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The Insider’s Guide to the Polaris Prize Shortlist

Yesterday, the Polaris Prize Shortlist was released. It is a $50 000 prize awarded to one Canadian Artist each year. This year’s list features a wide variety of genres that whether or not you’re explicitly accustomed to, are worth familiarizing yourself with. However, tackling ten brand new albums can be intimidating so we broke it down for you. Even if you don’t learn every song of every album listed, having a base knowledge is sure to come in handy the next time a conversation drifts to the topic of new music.

Black Mountain – IV (2016)

Release Date: April 1, 2016

Vancouver natives Black Mountain have been bringing classic rock into this millennium since their formation in 2004. IV (2016) as the name suggests, is Black Mountain’s fourth studio album and with it comes an excess of experience, — experience that’s allowed them to create an album that succinctly combines rock with pop in a way that manages to echo, yet invigorate their existing sound.

Check out the colourful video for the lead single “Florian Saucer Attack” below.


Basia Bulat – Good Advice (2016)

Release Date: February 12, 2016

Basia Bulat crafted an album that at first listen comes across as a lovely and peppy classic pop record. However, further listening shows that the complexity and dark shadows that defined her earlier albums are still there.

Take a listen to her Collective Arts Black Box Session below.


Grimes – Art Angels (2016)

Release Date: December 11, 2015

Grimes finds herself able to explore her most abstract pop fantasies on her fourth album Art Angels (2016). This album found her branching out and writing not always from personal experience but often from a purely artistic perspective. This in turn created an incredibly catchy and vibrant album that’s impossible to nail down as a specific genre.

Listen to single “Kill V. Maim” below.


Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION (2016)

Release Date: August 21, 2015

Carly Rae Jepsen’s third album E•MO•TION (2016) was a commercial flop but a critical hit. The album is held in high regards by critics for it’s strong roster of song writers, relatable lyrics and unapologetic pop sound.

Catch a song that is not “I Really Like You” below.


Kaytranada – 99.9% (2016)

Release Date: May 6, 2016

Kaytranada cemented his status as a world class producer with the work on his latest album 99.9% (2016). The album differs from other electronic dance albums by its ability to retain the attention of a listener throughout the fifteen tracks collection. It is an airy, feel good electronic dance album with an eclectic track list that sets it above the rest.

Listen to “Glowed Up Feat. Anderson .Paak” below.


Jessy Lanza – Oh No (2016)

Release Date: May 13, 2016

Jessy Lanza’s Oh No (2016) is a techno-pop eclectic masterpiece. This album notably draws from a variety of cross decade and genre influences including but not limited to Juke, Disco and R&B. It comes across as an almost intergalactic dance album.

Listen to “It Means I Love You” below.


PUP – The Dream Is Over (2016)

Release Date: May 27, 2016

PUP starts off their second album with an energy and sincerity that doesn’t falter at any point through out the nine track album. The album explores themes of broken and complicated interpersonal relationships. They manage to bring the bursting energy they had on their first album and somehow do it better.

Listen to PUP perform “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You” and “DVP” below.


Andy Shauf – The Party (2016)

Andy Shauf blew the critics away with his exploratory album The Party (2016). The album takes the listener on a ten song journey that explores different elements of a party and simultaneous uses those themes to provide commentary on the many shared experiences of youth. The songs are hauntingly relatable and in turn catchy.

Listen to single “The Magician” below.


U.S. Girls – Half Free (2016)

Release Date: September 25, 2015

U.S. Girls craft an almost vintage sounding pop on their latest album Half Free (2016). The album sounds like a mix of something you would hear on a Oldies station with a touch of millennial influence. It explores the complicated and often perverse relationships women endure with a tongue in cheek tone throughout.

Listen to “Woman’s World” below.


White Lung – Paradise (2016)

Release Date: May 6, 2016

The Canadian Punk Rockers that are known as White Lung found themselves taking on a different direction on this album as they created a cleaner more digestible album. This album infuses the edge and aggression found on their previous albums with  more catchy hooks and a pop influence.

Listen to single “Below” below.

Image Courtesy of Polaris Music Prize

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