Polaris Prize 2014: 8 minutes with 8 finalists

Arcade Fire, Drake, Jessy Lanza, Tanya Tagaq -- we've had most of this year's finalists on Q!
The Polaris Music Prize jury is set to ignore vocal fans, genre boundaries and record sales to once again name the best Canadian album of the year. And if you're counting down the minutes until September 22 -- when one of ten deserving nominees will take home the $30,000 prize -- we can help make the wait more enjoyable. 

The eight  short-listed artists that have recently passed through Studio Q are featured here. Click on the SoundCloud players embedded below to hear minute-long highlights from their Q interviews, laid over samples of their Polaris-nominated albums.

Two other Polaris Prize finalists not listed below are Mac DeMarco with Salad Days and Timber Timbre with Hot Dreams. You can find out more about them and listen to their music here:

The winner of this year's competition will a ppear on Q on September 23, the day after the award is presented -- so be sure to check back in after the results are announced!

(Merge Records)

This is Arcade Fire's fourth album and it sounds nothing like their first three. Lead vocalist Win Butler and drummer Jeremy Gara say the band drew from music all over the map, as well as finding inspiration from artists like The Clash and David Bowie. Arcade Fire won the Polaris Music Prize in 2011 with  The Suburbs.


Folk singer Basia Bulat's third album is personal, introspective, and hopeful. The album started out with a very different tone, but after certain events in her life, Bulat abandoned the songs she initially created to start the record from scratch. The result is an album that's soul baring and ultimately uplifting.


Drake's third album stands out from his other work as the evolution of an artist who is no longer playing a humble "happy to be here" role. Drake was clear from the get-go that this album would represent who he is now, as someone who's proud of himself and the work he's put in to be where he is today.


This debut album from Jessy Lanza is a mix of electronic beats, pop lyrics, and a sensual voice -- all blended with an R&B flavour. In her conversation with guest host Terry O'Reilly, Lanza recounts her journey to this album, including her decision to leave school and return to her hometown in Hamilton, Ontario.


While he was still going by Final Fantasy,   Owen Pallett won the inaugural Polaris Prize in 2006 for his record, He Poos Clouds. His fourth album,  In Conflict, is his second since retiring his original band name. It is also Pallett's first collaborative album, and it marries a warm voice with beautifully intricate soundscapes as well as lyrics he deems personal, but not confessional. 


Shad's fourth album includes songs with conflict, humour, and an overall optimistic view of the world. Flying Colours covers the spectrum from family life to dealing with success, but nearly all carry Shad's unwavering positivity and his commitment to learning from life's darker moments.


The fourth album from Tanya Tagaq is unapologetic, unordinary, and hypnotic. The throat singer demonstrates her strong sense of self and sound in the album, and isn't afraid to embrace ugly moments in the music in order to express herself fully. Her songs rarely have traditional lyrics, but the sounds she makes speak for themselves.


YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN is an experimental music and performance art collective, and their second album incorporates operatic tones with indigenous language. You can feel their sense of spectacle emanating through their music (and also watch it on our YouTube channel). 

Who do you hope will win this year's Polaris Music Prize? Share your pick in the comments section below.


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