Montreal's Patrick Watson beat out higher profile contenders like Arcade Fire and Feist on Monday night to take the second annual Polaris Music Prize at the Phoenix Concert Theatre.

"Close to Paradise," the album by Patrick Watson, a group led by its namesake whose arty guitar and keyboard textures coupled with floating, reverb drenched vocals has found surprising commercial and critical success, was chosen by a jury panel of 11, bettering nine other contestants to win the $20,000 prize. The album is the band's debut for Secret City Records, distributed by Fusion3 in Canada, and comes out this week in the U.S. through a distribution deal with Rykodisc. It has already been released in Europe, where it is being distributed by V2. It has sold more than 38,000 copies in Canada, according to Nielsen Soundscan. The band's debut album, "Just Another Ordinary Day," came out in Canada in 2003.

"We loved the record right from the start," says Justin Rose, label manager for Secret City Records. "And our success with it has came wave after wave."
The selection of the group as the prize winner came before 400 spectators who watched sets by several nominees, including New Brunswick's Julie Doiron; Montréalers Miracle Fortress, Halifax's Joel Plaskett Emergency; Montréal's The Besnard Lakes and Chad VanGaalen.

Steve Jordon, the former Warner Music Canada A&R executive who created the Polaris Prize, said he's pleased with the results of the second gala. Final Fantasy, the moniker for Toronto's Owen Pallet, took the first prize in 2006.

"I think the best thing anyone said last night was the artists enjoyed the event and their performances reflected it," Jordan says.

As for future versions, Jordan said there might be slight alterations over time, but added he isn't planning any radical readjustments to the formula of recognizing great albums by Canadian artists.

"We don't have a masterplan for expansion," he said. "We're going to fine tune the process, but that's about all."