Spotlight: Canada

The world seemed so much smaller back in the mid 2000s, when a feature on emerging sounds from Canada could run through the likes of Arcade Fire, Destroyer, Wolf Parade, Feist, etc. Now some hundred Internet years later, the idea of isolating a handful of artists based on region (let alone an entire country) seems a tad backwards, but it’s still a logical way to sort through the noise. And simply put, we’re in the midst of another really strong Canadian wave.

[BoxTitle]Braids[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideos][/MusicVideos] [Listen][/Listen] [BuyNow][/BuyNow]

This Montreal by way of Calgary 4-piece performs tighter than bands twice their age. It’s a testament to focus, friendship, and pure talent. Openly inspired by textural Feels-era Animal Collective, they twist a standard spectrum of guitar, bass, and drum into beautifully complex chaos using loops, drones, and seances—it’s an atmosphere they firmly own. Vocal accents come from all quadrants, with the feminine centerpiece Raphaelle Standell-Preston exploring a limitless and unpredictable range. Their debut LP Native Speaker, one of the year’s finest, just made the Polaris Music Prize shortlist (as did the following two acts below).

[BoxTitle]The Weeknd[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideos][/MusicVideos] [FreeDownload][/FreeDownload]

Announcing the return of R&B, re-imagined in the murky, drugged-out deep-end of a hipster pool party, The Weeknd have a few elements on lock: obscure/indie-mix-styled samples, sexually haunting content, and an identity branded in mystery. House of Balloons, a mixtape given away straight from a random landing page, took one wildly extensive lap through RSS feeds and think pieces, seemingly at the hot forefront of anyone’s genre-bending discussion, gaining praise from notable publications and big industry dogs like Drake (hey, also Canadian!).

[BoxTitle]Colin Stetson[/BoxTitle] [Listen][/Listen] [BuyNow][/BuyNow]

If the opportunity ever presents itself, do not hesitate, do not walk, run to a Colin Stetson show. His craft is rare in the sense that it might not be fully appreciated without first understanding the process. And he’s rare in the sense that no other human on the planet can physically replicate anything close to what he does. Everything on New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges is created with a saxophone and various breathing/tapping techniques—the result is avant-jazz percussion, at times even hummed, somehow layered without the use of looping, in a single take. Also spot him in the Bon Iver horn section.

[BoxTitle]Born Gold[/BoxTitle] [Listen][/Listen]

As of last week, GOBBLE GOBBLE is now going by Born Gold. Over the past two years, the thrillwave road warriors have burned a hole in every venue touched, and incited underground blog energies with a breed of alien dance music truly unknown, becoming perhaps the most uniting force in the community. The name change comes in preparation for a phase two: Bodysongs, a debut LP of selected jams, old and new, along with a monster North American tour. If that’s not enough to retain, multiple GBL members have their own side projects, among them is Purity Ring, who are two instantly celebrated future-pop MP3s deep into a very promising run of their own.

[BoxTitle]Grimes[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideos][/MusicVideos] [Listen][/Listen] [BuyNow][/BuyNow]

Eerie and hypnotizing, songstress Claire Boucher’s child-like coo hits Mariah Carey octaves as it bounces through a gothic chamberhouse of effects. Her work to date (two albums in 2010 and a split EP last spring) has generated much love, landing her on a solid tour with Swedish star Lykke Li, literally wow-ing over a whole new legion of fans. Sky’s the limit for Grimes—and it will surely be a radiant, black-clouded one at that, painted with lightning bolts and white doves.

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