Our Summer Music: The Polaris Prize

The Polaris Prize Long List was announced back in the middle of June and it recognizes the best in Canadian albums from the previous year. The jury is made up of musicians, music bloggers, journalists and others in radio and television. It’s a bit unique in that the jurors are told to look solely at artistic merit, not album sales, genre or record label. As a result, some really interesting musicians and albums have been honoured since this award’s inception in 2006. This long list of 40 albums will be reduced to a final list of 10 in July with the winner being announced in late September. The winner receives a $30,000 prize.

To me it’s refreshing to look at an album as a whole entity. In a time when it’s easy to buy a 99 cent (or $1.29) song off of iTunes, or to download three tracks a week through our Freegal music service, the idea of an album as a whole seems to be from a bygone era.

2011 Winner of the Polaris Prize

Last year’s winner, Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” truly is a complete concept album from beginning to end. The songs seem to bleed into one another and themes introduced in one song are picked up later. Consumerism, childhood nostalgia and modern angst all get visited and revisited throughout the album. The final track is a haunting echo of the opening title track. If you haven’t heard this album yet, now’s the time!

The Polaris Long List is made up of 40 albums. It’s too many to list, but if you’re interested you can check them out on their website.

Our library system has a number of these albums in our collection and I’ve linked to  just a few of them here. Why not check them out, and play them on your road trips, drives to the beach or just around town this summer? These albums and artists may not be what you hear when you stick the radio on, but you may just find a couple of hidden gems that become personal favourites. This is some of the best in the country, chosen for you by the Polaris Jury. Enjoy!


Blackie and the Rodeo Kings: Kings and Queens

Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas

Drake: Take Care

Kathleen Edwards: Voyageur

Feist: Metals

Lindi Ortega: Little Red Boots

Dan Mangan: Oh Fortune

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