Not one of us here at Grayowl Point is an official juror for the annual Polaris Prize, but we often like to pretend we are. With the announcement of the 2013 long list coming up very soon, the editors here at the blog are making their own picks.
Album #1: Maylee Todd- Escapology
Every once in a while you get an album that grows on you, but then there are others that blow you away on the first listen. That’s what Maylee Todd does with her sophomore album Escapology. With a huge supporting cast of backup players, Todd delivers an energetic and dynamic set of funky, soul-infused pop that really no one else is doing on the level that she’s doing it. It’s hard to ignore the catchiness of “Baby’s Got It” but you’ll also be charmed by dreamy numbers like “Successive Mutations” or even a cover of “Pinball Number Count” because why not.
Album #2- Ghostkeeper- Horse Chief! War Thief!
Exclaim! be damned, I loved this album from start to finish. I was expecting the unexpected when I threw this on for the first time but it still threw me for more loops than I could have possibly imagined. The band continues to evolve its sound with each new album, and this one embraces electronics and even more weirdness thanks to the addition of Ian Jarvis of Chairs. Ghostkeeper’s last album made it onto the Polaris long list one year, so I hope this at least does this same, if not makes it all the way.
Album #3- Snowblink- Inner Classics
I’m not afraid to admit that Inner Classics was my favourite album from the year 2012. I can rarely bring myself to name a number one album for any given year, but for me this was it. I’ve already said a million times how unique and wonderful Daniela Gesundheit’s voice is, but it’s worth repeating. While songs like “Unsurfed Waves” might make you want to hit the beach, “Pray For Surf” may make you want to sit down for a relaxing bout of meditation. It’s at once calming and stirring and I sincerely hope this album gets the recognition it deserves.
Album #4- English Words- Red Potion
The more and more I listen to it, the more and more I question why I didn’t include this in my “best of 2012” year-end list. The album has some interesting abstractions (I still have no idea what the hell “Takeover Panthers” refers to) and bewildering lyrics (“Kick an animal in the face/Start naming yourselves colours, like neon”), but underneath that is a truly catchy electro-pop record. “Bad Joke” features possibly the first anthemic-sounding synth riff I think I’ve ever heard, “Pay to Play” and “All My Lovers” are similarly grand-sounding, and nothing quite hits as hard as the song “People I Love.” No album exists in a vacuum, and that song is a testament to that.
Album #5- Pick A Piper- Pick A Piper
Caribou has been nominated for two Polaris Prizes and managed to win one, so it stands to reason that Dan Snaith’s supporting band members should be pretty talented too. Enter Brad Weber, whose band Pick A Piper released their excellent, self-titled debut earlier this year. It’s a marvel of electronic music, featuring a slew of guest vocalists and more shouts of “ba bada” than you can shake a stick at.
Laura: (Folk jams!)
Album #1 – Aidan Knight – Small Reveal
A sophomore slump? Not a problem for Aidan Knight and his band of Friendly Friends thanks to the release of their second album Small Reveal last fall. Showcasing a fuller sound compared to that of his first effort Versicolour, Small Reveal is incredibly lush and lyrically more expansive, beautifully written character-based songs are within, while showing the maturity of a band who have already achieved greatness and are destined for more.
Album #2 – Donovan Woods – Don’t Get Too Grand
Like many of the artists on this list, the strength of their lyrical content pushes their records over the top. For Donovan Woods’ Don’t Get Too Grand, the keen, “Let Us Now Praise Simple Men,” and often wry, “Petrolia,” observations, or the subtle heartbreaking phrasing of “Put On, Cologne” all perfected by Woods’ delightful voice, make his record grand and Polaris Prize worthy.
Album #3 – Evening Hymns – Spectral Dusk
A stunning lament for his father, Jonas Bonnetta and the rest of the Evening Hymns have created a record with an emotional strength that will stand the test of time. All done in an organic folk sound, thanks to being recorded in a cabin in the woods, Spectral Dusk masterfully transports listeners to the depths and the clarity of the wilderness, good enough for Emerson and good enough for a Polaris nod.
Album #4 – Hayden – Us Alone
In eight simple songs, Hayden’s “return” to music, reflects on his past, “Almost Everything,” his present as a new Dad, “Motel,” and the uncertainty of the future, “Instructions.” An example of Hayden’s continually brilliant songwriting, hopefully Us Alone can achieve long-overdue Polaris recognition.
Album # 5 – Snowblink – Inner Classics
Like Michael, I too have been enamoured with Snowblink’s Inner Classics since its release in 2012. Lush and captivating, due in large part to the sweet, sweet tones of lead singer Daniela Gesundheit, from the ocean (“Pray to Surf” and “Unsurfed Waves”) to the mountains (“Black & White Mountains”) it’s hard to find any weak points in this record.