8 Emerging Canadian Artists You Need to Hear in February 2021
Meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, including Halifax's reggae star and Montreal's next woozy rocker
Published Feb 04, 2021February may be the shortest month of the year, but it doesn't mean you should skimp out on getting your monthly dose of emerging Canadian artists to discover. From artists who just put out their best releases yet to those with new material still on the way, these New Faves are worth checking out.
For fans of: Dax J, Manni Dee
For the better part of the past two years, Aahan Talpur has been putting out a prolific string of relentless, pummelling techno on labels like Clergy, Obscuur, and Raven Sigh. With Unholy Empire, his recent debut on Monnom Black, Aahan marks his spot on the global techno landscape. Fortunately for all of us, he shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
For fans of: Blood Orange, Kelela
Released in January via Backxwash's former label, Grimalkin Records, Quinton Barnes' As a Motherfucker is as captivating as you would hope given its title. Across 11 high-energy tracks, a textured blend of R&B, rap, pop, and electronic sounds are a gritty backdrop for the Kitchener-born musician's smooth vocals and continuous pursuit of confidence and love.
For fans of: Hannah Georgas, Bahamas, Rose Cousins
Burry covers an impressive amount of ground over the five tracks of their new EP, Yellow Paint. The East Coast singer-songwriter crafts wistful, heartfelt musings on lost loves and festering regrets for a variety of moods thanks to tracks like the poppy, horn-accented "Figs and Apricots," R&B-flecked "She Said" or surf-rocking closer "3 Birthdays."
For fans of: Men I Trust, Tennis, TOPS
Don't confuse her with Alessia Cara — Swiss-Canadian songwriter Alicia Clara is carving out her own dream pop niche. Whether bopping along at a breezy pace on "Hazemaze" or slowing to a balladic crawl on "Five," Alicia Clara slathers her songs in wobbly guitar, sighing reverb and heavy-lidded melancholy. Her debut EP, Outsider/Unusual, arrives February 19 on Hot Tramp Records.
For fans of: Mavis Staples, Bettye LaVette
With social messaging that stands up for the downtrodden and victimized, Jah'Mila's deep-grooving dub is music we can all rally behind. She dropped mournful rallying cry "Chant Their Names" a mere 16 days after Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd, while recent single "Roots Girl" finds her standing her ground in a genre that has historically pushed women to the side.
Leslie Ken Chu
Garden Hill First Nation, MB
For fans of: TheHxliday, Rezcoast Grizz
Matthew Monias, a.k.a. Mattmac, is taking his story to the world and inspiring others in the process. The Oji-Cree artist and producer, who was born blind, channels his struggles and experiences into honest, heartfelt and thoughtful lyrics that flow beautifully through poppy vocals over hard-hitting melodic trap beats. He'll follow-up last year's excellent 20/20 with Blurred Visions, set for release this summer.
For fans of: Phoebe Bridgers, Dijon, Bruno Major
Edwin Raphael could easily make music for coming-of-age movies. His new EP, Staring at Ceilings, due February 26 on Dine Alone Records, brings a more mature and sombre sound to the Montreal artist's growing discography. With tracks like "Sea of Things" and "Time to Sink," Raphael's languid instrumentals are all too easy to melt into.
For fans of: Alessia Cara, Carly Rae Jepsen
Out February 12, Denise Valle's debut EP, EDGE, is a polished collection of danceable, introspective and ultra-catchy R&B and pop songs that are easy to fall in love with. The EP contains the string of singles she's released over the last couple of years, including the standout "Circles," a gorgeous collaboration with Wyatt C. Louis and BLSNG that's packed with incredible vocal runs.