Today marks the beginning of my favourite musical season: the lead up to the Polaris Prize! It’s that time of year when all my nerdy music friends begin fighting debating over the quality of Canadian music releases from the past year. For those unaware, the Polaris Prize is awarded annually to the Canadian album (“album” being defined as a collection of previously unreleased material that is at least 30 minutes of music, or at least 8 tracks long) that exemplifies “creative artistic achievement in recorded music”.

The Polaris Prize Long List was announced at the Drake Hotel in Toronto earlier today. Here’s the list:

Arcade Fire – the Suburbs (Montreal)
Austra – Feel It Break (Toronto)
Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart (Vancouver)
Braids – Native Speaker (Calgary)
Buck 65 – 20 Odd Years (Toronto)
Louise Burns – Mellow Drama (Vancouver)
D-Sisive – Jonestown 2: Jimmy Go Bye Bye (Toronto)
The Dears – Degeneration Street (Montreal)
Destroyer – Kaputt (Vancouver)
Diamond Rings – Special Affections (Toronto)
Dirty Beaches – Badlands (Vancouver)
Luke Doucet and The White Falcon – Street city Trawler (Toronto)
Eternia & MoSS – At Last (Ottawa)
Galaxie – Tigre Et Diesel (Montreal)
Jenn Grant – Honeymoon Punch (Halifax)
Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 (Montreal)
Hey Rosetta! – Seeds (St. John’s)
Hooded Fang – Album (Toronto)
Imaginary Cities – Temporary Resident (Winnipeg)
Land Of Talk – Cloak and Cipher (Montreal)
Little Scream – The Golden Record (Montreal)
The Luyas – Too Beautiful to Work (Montreal)
Malajube – La Caverne (Montreal)
Miracle Fortress – Was I The Wave? (Montreal)
One Hundred Dollars – Songs Of Man (Toronto)
Doug Paisley – Constant Companion (Toronto)
PS I Love You – Meet Me At The Muster Station (Kingston)
Daniel Romano – Sleep Beneath the Willow (Welland)
The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing (Toronto)
Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer (Toronto)
Shotgun Jimmie – Transistor Sister (Halifax)
Sloan – The Double Cross (Toronto)
Frederick Squire – March 12 (Sackville)
Stars – The Five Ghosts (Toronto)
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (Montreal)
Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On (Toronto)
The Weeknd – House Of Baloons (Toronto)
Women – Public Strain (Calgary)
Neil Young – Le Noise (Marin)
Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting (Montreal)

The Long List gets cut down to a Short List of 10 nominees on July 6th. The 10 nominees will be invited to the Polaris Prize Gala, where the winner of the $30,000 prize will be announced on September 19th. In addition to the top prize now being $30,000 (it was $25,000 in previous years), new this year is that each nominee on the Short List will receive $2,000.

Previous winners of the prize are: Final Fantasy – He Poos Clouds (2006), Patrick Watson – Close To Paradise (2007), Caribou – Andorra (2008), Fucked Up – The Chemistry of Common Life (2009), and Karkwa – Les Chemins De Verre (2010).