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The 2018 iteration of the annual M for Montreal festival just wrapped this weekend, ending a four-day turbo-charged music marathon that saw over 100 artists across the city’s most iconic venues.
With this year’s lineup focusing on emerging talent, Canadian artists from far and wide flocked to a snowy Montreal to showcase the best talent the country has to offer.
If you missed the fest, don’t worry, we did the work for you—find your new favourite Canadian artist in our picks below.
On the surface, Zach Zoya might just seem like another Canadian hip hop figure vying for the title of “the next Drake.” The only difference? He just might be. The 20-year-old, now based in Montreal, is already creating buzz at home, collaborating with producer High Klassified on his aptly named mixtape, Misstape. He only has an EP and a handful of singles out, but you’re bound to find at least a few high-energy rap tracks for your pre-game playlist or some sultry slow jams for the late night Uber ride home.
Hot off his Polaris Music Prize win, Jeremy Dutcher took the stage at Le Gesù to perform tracks from Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Rearranging traditional First Nations music, Dutcher sings in his native Wolastoqey, a language, he noted, now only spoken by less than 100 people.
Accompanied by a cellist and drummer, his performance is also coupled with archival recordings of his ancestors. Do yourself a favour and give Dutcher’s music a listen—it sprawls across time and generations. The results are moving, and at this moment in time, it all feels incredibly important.
Self-described as the “lesbian Green Day,” Lucy Niles and Josée Caron make up the indie rock duo Partner. Hailing from Sackville, New Brunswick, the goofy duo write and sing songs about weed, feminism, and being gay (but not for each other). Their debut album, In Search Of Lost Time, was also shortlisted for this year’s Polaris Prize.
All the way from Charlottetown, dream-pop band Sorrey combine riffy guitars and synths on their debut EP Thick As Thieves. Fronted by vocalist and guitarist Emilee Sorrey, they’ve seen success on the East Coast but now have their sights on bigger things. Recently, they’ve been setting out to play gigs across the country at events like Halifax Pop Explosion and Sappyfest. If you’re already a fan of bands like Beach House or Sorrey’s fellow East-coasters Alvvays, give their record a spin stream.
You might be surprised to learn that The Garrys don’t live in a city drenched in sun and sand, considering their garage surf sound. Based in Saskatoon, the trio of sisters (watch out, Haim) released their sophomore concept album Surf Manitou last year, inspired by the resort town of Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan.
Helena Deland is the latest singer-songwriter delivering dreamy indie rock into our headphones. Perfect for introspective nights in or any Spotify playlist that has the word “chill” in the title, Deland has an ethereal sound that somehow feels lonely and comforting at the same time. From Montreal herself, Deland released four short volumes of songs as part of her Altogether Unaccompanied series earlier this year.
This post-punk trio of barely 20-year-olds already has the bragging rights of having shared the stage with the likes of PUP and Weaves. Ditching their hometown of Peterborough, ON, and leaving the label of “teen band” in the dust, they’ve relocated to Montreal and dropped a new record, The Pits, earlier this year. Their anthemic tracks deal with the trials and tribulations of youth that everyone can relate to (interpreting mixed signals, bad roommates, etc), so don’t hesitate to sing along.