Feist – Metals (2011; Arts and Crafts)
If you were expecting a continuation of The Reminder, think again. Subdued, stripped down, yet still sophisticated, this record is completely worth the four year wait. Feist will be finishing her year-long tour this October in South America.
Trial track: “Comfort Me”
Grimes – Visions (2012; Arbutus)
Grimes sounds confident and assured on her third record, recorded entirely in her bedroom here in Montreal. Now based out of L.A., look for her performing at Club Soda on Sept. 20.
Trial track: “Genesis”
Drake – Take Care (2011; Young Money)
On his second album, Drake slowed down the production – and it paid off. The L.A. Times and New York Times both named it the best album of 2011, while The Globe and Mail included it on their top ten list. This is a strong contender for the prize.
Trial track: “Take Care”
Japandroids – Celebration Rock (2012; Polyvinyl Record Co.)
The Vancouver-based punk/noise rock duo made a second record remarkably similar to their first, 2009’s Post-Nothing, in the best way possible. This album leaves a bigger crater than the first, and it even features a Gun Club cover.
Trial track: “For the Love of Ivy”
YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN – YT/ST (2011; Psychic Handshake)
Debut album from Toronto/Montreal based genre-defying duo. Performance art? Music? Noh-wave? What you need to know: they’ve teamed up with fellow shortlister Fucked Up for a 7” available soon, and they have a new album available digitally now.
Trial track: “Queens”
Cadence Weapon – Hope In Dirt City (2012; Upper Class Recordings)
Rollie Pemberton, dubbed ‘Canada’s most creative rapper’ by the National Post, is on a roll. Hope In Dirt City is his third album to claim a Polaris Prize nod, his second to make the shortlist, and his most commercial effort. The music video for “Conditioning” was filmed entirely in Montreal.
Trial track: “Conditioning”
Cold Specks – I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (2012; Mute/EMI Records)
At 23 years old, Aly Spx (better known as her stage name Cold Specks) is the youngest artist to make this year’s shortlist. Her debut album, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, fills the gothic void in contemporary Canadian indie rock.
Trial track: “Hector”
Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur (2012; MapleMusic Recordings)
Kathleen Edward’s fourth album, Voyageur, is her second to make the shortlist. The single “Change the Sheets” was co-produced by her current grammy-award-winning boyfriend, Justin Vernon, of Bon Iver fame.
Trial track: “Change the Sheets”
Fucked Up – David Comes to Life (2011; Matador)
Fucked Up already have one Polaris Prize up on their mantelpiece; the hard rockers won in 2009 for The Chemistry of Common Life. The band calls their most recent release a ‘rock opera’ and love story set in the 1970s and 1980s.
Trial track: “The Other Shoe”
Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital (2011; Sub Pop)
Montreal’s resident indie rock husband-wife duo, Handsome Furs, announced their breakup as a band just one year after the release of their third album, Sound Kapital. Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry wrote the album solely on piano, inspired by 1980s Eastern European electronica.
Trial track: “Serve the People”