Photo of Cadence Weapon by David Topping.
Earlier this afternoon in the Drake Sky Yard, the shortlist for this year’s Polaris Prize was announced. Established by Steve Jordan last year, the $20,000 prize “annually honours, celebrates and rewards creativity and diversity in Canadian recorded music by recognizing, then marketing the albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history, as judged by a panel of selected critics and experts.” Albums released between June 1, 2006 to May 31, 2007 are eligible.
Last year, the nominees were Toronto-heavy: Broken Social Scene, The Deadly Snakes, Final Fantasy, Sarah Harmer, K’naan, Metric, Sarah Harmer, The New Pornographers, Wolf Parade, Malajube, and Cadence Weapon all snagged nods. In the end, some dude we’ve definitely never heard of named Owen Pallett walked away with the victory, his prize—and the $20,000 he gave (in part) to his boyfriend to help pay off his student loans—solidifying his place in all of our hearts. Cadence Weapon (who did a CBC radio session with Pallett earlier this year) holds no grudges, however, and served as DJ and nominee-unveiler at today’s ceremony.
If last year’s Polaris Prize was Toronto’s, this year’s is most definitely Montreal’s, with no less than half of the bands nominated calling that place somewhere east of us home. And while one insider described the list to us beforehand as “very Pitchfork-y,” there are still a few surprises amidst the more obvious nominees: this year’s shortlist consists of The Arcade Fire for Neon Bible, The Besnard Lakes for The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, The Dears for Gang Of Losers, Julie Doiron for Woke Myself Up, Feist for The Reminder, Junior Boys for So This Is Goodbye, Miracle Fortress for Five Roses, Joel Plaskett Emergency for Ashtray Rock, Chad VanGaalen for Skelliconnection, and Patrick Watson for Close To Paradise. All in all, a safe list, but a worthy one.
The winner will be announced at the awards gala on Monday, September 24 at an as-of-yet-undisclosed location here in Toronto. We have our money on the nominees whose names rhyme with “Marcade Flyer” and “Heist.”
UPDATE (9:45 p.m.): More photos from the day (Joel Plaskett! Besnard Lakes! Lots more Cadence!!) are after the fold.
Steve Jordan, Polaris’s Founder and Executive Director, gets set to unveil the nominees.
Cadence Weapon reveals the shortlist, one by one by one.
The media—from MuchMusic to Bravo to CBC to ET Canada—was there.
Joel Plaskett hanging out.
Olga Goreas of the Besnard Lakes double-fists her drinks for us.
Cadence DJs (quite well, by the way).