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Polaris Prize 2012 Short List: SPIN’s Guide to the 10 Key Acts

Fucked Up / Photo by Ian Witlen

After announcing its long list last month, Canada’s Polaris Prize jurors have whittled the pool down to ten native acts whose recent albums deserve short-list status for the $30,000 award that commends each year’s “best album based solely on artistic merit without regard to sales or genre.” When the list was released today, we realized we’ve weighed in on almost all of them, so consider this a SPIN User’s Guide to the 2012 Polaris Prize. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at Toronto’s Masonic Temple Concert Hall September 24.

  • Cadence Weapon, Hope in Dirt City: The Alberta rapper struggled to care and so did we.
  • Cold Specks, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion: Someone sort of like Adele but not quite.
  • Drake, Take Care: Drizzy’s poor little rich boy schtick landed him at No. 22 on SPIN’s 50 Best Albums of 2011, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we think he needs that $30,000 prize. Read SPIN’s No Trivia columnist Brandon Soderberg’s take on it for clarification.
  • Kathleen Edwards, Voyageur: Justin Vernon paramour or not, her “gently devastating” fourth record blew us away; this one’s a SPIN Essential.
  • Feist, Metals: We liked, but weren’t bowled over by, Leslie’s fourth record. As SPIN reviewer Garrett Kamps puts it, “[New] voices could learn a thing or two from Feist’s balance of nuance and forthrightness, even if Metals isn’t the keenest example of that alchemy.”
  • Fucked Up, David Comes to Life: SPIN’s No. 1 Album of 2011. ‘Nuff said. If it’s not enough, dive into SPIN contributor Brian Raferty’s review. (If Fucked Up nab the prize this year, it’ll be the second time the brainchild of Damian Abraham has received this award.)
  • Grimes, Visions: Overall, we liked it, largely because, as reviewer Eric Harvey puts it, the record “displays a young singer developing a relationship with her own voice and the seemingly infinite possibilities for shaping and representing it.”
  • Handsome Furs, Sound Kapital: We liked what we now know was the swan-song of the husband-wife project of Alexei Perry and Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner, even if sometimes its themes got a little muddled.
  • Japandroids, Celebration Rock: We loved this record so much that we not only dubbed it a SPIN Essential, SPIN editor David Bevan followed the duo to their Vancouver home, where things got pretty personal.
  • Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, YT//ST: We’ll sheepishly admit we’re relatively new to Yamantaka’s unique breed of gloomy, Kabuki-tinged metal-cum-experimental rock opera (or “noh-wave.” as they call it), but from what we’ve heard (and seen) from the collective, we definitely dig. Besides, they make all their stage costumes themselves, so they could certainly use the cash.