Published Aug 05, 2020As we hit summer's peak, the sun is shining just as brightly as these artists' futures. Whether clever pop, swagger-filled hip-hop or barrier-breaking rock, these emerging Canadian artists may very well be your new faves.
Los Angeles, CA
For fans of: Lana Del Rey, Mazzy Star, Reuben and the Dark
Originally hailing from a small town in BC's Rocky Mountains, Kaelen Ohm is a busy actor (catch her in the upcoming Netflix series Hit and Run) and an experienced backing musician (having played in Reuben and the Dark). As AMAARA, she fills her sophomore album, Heartspeak (due August 14), with swooning piano ballads and pillowy, reverb-hazed dream pop meditations.
For fans of: Mournful Congregation, Bell Witch
Featuring members of Chthe'ilist and Gevurah, Atramentus go hard against the grain of the Quebec death metal scene. They play like the weight of the world is in every note, crafting glacial funeral doom that is both epic and extreme. Their desolating debut, Stygian, due August 21 on 20 Buck Spin, is a wintry dirge in three parts, with enough sound to shake the sun out of the sky forever.
For fans of: Jamila Woods, Zaki Ibrahim, NAO
Nigeria-born singer Sadé Awele has released a string of soulful, uplifting singles over the last year, guaranteed to inspire positive vibes. Delicate keys and percussion dapple her breezy mix of R&B, hip-hop and pop delivered in cadences inspired by the music of the Yoruba people. A celebration of life and beauty in all its forms, her music is the perfect balm.
Leslie Ken Chu
For fans of: the Breeders, Plumtree, Snail Mail
All five members of cutsleeve are queer East Asians living in Toronto, which is how their blistering debut EP The Parts We Could Not Abandon is able to tackle topics like intergenerational trauma and misogyny with compelling specificity and totality (plus there's a truly hilarious track called "Yellow Fever," which is about exactly what you think). It's all set to cathartic '90s rock arrangements with plenty of distorted riffs and catchy hooks.
For fans of: Clairmont The Second, Lex Leosis, Junia-T
DijahSB's recently released full-length 2020 the Album is aptly named — the record's lyrical themes about isolation, loneliness and financial struggles make it infinitely relatable. But not even the year's heaviness can cloud DijahSB's infectious swagger, like on standout single "Frontin' Like Pharrell," where the Jay Electronica co-signed rapper pays tribute to the track's namesake with clever rhymes and a wry grin.
For fans of: Nicholas Krgovich, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Frank Ocean
You never quite know which version of des hume you're going to get. Sometimes, the Vancouver songwriter is autobiographical and unflinchingly sincere; at other times, he issues cult-like press releases credited to "The Founder" and crafts whimsical fables about Phil Collins stealing his songs. But no matter the persona, you can always count of him for swaggering, catchy electropop anthems, laced with hints of swooning R&B and atmospheric psych.
For fans of: Moses Sumney, Bernice
Thanya Iyer's songs don't unfurl the way that you think they will. That has never been more apparent than it is on Iyer's newly released, gorgeously expansive sophomore album KIND. Pop, folk, and jazz influences, washed with electronic touches, surround you as Iyer tiptoes through urging you to be kind to others and to yourself.
Saint John, NB
For fans of: TTNG, Tiny Moving Parts, Tera Melos
The smells of math rock are wafting out of a window in Saint John, where Nurture Nurture cook up a smorgasbord of finger-tapped riffs and tasty time signatures. Besides hosting weekly livestreams on Reddit and Facebook, the band is set to launch a Discord support group in the wake of upcoming single "Lonely Habits," a track that explores bandleader Jeff Cook's sobriety journey.
Rachel Evangeline Chiong
Listen to tracks from these and other emerging Canadian artists in our Spotify playlist.