Long List, so I only needed to choose two more albums. This time around [...]

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