2015 Polaris Music Prize Predictions

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


Unlike previous years, this year’s Polaris Music Prize actually seems interesting. For what is generally viewed as a bland music industry circle jerk of an event (where music writers get fed for once), it’s actually somewhat refreshing.

What are the hot topics at hand? Let’s see

1. Viet Cong The Calgary band’s controversial name has finally become a hot topic. The band’s name has slowly been receiving backlash ever since it’s inception, but now with them on the verge of winning Canada’s equivalent of the Mercury Prize, the attention has definitely taken the forefront, generating the type of negative attention that the Polaris Prize probably didn’t want. For a good recap of this issue, read this excellent article here. Rumors are that Viet Cong will reveal a new name at the Polaris. I’ve heard they are deciding between ISIS or Dead Babyfuckers because both those sound pretty cool, according to the band.

2. Polaris Music Prize = Boys Club
The Canadian music industry, like most industries in life, is mostly a boys club. Like any other industry, those boys are mostly unaware that it’s a boys club. As documented here on Canadaland, it is not particularly fun for new comers trying to push the musical boundaries of the Polaris Prize or pointing out it’s a boys club. This article in addition to the annual lack of non CBC endorsed rock acts on the list, adds further fuel to the fire. Does Polaris really represent Canada’s entire swath of music?

In light of these two controversies, the Polaris Prize finds it’s looming Monday gala at the crossroads. Will they pretend everything is happyland, with Steve Jordan and friends congratulating themselves on another year well done or will they actually tackle these items right then and there? My guess is on the former.

Despite the issues at hand, it is a good sign to see that the Canadian music industry is still generating some amazing albums and whether or not the ten nominees are the absolute ten best is irrelevant, they are the ten that are there and we will now predict the winner, using science and sabermetrics.

Braids – Deep in the Iris
Let’s punch in the numbers into our machine to see if they will win.
One sec.
Nope. they will not win.

BadBadNotGood & GhostFace Killah – Sour Soul
These guys put together one of the best shows I saw at SXSW and if the Polaris Prize was going full heel, what better way then to give the Polaris Prize to AN AMERICAN RAPPER who will then take the award back the the US. Then we will have to have Drake beef with Ghostface, only until Drake realizes Ghostface is no one you want to fuck with and he’ll slowly back off while slowly singing “Just Hold On I’m coming home, but not with the Polaris Prize” while Ghostface makes a video where he wraps up $100 Canadian dollar bills with weed and smokes it up.
Chances of winning: Maybe

Jennifer Castle – Pink City
A local favorite, Jennifer Castle will probably not win this one. Just a feeling.

Caribou – Our Love
Nobody has ever won the Polaris Prize twice. Will Caribou be the first? There album was one of my favorites from last year, but the real question is whether or not the jury think Caribou is the band to bestow this prestigious distinction? Will they save that for the next Arcade Fire record instead?
Chances of winning: Strongish

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – They are probably saving the mainstream r&b/hip hop Polaris win for The Weeknd next year, so I doubt this will be his year. Arguably this album is weaker then the previous album, so if he didn’t win for that one, then he surely will not win for this one. I don’t even know what I’m saying because I haven’t heard any Drake album. Still, 3 times the bridesmaid, never the bride, Drake is becoming the Susan Lucci of the Polaris.
Chances of winning: Ask Serena

Tobios Jesso Jr – Goon – I thought this dude was a teenager until I read his wiki page and realized he was 30. My entire story about this now goes out the window. Goon was a very enjoyable album and if Randy Newman ever retired Tobias can easily soundtrack the next ten Pixar movies. That is a huge compliment, by the way. Still, will the guitaratti allow a piano man to win this indie rock award? Doubt it.
Chances of winning: Doubtful

Buffy Sainte-Maria – Power in the Blood
Perhaps if Tanya Tagaq didn’t go on stage last year and decapitated a seal on stage.
Chances of winning: Slim.

The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
It seems like the New Pornographers have been around forever, yet they always release great albums. Brill Bruisers was no exception. Has any west coast bands won the Polaris? Maybe it’s time. No one would argue against these guys if they won.
Chances of Winning: High

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

Alvvays – Alvvays
Alvvays shimmering summer album was one of everyone’s favorites of last year and comes controversy free. Throw in some Rankin family lineage and you have yourself the winner.

Concert Review: Junior Boys, Caribou, Miracle Fortress, June 9, Phoenix

Posted on by sarahw in Concerts | Leave a comment

Junior Boys in a Boat

Toronto – Miracle Fortress is a side project by Graham Van Pelt, keyboardist of Think About Life.  Van Pelt hails from Montreal and is touring after the release of his sophomore album Was I the Wave off Secret City Records.

I went into this show expecting more of a shoe gaze, electronic sound.  Miracle Fortress is from Montreal after all and those French people love their electronic music (Chromeo etc.).

I was pleasantly surprised with the 80s, pop show that Miracle Fortress put on.  Van Pelt’s voice has been likened to that of Brian Wilson, which is complete poppycack (Ricky put a ban on swearing, I’m being creative here).  While the music is catchy and interesting, Van Pelt’s voice is pitchy and breaks a lot, no where close to that Beach Boys falsetto.

Miracle Fortress: Raw Spectacle (Diamond Rings Remix) by -gaga

Good friend and touring partner to Junior Boys, Caribou (Dan Snaith), had a DJ set in between Miracle Fortress and Junior Boys.  What I thought was going to be a 45 minute show turned out to be a 1.5 hour never ending ordeal.  He was very good, but I think a DJ set is better suited to the end of a show.

Junior Boys have been a mainstay in the Canadian music scene since 1999 (read: they’re old) and have 4 albums under their belt.  They opened with my favourite tune, Parallel Lines, one of the most played songs on my iPod.

