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Toronto music journalists debate 2012 Polaris Music Prize short-list on eve of gala

By: Curtis Sindrey –

Toronto music journalists joined moderator and Exclaim! Editor-in-Chief James Keast in a lively discussion about the ten short-listed albums nominated for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize.

Aaron Brophy of Spinner Canada was a juror from the very beginning when the awards were founded in 2006.

“I was apart of the club from year one when Final Fantasy/Owen Pallett won and I was also apart of that argument that we only got three drink tickets. I’m still sore about that,” said Brophy.


While none of the panelists will be serving on the Grand Jury this year, a new 11 person Grand Jury, which includes The Grid’s Chris Bilton, CBC Radio 1’s Lisa Christiansen, Maclean’s Michael Barclay, and AUX TV’s Nicole Villeneuve, will be sequestered upstairs in the Red Room of The Masonic Temple during the gala to discuss, debate and determine a winner. The Grand Jury is chosen from a larger jury of over 200 music journalists, broadcasters and bloggers.


Exclaim Editor-in-Chief James Keast and Spinner Canada’s Aaron Brophy at 2012 Polaris Prize Music Salon. September 18, 2012. (Photo: Curtis Sindrey/Aesthetic Magazine)


The Grid’s Denise Benson, who also has been contributing to Polaris since day one, served on the grand jury when Canadian rock band Caribou won, which “was a super fun thing and very interesting to sit in a room and go through that process and it’s amazing how long that decision can actually take.”

Toronto Star music writer Ben Rayner served on the grand jury in 2010, the year Toronto-based hardcore band Fucked Up took home the prize, “which was very exciting because that was album going in that I wanted to win.”

With each of the ten albums all having a different effect on each of them, the panel opened up as to which album they thought best deserved the 2012 prize.

“None of my picks actually made the shortlist so I have no horse in this race,” said Brophy. “I am not too emotionally invested now so I only have ones that I kinda like more and I really like the Japandroids record and the Yamataka record and the others go down on a grade.”


Toronto Star music writer Ben Rayner at 2012 Polaris Prize Music Salon. September 18, 2012. (Photo: Curtis Sindrey/Aesthetic Magazine)


Benson’s horse is the Yamantaka // Sonic Titan album YT//STwhich is arguably one of the front-runners.

“The Polaris Prize is different from other music prizes in that it’s about rewarding an album that is a whole, complete beast from beginning to end and that album I clearly remember from the first note I was stunned because it’s so different and I listened to it on repeat for a while,” said Benson.

Rayner, who championed Fucked Up’s The Chemistry of Common Life to win Polaris in 2010, believes that their new album David Comes To Life, is “longwinded, and not as varied and not as trailblazingly original.”

This year his choice is the acclaimed album from Vancouver native Grimes, who with her album Visions, is one of the most buzzed about artists nominated for the prize this year.

“I wasn’t sure about it at first and it totally creeped up on me. It was a stealth favourite and I always caught myself going back to it,” said Rayner.

Many albums were examined and debated as to why they weren’t nominated even for the long-list, including Toronto-based rock band Sissy and their album March of the Humans (released in January). Rayner was a particular advocate for the group saying, “they are living proof that the paper of record in this city hasn’t really read or doesn’t have influence over anybody because I tried very hard to pimp them as much as I can.”

“Their album March of the Humans, is a perfect dream union of Portishead and Nine Inch Nails and it’s dark, industrial and I love that band and hopefully someone goes and downloads the goddamned thing tonight because it’s a fantastic record,” he said.

The 2012 Polaris Prize Gala storms into Toronto’s Concert Hall Studios at Bell Media’s Masonic Temple on September 24th.




Favourites: Grimes | Visions, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan | YT//ST.

Still In The Running: Drake | Take Care, Feist | Metals, Japandroids | Celebration Rock.

Long Shots: Kathleen Edwards | Voyageur, Cadence Weapon | Hope in Dirt City, Fucked Up | David Comes To Life.


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