Monday, September 24, 2012

NORTHERN EXPOSURE: The Polaris Prize Predictions

So here we are, today is one of the biggest days in Canadian music. The day that The Polaris Music Prize is awarded. This article is going to be pretty simple, I’m just going to go through all of the shortlisted albums and give my opinion of them along with what I think the chances are of the album winning. So without further ado, here we go (in alphabetical order).

Cadence Weapon - Hope In Dirt City
Rollie Pemberton A.K.A. Cadence Weapon’s latest album is again another solid release from the Edmonton MC. I think it’s an all around solid release, Rollie has his moments of cleverness like on the track “Hype Man” and the production is consistent on the whole. The problem is that I’m not really ever wowed by Hope In Dirt City. For that reason I don’t think it will win. There is the off chance that the jury might decide this is the year to finally award the prize to a hip-hop album but I highly doubt it.

Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
This is an album that grew on me throughout repeated listens. Al Spx’s Cold Specks project’s debut album is a dark, brooding, but at the same time uplifting affair. But perhaps the most stunning part of this album is Spx’s voice. Her deep croon is unlike most female singers, including any that are on the shortlist. I think she’ll be in tough competition but will have an outside chance at winning the prize. It’s possible that she could fall in behind Grimes if the prize goes to a female artist.

Drake - Take Care
This is probably the most interesting album on the shortlist because of how popular it is. Historically the prize has gone to acts that weren't really in the eye of mainstream culture until last year when Arcade Fire won. There was a small backlash from people who thought Arcade Fire was “too popular” to win, so if Drake were to win that backlash would probably be off the charts. That said, I don’t think Drake should win. Take Care has it’s share of highlights but over it’s (too long) 80 minutes there ends up being more middling material than great material. I think if some tracks were left off Take Care it would have been a way better album.

Kathleen Edwards - Voyageur
This is another album that grew on me, but not really enough for me to consider it worthy of winning the prize. Voyageur features a lot of great melodies and just plain good songwriting. I also came to love the instrumentation. It’s pretty obvious that Justin Vernon had an influence on this album (he produced Voyageur). Even though this is a good album, I still feel like it’s a bit too plain to be a winner. I think winning albums should be adventurous and I feel like Voyageur really sticks to a familiar formula. So although it’s nice, there is nothing very unique about it.

Feist - Metals
Feist’s name carries a lot of weight in Canadian music and I don’t really feel like Metals lives up to the reputation that she has built. Honestly, Metals is kind of boring to me. I don’t really hear much on Metals in the way of hooks or melodies and the instrumentation feels a little bit bare to me. I can’t help but think that Metals is on the shortlist because of Feist’s name more than anything. I don’t think there is much of a chance of her winning when a similar artist like Cold Specks produced what I think is a better record.

Fucked Up - David Comes To Life
Fucked Up are the only previous Polaris winners on this year's shortlist and I think they have a pretty good chance of become the first ever two-time winners. I think David Comes To Life is probably the most ambitious album on this year's shortlist because of the album long storyline and the bombastic and overall uplifting songs. It’s an 80 minute album that actually warrants an 80 minute running time (unlike Take Care). Since Fucked Up are already in the good graces of the people involved in the prize there is a decent chance they they could win, but their previous victory could work against them.

Grimes - Visions
If I have to be blunt about it, I’ll say that I really, really dislike this album. Almost every song on Visions meanders without really going anywhere and the album overall just sounds very cheap. Even though I think that, Grimes might be the front runner. It’s impossible to ignore the hype and buzz that she’s gotten around the internet is 2012. There isn’t any denying that critics seem to love her. If I was betting I’d probably begrudgingly put my money on Grimes.

Handsome Furs - Sound Kapital
This album is unique because Handsome Furs actually aren’t even together anymore. I’m not sure if that might get them some sympathy points with the jury, but I doubt it will make much of a difference because they probably wouldn’t win anyway. Sound Kaptial is a likeable dance tinged rocker but to me it lacks a lot of the cold and rigid intensity that made me love their first two albums so much. It would be really interesting to see Handsome Furs win though, I’m willing to be it would be one of the only times that a broken up band won a major music prize.

Japandroids - Celebration Rock
What Japandroids produce is balls to the wall, non-stop rock music. Even though their alcohol soaked summer youth anthems can seem a little bit childish, they’re delivered with so much energy that I couldn’t really care. I’d say this duo has an outside chance of winning the prize but in the rock album category I think they’ll end up falling behind Fucked Up. That being said, Celebration Rock was almost unanimously heralded among critics and since it came out in so close to the deadline for the prize the buzz from Celebration Rock should still be fresh in peoples minds.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan - YT//ST
This is the album I think deserves to win. It blends so many different genres from quirky J-pop to harsh and heavy metal. They created something that is totally unique which is exactly what I think the prize should be awarded for. They’re probably the most unkown band on the shortlist which could bode well for them after the (the extremely well known) Arcade Fire’s win last year. I think they have a decent shot of winning too. Maybe my perceptions are distorted because I love the album so much but jurors shouldn’t be able to deny that Yamantaka // Sonic Titan are doing something that no other bands on the shortlist are.

So there you have it, agree or disagree with me? Then let me know in the comments or you can reach me on twitter @Mark__Gillis. If you want to watch the gala you can watch the livestream tonight over at MuchMusic or you can listen to the gala over at CBC Radio 3. It all gets underway at 8PM.

No comments:

Post a Comment