Polaris: 5 albums you don’t want to miss from the long list

By: Jonathan Briggins and Evelyn Hornbeck

Nothing gets people talking about Canadian music like the annual Polaris Music Prize. The jury selects the best Canadian album by artistic merit, regardless of sales (which, can we say, is awesome). First there’s a long list of 40 albums, then it’s narrowed down to 10 albums. Finally, in September, a grand jury hides away in a room and comes to an agreement on the winning album. Last year Feist took home the prize for her album Metals. Arcade Fire, Karkwa, Fucked Up, Caribou, Patrick Watson and Final Fantasy have all won in previous years as well. It’s a big deal to win (it comes with a $30,000 cheque) but the long list drives interest too.

The Polaris long list is a great way to get caught up on the past year (June 1, 2012 – May 31, 2013) of Canadian music and to discover bands from different genres from across the country. Mixtape is challenging our readers to try and listen to all 40 albums (listed at the bottom of this post). We’ve hand-picked five albums to start with. These albums are by bands of varying popularity (everybody knows Tegan and Sara) and different genres (go country!).


Well of course a Daniel Snaith project is in Polaris contention again. Under the name Caribou, Snaith won the Polaris in 2008 for Andorra and was short-listed for Swim in 2010. JIAOLONG certainly has elements of Caribou but has all the dance elements and beats cranked way up.

Mac DeMarco – 2

Yesterday we were hyping up Mac DeMarco as a must-see artist for Sled Island because of his live performance. Today we’re suggesting you listen to his album 2. His first Polaris nomination is well deserved. The album is concise, filled with songs with catchy guitar riffs that seem timeless and will get stuck in your head for days on end. We expect this one to be short-listed.

Evening Hymns – Spectral Dusk

Evening Hymns’ lead singer Jonas Bonnetta could use the good news that this album made the Polaris list. Spectral Dusk is an exploration of his father’s death, and he spent years creating and touring this emotional album. The beauty of this album is in the details, the deep, dark mood that builds throughout. It’s a favourite at the Mixtape office.

Daniel Romano – Come Cry With Me

Two years ago Romano made this long list for Sleep Beneath The Willow. This time he’s back with an album that continues to dive even deeper into his country music fixation. Come Cry With Me has some truly devastatingly sad songs such as “He Lets Her Memory Go (Wild)” but also some light-hearted moments like the hilarious story of “Chicken Bill”. Even if country makes you cringe, this album is worth checking out.

Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob

This is not the first Polaris rodeo for Tegan and Sara; they made the 2010 short list and the 2008 long list. But their newest release, Hearthrob, is the same heart ache but with a marked departure in sound. They gambled big on a dance-y electronic album, and it’s paid off.

2013 Polaris Music Prize long list

A Tribe Called Red – Nation II Nation
Alaclair Ensemble – Les maigres blancs d’Amérique du Noir
ANCIIENTS – Heart of Oak
The Besnard Lakes – Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO
Louis-Jean Cormier – Le Treizième Étage
Mac DeMarco – 2
Evening Hymns – Spectral Dusk
Hannah Georgas – Hannah Georgas
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
Chilly Gonzales – Solo Piano II
Jim Guthrie – Takes Time
Hayden – Us Alone
Zaki Ibrahim – Every Opposite
KEN mode – Entrench
Kid Koala – 12 bit Blues
Kobo Town – Jumbie in the Jukebox
Pierre Lapointe – Punkt
Lee Harvey Osmond – The Folk Sinner
Les soeurs Boulay – Le poids des confettis
Corb Lund – Cabin Fever
The Luyas – Animator
Majical Cloudz – Impersonator
Metric – Synthetica
Danny Michel with the Garifuna Collective – Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me
AC Newman – Shut Down The Streets
Old Man Luedecke – Tender is The Night
Lindi Ortega – Cigarettes & Truckstops
Peter Peter – Une version améliorée de la tristesse
Purity Ring – Shrines
Rah Rah – The Poet’s Dead
Rhye – Woman
Daniel Romano – Come Cry With Me
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Suuns – Images du futur
Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob
Al Tuck – Stranger at the Wake
Whitehorse – The Fate of the World Depends On This Kiss
Young Galaxy – Ultramarine

About Jonathan Briggins 71 Articles
Editor-in-chief of Mixtape magazine.

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