The Borealis Music Prize is run by The Overcast and sponsored by Posie Row & Co. It celebrates the top 15 local releases every year, and uses 3 separate juries to crown a single Local Album of the Year at a party in December.

The winner gets $1,000, a trophy for their mantle, and January’s cover story. It’s an eclectic longlist this year, which speaks to breadth of genres yielding notable records in Newfoundland these days: just try and find some common ground between longlisted acts like Steve Maloney, Ouroboros, and Yee Grlz. They’re apples and oranges and kiwis; there’s something for everyone here. So get caught up in it yourself, and find the one for you by browsing these albums on Bandcamp, Spotify, or Fred’s Music!

This award is all about discovery and getting to know local music, especially for the vast majority of us not frequenting bars after midnight to take this stuff in, or discover it live. All of these albums will now be put through the ringers of a second 12-person jury consisting of local musicians and music industry insiders, to create a 5-album shortlist, which we’ll announce in December’s issue (an online December 1st).

The eighth album from a local Juno winner: it doesn’t get much more established than that. Yet Curran continues to grow her sound on Watershed; it’s a decidedly more political and rockier offering than anything from her to date.


For an album supposedly written and recorded in a month, it’s astoundingly well built; the songs employ a lot of techniques, instruments, and hole-filling production flourishes for a constantly fresh and ska-tinged indie rock sound that will keep even the modern attention span gripped.

At 15 years old, Clare is Newfoundland’s new Post-Kat-McLevey Kid Wonder. She whittled 100 of her original songs down to just 8 striking pop-rock songs for this album, which she recorded and produced herself (and played basically all instruments on). The resulting album was up for 3 MusicNL awards this fall.

As most of their modern indie rock contemporaries grow stale with time and each release, Family Video grows more interesting and engaging in sound. It’s not flashy music, but it’s considered, and it’s a real mish mash of modern sounds, forming its own cohesive whole.

Fog Lake has made the Borealis shortlist every year since The Overcast launched the award in 2014, adding something wonderfully chill to these lists year afer year. Dragon Chaser is marked by Aaron Powell’s spellbinding mellow magic, and might be both his best and most accessible album to date.

A local favourite pop punk band these days. Fun, catchy, and a great time live, what more do you want? A unique jangly twist on the genre? Check. They’ve comfortably made their own mould of the popular genre.

Janet won the MusicNL Album of the Year in October. Will her primo pipes break a record and make her the first ever artist to win both the MusicNL Album of the Year and Borealis Music Prize for the same album?


The Kubasonics, lightheartedly dubbed “The Best Ukrainian Band in Newfoundland,” wowed crowds at the MusicNL awards this year, where they received the only standing ovation, and took home 3 trophies, including Group of the Year and The Overcast Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the year.

Staples on the scene, and better than ever, Monsterbator’s latest might be too loud for Nan, but it’s as good for its genre as any Canadian offering this year. Every musician is nailing it on this hard-hitting heavy rock album.

To quote Brad Pretty’s review in The Overcast, “It’s fun, unabashed rock music. This is guitar-driven pop rock that hits all the marks it sets out to do. There are huge, catchy choruses. Hooks galore.”

Ouroborous really grabbed the bull by the horns on their sophomore effort, and pardon the puns, because it really blows its listeners away with 4 horn players and an amazing drummer just crushing it to create something nothing like you’ve ever danced to. And dance you will.

It’s no surprise that a band fronted by Pepa Chan made this list, given her prolific output: both of the rock bands
she fronts (Ribbon Tied and Lo Siento) had releases, and she cut a killer RPM with Meg Harnum under the name Lazzzy Eye. Nothing lazy about Chan; #YearOfPepa.

Holy moly Steve Maloney! 2015’s Borealis Music Prize runner-up, and MusicNL’s 2017 Songwriter of the Year is back with stunning sophistication on The Memory Game. Produced by the legend Joshua Van Tassell, this album is a winner no matter the Borealis outcome.

In our June issue, the headline about this album read, “Thom Coombes’ Formula is a Disregard for Formula.” He’s an undersung gem, and lyrical wonderman. He’s our answer to say, Jeffrey Lewis or Kimya Dawson: a cult-followed artist doing their own thing, because after all, isn’t that the point?

Easily one of the hottest new bands in town (they took home MusicNL’s Rising Star trophy in October), Town House offer up a moody, atmospheric spin on modern indie pop that’s meant more for searching the soul on the couch, than scuffing out your soles on a dancefloor.

It’s no wonder they’re one of the hottest live-show draws in town these days. Their catchy pop punk songs have all the funtime fervour and Riot Grrl throwback a bar needs to be the place to be. have a listen to “Vacation’s Over” for a study in pop punk formula perfection.