TORONTO — Rising R&B singer Daniel Caesar's debut, the latest effort by Arcade Fire, and a posthumous work from Gord Downie are among the long-listed albums for the Polaris Music Prize.
The juried award for best Canadian album of the year was narrowed down to 40 contenders who could qualify for the short list revealed next month.
Among the projects named is "Everything Now," the disco-rock social statement released last year by Arcade Fire, who previously won the Polaris for "The Suburbs" in 2011.
Caesar's breakout collection of slow jams, "Freudian," joins other albums that made an impact, including Downie's "Introduce Yerself," a series of love letters written by the Tragically Hip frontman to his friends shortly before he died of brain cancer.
Several indie darlings also made the long list, among them Toronto dream pop band Alvvays with "Antisocialites," as well as Bahamas for the album "Earthtones" and Charlotte Day Wilson with "Stone Woman."
The Polaris jury also selected a number of concept albums from Indigenous artists.
Jeremy Dutcher's "Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa" melds the operatic tenor's voice with century-old recordings of people speaking the Wolastoq language, while "The Average Savage" from hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids is a staunch rejection of racism and stereotypes levelled against residential communities.
Other highlights include "Both Ways" from Sarnia, Ont.-raised country performer Donovan Woods, "Lil Mont from The Ave" by Toronto rapper Clairmont The Second and "New Mistakes" from Hamilton singer-songwriter Terra Lightfoot.
The Polaris Music Prize is awarded to the artist or group that created the best Canadian album of the previous year — irrespective of genre or sales — as chosen by a large team of journalists, broadcasters and bloggers. The long list was selected from 225 albums that made the first ballots.
A short list of contenders will be revealed on July 17.
The Polaris winner will be awarded $50,000 on Sept. 17 at a gala presentation held at Toronto's Carlu, which will be webcast by CBC Music.
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David Friend, The Canadian Press