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Contenders for Polaris Prize a diverse group

The race to crown the best Canadian album of 2008-09 has really begun,with the announcement of the Polaris Music Prize short list yesterday.

The race to crown the best Canadian album of 2008-09 has really begun, with the announcement of the Polaris Music Prize short list yesterday.

The top 10 acts, as chosen by 182 journalists from across the country, are a diverse group, with a hardcore group, a rapper, a Francophone band and two roots acts all vying for the $20,000 prize.

Since the winner won’t be announced until Sept. 21, music fans can spend the summer debating who deserves to take home the prize. To help get the conversation started, we’ve reviewed all of the nominated albums.

The Chemistry Of Common Life, F—ed Up: These belligerent hardcore-meets-indie rockers are masters at the vocal yell, but intricate instrumentation and surprisingly infectious choruses temper the aggressive sound.

Three, Joel Plaskett: Plaskett’s been making music since ’94, but this ambitious triple disc might be his best yet. At times somber, rambunctious and passionate, these 27 eclectic folk pop songs rarely falter.

Troubadour, K’naan: The Toronto rapper’s sophomore disc fluidly combines R&B, reggae and rock, with heartfelt lyrics about his tough upbringing in Somalia. It’s wildly catchy and Kirk Hammett’s guitar solo is a must hear.

Fantasies, Metric: Fantasies is another haunting collection of forceful rock ’n’ roll from these Rolling Stones-approved rockers. Hear Metric’s trademark keyboard buzz, crunchy guitars and Emily Haines’ potent pipes.

Labyrinthes, Malajube: Don’t let language get in the way — Labyrinthes is chunky compilation of straight-up rock. If anything, the unfamiliarity of the French lyrics make the foursome’s third release that much more refreshing.

Soft Airplane, Chad VanGaalen: Quirky Calgarian Chad VanGaalen has released another masterpiece. While more indie pop than his last release, the record is still a diverse mix of layered lo-fi sounds — banjos and bells included.

Wooden Arms, Patrick Watson: Winning the Polaris Prize in 2007 hasn’t stopped this Montrealer from creating another award-worthy release. Its airy, atmospheric sounds and spacious instrumentation will sit well with Radiohead fans.

Into Your Lungs (and around in your heart and on through your blood), Hey Rosetta!: If epic, thickly layered rock is your thing, look no further than this Newfoundland & Labrador six-piece. This debut is loaded with meaty riffs, complex arrangements and voracious vocals.

Mountain Meadows, Elliott BROOD: A more rollicking record than the band’s previous disc, the Toronto trio’s latest is a brilliant collection of folk country tunes. With gorgeous instrumental textures and singer Mark Sasso’s raspy drawl, it’s no shock they made the shortlist.

Lost Channels, Great Lake Swimmers: On Lost Channels, this Toronto group delivers another intimate set of folk pop tunes. It’s the band’s most cohesive and memorable, especially the richly layered harmonies on the soaring campfire song Still.

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