The 7 Polaris long-list albums we think you’ll like the most
The long-list for the 2023 Polaris Music Prize was released yesterday, and that means the countdown is on.
In precisely three months and five days, the organizers will announce the name of this year’s winner. And that’s when legendary music publicist Richard Flohil will make a cynical Facebook post blasting the Polaris process, and the rest of us will weigh in about how it’s dominated by hipsters, ignores multiple genres and favours projects that are wildly experimental but that we will probably never listen to while doing the dishes — which, let’s face it, is kind of the story of art crticism in a nutshell.
This year’s Polaris long-list is, as one might expect, a collection of musically innovative stuff in which pop influences dominate. You can scroll to the bottom of this story to see the full list.
I personally found the jazzy, bossa nova-influenced Gayance album and the folk-meets-Beattles-meets-all kinds o’ stuff Thierry Larose project to be pretty interesting. And if you like hip hop, there’s some great stuff from Snotty Nose Rez Kids.
But if you’re a roots fan who’s looking for something to wash dishes to, here are the seven albums we think you’ll find most accessible.
Aysanabee – Watin
Let’s face it, you don’t need us to tell you to check out Aysanabee. You already have. You probably already love it. This is just an excuse to include his music here again. You’re welcome.
Mariel Buckley – Everywhere I Used To Be
Compared by No Depression to Loretta Lynn (for speaking her mind) Townes Van Zandt and Joan Jett, Mariel is kind of an “it girl” at the moment in what we once called “alt.country.”
Ghostkeeper – Multidimensional Culture
This album contains shades of the country roots influence that’s far more pronounced in Shane Ghostkeeper’s new solo effort. But the cinematic production on these songs draws from a totally unique blend of influences from vintage roots rock to 80s synth pop. Yet somehow it still feels like a cohesive package.
Murray Lightburn – Once Upon A Time In Montreal
Murray’s solo project (he’s the co-founder of The Dears) is a jazzy singer-songwriter project backed by a 13-piece orchestra and recorded with Howard Billermand at Hotel2Tango in Montreal. So, you know, it’s got that “atmosphere.”
Dan Mangan – Being Somewhere
Dan is widely acclaimed as a sing-songwriter and has plenty of fans in the folk and roots communities, so it was a no brainer to include him on this list. But if you’re expecting the rootsier production of tracks like “Robots,” you won’t find it on this album, which is definitely more electronic and atmospheric.
Tami Neilson – Kingmaker
Already a Juno nominee, Tami’s sound is dark, cinematic country roots at its finest, and the woman’s got a voice to rival the queens of the genre like Loretta and Patsy.
Nico Paulo – Nico Paulo
Born and raised in Portugal and based in St. John’s NL, Nico has a beautiful voice that has a touch of Joni’s understated elasticicity. That voice is right up front on this collection of songs that has a retro, jazzy, airy feel.
The full Polaris 2023 long list
All Hands_Make Light, Darling the Dawn
Alvvays, Blue Rev
Aquakultre, Don’t Trip
Badge Époque Ensemble, Clouds of Joy
Begonia, Powder Blue
Bibi Club, Le soleil et la mer
Big|Brave, nature morte
Philippe Brach, Les gens qu’on aime
Mariel Buckley, Everywhere I Used to Be
Daniel Caesar, Never Enough
Chiiild, Better Luck in the Next Life
Debby Friday, Good Luck
Ghostkeeper, Multidimensional Culture
Home Front, Games of Power
Khotin, Release Spirit
Thierry Larose, Sprint!
Murray Lightburn, Once Upon a Time in Montreal
Isabella Lovestory, Amor Hardcore
Dan Mangan, Being Somewhere
N Nao, L’eau et les rêves
Tami Neilson, Kingmaker
Eliza Niemi, Staying Mellow Blows
Nico Paulo, Nico Paulo
Planet Giza, Ready When You Are
Jessie Reyez, Yessie
The Sadies, Colder Streams
Jairus Sharif, Water & Tools
Andy Shauf, Norm
Dylan Sinclair, No Longer in the Suburbs
Snotty Nose Rez Kids, I’m Good, HBU?
Alexandra Stréliski, Néo-Romance
U.S. Girls, Bless This Mess
Witch Prophet, Gateway Experience
Yoo Doo Right, A Murmur, Boundless to the East
Zoon, Bekka Ma’iingan