8 Emerging Canadian Artists You Need to Hear in May 2024

Meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, featuring glittering Winnipeg pop, ferocious Edmonton metal, Ottawa R&B and more

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished May 15, 2024

We're about a month out from the summer solstice, but it's starting to feel like summer's already here — beers and beaches and sunburns are calling, and you're gonna need some new songs to soundtrack those long days and balmy (read: stifling) nights. 

May's New Faves run the gamut from thunderous Edmonton metal to burbling Montreal Afro-pop, nervy Hamilton ska to gentle Toronto folk; it may not be music for all occasions, but there's a perfect time and place just waiting for any and all of these songs.  

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

The Checkerboards
Hamilton, ON
For fans of: the Clash, Rancid, the Specials.

Newly-formed ska six-piece the Checkerboards have burst onto the Hamiltonian punk scene with a classic but unfortunately timeless anti-fascist anthem, "Bash Some Nazis," as their very first recorded song. Bandmates Will, Isaiah, Alex, Matt, Miguel and Johnny bring forth trumpets, trombones and an energetic, fast-paced passion reminiscent of ska waves of yore, proving that our late-stage capitalist hellscape may just be the fuel needed for a full blown ska revival.
Sarah Jessica Rintjema

Calgary, AB
For fans of: the Messthetics, Ride, Swervedriver

You can find Heavydive at the base of the Rockies at twilight, in a liminal zone where dusk becomes night and neon-tile dancefloors intersect empty industrial warehouses. Their LP, Foreign Patterns, which arrives May 27,  is a cool slice of nocturnal shoegaze; that is, a brand of rock that should be dark, were it not for the stray refractions caught from an errant spotlight. They make punks dance, dancer's smoke cheap cigarettes and darkness sparkle like a disco ball. 
Thomas Johnson

Prince Edward County, ON
For fans of: Arthur Russell, MJ Lenderman, Le Ren

Fez Gielen's music as Farser occupies the space between. His latest, April's Vision Rd, is full of hypnagogic country that dissolves the membrane between past and present, wakefulness and sleep. Golden-hour road songs like "Wave and Blur" or the ambling "Indifferent Shore" are dotted with particulars and careful details, but Gielen manages to stretch these small songs across the whole sky, allowing his specific stories to encompass entire worlds of feeling. 
Kaelen Bell

Lia Kloud 
Ottawa, ON
For fans of: Vory, Lola Brooks, Duvy

Ottawa's brightest rising star, Lia Kloud released her Pray4Keeps mixtape earlier this month, which includes collaborations with the likes of Lindasson, THEVTERPVRTY and NMT NiKO. The 11-track tape examines themes of self-discovery, trauma, faith and more, showcasing Kloud's vulnerability and steely power with her signature melange of melody and hard-edged confidence. An embodiment of Kloud's growth and her evolving outlook on life, Pray4Keeps outlines the wins, losses, softness and hardships that make a life.  
Jhamesha Milord Ashford

Mopao Mumu
Montreal, QC
For fans of: Tems, H.E.R

Montreal based singer-songwriter Mopao Mumu mixes her Congolese musical heritage with modern R&B influences. After steadily dropping singles and hitting stages around the city, she's gearing up for the release of the two-part Don't Lie EP. As part of an emerging artist showcase series, Mumu will bring her fiery voice and unique style to Scène TD for an intimate concert in the same venue where other Montreal R&B greats got their start.
Antoine-Samuel Mauffette Alavo

Len O'Neill
St. John's, NL
For fans of: Joel Plaskett, Blue Rodeo, the Band

Len O'Neill comes from the same St. John's scene of artists as New Faves alums Jake Nicoll and John Moran — both of whom perform on O'Neill's newly released album Out of View (with Nicoll also acting as co-producer and mixer). With straight-up country rock arrangements full of violin and accordion (and even a little sitar), O'Neill provides ornate accompaniment for his powerfully plainspoken vocals and vivid, cinematic lyrical portraits.
Alex Hudson

Edmonton, Alberta
For fans of: 200 Stab Wounds, Mammoth Grinder, Sanguisugabogg

As the name of their debut release, Human Skull Crush, might suggest, Edmonton's Tombstalker play a brutal and crushing form of death metal. The music showcased here pays homage to the past with whammy bar-laden guitar solos that would make early Morbid Angel proud, while keeping one foot firmly in the present with some genuinely killer modern death metal riffs. Tombstalker have cemented their place on the list of up-and-coming Canadian death metal bands that deserve your attention.
Jeremy Sheehy

Winnipeg, MB
For fans of: Destroyer, Japan, Kraftwerk

Calling Warming a New Fave feels slightly inaccurate. They certainly aren't new, but they most definitely are a favourite. The brainchild of Winnipeg's Brady Allard, Warming has been slowly but steadily releasing glowing cold-wave-inspired synth-pop for roughly six years. In what feels like their magnum opus (or swan song if you believe Allard's hints that he's retiring the project), Warming's sophomore LP, Toil Boy, features all the glam and aphotic tones of the best synthetic art rock. Driving opener "Hey Champ :)" and the Kraftwerk-esque "Email" fit together like puzzle pieces, held in place by Allard's voice, halfway between a mumble and a heroic baritone.
Myles Tiessen

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

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