Exclaim!'s 27 Most Anticipated Canadian Albums of 2023

Featuring poolblood, Begonia, DijahSB, Shania Twain and more

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Jan 5, 2023

We're still nearly 40 years out from the fantasy utopia of The Jetsons, but it's somehow never felt further away. The future doesn't necessarily feel bright — less battery-powered flying cars, more exploding Teslas on flooded roadways — but it's certainly coming quickly, time continuing its ceaseless march to God knows where. But! As is often the case, music promises to ease your anxieties (or intentionally prod them) and soundtrack the little pockets of life that remain worthy of cherishing. 

This year promises an embarrassment of riches from Canadian artists, from poolblood's shaggy indie and DijahSB's elastic rap to Nicole Dollanganger's tender, gothic rock and BIG|BRAVE's ostentatious metal. Here's our list of the Canadian Albums and EPs we're most excited about in 2023. Buckle up for a big year. 

afternoon bike ride
(Friends of Friends Music)
Release Date: February 10

Written while primary vocalist Lia Kurihara was caring for her father amidst an Alzheimer's diagnosis, glossover balances afternoon bike ride's lush, gentle lo-fi with a streak of painful darkness. Splicing shaggy indie folk with a throbbing, subliminal beat and twirling vocal harmonies, "For the Breakdowns" is a bruised piece of alt-pop perfection that hits like getting doored. 

Atsuko Chiba 
Water, It Feels Like It's Growing
Release Date: January 20

Atsuko Chiba's third full-length is "not meant to be strictly political," but the Montreal five-piece's music has always been animated by the political and social forces that shape our lives. The six-track album has been preceded by the slow-boiling, serpentine "Seeds" and the frantic "Link," showcasing the band's whiplash-inducing sense of sonic exploration. 

Amos the Kid 
(House of Wonders)
Release Date: TBA

It's all just whispers in the icy Manitoba wind at this point, but it's safe to say that you can expect something from Amos the Kid in 2023, hot off the heels of last year's lovely "I'll Set the Fire." His long-awaited debut full-length will be the follow-up to his much-loved Mountain View and No More New Ideas EPs.

Jill Barber
(Outside Music)
Release Date: February 10

Canadian songwriting staple Jill Barber latest, Homemaker, is a reflection on marriage, motherhood and self-identity. It's billed as a return to Barber's stripped-down folk roots after dipping into pop, jazz, soul and vintage chansons on recent records. Produced by Barber herself along with Erik Nielsen, the album is preceded by the lovely, pedal steel-laden "Instant Cash for Gold."

Powder Blue
(Birthday Cake Records)
Release Date: February 24

Begonia's music is big — big vocals, big charisma and big feelings. After 2019's kaleidoscopic Fear, Powder Blue tightens the hooks, sharpens the production and allows more space for Alexa Dirks's deep well of a voice. Shuffling gospel, funk, electro-pop and icy R&B, Powder Blue should solidify Begonia as one of the most joyful and exciting pop artists that Canada has to offer. 

nature morte
(Thrill Jockey)
Release Date: February 24

Following last year's Leaving None but Small Birds — a collaboration with Rhode Island duo the Body — BIG|BRAVE return with the blistering nature morte, recorded alongside engineer/producer Seth Manchester. The six-song collection grapples with "the folly of hope, the consequences of trauma, and often centres on the subjugation of femininity in all its pluralities," per a press release. Opener and lead single "carvers, farriers and knaves" is a weighty slab of pitch-black power. 

Birds of Bellwoods
Everything You Want 
Release Date: February 10 

As stated by the band, Everything You Want promises "laughing, crying and a whole lot of energy." Sparkling, energetic art-pop honed carefully in the midst of pandemic isolation, Birds of Bellwoods' latest was produced by Dave Schiffman, known for his work with the likes of Vampire Weekend and Haim. 

Release Date: TBA

Masters of spiky, throwback bubblegum punk, Bratboy make guitar music that moves like alternate-universe Top 40, shredding love stories and baring teeth over their scuzzy three-piece arrangements. Most recent single "Victoria" is their strongest dispatch yet, riding the winking charm of Bella Bébê and Megan-Magdalena's intertwined voices. Expect big, stylish things from their debut — Bratboy are here to make a scene. 

