Saturday, April 18, 2009

Polaris Prize:: Round 1

With the first cut-off date for Polaris Long-List nominations approaching, and this being our first time being involved, I thought it would be a lot easier to jot down thoughts and ideas before the deadline, instead of just scanning the list and writing down 5 records on due date. Obviously, we've covered a ton of Canadian releases this year - one or two a day, 5 days a week - but we've missed some quality ones as well.

I haven't decided my Top 5 or the order they fall in but right now these are the nine records leading the herohill Polaris charge (with a few fighting to grab that 10th spot):


Elliott Brood - Meadow Mountain (review) || MP3 || web site

What we said: "And that's probably the thing that grabs me on Mountain Meadow. Despite their previous critical successes (their debut LP - Ambassador - was nominated for a Juno), Elliott Brood is often described as a terrific live band that falls short on record. While I've never agreed with these sentiments, the trio has worked hard to make a record that has the spirit and swagger of a live show, but still allow for repeatable listens. Write it all Down For and Chuckwagon are sweaty stomps track that will fuel sets for years to come, but the band has learned how to transform energetic tracks destined for the stage into songs that reward the headphone listener as well."

For our Halifax readers, Elliott Brood is playing the new Paragon on Friday. Be there.


Joel Plaskett - Three (Review)|| MP3 || web site

What we said: "It’s not surprising that Joel seems to focus on "leaving" for the majority of the first record. He’s reached the point where his life – well, as best as it can when he has to constantly hit the road – is settled here in Nova Scotia, but he’s also reached the age where you can’t help but wonder why worked out the way it did. When you call a different city home for half the year, constantly see your friends leaving and have to say goodbye before piling into the van night after night, you can’t help but feel the grind, miss the smells of home or wonder why you still spend so many hours watching the odometer turn."


Timber Timbre - Self-titled
(review) || MP3 || myspace

What we said: "So, to be honest, the change in sound he delivers on the new self-titled release was quite unexpected. Kirk still has the charisma to tell a compelling stories using little more than the muted, steady strums of his guitar, but the textures he adds accentuate the ominous tones of the record and really complete his songs. Organ, piano, percussion and beautiful string arrangements all add a density to Kirk’s compositions and fill some of the space once reserved for echoes and creaks."


Chad
VanGaalen - The Soft Airplane (review) || MP3:: City of Electric Light

What we said: "He's obviously a unique man with social anxiety and an unquenchable thirst for creative expression and as a result Soft Airplane is incredibly spontaneous and challenging, but at the same time multiple listens show how well the record is thought out. Sound effects, textures and emotion are nestled into the folds and corners, and until you can listen to the complete song, you aren't really hearing Chad's visions."

This was also voted my favorite album of 2008....


Japandroids - Post-Nothing (review) || MP3 || myspace

What we said: "The band is a simple combination of huge drums, guitar and the sing/shouts of Brian King and David Prowse, but the end result is much, much more. The nine song album delivers anthem after anthem, with distorted guitar and crashing cymbals personify the rage of youth, but the melodies the guys deliver really show the emotion and reality we all face when it's time to grow up."

For those unlucky enough to not hear this record, let me just say the songs create the most melodic drone you will find, and this two-piece from Vancouver sounds huge as they manage to perfectly convey the emotions of growing up even when you don't want to, without seeming pathetic nostalgic.


D-sisive - The Book (review) || MP3 (not from The Book) || myspace

What we said
: "Moving on, the hypnotic drums and keys of Kneecaps make up one of my favorite beats on the album, and D's mixing of his love for hip hop with the story of losing his parents is pretty captivating. Solid song all around. Church organ provides the backdrop for Laundry Room, likely one of the most depressing hip hop song you'll ever hear. Well I should clarify that, as the most intentionally depressing hip hop song, as anything currently in the top 10 from people like Young Jeezy or Plies will likely depress you for a different reason."

Admittedly, I would have never heard this record if Shane hadn't given it the huge Thumbs Up - coveted number 1 spot on his Canadian MC list - but the book is a fantastic LP. It's concise, powerful and he manages to hit with real emotion without seeming like he's crying or whining.


Portico - First Neighbours
(review) || MP3 || myspace

What we said: "On first pass, there are so many things that stand out on First Neighbours; the way they balance heavy, distorted guitar with a surprisingly soft touch, melodies that bob along like the little white ball over top of the words on a karaoke machine, the classic “indie – when indie still meant something” rock feel of songs that talk about nothing more than love, awkward silences and f*cking and the way they can transform an instrument like a simple horn into a completely new sound, but it’s when you really dive in that the greatness of this record stand to surface."

Women - Self-titled (review) || MP3 || myspace

What we said: "The self-titled debut is only 29 minutes, and really is more a collection of truncated ideas surrounding five more structured tracks, but live the songs, much like the plethora of equipment the band uses, mesh together into a surging, morphing mass. The set was energy filled, driven by Matt's thick bass lines but it was fueled by front man Pat's spastic guitar and yelps, and Mike's crashing percussion. They were able to balance the experimental noise with tight interaction and sounds that made heads bob."

$100 - Forest of Tears.
Review and info coming tomorrow. Let me just say, I'm smitten with this release, and been listening non-stop the last week or so.

Labels: Best-of '08, , , ,

Posted at 10:09 AM by ack :: 6 comments

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At 2:14 PM, Blogger The R.O.B. did sayeth:

Not sure what the cut off is like, but what about: Rah Rah or Bruce Peninsula?

 

At 2:56 PM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

Both good records - as our reviews showed - just felt these ones hit me harder.

Also lets me save a spot for Sunparlour Players new one :)

 

At 3:00 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

I am reserving my vote for one band.Fingers crossed for a new Chilliwack album in '09!

 

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Alex did sayeth:

Nice picks - but there's gotta be Mother Mother in there!

 

At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Smansmith did sayeth:

Ahhh, nice list - Polaris goes to.....ah, who knows. On this list I would have to go Timber Timbre - just kick ass overall.

hmmmm...gotta go back and listen to it again.

 

At 11:47 AM, Blogger T did sayeth:

Tough choice.

In November, it would have been Mountain Meadows - number one with a bullet. After November and hearing the One Hundred Dollars record, things changed.

Managed to get One Hundred Dollars for an in-store performance in April before the local version of the Rolling Tundra review. Words cannot describe... They also did a CHRW radio interview with my friend Allison, where some of the songs were explained. It is really worth hearing (and squirming in guilt about Careless Love).You need an mp3?

BTW - Good list. All those records deserve a nomination.

 

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