Braids Band

Calgary's Braids are shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. Could they be 2011's winner?

The Polaris Music Prize is a celebration of Canada’s new & emerging artists. Introduced in 2006, Canada’s music industry has quickly embraced the prize as something to write home about. It is essentially your cool music friend’s top 10 mixtape of acts spanning different genres & compiled based on artistic merit rather than music sales or chart position. Next Monday the $30,000 grand prize will be awarded to one of the ten short list nominees. In celebration, we’ll give away a free download of the winning album to five lucky contestants. To enter, tell us about your best Canadian music experience in the comments below. Move us, make us laugh, make us cry! We’ll announce our five winners next Monday after the official Polaris Prize winner is crowned. For now, enjoy our roundup of the ten short list nominees.

1. Arcade FireThe Suburbs

A lot of love out there for this record right now. This band is one of the most innovative acts making music today, creating videos & live performances that engage their listeners and involve them in a true emotional connection with the music. The Suburbs is childhood nostalgia for anyone who grew up in an urban environment.


2. Austra, Feel It Break

This is the debut album of Austra, a three-piece based out of Toronto. Katie Stelmanis’ strong vocals are at the forefront, moving through high & low, mostly high, synth sounds and a consistent kick drum. This is music to pre-party to.


3. Braids, Native Speaker

Braids makes waves. Layers on layers of moving sounds, the music descends upon calm waters. Ripples move outwards, the wind picks up & before long you are riding a tsunami under a purple sky. The storm fades, you take a deep breath and with the softest touch you are pulled back to the shoreline, forever grateful for what you had just experienced.


4. Destroyer, Kaputt

Dan Bejar is the prolific mastermind behind Destroyer. He has been releasing records almost every year since the mid-nineties. His lyrics are poetry, often full of cryptic imagery and allusion for the ambitious literati to decipher. Kaputt feels very adult-contemporary. That isn’t a dig, just a general observation. What makes it so? The saxaphone on “Chinatown” kind of makes me think of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” That said, Destroyer can do whatever he wants and I will love it forever.


5. GalaxieTigre Et Diesel

Galaxie is rock music for those that need to feel the bass thump deep down inside of them. Quebec has really been turning it up loud in the last few years with bands like Galaxie, Malajube and last year’s Polaris Prize winners, Karkwa. Lyrics are all in French, but we all know music is its own language. I don’t know what they are singing about exactly, but I can certainly feel it.


6. Hey Rosetta! Seeds

Hey Rosetta! is a repeat contender for the Polaris Prize this year, having ended up on the shortlist back in 2009. The band likes to play with tempo, speeding up then slowing down, playing with emotions and controlling the pitter-patter of heartbeats. Seeds is a journey. All the way through the record, a consistent pulse keeps you moving your body and raising your fist.


7. Ron Sexsmith, Long Player Late Bloomer

Sexsmith has been crafting delicate pop songs for the last 20 years. He is a seasoned veteran; a rare genius that has developed a blueprint for flawless songwriting. He has performed with Leonard Cohen, sung with Chris Martin, has been covered by Feist, written for Michael Buble and praised by Paul McCartney. Ron Sexsmith knows how to do it and he does it well.


8. Colin Stetson, New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges

Colin Stetson’s latest record is definitely the wildcard in this year’s shortlist. He has composed 14 solo horn compositions, recorded live, with no overdubs or loops, in a studio filled with microphones. The music isn’t like anything you have ever heard before. It is quick, raw, gritty, tribal, art-house jazz. It is calculated discordance. It is an explosion in the sky.


9. Timber Timbre, Creep On Creepin’ On

Rising up from the depths of a bubbling swamp, Timber Timbre speaks to the moonlight in haunted doo-wop. The piano keys are a metronome; the strings a breaking heart. The nighttime casts its shadow as the music glows a blood red. You feel it. It chills your bones. You need to look over your shoulder but you just can’t look away.


10. The Weeknd, House Of Balloons

House Of Balloons is down tempo musical heartbreak. The lyrics are sensitive in nature. The production is quality. All the tracks are available for free download via The Weeknd’s website. Abel Tesfaye, 21, is the producer behind the mixtape igniting music blogs everywhere, and this is just the beginning.


Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. Laura Fraser

    My most magical Canadian music moment (so far!) is when I saw Stars perform at an outdoor music festival in Halifax. It began pouring shortly into the Montreal band’s set, but Canadian fans stayed and crowded the stage. The magic moment? When they held the mic out to the crowd during “Take Me to the Riot” and we all shouted the lyric “In that instant it started to pour” while rained drenched us all.

  2. I saw Bachman Turner Overdrive at the CNE in 1975. I was 16, and it was my first concert. I was in love with Randy Bachman, and I remember he was so confident and intense. The band exploded through their set. They played Takin’ Care of Business, Let it Ride, and all thier big hits. Everyone was dancing and grooving. I was the happiest girl that day.

  3. At University of Guelph, Harry Chapin finished concert with singing “All my life’s a circle”. The whole crowd sang along. Who knew he wouldn’t be with us that long?

  4. Wolf Parade at the Commodore in Vancouver this May. The energy was crazy, the songs were catchy. Everyone was freaking out, but not being aggressive, and having a good time. At the end of the concert half the crowd went on stage and sang ‘knockin’ on heaven’s door’ with the band. It was a kumbaya moment.

  5. Saw Ron Sexsmith and kd lang at the Montreal jazz fest. He was chill and professional. Got a photo from his afterward. He’s a funny guy, told a couple of jokes, and went right into playing. very talented. you can tell he’s a quiet guy in person. kd lang and her band knocked everyone out. She sang Hallelujah. It’s the song chills me the most, even though kd was a touch too dramatic. (i prefer the original from Leonard Cohen.) Her preformance of Waters Edge was the best yet.

  6. [...] winners of our Polaris Music Prize Giveaway have been contacted, and they’ll be receiving the Deluxe Version of The Suburbs (which [...]

  7. [...] In 2007, Leslie Feist, known simply as Feist, gave the world The Reminder, a jazzy folk album laden with catchy hooks, most notably “1234“, which become an iPod jingle and a song on Sesame Street. The Reminder brought the Calgary songstress four Grammy nominations, six Juno awards, a spot of the Polaris Prize shortlist, and international fame. This October, Feist returns with her fifth album, Metals, a quiet, artful 12-song affair, which features Polars Prize shortlister Colin Stetson. [...]


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Cody Alan Gregory

About Cody Alan Gregory

Cody Alan Gregory is a writer, musician and zine publisher living in Vancouver, BC. He hosted an all-Canadian independent radio program for 3 years on CFUV 101.9FM, UVIC's campus radio. He has interviewed and written about many homegrown artists. He currently runs Red, White and You, a music blog dedicated to the discovery of Canadian musicians, old and new.

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