Why I’m Bad at Picking the Polaris Prize, or How I Enjoy Falling Asleep to Music.

Words by Sandy Smith

So when Adam asked me to guest post over here at songsfortheday, I was thinking of what the post could be about. I then thought that I should whine and complain…clearly.

Over the last couple of months, us Canadian media types were working on voting for who made the ‘best’ Canadian album of the last year (mid 2012 to mid 2013). We do this under the umbrella of the Polaris Music Prize – which is similar to the Barclaycard Mercury Prize (UK) and others in various countries around the globe. It is a fantastic forum for what could be considered homegrown Canadian music and a place I enjoy voting for bands that won’t do well in said event.

I tend to suck at picking a winning album for Polaris Prize if the last few years are any indication. If we are talking statistics, I believe I am a total of 3/20 with no winner picked – I would definitely be warming the bench of the music scene with that result, me thinks.

In my experience (re: defense), I lean towards music that the uninitiated ear may refer to as the “music you listen to when you want to go to sleep”. Blasphemy I say! Music that tends to be more mellow/folky or even what can fondly and affectionately be called ‘dad music’ just seems to resonate with me. This term, to some, is almost an insult. Not so my friends, it just means that music does not always need to be cranked to 11 in an underground club while raging guitar solos scorch your face and you lean to the overly niche. Not that there is anything wrong with your Instrumental-Trance-Metal-Baroque band…I am more than sure you will at least make it to the short list.

So where does this leave us? Well, I would like to officially use this forum to apologize. To be perfectly clear; if I like your album – you aren’t winning any Polaris Prizes anytime soon. I am truly sorry for how I have ruined your future potential as a musician. Maybe you could try joining Arcade Fire?

So then, who did I vote for to win the cash prize and bragging rights? Well, let’s take a listen to who was robbed for this year:


Spectral Dusk by Evening Hymns (who should win the entire thing I say!)

The Bearer of Bad News by Andy Shauf

Don’t Get Too Grand by Donovan Woods

Us Alone by Hayden

Takes Time by Jim Guthrie


So I don’t want to continue to harp on this here but how good are these guys above? Although my voting made little difference – I hope that you can all wait with me for their next album to make a breakthrough on the Polaris stage! Anything is possible, right?


p.s.  No hard feelings to the very talented group of 10 artists that are currently on the short list for some Polaris love (see them here).


Sandy Smith is the man behind Slowcoustic, a Calgary-based blog that is, in his words (because I love this description), ‘about the unhurried side of Americana/Alt-Country/Folk/Independent music.’ He’s also the guy behind Yer Bird Records, and thus is responsible for putting out one of my favorite albums so far this year, Small Houses’ Exactly Where You Wanted To Be.

This entry was posted in Andy Shauf, Donovan Woods, Evening Hymns, Guest Post, Hayden. Bookmark the permalink.

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