8 Emerging Canadian Artists You Need to Hear in April 2021
Meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, from Montreal's viral icicle rater to international emo breakouts
Published Apr 06, 2021The days are getting longer and the sun is getting brighter, but the futures of these emerging Canadian artists might be brightest of all. Meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, including Montreal's viral icicle rater, an emo band making international waves and a trio of Edmonton standouts.
Quinte West, ON
For fans of: Balance and Composure, Modern Baseball, Title Fight
Despite being together for just over two years, Arm's Length are already lapping themselves in terms of artistic development. Their Everything Nice EP, released in February, is a massive level up from their 2019 debut, garnering international attention. Mixing bits of post-hardcore and emo with lyrics tackling struggles with mental health, their songs, particularly standout "Garamond," are both anguished and cathartic.
For fans of: Louise Burns, Tegan and Sara
The twin sister duo of Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris started busking folk tunes when they were 12. A decade or so later, they're making banging pop anthems for 604 Records. Louise Burns produced their '70s-inspired 2018 EP, Sad Pagans, while 2021 singles "Dirty Dancing" and "Taste for It" push the duo's sound forward with bubbly disco beats and towering pop choruses.
For fans of: Pixies, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Little Sprout vocalist Amie Gislason's Twitter bio reads, "lava, ice cream, woodbugs, chocolate, gravel." These tags could describe the Vancouver trio's pointy rock tunes, which are sticky sweet and prone to erupting with death metal growls. Alien boyfriends and dragon-headed chimeras inhabit the corporeally obsessed band's songs; they're not quite body horror, but they're a thrill. Grab a slice of their new album, Fake Cake, out now.
Leslie Ken Chu
For fans of: HAIM, Billie Eilish
Bilingual alt-pop singer Maryze gained a ton of acclaim with her viral TikTok videos rating Montreal's deadliest icicles. Her songwriting is just as sharp — latest single "Too Late" is firmly rooted in its '80s influence with tinkling percussive accents and a range of synths, while last year's "Squelettes" stacks ethereal vocals atop rattling bass before giving way for a scorching verse by Backxwash.
For fans of: Black Thought, k-os, Common
Holding down Edmonton's hip-hop community, Arlo Maverick is a conscious MC, singer, musician and live bandleader who's here to spark some positive change. After writing blunt, challenging songs like the politically outspoken, 2021 single "Hashtag" or 2020's "Black Everyday," Maverick's new EP, Soul Merchant, will surely move hearts, minds and bodies, because that's just what his music does.
For fans of: Matana Roberts, Lichens, Moor Mother
Mustafa Rafiq is a vital figure in Edmonton experimental music, whether promoting live events with the Sweaty Palms collective or performing with Pyramid//Indigo, Holy Drone Travellers and Family Injera. Rafiq's debut under their given name, If I Were a Dance, was released on April 2 by local label Pseudo Laboratories. The album captures two collaborations with tabla player Bhuyash Neupane and poet Shima Aisha Robinson in a mesmerizing backdrop of bowed guitar, sax, bells, synths and birdsong.
For fans of: Gorgoroth, Mgła, Uada
Three years after Infernal Decadence left the underground thirsty for more demonic black metal, Spectral Wound are ready to take the world by storm with follow-up A Diabolic Thirst, due April 16 via Profound Lore Records. Hypnotic tremolo leads, raw blast beats and ghastly screams remain Spectral Wound's weapons of choice, epitomizing old-school black metal in all its profane, atmospheric glory.
For fans of: Robyn, Jessie Ware
VISSIA's previous work has been rooted in folk, but the singles leading up to her next album, With Pleasure, show a greatly expanded palette: "On My Mind" lets an iridescent dance beat propel its kinetic pop hooks, "Walk Me Home" is a slow-burn ballad and "The Cliffs" adds warm neo-soul to the mix. All of it works — in branching out, VISSIA's pushed her songwriting to new heights.
Listen to tracks from these and other emerging Canadian artists in our Spotify playlist.