Miracle Fortress had hints of 80s sound, but Junior Boys have the 80s, New Order sound down to a T.  That being said, I feel as though Junior Boys’ love lies in studio as they have absolutely zero stage presence.  Which is okay, but this is an electronic show, with some relatively upbeat songs.  People will dance regardless but on a Thursday evening at 12am I definitely need some inspiration (yeah, next thing I’ll be telling teenagers to get off my lawn).  Junior Boys played songs from all 4 of their albums and saved their new single Banana Ripple for the encore. Their new album It’s All True is out today (June 14) off Domino Records and you can grab a free track off that record from Domino Records here.

Junior Boys – Banana Ripple by DominoRecordCo

It’s nice to see a sold out show consisting 3 solid Canadian acts,  however the only one I’d see again is Caribou, and for his studio material…not a DJ set.

Additional Junior Boys + Miracle Fortress Tour Dates:

06/16 Washington DC – Black Cat
06/17 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
06/18 Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
06/20 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
06/21 Nashville, TN – Mercy Lounge
06/22 Louisville, KY – Headliners
06/24 Chicago, IL – Metro
06/25 Detroit, MI – Crofoot

Primavera Day 1 – Caribou, Echo and the Bunnymen, Poble Espanol, May 25th

Posted on by Paul in Primavera | Leave a comment

Barcelona – While the official Primavera Sound did not start until Thursday, there was a series of concerts on Wednesday night that was located offsite, but still under the Primavera Sound moniker. The two acts that played that night included Liverpool act Echo and the Bunnymen and Canadian band Caribou. We were there for both.

Anyone following the career of Echo and the Bunnymen will have known that the past few years, the group has been doing a variety of tours featuring some of their most popular albums. For Primavera Sound, the group decided to perform tracks off their first two critically acclaimed albums – Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here. Taking the stage shortly after 8:30 at Poble Espanol, the band quickly greeted the crowd, which was around 3000-4000 capacity before launching into a hard rocking set. Ian McCulloch seemed less grouchy than usual, perhaps inspired by the massive crowd in the beautiful venue. Poble Espanol is an outdoor open-air architectural museum, so it felt as if the band was playing in a town square from old century Spain. It was quite a scene.

Most of my knowledge for Echo and the Bunnymen comes from their latter, more poppy albums such as Ocean Rain so I was taken by a bit of at how much harder the first two albums were. Tracks like Rescue and A Promise generated a huge response and McCulloch’s still got that voice and hit most of his high notes. The man was in pretty good spirit Wednesday night and even did some arm movements that could constitute as dance moves. While personally, I would have preferred more of a greatest hits show, I guess I have seen that already and it was nice to see some early Echo and the Bunnymen material and see where the origins of the band were. An encore featuring hit songs such as Bring on the Dancing Horses ended off a solid hundred minute set and was pretty much a great way to start off a music festival.
– Ricky

After a solid set by Echo and the Bunnymen(and after the departure of several of their fans (who care not a whit for that newfangled electro stuff), Caribou took to the stage to end of the night.  And what a show it was.  Dan Snaith and his three bandmates put on such a tight, joyous energetic set that was totally impressive to behold.  Never having seen Caribou before, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but when I heard it would be a full band performance, I figured it would be something worth seeing.  Seeing a solid electronic musician perform solo is one thing, but a full band performance always takes things to the next level.  Snaith and band had great chemistry onstage and sounded pretty tight.  I really enjoyed watching the interplay between the bandmates as they played so close together despite being on a fairly large stage.  It was like watching them jam together in their practice space, that’s how close together they were.  Caribou’s set was the perfect way to end off the night and a great way to start off the festival.

Caribou- Odessa by pipppo

Concert Review: Holy Fuck, Sept 29, Phoenix Theatre

Posted on by sarahw in Concerts, Everything | 1 Comment

Toronto – Holy Fuck is not your typical electronic band. Unlike the plethora of digital ensembles equipped with laptops and pre-programmed backing tracks, Holy Fuck set themselves apart by using a 35mm film synchronizer and toy keyboards to produce their analog noises.

Say what you want about bands with expletives in their name: they’re all about shock, they won’t be able to reach the mainstream, or they’re just offensive. Holy Fuck is the perfect name for this band. While watching the show I kept thinking:

“Holy fuck, there are reels of film flying out of that keyboard contraption!”

“Holy fuck they don’t have a laptop!”

“Holy fuck are they using a toy gun to make that noise?”

Yes, it’s that kind of show and if you’re a fan of their albums then you must see them live. Their act on stage looks fantastically precise and intricate while the sound they produce is so raw, experimental, and psychedelic.

The set featured songs from their junior album Latin. Infectious Latin America grabbed the loyal audience as Red Lights, Stilettos and my new favourite Stay Lit made them say holy fuck again. A lot of their songs sound like they could be the soundtrack for a chase scene in an action movie, very fast-paced rhythms with driving beats. To me their music resembles a mix of Ratatat (Stay Lit sounds like it could be one of their songs) and Caribou (both having a very layered, original sound).

Holy Fuck was the brainchild of obscure sound machine creator Brian Borcherdt. Alongside Brian is keyboardist Graham Walsh, Drummer Matt Shultz and Bassist Matt Mcquaid. The combination of conventional instruments with layers of non-instrumental noises creates music that sounds bigger than the quartette, an electronic orchestra if you will.

The only disappointment at this show was that it was only about half full. I suppose electronic music doesn’t appeal to everyone and that Holy Fuck pales in comparison to Justin Bieber. Regardless, I would recommend seeing this band live before listening to the album and I’ll leave you with a cool mini documentary that I came across by City Sonic.

Holy Fuck – Stay Lit by alexman9