Cuntry Covers Vol. 2
(Sub Pop)
Release Date: February 24

Bria return with a new batch of country-fried covers for the aptly titled Cuntry Covers Vol. 2. The follow-up to 2021's Vol. 1 — which made our list of the 25 best EPs of 2021 — finds the band reworking classic tunes by Loretta Lynn, Gillian Welch, Mary Margaret O'Hara, Robert Lester Folsom and Glenn Campbell by way of Nick Cave. 

Better Luck in the Next Life 
(Avant Garden / 4th & Broadway / Def Jam)
Release Date: March 3

"'Bon Voyage' marks the beginning of this new chapter," Chiiild said in a press release about his upcoming sophomore album. "My aim with Better Luck in the Next Life is to give you a look inside my mind. Into the doubts & fears, ambitions and a few connections along the way." Better Luck in the Next Life will be the follow-up to last year's Hope for Sale. In preparation, you can read up on the Montreal artist by checking out his Exclaim! cover story from 2021.

Living Simple
Release Date: February 10

Everyone's favourite MC and Twitter's current reigning champion, DijahSB promises more of their potent blend of hilarity and heartache with Living Simple, a six-song cycle that explores, as explained by Dijah, the concept of "not adhering to hustle culture to be happy." Pre-release singles "SummerTime" and "Khadijah" ride warm, organic rhythms and Dijah's effortlessly confident flow — it's golden hour, deep-August music arriving just in time to melt February's cold. 

Nicole Dollanganger 
Married in Mount Airy
Release Date: January 6

It's coming for us quick, but that's all the more reason to get stoked on Dollanganger's much-anticipated follow-up to 2018's Heart Shaped Bed. Early singles "Whispering Glades," ''Gold Satin Dreamer" and "Runnin' Free" are billowing slices of gothic pop, curdling the golden-hued magic of Stevie Nicks into something darker. No one does it quite like Dollanganger, and it's a thrill to have her back. 

Gord Downie & Bob Rock
Lustre Parfait
(Arts & Crafts)
Release Date: May 5

Late, much-missed Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie and mega-producer Bob Rock made an album together that never saw the light of day — this year, however, that changes. The duo's Lustre Parfait will be out May 5, and will feature previously shared singles "The Raven and the Red-Tailed Hawk," "Lustre Parfait" and "Is There Nowhere." In a statement about the album, Rock said, "First and foremost, Gord was my friend, and having the opportunity to work with him on these songs was one of the biggest highlights of my professional life."

Yarrow Lover
(Fontine Beavis)
Release Date: February 8

With her lovely, long-awaited debut single "Homemaker" now out in the world, FONTINE will be breaking hearts and moving hips with her debut Yarrow Lover EP, crafted with fellow Manitobans Boy Golden and Kris Ulrich. Already a beloved staple of Manitoba's live music scene, 2023 is shaping up to be FONTINE's year. 

Fucked Up
One Day
Release Date: January 27

Named for the length of time it took to write and record, One Day was crafted by Mike Haliechuk, who worked on its 10 tracks in three eight-hour sessions. The band members then laid down additional textures and sounds, rounding out the group's latest full-length. If the dense guitar thickets of singles "One Day" and "Found" are any indication, it was a day well spent.

Jenn Grant
Champagne Problems 
Release Date: TBA

East Coast singer-songwriter Jenn Grant's Champagne Problems is a collaborative album made with 12 different Canadian contributors; first single "Judy" was written with fellow Nova Scotia musician Kim Harris. "Writing 'Judy' with Kim Harris felt like a gift from another realm," said Grant in a statement, "and when I sing it now, I can feel the power and the joy in it for others, which is just amazing to see." If "Judy" is any indication, Champagne Problems will be worth the wait.

Taylor Janzen
I Live in Patterns 
(Arts & Crafts)
Release Date: March 3

I Live in Patterns promises big, shattering emotions in big, shattering pop songs. Taylor Janzen has never shied from feeling, but what we've heard so far from her long-awaited debut — the muscular, teary-eyed pop of "Designated Driver" or the title track's soaring heartache — turn everything up to 11, blowing out windows and shaking walls. Get ready to cry. 

July Talk 
Remember Never Before 
(Six Shooter Records)
Release Date: January 20

Produced by Holy Fuck's Graham Walsh, Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew and July Talk's own guitarist Ian Docherty, the band have said that Remember Never Before is "the most potently yet inventively 'July Talk' album yet." They've already performed in album in full at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern back in October, but new singles "After This," "Certain Father" and "Hold" foretell something special on the way. 

