Five Albums We Were Surprised Not to See on the Polaris Long List
Published Jul 10, 2014As always, this year's Polaris Music Prize long list features a diverse cross-section of some of the best albums released in our country over the past 12 months. Nevertheless, there are a few names that we're surprised to find missing from the list of 41 contenders.
As Polaris gets set to announce its short list of 10 finalists on July 15, we've put together this list of five of the more surprising omissions from the lost list. These are Canadian albums that earned lots of attention but still weren't able to win over the support of enough jury members to earn nominations.
Five Albums We Were Surprised Not to See on the Polaris Long List:
5. Kevin Drew - Darlings
Although Brendan Canning took a low-key approach when releasing his recent solo album, You Gots 2 Chill, the same cannot be said for his Broken Social Scene cohort Kevin Drew. Darlings was bolstered by the support of BSS's label Arts & Crafts, a host of notable guests, and the stunning lead single "Good Sex." Broken Social Scene's last couple albums both made the short list (Broken Social Scene in 2006 and Forgiveness Rock Record in 2010), but Drew wasn't so lucky when working on his own.
4. The Courtneys - The Courtneys
If there was a record that seemed like an underground candidate to crack this year's long list, it was the self-titled effort from punk-leaning Vancouver indie pop outfit the Courtneys. Bursting with gritty guitars, sugary hooks and summery fun, the initial vinyl pressing sold out instantly when the eight-track effort came out last June (in the very first week of this year's Polaris eligibility period). The second pressing sold out nearly as fast, and the third pressing is reportedly almost gone. Still, even Wavves tweeting out lyrics from the record and Tegan & Sara bringing them out as openers wasn't enough to earn enough attention from the jury.
3. Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra - Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra earned heaps of critical acclaim with Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything. Still, maybe we shouldn't be so shocked that the band didn't make the long list, as the group includes members of last year's Polaris-winning Godspeed You! Black Emperor, who condemned the prize for its corporate connections. Perhaps this alienated them from some members of the jury, since their absence from the long list was most definitely noticed.
2. Ryan Hemsworth - Guilt Trips
Halifax producer Ryan Hemsworth arose as one of the country's premier electronic producers in 2012 and 2013, and his album Guilt Trips landed him on the Exclaim! cover last November. Still, maybe the album didn't turn quite as many heads as his steady stream of buzzed-about remixes and EPs. Many likely expected the Hemsworth to carry the torch for electronic music this Polaris season, but the long list is a bit low on beat-making producers.
1. Braids - Flourish // Perish
Braids made a serious run for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize with their album Native Speaker, earning a spot first on the long list and then the short one. Since then, they boldly overhauled their sound and showcased this electronic makeover on Flourish // Perish. Like Hemsworth, they appeared on the Exclaim! cover in the second half of 2013, and their subtle synth textures were greeted with praise. Evidently, however, the jury at large preferred the guitar-centric art-rock stylings of their past work.