Drake, Japandroids, Feist up for Polaris

Canadian singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards is pictured at a Toronto rehearsal studio on Tuesday January 12, 2012 as she promotes her new album "Voyageur." The first time Edwards was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize back in 2008, she didn't know much about the award.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young.

TORONTO - The first time Kathleen Edwards was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize back in 2008, she didn't know much about the award.

But it's a sign of how much the $30,000 prize's profile has grown over the past four years that the Ottawa singer/songwriter felt very differently when she was nominated for a second time on Tuesday. She joined an eclectic 10-artist short list that also includes Toronto rapper Drake, Vancouver rock duo Japandroids and Calgary-reared songstress Feist.

"The first time I was nominated ... it was quite a new event," Edwards said after the announcement was made at a trendy hotel in downtown Toronto.

"My head was in the sand a bit and I didn't really know it was going on. It feels like there's a lot more momentum behind the list (now)."

Edwards wasn't the only artist making a second Polaris bow.

In addition to fellow repeat nominee Feist, innovative Edmonton-bred rapper Cadence Weapon is up for a second time for his latest record, "Hope in Dirt City," while Toronto hardcore band F---ed Up nabbed a nomination for the ambitious concept album "David Comes to Life," just three years after winning the award.

Plenty of newcomers made the cut too. In addition to Drake — the 25-year-old superstar is up for his moody, chart-topping opus "Take Care" — and Japandroids, whose sophomore rager "Celebration Rock" was nominated, other first timers included Montreal electro-pop upstart Grimes, Toronto folk-soul singer Cold Specks, recently split Montreal-based electro-rock duo Handsome Furs, and the Montreal avant-garde outfit Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.

The Polaris Music Prize — awarded to the top Canadian album of the year based strictly on merit and not sales — is voted on by 200-plus music journalists, bloggers and broadcasters. Past winners include Karkwa, Patrick Watson and Arcade Fire.

While this year's diverse list is a testament to the prize's directive to ignore genre boundaries, the Polaris still has a reputation for favouring hip, cutting-edge records — and Edwards said her inclusion was a major compliment.

"I've been doing it 10 years, touring hard for 10 years, and you get to a point where you sort of feel like I'm not the cool kid anymore — maybe I never was. And maybe I'll never be in the company of people making really interesting records," the 34-year-old said.

"So to be considered ... makes me feel like, 'OK, yeah, I'm doing good work.'"

The winner of the Polaris will be announced at a gala at Toronto's Masonic Temple on Sept. 24.