Polaris long list – I’ve got my prize winner

June 14:

  • 1648 – Boston hangs its first witch
  • 1777 – Congress adopts the Stars and Stripes as the official flag of the United States of America
  • 1940 – Paris falls under WWII German occupation
  • 1961 – Boy George is born
  • 1994 – Vancouver riots after the Canucks lose the Stanley Cup to the New York Rangers

…and in 2012, the Polaris Music Prize long list will be revealed.

This marks my third year as one of more than 200 Polaris jury members from across Canada working in a variety of music and journalism formats. The task of selecting the five albums to be included on the long list ballot requires a lot — I mean A LOT — of listening time. I took a slightly different approach this year than I had in the past.

You see, there’s a private online discussion group where the jurors can share suggestions, discuss albums, poke fun at one another, and the like. This time around, I did not visit that group at all. Not once. I wanted to discover and listen and learn without any preconceptions about any of the music I was listening to. I think it worked quite well for me and was happy to discover some new favourite artists in the process.

Our long list ballots had to be submitted by midnight June 7. My No. 1 pick wasn’t an immediate decision. In fact, when I first listened to the album, I wasn’t even sure I liked it at all. But the more I listened, the more I came to realize the importance of it and decided it was one of the coolest, most innovative things I’d heard in years.

Three Canadians of Aboriginal descent – DJ Shub, Bear Witness and DJ NDN – make up Ottawa’s A Tribe Called Red, the creators of Pow Wow Step, and are my pick to win the Polaris Music Prize for 2012. You’re welcome to download their album for free here and decide for yourself.

Yes, there are still four ballot spots left, but (much like my first year with The Slew’s 100%) there’s absolutely no question in my mind that A Tribe Called Red deserves the prize. In case you’re interested, my four other ballot picks were (in order):

  • Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
  • Japandroids – Celebration Rock
  • Lindi Ortega – Little Red Boots
  • Elliott BROOD – Days Into Years

This ballot was not easy and there are a number of honorable mentions I could get into. I’ll likely save that for another post. But please, please check out all five of my Polaris long list ballot choices. They’re all stellar releases.

For the first time, the Polaris long list announcement will take place in Vancouver at the Waldorf Hotel starting at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 14. Veda Hille, Dan Mangan, Hannah Georgas and Patrick Watson will all be on hand to assist Polaris founder Steve Jordan with the announcement which, if you’re not in the Vancouver area, can be heard on CBC Radio 3.

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