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Column: Oh, Canada


By Bari Finkel




On July 17, the 2012 Polaris Music Prize Short List was released. Although this list is solely Canadian artists, many of our northern neighbors on the list have reached immense fame in the U.S. as well.

The Polaris Music Prize is unique because it awards only one album that has been released within the past year, and the artist is awarded a cash prize. As long as an album is at least 30 minutes or eight songs long and is available for purchase or free download in stores or online, any album of any genre by a Canadian artist qualifies.

That is quite a large pool of musical fish.

Instead of declaring a winner from this pool on one occasion, the list shrinks in the course of four months. Besides building suspense, this process gives audiences a chance to listen to each album and decide who they think should win. Music journalists, bloggers, music programs and broadcasters narrow down the list to only 10 albums.

This year, the Short List includes albums from Drake, Fucked Up, Grimes, Feist, Cadence Weapon, Cold Specks, Kathleen Edwards, Handsome Furs, Japandroids and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. The fame and genres of each artist exist on wide spectrum. Genres stretch from electro-pop to psychedelic rock, bubbly indie music to hip-hop, and all have a fair chance of winning.

While I am not familiar with each band, there was a surprising amount of artists that I did know.

This weekend I saw Japandroids, Feist and Grimes at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Fucked Up is on Matador Records, while Handsome Furs is on Sub Pop Records.

After listening to some of the other artists, including Cadence Weapon and Cold Specks, I have decided this jury is going to have a big job ahead of them.

The gala, where the winner is announced, is on Sept. 24. Until then, I hope you will join me in taking some time to listen to these albums and decide on your own Polaris Music Prize winner.

­— bafinkel@indiana.edu

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