Kid Koala 
Creatures of the Late Afternoon
Release Date: April 14

Set to be released in four separate parts (with the first section already available to listen to now) Kid Koala's kaleidoscopic Creatures of the Late Afternoon will soundtrack an accompanying board game about a cast of creatures trying to save their habitat through the power of music. A tale as old as time! The game will be embedded into Creatures of the Late Afternoon's vinyl release, so you can play along to Koala's maximalist electro fantasies. 

Psychopathesque Mixtape Vol. I
(Westerly Records)
Release Date: TBA

The new moniker of Dead Soft frontman Nathaniel Epp, Nat makes out-of-time indie rock, equal parts careful and effusive. On his debut record as Nat, Epp dips further into ambient, folk and classic pop textures, pushing away from the solid forms of Dead Soft in somewhere more diaphanous. Conjuring both the groundedness of Elliot Smith and the celestial pop of Sparklehorse, Psychopathesque Mixtape Vol. I reveals intriguing new facets of Epp's songwriting. 

Doug Paisley 
Say What You Like
(Outside Music)
Release Date: March 17

Produced by Bahamas' Afie Jurvanen, Say What You Like's 11 songs were distilled from more than 250 unrecorded tracks written by Paisley over the last decade. Folding folk, country and pop sensibilities into Paisley's sterling writing, it's another showcase of the songwriter's carefully wrought universe. 

(Next Door Records)
Release Date: January 13

With four singles already out in the world, we already have a pretty good idea of what poolblood's highly anticipated debut will sound like — but that only makes the anticipation greater. From the steady rumble of "shabby" to the gently humming "my little room," the songs that Maryam Said has shared thus far are vast and intimate, instinctual and careful. Expect to be blown away by the whole thing. 

Ron Sexsmith
The Vivian Line
Release Date: February 17

Ron Sexsmith's 18th(!) studio album — the followup to 2020's HERMITAGE — was named for the rural route near the artist's home in Stratford, ON, which he's called "a sort of portal between my old life in Toronto and my new life here." Written almost entirely during a particularly fruitful period of 2021, The Vivian Line was recorded in Nashville with producer Brad Jones. 

Andy Shauf
(Arts & Crafts)
Release Date: February 10

Once again self-producing and playing every instrument, Norm finds Shauf establishing a new character in his densely populated universe. "The character of Norm is introduced in a really nice way," Shauf said of the upcoming record in a statement. "But the closer you pay attention to the record, the more you're going to realize that it's sinister." A dialogue between God and his only begotten son, the restrained, funny "Wasted on You," as well as the shimmering "Catch Your Eye," are harbingers of good things to come. 

The Weight of Remembrance 
(20 Buck Spin)
Release Date: January 20

The debut album from the Vancouver doom metal duo, The Weight of Remembrance nods to the corrosive riffage and pitch-black tones of '80s and '90s metal without ever tipping into pastiche, layering stately strings and melody beneath their heaving onslaught. Cellist/bassist/vocalist Soren Mourne and guitarist/vocalist Etienne Flinn plumb the depths of sound and feeling and come wailing out the other side. It's steeped in history, but the band's debut feels totally fresh. 

Shania Twain 
Queen of Me 
(Universal Music Canada)
Release Date: February 3

Her first collection of new music since 2017's Now, Twain's sixth studio album — if singles "Waking Up Dreaming" "Last Day of Summer" and "Not Just a Girl" are anything to go by — will be a further glossening (is that a word?) of her already glossy brand of world-dominating country pop. The album is tied to an absolutely massive world tour, so expect to see more Twain in 2023. 

Jonah Yano
portrait of a dog
(Innovative Leisure)
Release Date: January 27

Hiroshima-born, Montreal-based songwriter Jonah Yano follows up 2020's souvenir with the lithe and groovy portrait of a dog, produced by BADBADNOTGOOD. Described as an exploration of family and identity within the Japanese-Canadian diaspora, a press release calls the record a "clear departure from Yano's previous recordings." In addition to being produced by BBNG — whom Yano has worked with in the past — portrait of a dog also features appearances from Sea Oleena and Slauson Malone.

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