My relationship with music is very similar to my relationship with sports. I’m awful at music so I write about it. I’m also awful at sports, so I play fantasy sports. As a result of that marriage, I welcome you to The Only Annual Polaris Prize Short List Fantasy Draft! If you don’t understand fantasy sports, that’s fine. Both myself(@Shoemosher) and my counterpart(@JustinVM) are going to alternate picks, trying to choose the eventual winner of the 2012 Polaris Music Prize. We’ll give you a brief rundown of the reason for our pick. This is not a reflection of who we hope wins, or necessarily who we think deserves to win. But who will win. The list of nominated albums is:
Cadence Weapon — Hope In Dirt City
Cold Specks — I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
Drake — Take Care
Kathleen Edwards — Voyageur
Feist — Metals
Fucked Up — David Comes To Life
Grimes — Visions
Handsome Furs — Sound Kapital
Japandroids — Celebration Rock
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan — YT//ST
#1 – Team @JustinVM - Feist – Metals
It’s natural to be wary of Feist. Given the full-on pop orgasms like “1234” and “Mushaboom”that peppered her last two albums, one can be forgiven for doubting the artistic integrity of her latest offering. That being said, this new album is actually quite good. Apparently she and her band (likely full of dudes named Travis) built a studio on the side of a cliff in Big Sur, California. The resulting album can best be described with adjectives from a cultural studies term paper: cathartic, dusty, swelling, and so forth. Well, Feist. Out with the iPods and in with the Kerouac, you saucy minx, you. Feist has been a Canadian music staple for the last decade or so and now that she has released something actually good, I’m sure her popularity south of the border will diminish rapidly… this has Polaris winner written all over it.
#2 – Team @Shoemosher - Japandroids – Celebration Rock
I was a bit caught off guard with Feist at #1. Thought for sure Grimes/Japandroids would go #1/#2 in some order. Went with the Droids (I can say that; I live in the same city as them now) for a few reasons. First, I thought I had a better shot at getting Grimes with the next pick, ‘cause Justin B (the lesser Justin) would want these boys bad. Second, the hype on them is white hot. Grantland loosely compared the album to Nevermind, and even if that’s crazy, that counts for something on the hype scale. Third, I bought low and am currently a stockholder in ‘Oh Oh Oh’, and with this album, STOCKS ARE RISING, BABY! But seriously, they say that a whole lot on this thing, but I’m down with it. Plus no one outside Ontario/Quebec has won this damn thing before, so the West is due. DUE I SAY!
#3 – Team @JustinVM - Drake – Take Care
I really wanted to take the Droids but I’ll have to settle for WHEELCHAIR JIMMY! Ok, I know Drake is “the softest rapper in the game” but this isn’t the Source Awards, it’s the Polaris Prize. Drake has a real shot at breaking through the proverbial Cedar Ceiling of Polaris indie favorability. For what it’s worth, Drake has greatly improved his writing, delivery and singing but that doesn’t hide the fact that this album is melodramatic and corny as hell.
I won’t feel too bad for Drake if he loses because:
a) He DAMN rich
b) He has penned this timeless lyric:
“I know way too many people here right now/That I didn’t know last year/Who the fuck are y’all?”
#4 – Team @Shoemosher - Grimes – Visions
The plan worked, and I got Grimes with my second pick. I recognize the risk in taking two Vancouver acts* so early. I feel like that guy at the roulette table who keeps betting red, while black hits over and over and over and over. “Just gotta wait it out,” “It’ll be red’s time soon,” “Fuck this rigged roulette table, please validate my parking so I can leave!” I seem crazy, I know that. But maybe Grimes can win this thing. She’s touring with Skrillex and this album reached #65 on the Irish Albums Chart. That’s good right? Right?!
*I don’t care if she lives in Montreal now, Vancouver needs this, and they aren’t releasing ownership. We will accept this, even if it’s on a technicality.
#5 – Team @JustinVM - Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur
I almost picked Grimes, solely because of this excerpt from her Wikipedia article:
In 2009, Boucher (Grimes) and her then-boyfriend from Tennessee constructed a 20-foot houseboat, named the “Velvet Glove Cast in Iron,” with the intention to sail it down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans. The cargo included chickens, a typewriter, 20 pounds of potatoes and a gifted copy of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Boucher and her companion adopted the names “Varuschka” and “Zelda Xox” for the trip. Due to engine trouble and subsequent harassment from the Minnesota police, the journey was cut short and the houseboat and chickens were impounded.Their diet consisted of mainly potatoes.”
