The 2016 Borealis Music Prize Shortlist Revealed

5 Fabulous, varied bands comprise this year's Solid Shortlist.

The Overcast’s Borealis Music Prize is the province’s richest music award. It aims to find the best local album of the year, across all genres, with the intention of bringing local music out of late night bars, and onto the radars of The Overcast’s readership. These are, according to a jury of their peers, the Top 5 Local Albums of the Year, Revealed Just in Time for Christmas Shopping!

The winner receives $1,000 from The Overcast + a trophy for their mantlepiece + January’s cover story; the winner will be revealed on the cover of January’s issue. The Borealis Music Prize is a triple-juried award, meaning three separate juries create the longlist, shortlist, and pick a winner. So it’s not easy to win: the winner must impress 3 separate juries of local media, musicians, and industry professionals. For juror names along the way, email our editor. The shortlist jury will be kept under wraps until the winner is revealed.

dame-nature

Dame Nature (re)emerged onto the scene this spring with a big, thick sound, bolstered by its 5 singers and proper horn section.

Previously known as City on the Coast, the band wanted to shed their past with a new name and new sound. As Peter Lanon has told The Overcast, “We were constantly being viewed as ‘City on the Coast, that new young band in town,’ etc., and we decided it was time we broke free of that and, the new name … represents the strong female presence in the band as well.”

Fair enough. What’s impressive about this album is not the age of its musicians, but how talented they are at crafting songs, how big and modern and diverse the sound is, how well-built the song structures are, and how tight the band is. They’re Newfoundland’s answer to a band like The New Pornographers: great individual musicians, made even greater by their mad chemistry.

duane-andrews

..

If the longlist jury results are any indication, Guitar god Duane is a serious contender – he scored the highest collective voting point tally from the longlist jury.

If you’ve seen him play, you know Duane Andrews can’t get any better, but this album certainly saw him grow and experiment. Duane says the album has 3 pillars that reflect and blend three diverse inspirations and influences: Django Reinhart-inspired jazz from the 30s and 40s, traditional NL music, and some of his latest interest: classical.

So, how does one fuse those three diverse sounds, or pair a set of reels to a string quartet? Great question, and Conception Bay answers it well. The album is likely Andrews’ best record to date, and there’s also more access points to his music than ever: like jazz? Classical? Trad? It’s all here. Any music fan, no matter what genre you gravitate towards, will respect the idea of “taking familiar things and doing unfamiliar things with them.”

jake-nicoll

..

Some songwriters sound like no one but themselves. Think of Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen. Jake Nicoll is one of them, and like them, he escapes the sea of sameness and ordinariness that anchors most musical
careers ashore.

In addition to being one of the province’s more interesting songwriters, he’s also one its most prolific. He proved that this year with the release of a double album in an era where most bands are recording the last 4 songs they wrote as an EP. His boundless variety of sounds is another standout about the album; musically, all moods and tempos are covered here, and that means there’s a song for everyone on here.

The lyrics opt for being raw and to the point: this is two albums worth of a principled musician and contemplative human, growing as both a person and a songwriter. His prolific output of solo material, while writing and recording with a significant fraction of the city’s bands, is proof he is an effortlessly born songwriter. Yet too much of a craftsman to rush his work to tape.

pilot-to-bombardier

..

Bryan Power’s all-star band is a nice touch on his sophisticated sophomore effort. Among the album’s credits are Hey Rosetta’s Adam Hogan, whom Power has called the album’s “ace” as co-producer/arranger, and innovative lead guitarist.

Every song on the new album is the product of a careful and calculated songwriter, and every song is recorded by the book in the way they build and fill every bit of space with innovative sound textures that perfectly imbibe the sentiments and ambiance of each song. The album is a bit of a lesson in how songs ought to be crafted: write one, circle it for a while, pick it apart, and put back together with a little help from some musical friends.

As for the songs themselves, they’re solid, heartfelt, and varied. What more do you want? The mood evoked on the album is affecting and genuine, in how the lyrics are sincere and sung clearly enough to do what music does best: resonate with the listener.

repartee

..

All Lit Up truly lit up this year’s Canadian music charts, and, the 2016 MusicNL gala, where they took home 4 trophies, including Album AND Group of the Year.

And what a year it’s been. Since leaving Newfoundland, they’ve signed to Sleepless Records (so they’re label mates with July Talk), and became national media darlings with their fabulously polished sound; a sound they knew not to rush. “We kept delaying the release date for the album because our team felt like we were growing,” Meg Warren says, “and that our best material hadn’t been written yet.”

Their megahit single, “Dukes,” was actually the last thing they recorded for the album, and, blazing new versions of their townie favourite older tunes “Nice Girls” and “Die B4U” act as two points of reference on
the album that show just how far their sound has come. The songs on All Lit Up have more hooks than the Canadian Tire Fishing Aisle, and Repartee legitimately stack up to any Canadian contemporaries making Indie Pop right now.

Written By
More from Chad Pelley

Catching Up with NL’s “Best Standup Comic” Before His Annual Christmas Show

Every year is a busy year for Matt Wright, but this one...
Read More

6 Comments

  • So many great bands not on this shortlist! I take that as proof our music scene is amazing, that so many solid bands are on here, and just as many more didn’t quite make it. We’re blessed, keep the tunes coming, b’ys!

    • Solid question. So many fabulous albums not on there. In tallying up the jury’s votes, this was easily the shortlist with the closest margins ever. It was clearly the toughest battle yet to get on the shortlist. A gender-balanced jury of 18 varied locals were asked to rank all 25 longlisted albums 1-5, those “points” were tallied per band, and here we are.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.