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mardi 21 septembre 2010

Could Karkwa's Polaris Prize bridge solitudes?

 Photograph by: Brett Gundlock, National Post

The band "Karkwa" wins the Polaris Music Awards, Monday, September 20, 2010, in Toronto, Ont. 

MONTREAL - Could the Polaris Music Prize merge the two solitudes? Or the four - the one between anglo and franco music fans in Quebec, and the one between Quebec and the ROC? Montreal rock band Karkwa won the fifth edition of the coveted Polaris Prize for its fourth album, Les chemins de verre. It marks the first time in the award's history that a non-anglophone group has taken top honours. Malajube was the only other Québécois band to come close, making the 10-name short list in both 2006 and 2009.

Earlier this year, there were complaints from some journalists/jury members about the lack of francophone representation for the prize. That point is moot, now, as Karkwa will be the name that English-speaking music fans across the country have a very big reason to get acquainted with. The band is already critically acclaimed here in Quebec, having won multiple awards and garnered a loyal following.

Karkwa's ethereal, sweeping rockscapes have been compared to Radiohead, but that doesn't do the group justice. There is something warmer about the band's music - an earthy, borderline folk influence that seeps into the vocal harmonies, as on the song L'acouphène; or a Patrick Watson-esque prettiness, on the song Moi-léger - both off Les chemins de verre. Elsewhere on the album, you'll hear hints of the Beatles, and even Phillip Glass. But mostly, you'll hear the multi-faceted, mesmerizing aesthetic of Karkwa - from handclap-enhanced hoedown Marie tu pleures to the driving, plaintive title track (with its rich vocal and guitar textures), breathtaking piano hymn Dors dans mon sang, or the intimate spoken-word piece Au-dessus de la tête de Lilijune.

All in all, an enchanting, richly textured album that is entirely deserving of the honour bestowed up it Monday night (Sept. 21, 2010), and which, language barrier notwithstanding, has a good chance of earning legions of new fans on its musical merits alone. Needless to say, that process of discovery should begin with anglos right here in Montreal. What are you waiting for?

Note: This story originally appeared on the Words & Music blog.

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Avertissement: Ce blog à pour but de regrouper et archiver les articles parus sur le net à propos de Karkwa. Il est fait par amitié pour les membres du groupe et leur entourage. Les liens vers les sites et articles d'origine sont faits, les auteurs sont cités lorsque possible. Si quiconque se sentait lésé dans ses droits, il n'aurait qu'a me contacter pour que je puisse remédier à la situation.