Organizers unveiled on Tuesday a short list of 10 finalists vying for the annual $30,000 music honour.
The 2012 tally is dominated by established, evolving Canadian talent like rapper Rollie Pemberton, aka Cadence Weapon, and singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards. Many are nominated for their third or fourth studio albums.
Former Polaris winner F--ked Up, which won in 2009 for The Chemistry of Common Life, also made the cut.
Two relative newcomers landed on the list for their debut efforts: singer Al Spx, who performs as Cold Specks, and the collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.
"Our jury is showing an ever-growing passion and dedication to reviewing, discussing and advocating their selections. This has resulted in a short list of records that are musically focused, intense and, in some cases, highly personal," prize founder and executive director Steve Jordan said in a statement.
"The process of selecting a winner should prove to be an invigorating challenge for our grand jury."
The 10 finalists are:
- Rapper and former Edmonton poet laureate Cadence Weapon, now based in Montreal, for his third album Hope In Dirt City.
- Powerhouse Etobicoke, Ont. singer Cold Specks for her soulful debut I Predict A Graceful Expulsion.
- Hit Toronto rapper Drake for his second studio album Take Care.
- Ottawa-born, Toronto-based Kathleen Edwards for her country-tinged fourth album Voyageur.
- Toronto-based singer-songwriter Feist for Metals, the follow-up to her blockbuster release The Reminder.
- Hardcore punk troupe F--ked Up, for David Comes To Life, the Toronto band's third studio album.
- Montreal singer Grimes (Claire Boucher), nominated for the pulsating dance-pop album Visions, her fourth release.
- Handsome Furs, Montreal's electronica duo Dan Boeckner and Alexei Perry, for their third full-length album Sound Kapital.
- Vancouver's garage rockers Japandroids for Celebration Rock, the band's sophomore album.
- Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, a collective out of Montreal and Toronto, for the debut album YT//ST, an ambitious pan-Asian fusion of rock, J-pop, folk and other musical styles.
Along with awarding $30,000 to the artist deemed to have created the best Canadian album of the past year, organizers will also present $2,000 each to the nine remaining finalists.
"We live in a time where pop culture has never been so fragmented... If you look, there are a million different little scenes that are really big. Sometimes the commercial acknowledgement is not always forthcoming for all artists," F--ked Up frontman Damian Abraham told CBC News just after the announcement.
"An award like this [is] obviously not just a financial reward, but also gives an acknowledgement that commercial success isn't everything."
The winner will be announced at a Toronto gala on Sept. 24.
Established to celebrate creativity and diversity in Canadian music — without regard to musical genre or sales history — the Polaris Prize has previously been awarded to artists like Arcade Fire, Karkwa, Patrick Watson, Caribou and Final Fantasy.