That time has come again, folks. We all ask ourselves and our friends “What is the best Canadian album from the last year?” Well, probably not everyone, but around 196 people in the music industry asked themselves that question and narrowed it down to 10 for the Polaris Award 2015. Marc and I were invited to the announcement of the short list yesterday morning and were overall pleased with this year’s nominees, who get $3,000 for just being chosen!!
So, without further ado, here are our thoughts on each nominee:
Alvvays, by Alvvays
Toronto-based band Alvvays, fronted by east coaster Molly Rankin (of the Rankin Family), have exploded over the past year, from performing small venues like Silver Dollar Room last January, to headlining the Opera House in December. Having a few Juno nominations to their name, Alvvay’s jangling surf rock comes out in their self-titled album, while also show-casing their softer side. this is a strong album throughout, with no visible weak point.
Sour Soul by BADBADNOTGOOD and Ghost Face Killah
Even though Wu Tang member Ghostface Killah is not Canadian, the Toronto trio who perform and shape this album are, hence why it is up. BADBADNOTGOOD blend jazz, hip hop and electronic together expertly, taking Ghostface’s raps to the next level, by not only backing him but also holding their own. Here is Dave’s review of the album from earlier this year.
Deep In The Iris, by Braids
Returning to Polaris for a second time, Calgary- born and Montreal-based art rock/electronic group Braids. The album is a throwback to their first album Native Speaker, with less programmed instruments and raw performances by lead singer Raphaelle Strandell-Preston, winning high praises from multiple outlets.
Our Love, by Caribou
An alumni of Polaris, being up for his last two awards and winning for Andorra, Dan Snaith is an electronic composer more well known as Caribou. This album enters new ground for Caribou, with hip-hop and jazz influences, as well as having a more accessible sound for the public. He has definitely grown and it is good that Polaris has recognized that.
Pink City, by Jennifer Castle
With her fourth album, sing-songwriter Jennifer Castle channels her country roots while blending in smooth jazz and does it seamlessly. After collaborating with tons of bands and artists on their albums, and scoring documentaries and dance performances, Castle is showcasing her range of sound and emotion, rightfully deserving this nomination.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, by Drake
Sorry to Drake fans, but I’m not gonna talk much about him. He’s been up before, he’s up again, he’s the most commercially successful artist on the list. Good for him.
Goon, by Tobias Jesso Jr.
To be up for the Polaris award with your debut album is a huge feat, and Tobias Jesso Jr. has done that. The indie pop singer from Northern British Columbia croons over jazz and gospel sounds, and shows off his range of vocal abilities. Congrats to Tobias on the nomination and the impending growth of his well-deserved fanbase.
Brill Bruisers, by The New Pornographers
Indie rock super group The New Pornographers released probably their most commercial album last year, with constant radio play. It is well deserved because the album is a fantastic mix of dance anthems and slow rock, showcasing both Neko Case and Dan Bejar`s vocal ablilities.
Power In the Blood, by Buffy Sainte-Marie
The oldest nominee this year, 74-year old Buffy Sainte-Marie is not even close to slowing down anytime soon, apparent on her newest album Power In The Blood. A protest album empowering Native Americans to be proud of their heritage, Buffy brings together modern rock and pop with traditional Native American music. With acts like A Tribe Called red and last year
s Polaris winner Tanya Tagaq, traditional Native music is making its way into everyday life, as it should be.
Viet Cong, by Viet Cong
A post-punk band from Calgary, Viet Cong are also in the same boat as tobias Jesso Jr., being nominated for their debut record. Pulling from influences such as Joy Division, Bauhaus and New Order, they make their own version of post-punk with industrial and noise rock elements. Despite only being 7 songs long, listeners will get a wide range of different sounds from the band.
So there you go. Make sure to tune in on September 21 for the gala and see who wins!