Exclaim! Readers Celebrate Canada's Most Under-Appreciated Artists

You tell us why Les Louanges, Luna Li, Boy Golden and others deserve more attention

Photos (clockwise from top left): Tanya Tagaq by Thomas Van Der Zaag, Lights courtesy of Warner Music, Aysanabee by Jen Squires, Bonnie Trash by Alex Carre

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Jan 26, 2023

Here at Exclaim!, we make it our business to celebrate Canadian artists — the world-famous ones, the up-and-comers who are still getting their start and the seasoned vets who haven't quite gotten their due.

As part of our 2022 Readers Poll, we asked you which Canadian artists deserved more attention. You responded with artists who have achieved success overseas (but remain under-appreciated here at home), brand-new acts who made their debut last year, and one very famous pop star who had her album launch overshadowed by an even more famous pop star from south of the border.

Here are some of the artists who readers shouted out — as well as their reason for their pick.

Rich Aucoin
"Rich is the hardest working artist in Canada. In the 16 years I've known Rich, he has not stopped making music or touring. He works so hard to share his music with the world and that needs recognition."

"Aysanabee came out with his debut album, Watin, in 2022. The album weaves between songs and conversations with his grandfather, detailing his experience in Canada's residential school system. The lyrics are as haunting as Aysanabee's voice is thunderous. Yes, it's his debut album and he'll have plenty of time to carve out his space in the Canadian music scene, but Aysanabee should be required listening for any and all music fans."

Alphonse Bisaillon
"He's a young and very talented French songwriter. He deserves a lot of exposure, his first EP sounds very good. He has a very ironic sense of humour in his lyrics — very engaged!"

Bonnie Trash
"They are wholesome beautiful human beings making great music that bridges indie rock, metal, drone, pop and experimental music."

Boy Golden
"I feel like Boy Golden is making waves in Winnipeg, but he deserves to be more well-known. His country music really plays on the sounds of Neil Young but with a mix of psychedelic. He seems like a cool dude and he puts on a great live show with the Church of Better Daze."

Cadence Weapon
"Rollie Pemberton and his views on the death of touring."

"cleopatrick deserved more attention this year! i saw them open for a band with only knowing 2 or so songs and they blew the headliner out of the water!"

The Constantines
"They didn't do anything in 2022 but we should never not be thinking about the Constantines."

"He's made a lot of great solo music as well as being in Caribou, but his album Cherry that came out this year is definitely my favourite album from him so far. Just pure dance and innovative sounds. I love it!"

Fefe Dobson
"The writer of some of the most iconic pop music is making a comeback and getting very little love from Canadian media."

Dooms Children
"The vinyl shortage deflated any momentum of the record's release, COVID saw the cancellation of a couple of their very few dates, and by the time the physical album did actually arrive, Wade was entirely occupied by Alexisonfire's Otherness release. But Dooms Children is an extraordinary album, and more folks ought to hear it."

Ducks Ltd. and Kiwi Jr. 
"I feel like they're both ushering back in an energy of music and genre that has been out of vogue for a bit. I'm excited to hopefully catch both acts live in the new year."

The Flatliners
"Once again putting out a solid record on their own terms, and consistently are up there with their contemporaries in the scene. They should be much bigger in this space. Underrated!"

Carly Rae Jepsen
"She released an amazing album with no skips, that brought her sound in a new but logical direction. This album shows a more mature Carly, and the second half is the perfect denouement. It's a shame it was released the same day as Midnights — I think it's a much better album."

Les Louanges
"French language music often has a tougher time breaking out into the mainstream, but I hope more people listen to him! i love his jazzy indie pop sound and was really sad when he didn't get short-listed for the Polaris Prize this year. The dude deserves more eyes on."

"She's a hard working gal and is crazy talented. She writes her comic Skin & Earth, and has a whole other music persona. Feels like she's more popular in the States than here in Canada."

Luna Li
"She's making some really awesome music, but I haven't heard much about her out here in the West Coast music scene."

"THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND tops the band's past projects with a bold creative take on the band's sound. i've caught them twice this year for their tour of this new project, and the band do not disappoint in stage presence and energy."

Edwin Raphael
"Edwin Raphael is putting out beautiful folk on Dine Alone Records and is only being booked in Canada. Very talented and deserves a lot more attention."

Damien Robitaille
"The Franco-Ontarian has released some incredible music in his own right, but since the pandemic started, he's been doing one-man covers of a wide number of songs on YouTube that are competent, funny and musically impressive. He deserves more attention."

Daniel Romano
"He gets attention but should be massive, between his solo endeavours, the Outfit, working with Juliana Riolino (whose album is also fantastic) or his wife Carson McHone (who also put out a great album last year). And let's not forget Ancient Shapes; the split 7-inch with Weird Nightmare might be my favourite release of last year. The man is a prolific genius and one of the hardest working artists out there right now."

The Swingin' Blackjacks
"They have been carrying the torch of real rock 'n' roll for years and still moving audiences to this day. Plus Matt Allen is one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet."

Tanya Tagaq
"She fuses so many different elements into something heard before but not, if that makes any sense? Myself being a member of a part Inuit family, it's awesome to see my culture represented so well in popular music."

Tragic Shields
"Some of the most insane production I've ever heard. Never heard so much emotion captured through pure electronic production like that. So amazing."

"One of my favourite bands from Toronto definitely deserves more recognition for their catchy creations. I also coincidentally ran into the lead singer Rob Laska at the Holly Humberstone concert at the Axis Club Theatre and he was the sweetest human being ever."

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