Listen: The 10 albums shortlisted for the 2016 Polaris Music Prize
From Black Mountain to White Lung, these 10 artists set themselves apart this year, according to the jury that narrows down the field of contenders for the annual prize
And now there are 10. On Thursday, the shortlist of nominated albums for the Polaris Music Prize was announced. Here are the contenders for the $50,000 prize, to be awarded at a Toronto gala on Sept. 19.
Presented in alphabetical order by artist name, with a popular track from the nominated album selected by our editors. The 10 songs are in one playlist above. (Note: Some songs may contain explicit lyrics.)
- Artist: Black Mountain
- Album: IV
- Selected track: Cemetery Breeding
Songs on Black Mountain's fourth album – IV, when in Rome? – include Florian Saucer Attack, Line Them All Up, Cemetery Breeding and Crucify Me. So, a little dark. But the psyche-rockers from Vancouver seem to understand their folk-rock grandfathers, whose advice to add acoustic guitars to those song passages about sticking needles in one's eyes is heeded.
- Artist: Basia Bulat
- Album: Good Advice
- Selected track: Infamous
We came to know Basia Bulat as a vulnerable musician with an autoharp in her hands and a warble in her throat. For her latest album, the Toronto-born, Montreal-based Bulat called on My Morning Jacket's Jim James for freakier sounds and a hippie-rock edge. The result is a swirling disc lush with organs and bold of spirit.
- Artist: Grimes
- Album: Art Angels
- Selected track: Kill V. Maim
She's Claire Boucher, the Montreal-based indie-electro artist who trades under the name Grimes and who's put out a doozy of an album. She's never been freakier, or, as a pop songwriter, better.
- Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen
- Album: Emotion
- Selected track: Run Away With Me
While fellow Canadian stars Drake, Bieber and the Weeknd were voted off Polaris island this week, the phone-obsessed Vancouver pop-pixie stays alive. We hope she wins, counting on a Sally Fields moment at the awards gala: "They really, really, really, really, really, really like me!"
- Artist: Kaytranada
- Album: 99.9%
- Selected track: Lite Spots
Kaytranada sounds like a planet from an old Star Trek episode, but it's the given name of Louis Kevin Celestin, a Haitian-Canadian beat-maker interested in jazzy electronic directions, trippy house and hip-hop vibes, and smooth neo-soul seductions.
- Artist: Jessy Lanza
- Album: Oh No
- Selected track: VV Violence
Hamilton's Jessy Lanza made it onto the Polaris shortlist in 2014 (for her debut disc Pull My Hair Back), and now she matches the accomplishment with the followup Oh No, an exercise in icy eighties exuberance and breathy electro-pop expression. Madonna is probably jealous, and so Lanza probably doesn't have long to live.
- Artist: Pup
- Album: The Dream Is Over
- Selected track: If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will
Pup just received feature treatment from the New York Times, so it appears the buzz off their self-titled debut from 2013 isn't fading yet. With The Dream Is Over, the Toronto punk-pop outfit crunches its whining, off-key angst with athletic tuneage, hallowing chants and upbeat despondency. Moodiness has never sounded so fun – last one into the mosh pit is a rotten egg!
- Artist: Andy Shauf
- Album: The Party
- Selected Track: The Worst in You
With his new album The Party, the Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Andy Shauf makes an auspicious entry into the pantheon of shortlisted Polaris artists. His manner is breezy and timid, with strummed songs arranged lovingly and with seventies CSN colours in mind. His peers love this guy to death, and we can't think of any reason why they shouldn't.
- Artist: U.S. Girls
- Album: Half Free
- Selected Track: Window Shades
While Slim Twig's latest album ( Thank You for Stickin' with Twig) failed to receive any Polaris love this year, the actor-musician's wife Meghan Remy gets her Half Free album shortlisted. Remy's U.S. Girls project involves compelling experiments in Bowie-ness, drugged-out disco and murky girl-group situations.
- Artist: White Lung
- Album: Paradise
- Selected track: Hungry
On their fourth album, the Vancouver turbo-rockers let up on the gas pedal a bit, allowing singer Mish Barber-Way to distinguish herself on vocals. Oh, she's not going to win any crooning trophies, but she can cut through a fog all right. She's a rock 'n' roller, and as intriguing an artist as there is on the Canadian music scene.