Français

2011 Winner & Nominees
The 2011 Polaris Music Prize Winner - Arcade Fire

Artist: Arcade Fire
Album: The Suburbs
Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

For Arcade Fire, overreaching has always seemed less a critical flaw than a mission statement. From the audacious anthems of "Funeral" to the shimmering, simmering "Neon Bible," everything seemed to be spiralling skyward: the band's lofty ambition, its ever-earnest emotionalism and its grandiose sonic swoon. And then "The Suburbs" came out, and Arcade Fire proved that a bit of restraint couldn't dull their visceral wallop. Here, Win Butler's quivering warble turns resolute, while the almighty catharses of "Funeral" are sacrificed for a roiling slow burn that, make no mistake, maintains the old fire.

Meanwhile, Butler explores familiar lyrical themes — community, alienation, childhood — through the prism of suburbia, with a voice that’s as empathetic as emphatic. So, an album that delves into the uneasy transition into adulthood actually proves the elegance of Arcade Fire’s own maturation. At last, it seems there's nothing that lies outside this band's considerable grasp.

Nick Patch, Canadian Press

Listen on Rdio    


The 2011 Polaris Music Prize Short List Nominees

Artist: Austra
Album: Feel It Break
Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

While the majority of musicians choose to seek the light in darkness, Toronto-based band Austra seem to embrace all that is ominous. The trio—consisting of lead singer Katie Stelmanis, drummer Maya Postepski and bassist Dorian Wolf—have conjured an eleven-track electronic masterpiece that shakes hands with fear and mortality. Feel It Break awakens something familiar in the listener, something that has been kept secret, drugged and bound within our souls for what feels like centuries. Seductive, carnal, haunting and dramatic, the record combines Stelmanis’ operatic voice with spectral beats and delirious lyrics: “I don’t know what’s real / From the noise, the noise,” Stelmanis cries on “The Noise.” But along with each chilling glimpse in the looking glass comes freedom. Feel It Break’s throbbing synth rhythms and hypnotizing bass lines allow listeners to lose themselves, physically and mentally, on the dance floor. There’s something oddly satisfying about being consumed by the darkness, and by every beat and pulse.

Amanda Ash, Freelance Journalist

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: Braids
Album: Native Speaker
Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Assured is not an age-specific trait. It is not earned. It doesn’t come through the passage of time. It just is. And the debut album from fresh-faced Calgary-born, Montreal-based Braids is just that. A gloriously, shambolic seaspray of melodic pop — as new as it is and as young as they are, Native Speaker announces a collective that’s certain of its direction, comfortable in its sound and of one confident voice. And that voice really is a thing of beauty, a Lolita luring you in to get lost in the folds of sweet instrumentation and nasty orchestration, which, put in the same coyly smiling package, makes mid-’80s 4AD acts shuffle into mind and then shamefully off this mortal coil. Returns and repeats reveal even more and beg for more. As do the Braids, themselves. For if this is the result of a first time out, the charms of a second can only hold that much more appeal. Of that you can be assured.

Mike Bell, Calgary Herald

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: Destroyer
Album: Kaputt
Links: Website | YouTube

Vancouver's Dan Bejar has been torquing popular music through Custom-built irony engines ever since he took on the mock-grandiose moniker Destroyer, making bedroom tapes in the early 1990s. Through eight albums of brilliantly baffling lyrics and melodic bait-and-switches (plus his work with the New Pornographers and Swan Lake) Destroyer's music was not designed (to swipe the Roxy Music title) for your pleasure. It said, with Marx, "The point is to change it." But Kaputt radically revises Destroyer's position on musical beauty. Its shamelessly sensuous, near-kitsch grooves replicate the pop-radio timbres of Bejar's youth (Quiet Storm R&B, new-wave synth-pop), with horn sections and soulful backup vocals. His own singing has gained a laidback boudoir roguishness, slipping between your ears as easily as the sheets. A fist wrapped in a velvet-fog glove, Kaputt's every beat insinuates a deep emotional truth - that people suffer for their pleasures and pleasure in their suffering. It says, with Slavoj Zizek, "Enjoy your symptom." A tour-de-force of precision-tooled, self-dismantling craftsmanship, Kaputt is an album with few precedents. But it will have many progeny.

Carl Wilson, Globe and Mail

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: Galaxie
Album: Tigre et diesel
Links: Website | Facebook | YouTube

There's an empty bottle of bourbon sitting between Littlefeat's Lowell George and Galaxie's Olivier Langevin on an imagined Edward Hopper painting commissioned by Polaris to celebrate attitude and Rock n'Roll. Littlefeat preceded and Galaxie avoided the strangle hold of the cosmetically correct that the record industry has been imposing on songwriters and bands since the seventies. Polaris is all about creative freedom … hence Galaxie. Rock n'Roll and the French language are not obvious lovers, but On 'Tigre et Diesel' Langevin and Galaxie have a handle on both and that's one of the major accomplishments of this record. The music and often massive riffs are as genuine and credible as the lyrics. Clifton Chenier never understood the idea of the concert hall where fans would buy tickets only to sit there and watch him boogie. So goes it for Galaxie. They get me off my otherwise analytical ass and let the pelvis rule.

