The Polaris Music Prize is like a rain shower in the middle of a dry spell between awards season.
The short list announcement comes in July, long after albums are ranked in December best-of lists and months before the year-end lists roll out.
This year’s prize, given to an album selected by the a large jury as the best Canadian album based on artist merit, is the 13th in Polaris history. On September 17, a gala will be held where a small jury will decide on the ultimate winner.
The short list consists of:
Daniel Caesar Freudian
Hubert Lenoir Darlène
Jean-Michel Blais Dans ma main
Jeremy Dutcher Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa
Partner In Search of Lost Time
Pierre Kwenders MAKANDA at the End of Space, the Beginning of Time
Snotty Nose Rez Kids The Average Savage
U.S. Girls In A Poem Unlimited
Weaves Wide Open
East Coast albums make a comeback
The final 10 albums are voted on from a long list of 40 albums, announced a month earlier. Last year, there was a healthy dose of criticism about no East Coast albums making the 40-album long list. What a difference a year can make, with three albums on the short list coming from artists that used to call Atlantic Canada home but now live in Ontario. This includes Alvvays (formerly Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), Partner (formerly New Brunswick) and Jeremy Dutcher (formerly New Brunswick).
Perhaps the argument can still be made that no bands still based in Atlantic Canada made the list, although all three artists mentioned above still tour the East Coast regularly. When they do return, it certainly feels like a hometown show.
It’s an indication good music is still coming from the East Coast and even if artists move to a bigger city in Ontario or Quebec, the local scenes lay a foundation for future success.
Brennan McCracken wrote a great feature on Jeremy Dutcher for The Coast in May, 2018. For Noisey, Sarah MacDonald wrote about Partner in November 2017 with some great photos from Kate Killet. In December 2017, Josh O’Kane — a journalist that moved from New Brunswick to Toronto — had a feature in The Globe and Mail on a band of Maritimers that moved to Toronto.
Press photo of Alvvays by Arden Wray