9 Emerging Canadian Artists You Should Hear This May
Published May 06, 2020We might not be able to explore the good weather, but we can certainly still explore great new Canadian music. Here are nine emerging Canadian artists to pay attention to over the month of May, including a generation-bridging blues rock talent, Canada's next great bedroom pop producer, and a patriarchy-smashing hardcore unit.
For fans of: Steve Lacy, Thundercat, Anderson .Paak
Lance Sampson, a.k.a. Aquakultre, rebounded from a five-year prison sentence by winning CBC's Searchlight contest in 2018. On May 8, he'll release his inspiring debut, Legacy, via Black Buffalo Records. Now a quartet including members of Century Egg and Heaven for Real, Aquakultre conjure woozy, neo-soul vibes that have already won fans like Lido Pimienta, who designed the artwork for single "I Doubt It."
Leslie Ken Chu
For fans of: Death Grips, Danny Brown, Mykki Blanco
The eight tracks of Backxwash's debut album Deviancy, released last July, covered a ton of ground in under 20 minutes, slamming oppressors of all stripes next to heartfelt anthems of acceptance. Clearly there's no shortage of ideas coming from the transgender, Zambia-born rapper — upcoming album God Has Nothing to Do with It Leave Him Out of It is due May 30.
For fans of: Larkin Poe, the Sheepdogs, Buffy Sainte-Marie
You would be forgiven for thinking that Bebe Buckskin, all soulful snarl and rock 'n' roll guitar, was a contemporary of Janis Joplin. With sensibilities drawn from vintage tastes and her upbringing in Northern Alberta's great muskeg, the Métis and Cree blues rocker's work feels both timeless and contemporary — even catching the attention of slide guitar legend Ellen McIlwaine, who cut her teeth with Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters, and plays on Buckskin's sophomore EP, Asiskiy, out May 22.
For fans of: Tame Impala, Stereolab, Ryuichi Sakamoto
Kevin Echlin's dense, elastic soundscapes under the moniker Deperuse have already placed the multi-instrumentalist squarely within the lineage of Canada's great bedroom popsmiths. With only two singles to his name, the Windsor, ON-born artist has recently assembled a live band to perform his new material, slated to appear on his debut Deperuse LP.
For fans of: Raveena, Snoh Aalegra, Daniel Caesar
Singer-songwriter Charlotte Fabro's glowing, summer vibes will make you want to stick your head out of a window and drink up the sun. No stranger to growth, she's constantly experimenting with beat-making and guitar-playing videos on her Instagram and YouTube accounts. She's currently riding high off the release of her two latest singles, 2019's "Tomorrow's" and last month's "Energy."
Rachel Evangeline Chiong
The Golden Age of Wrestling
For fans of: Junior Boys, Dan Deacon
From Jeff Cancade, the mind behind electro-pop party maven Devours, comes the new glambient project the Golden Age of Wrestling. His debut album, Tombstone Piledriver, out May 8 via Inky Records, combines ambient music, Hollywood soundtracks and chiptune. Singles "Nevada" and "I Know What You Did Next Summer" are dulcet and subtly cinematic. However, melancholy lurks beneath the ring.
Leslie Ken Chu
For fans of: Homewrecker, Vile Creature, Minors
Toronto-based patriarchy-smashing hardcore band Lilim have spent the past few years honing their craft and impassioned live shows opening for an eclectic group of heavy bands. Lilim are one those few bands who message matches the ferocity of their sonic assault. Their debut full-length, Weighted Ghosts, will be coming out later this year.
For fans of: Lido Pimienta, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
Since forming in 2012, Toronto band Pantayo have been a must-see act at every festival they play. Their long-awaited self-titled debut album — out May 8 on Telephone Explosion and produced by Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Alaska B — show how much they've sharpened their mesmeric and unique blend of kulintang (traditional gong music from the southern Philippines), R&B, pop and electronica.
Full disclosure: Pantayo member Kat Estacio is Exclaim! Magazine's layout editor.
For fans of: Molly Burch, Julia Jacklin
On her recently released EP How Else Can I Tell You?, Cayley Thomas takes listeners on a tour of her feelings: she is flushed with lust and heavy with loss. The Edmonton-raised singer-songwriter mirrors these conflicting emotions with a potent psych-pop soundscape that has an equally varied temperament, and the delicious combination is easy to get lost in.
Listen to tracks from these and other emerging Canadian artists in our Spotify playlist.