And then there were 10. The 2014 Polaris Music Prize short list has been announced, thus whittling down a long list of 41 Canadian albums made public one month ago. The list of 10 contenders for the $30,000 prize, voted on by some 200 music critics and DJs, includes no stunning omissions nor any out-of-the-blue selections.
The winner is to be announced on Sept. 22, at a gala held in Toronto.
The front-runners (based purely on scuttlebutt and educated conjecture), would seem to be Animism, an arresting art-rock effort from the Nunavut throat-singer Tanya Tagaq; Tall Tall Shadow, a gracefully emotional folk-rock record from the London, Ont.-based singer-songwriter Basia Bulat; and Flying Colours, an extraordinary hip-hop album from the hyper-articulate rap artist Shad, who currently calls Vancouver home.
High-profile albums include Arcade Fire's Reflektor and Nothing Was the Same, from the savvy hip-hop superstar Drake, who famously started from the bottom (Toronto) and wound up in Houston. The Arcade Fire collaborator and erudite chamber-pop maestro Owen Pallett (who, as Final Fantasy, won the inaugural Polaris in 2006 for He Poos Clouds) is a threat with his elegantly precise In Conflict to become the first-ever Polaris two-time winner, perhaps more so than the Montreal alt-rock collective Arcade Fire itself (which won in 2011 for The Suburbs).
The genres of jazz, blues, mainstream pop, country or classical were not represented on the roster of nominations.
Rounding out the field are Hamilton's electronic siren Jessy Lanza (for Pull My Hair Back), the slack, charismatic indie-rocker Mac DeMarco (Salad Days), the eerie folk-rock project Timber Timbre (Hot Dreams) and the experimental-metal troupe Yamantaka // Sonic Titan (Uzu).