The Polaris Music Prize long list was announced yesterday at The Drake, and it contains 30 per cent Toronto bands

The Polaris Music Prize long list was announced yesterday at The Drake, and it contains 30 per cent Toronto bands

The crowd mingles in the Drake Sky Yard before the Polaris Prize long list is announced (Image: Caroline Aksich) 

Yesterday at the Drake Hotel’s Sky Yard, the long list for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize was announced. The list, compiled by a 227-person jury composed of Canadian music media members, was a mash-up of new and familiar names, with more than a quarter of those nominated coming from Toronto. The prize, established in 2006 to recognize the best Canadian album of the year, is awarded purely on the basis of artistic merit. It now carries an impressive $30,000 purse, up from $20,000 (also new this year: all short-listed bands go home with $2,000 thanks to Slaight Music). We stopped by to watch the festivities unfold.

CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence, mid-pun (Image: Caroline Aksich) 

CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence emceed the event, opening with a horrible pun we couldn’t help but love: “I’m from Vancouver, and I’m very happy to be here because yesterday there was an actual arcade fire…and I point my finger at the suburbs.” Brendan Canning (of Broken Social Scene fame) was the first of a quartet of ex–Polaris nominee announcers. Canning kicked off the list—to no one’s surprise—with Arcade Fires Grammy-winning The Suburbs.

Veteran Toronto groups on the list include Sloan, Neil Young, Buck 65Ron Sexsmith and D-Sisive. Fresher-faced among the nominees were creepy neo-folk trio Timber Timbre, pop rock’s new glam boy John O’Regan, a.k.a. Diamond Rings (playing Yonge-Dundas Square on June 17, Wrongbar on June 18) and the band that stole its name from a children’s book, Hooded Fang (playing The Horseshoe on June 18).

In less than three weeks, this list will be hacked down to 10 albums as the jurors resubmit their top five picks from the long list. The short list will be announced July 6, and a winner will be declared September 19.

Nominated Toronto groups:

  • Austra—Feel It Break
  • Buck 65—20 Odd Years
  • D-Sisive—Jonestown 2: Jimmy Go Bye Bye
  • Diamond Rings—Special Affections
  • Luke Doucet and The White Falcon—Steel City Trawler
  • Hooded Fang—Album
  • One Hundred Dollars—Songs Of Man
  • Doug Paisley—Constant Companion
  • Ron Sexsmith—Long Player Late Bloomer
  • Sloan—The Double Cross
  • Stars—The Five Ghosts
  • Timber Timbre—Creep On Creepin’ On
  • The Weeknd—House Of Balloons

The full list is available on the Polaris website.

UPDATE: Contrary to what was published on the Polaris Prize website, we have been informed that Stars is still a Montreal-based band. As a result, the long list is 30 per cent Torontonian, not 32.5 per cent as was originally stated. Torontolife.com regrets the error.