Jim Corcoran, CBC Radio 1

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: Hey Rosetta!
Album: Seeds
Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Ask any seasoned farmer and they'll tell you that fertile soil is something to be treasured. A seed needs good earth to grow. For Hey Rosetta!, those things they've planted with their first two albums, including the 2008 Polaris Prize nominated "Into Your Lungs", have grown and sprouted into something unique. Seeds showcases a band reaching toward the sun, mature and confident,
shaking off comparisons and delivering a record that speaks for itself. From the title track, the St. John's, Newfoundland six piece signal that they've moved from the familiar -- not quite leaving home, rather packing it into the van. They invite us along on their sonic road trip: chugging down highways, manoeuvering time shifts, swells and metaphors, and picking up guests and musical curios along the way. When you sew a seed, you plant the hope of what it will become. With
this album, Hey Rosetta! presents an album that is created to grow.

Brad Frenette, The Vancouver Sun

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: Ron Sexsmith
Album: Long Player Late Bloomer
Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

At the outset, the idea of putting Ron Sexsmith into a studio with Bob Rock, a producer best known for his work with acts like Metallica and Mötley Crüe, may have seemed somewhat odd. But there’s nothing even remotely odd about the outcome. Long Player Late Bloomer, the record that came from those sessions, is a superbly crafted collection of pop songs with moments of sheer brilliance. Rock proved to be the right man at the right time. Sexsmith came to the table with some of the best songs he’s ever written, sparkling pop gems like Believe It When I See It and The Reason Why and moments of sweetness and light like Love Shines and Nowadays. Rock seemed to know instinctively what each song needed. The arrangements and the orchestrations have a richness and a fullness that serve the material beautifully but never overwhelm the music or the man.

Doug Gallant, The Guardian

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: Colin Stetson
Album: New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Links: Website | Facebook | YouTube

The Group Of Seven. Norman McLaren. Glenn Gould. Robert Lepage. Tanya Tagaq.
Historically, Canadians have valued experimentation in art. Every so often something wild comes along that captures this country's imagination and burrows into our national identity. Judges is the most extreme and divisive record ever to make the Polaris Short List, yet it fully belongs. This record transforms listeners. Its primal sounds confound the expectations of both the young and the jaded. In Stetson's hands - and his throat and in the room where twenty microphones were harmed capturing these unedited performances - the seldom used bottom rung of the saxophone family sings as it never has before. Judges is much more than incredible technique; it's a perfectly paced album full of challenging and introspective songwriting. This is the kind of record the Polaris Music Prize should be celebrating.

David Dacks, CIUT

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: Timber Timbre
Album: Creep On Creepin' On
Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

There's a beautiful black romanticism in Timber Timbre's fourth album Creep On Creepin'On. With the ghostly harmonies and the unique voice of singer-songwriter Taylor Kirk (Leonard Cohen meets Antony Hegarty), the album brings the listener to a unique place and time in a very cinematic way.The arrangements are incredibly rich with violins, lapsteel, piano, organ and horns. With instrumental songs like Swamp Magic and Souvenirs, the atmosphere is tense. But with tracks like Creep On Creepin' On or Too Old To Die Young, the melody touches the heart right away. It’s an album in which every song has its place and the sequence is a story being told. It’s simply good, creative and addictive.

Emilie Côté, La Presse

Listen on Rdio    


Artist: The Weeknd
Album: House Of Balloons
Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Last December, songs by an enigmatic singer with a tenuous Toronto affiliation began popping up on taste-making blogs. In March, the Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) released House of Balloons for free online. Loosely rooted in R&B but more a temporal heap of pop, rap and dubstep fragments, the exceptional production—courtesy of Illangelo and Esthero alum, Doc McKinney—hinted at budding star power. Meanwhile, Tesfaye’s trembling falsetto obsessively narrated youthful, narcissistic pleasures via drugged out monologues and desolate, soaring choruses.

Then, in July, just one week before a massive opening slot for mentor, Drake, Tesfaye emerged from relative anonymity for his first show ever. Nervously, before an intimate, frenzied, sell-out crowd, he nailed the high stakes reveal and proved his hushed MP3s could translate to real life. In six months, without label affiliation, the Weeknd has gone from mere online whisperings to an internationally-anticipated phenomenon—no small feat for any artist today.

Anupa Mistry, Freelance Journalist


The 2011 Polaris Music Prize Long List Nominees

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Austra - Feel It Break
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Braids - Native Speaker
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Buck 65 - 20 Odd Years
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Louise Burns - Mellow Drama
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

D-Sisive - Jonestown 2: Jimmy Go Bye Bye
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

The Dears - Degeneration Street
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Destroyer - Kaputt
Website | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Diamond Rings - Special Affections
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Dirty Beaches - Badlands
Website

Listen on Rdio    

Luke Doucet and The White Falcon - Steel City Trawler
Website | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Eternia & MoSS - At Last
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Galaxie - Tigre et diesel
Website | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Jenn Grant - Honeymoon Punch
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Hey Rosetta! - Seeds
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Hooded Fang - Album
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Imaginary Cities - Temporary Resident
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Land Of Talk - Cloak and Cipher
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Little Scream - The Golden Record
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

The Luyas - Too Beautiful to Work
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Malajube - La Caverne
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Miracle Fortress - Was I The Wave?
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

One Hundred Dollars - Songs Of Man
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Doug Paisley - Constant Companion
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

PS I Love You - Meet Me At The Muster Station
| Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Daniel Romano - Sleep Beneath the Willow
Website | Twitter | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Ron Sexsmith - Long Player Late Bloomer
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Shotgun Jimmie - Transistor Sister
Website | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Sloan - The Double Cross
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Frederick Squire - March 12
Website | Facebook | YouTube

Stars - The Five Ghosts
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Website | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Timber Timbre - Creep On Creepin' On
Toronto
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

The Weeknd - House Of Balloons
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Women - Public Strain
Website | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Neil Young - Le Noise
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio    

Young Galaxy - Shapeshifting
Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Listen on Rdio