8 Emerging Canadian Artists You Need to Hear in May 2023

Meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, featuring golden-hour Winnipeg folk, quicksilver rap by way of Ottawa, smirking post-punk from Calgary and more

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished May 9, 2023

The first official day of summer is still a ways away, but that feeling is in the air — something's shaken loose, all those stiff, rainy blues traded for deep greens and electric yellows. There's no better way to welcome the onset of summer than to walk down the street (or through a park, or along the beach, or even up some stairs) with a good song, and this month's New Faves are here to provide exactly that. From neon-lit queer pop by way of Toronto to art-damaged folk rock via St. John's and just about everything in-between, this month's New Faves are here to herald the season of rebirth. 

Keep reading to meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, and head over to our Spotify playlist to hear them alongside our previous homegrown favourites.

Brain Bent 
Calgary, AB
For fans of: Uranium Club, the Ohsees, Devo

With a mission and vision to push boundaries in the music world, Calgary's Brain Bent cement their status as one of the most intriguing acts in the Canadian music landscape with their latest EP, Boilerplate. Featuring two tracks — "Quality Assurance Audit" on Side A, and "Cog in the Grind" on Side B — Boilerplate showcases the band's penchant for punchy post-punk laced with scathing and satirical commentary on the doom and gloom of late-stage capitalism and corporate culture. Although brief, Boilerplate is a testament to Brain Bent's core competency to create compelling, energetic music in a concise format. Brain Bent are not just a cog in the Canadian music industry's grind, but a disruptive force that demands attention from all stakeholders. 
Shane Rempel

Groupe B
Montreal, QC
For fans of: Drab Majesty, CDSM, Suicide

This one-man dark wave meets icy synth punk artist sounds like the kind of music you would hear as the walls start caving in on a dimly lit German club. A bit of the Killing Joke and Drab Majesty, the production is on point and the new music video (filmed and edited by Evan Sharma of Paul Jacobs' band) for "Scorpion" feels like an '80s crime/slasher film. Groupe B opened for London post punks Warmduscher, late last month — expect more from this burgeoning artist in the months to come. 
Stephan Boissoneault

Bush Lotus
Winnipeg, MB
For fans of: Julie Byrne, Laura Veirs, FONTINE

Arielle Beaupré's music lives and breathes. As Bush Lotus, she channels her pseudonym's symbolism into ethereal, purifying soundscapes, harnessing nature's unpredictable beauty and transformative spirit within lithe lines and blissful boundlessness. Her dreamy emergent single, "Open," produced by House of Wonders' Adam Fuhr, was derived from the Montreal native's current home's stirring prairie skies — "open and free," she sings atop soulful, jazzy, shimmery folk, elongating words like a drifting breeze, holding listeners aloft until her debut EP, Floating Kitestrings, lifts off this summer.
Chris Bryson

Victoria, BC
For fans of: Jenny Lewis, Sharon Van Etten, Torres

Hailing from Vancouver Island, five-piece folk rock group MAITARRA strike a balance between vocalist Maita Waters' bold presence against expansive rock riffs and throbbing bass melodies. Waters' songwriting is genuine and heartfelt, evocative in its details and both assertive and vulnerable. The group's debut EP, Woman Loves to Write heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice. 
Gabe lunn

Nico Paulo
St. John's, NL
For fans of: Nico, Feist, Gal Costa

Nico Paulo's self-titled debut album, released on April 7th on Forward Music Group, is awash in sepia tones. The record opens with a dream sequence of an intro track with layered voices in the round and an orchestral synth build, distilling before shattering into the second track, "Time." Here and throughout the album, flamenco-esque grooves are sublimated by woodwind, nylon string guitar, horns, and mellotron to weave subtle textures. Paulo sings about the passage of time and heartache, rarely landing on specifics but sacrificing no poignance. The production couldn't be called minimal, but it masterfully highlights subtleties in composition and arrangement while creating space that Paulo effortlessly commands with her vocal work. 
Sophie Noel

Kamloops, BC
For fans of: Gatecreeper, Tomb Mold, Creeping Death

One thing that Kamloops's Pestis make clear with their debut release, Demo I, is that they understand the power of a great riff. From the opening salvo of "Lower Gods" to the crushing bridge of "Blazing Legions," Pestis prove that it's possible to make absolutely brutal death metal without resorting to the gory cliches so often linked to the genre. With any luck, Pestis has more music on the way, as the three crushing tracks that makeup Demo I simply aren't enough.
Jeremy Sheehy

Toronto, ON
For fans of: Charli XCX, Keyshia Cole, Jhené Aiko

Inspired by the Pop and R&B divas of the '00's combined with their background as a classically trained opera singer, Quarterback uses their vocal superpowers for good on their latest single, the tender (and limited-time-only) "Get Lost." Feeling equally at home delivering soulful ballads as they are booty shaking anthems like "Swerve," this West Coast born and raised artist has some big plans for the year including the upcoming release of their debut album.
Vanessa Tam

Snoozy the Sage
Ottawa, ON
For fans of: Larry June, Asap Rocky and J cole

Emerging Ottawa rapper Snoozy the Sage recently released his second studio album titled Dreamz N Reality. The album is a reflection of Snoozy's life experiences, from his hopes and dreams, the grind of daily living and everything in between. Fan favourite "Never Enough" is all distinctive beats and soulful energy, providing the perfect backdrop for Snoozy's introspective lyrics. Snoozy the Sage's unique sound has been steadily gaining traction in the Ottawa music scene and beyond, cementing him as a rising star to watch.
Jhamesha Janella Ashford

Listen to tracks from these and other New Faves on our Spotify playlist:

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