But seeing as how Varuschka is off the board, I’ll have to settle for another female folk-pop singer songwriter – hooray for diversity!
This beautifully arranged, sprawling breakup record is an incredib… WOAH WOAH! KATHLEEN EDWARDS IS DATING BON IVER?! IMAGINE THEIR ANGEL-VOICED LITTLE FOLK BABIES!
In all seriousness, while not really my bag, this album meets all the criteria for a Polaris winner:
-born out of gravelly Ontario backcountry
-heartwrenching songs about breakup
- Canadian industry veteran on the cusp of mainstream success
Not a bad mid-round sleeper pick.
#6 – Team @Shoemosher - Handsome Furs – Sound Kapital
Well I screwed up. I let someone dating the Bon Iver dude fall to the #5 pick? No matter what happens the rest of the way, that’s the biggest blunder of the draft, hands down. The songs those two could craft, in mockery of my error, could haunt me until the end of my days. I’m not entirely sure how to bounce back from this. I can’t lie, I’m using one measurement to make this pick, and it’s album art. If this were a ‘Best Album Art of The Polaris Prize Shortlist 2012’ draft, I’d have the winner nailed right here. From (gummy) Venus de Milo to Showgirls, the female form has always led to great art. I’m counting on the Polaris panel to recognize it here.
#7 – Team @JustinVM - Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – YT//ST
Not only did you let Mrs. Iver fall to #5, but you burned your #6 pick on a band that broke up three months ago. Time to replace your monkeys-on-typewriters research team…
As for Yamantaka, I think we are starting to get into the long shot part of the draft. Look, I like Pan-Asian cultural collectives as much as the next guy but I just don’t think this Iroquois Pop outfit has the chops necessary to take the big prize. Still, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this album, which is a self-described “multidisciplinary hyper-orientalist cesspool”. Think of them as Arcade Fire on Peyote. They may not be Polaris material but they are sure to delight at their upcoming three-day stint at Sackville, New Brunswick’s “Sappyfest” (this a real thing).
#8 – Team @Shoemosher - Cadence Weapon – Hope In Dirt City
Sure, take Feist and Drake with your first two picks, with about a bazillion albums sold between them, and then go for the ultra obscure ambient experimental album to try and save face. Classic.
I was a bit torn with this pick. Wasn’t sure what to do with the two acts I legitimately like the most on this list. Fucked Up have a winning pedigree, destroyed an MTV bathroom one time, and Damian tweets about pro wrestling. On the other hand, Cadence Weapon is a former poet laureate, fits my ‘West is Best!’ draft strategy (even if he also bailed to Montreal), and named his first album after a pro wrestling term. Tough call. In the end, I went with CW because I was convinced my counterpart would be too scared of Fucked Up’s music to draft them, and that I could have both. We’ll see how that turns out…
#9 – Team @JustinVM - Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
I wasn’t about to let a returning Polaris champion fall to last pick overall. As a bonus, the album is really, really good. However, the sobering (maybe even ‘Fucked Up’) reality is that the Polaris prize has only been around for 6 years, and Fucked Up already won in 2009. Giving them another victory this year would be very, well, Un-Canadian. This is indeed a great album, but I fear Fucked Up has a bit too much Polaris Bureaucratic Plaid Tape to break through this time around.
#10 – Team @Shoemosher - Cold Specks – I Predict A Graceful Explosion
Makes the pick, and even makes the Fucked Up pun. Really rubbing my face in it. Oh well. With my final pick, I’m happy to take Cold Specks, who I’ve never heard and know nothing about. Sounds about right for a last pick. I know this much though: In 1995, a horse trainer named D. Wayne Lukas entered a horse named Thunder Gulch into the Kentucky Derby. That horse had 25:1 odds to win the damn thing. After a grueling 1 ¼ mile race, he took the crown by 2 ¼ lengths. Right now, I feel like D. Wayne Lukas, and Cold Specks looks a whole lot like Thunder Gulch.
There it is kids. That’s a wrap. Who do you think drafted the better team? Who do you think wins in the end? Get at us on Twitter or in the comments.
posted by: @Shoemosher