Musicians, industry folks and Manitoba expats from across the country are making their way to the heart of the continent, Winnipeg, for the 43rd Annual Juno Awards.
Despite the fact that the Junos are in Winnipeg this year, you're not likely to see any musicians who still reside in the city during the live broadcast. Most of the obvious big names like, say, Randy Bachman have long since left the prairie town -- it hits 50 below, after all -- so we'd like to pass some exposure over to Winnipeg's next wave of music-makers.
From the vocoder-laden avant-pop of Royal Canoe to the pummeling noise-rock of KEN mode to the agit-folk of John K. Samson, the below playlist represents the city's burgeoning music scene of today -- be it bands on the come up or local favs that help keep the legacy alive.
Click through the gallery to get acquainted with the city’s current crop of buzzed-about and beloved acts. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.
13. Federal Lights
Fronted by Winnipeg singer/songwriter Jean-Guy Roy, the band has been quietly building buzz on the national indie rock circuit since forming in 2010. Their debut full-length, "We Were Found In The Fog," produced by Rusty Matyas (Imaginary Cities), is outlined by the distinctive voice of Roy and soaring pop arrangements. Simply put: the band makes really pretty little ditties. Federal Light appears at JUNOfest on Friday, March 28 at The Park Theatre.
12. Mise En Scene
Coming on to the scene a few years ago, the girls have been earning their stripes through non-stop gigging across Canada, and the occasional jaunt to Europe. Combining '60s pop with strokes of garage rock, the band's beachy vibe, reminiscent of the Dum Dum Girls, is best represented in the track "Endless Summer," a go-to lament for those never-ending Winnipeg winters. Mise En Scene appears at JUNOfest on Friday, March 28 at Ozzy's.
11. The Lytics
Names like The Pharcyde and Souls of Mischief get thrown around when describing the five-man collective of The Lytics. Releasing two solid efforts in the past five years, a self-titled EP in 2009 and sophomore "They Told Me" in 2012, the young and hungry crew have been holding their own on the Canadian hip hop scene; building a rep for their high-energy live shows, positive lyricism and laid-back beats. Their video for lead single "Stay Calm" shows the guys getting summertime loose from the Legislative Building to the cobblestone streets of the Exchange District, representing Peg City through and through. The Lytics will perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and others on Friday, March 28, Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30 at the Centennial Concert Hall as part of JUNOfest.
10. Greg MacPherson
Rock 'n' roller Greg MacPherson has been a local fave since the late '90s when he started putting out releases on political music label G7 Welcoming Committee Records. Hot off the release of "Fireball," his second effort on Disintegration Records, the local label he co-founded in 2011, MacPherson's music and airtight live shows are full of the kind of raw intensity that pulls you and doesn't let go. Just check out MacPherson's video for "Frequencies" wherein he shows off his Ian Curtis-style dance moves in Winnipeg's Memorial Park.
9. Cannon Bros.
Power pop duo Cannon Bros., made up of Alannah Walker and Cole Woods, released their debut full-length, "Firecracker Clowdglow," in 2011, and nabbed a Polaris Prize nod soon after. If you like bursts of pop melody with fuzz guitars that recall '90s indie like Pavement and Dinosaur Jr., this band is basically for you. With the two bandmates splitting their time between other musical projects, they haven't been heard from in a while, but word on the street is that a new record is in the midst.
8. J.P. Hoe
If you want to get to know Winnipeg in less than four minutes, watch singer/songwriter J.P. Hoe's video for the ridiculously infectious "Nothing’s Gonna Harm You," off his 2012 release, Mannequin. Produced by Winnipeg design/animation upstart Procter Bros. Industries, the video is filled with all sorts of Winnipeg iconography. With nods to beloved local hangouts and hotspots, such as legendary live music venue the Royal Albert Arms (RIP), independent video store Movie Village, and the Burton Cummings-owned greasy spoon Salisbury House, it’s all pretty spectacular to look at, and even more so if you get the references. J.P. Hoe appears at JUNOfest on Friday, March 28 at the West End Cultural Centre.
7. Del Barber
Winnipeg is particularly proud of its output of acclaimed folk and roots artists, and Del Barber is currently among the scene's biggest contenders. Nominated for a 2011 Juno Award for his sophomore album, "Love Songs for the Last Twenty," his subject matter is a long and winding prairie narrative that recalls Manitoba songwriting greats such as Neil Young. His fourth and latest record, the fittingly titled "Prairieography," veers into more country territory than past efforts, but it's well worth a listen. Del Barber appears at JUNOfest on Friday, March 28 and Saturday, March 29 at the West End Cultural Centre.
6. Mahogany Frog
Prog-rockers Mahogany Frog create sound collages that unite the group’s vast musical inclinations and serious affection for synths. They landed a nomination for a 2014 Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year for their sixth LP, "SENNA." Apparently, it's their heaviest and most challenging to date. We should also mention that their live shows are next level, so if you haven't been paying attention to this band it's time to start. Mahogany Frog performs at JUNOfest on Saturday, March 29 at The Pyramid Cabaret.
5. Chic Gamine
Winnipeg's Saint Boniface neighbourhood is home to one of Canada's largest French-speaking populations outside of Québec, and it's also the birthplace of the founding members of soul/pop act and 2009 Juno winners Chic Gamine. A collision of '60s Motown, R&B, French pop and a bunch of ladies with impressive pipes, all you have to do is listen to the group performing "Closer" to get converted. Chic Gamine will perform at JUNOfest on Saturday, March 29 at The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre (Manitoba House).
4. Imaginary Cities
The story of Imaginary Cities' formation goes a little something like this: guy working at bar – The Cavern in Osborne Village – hears girl singing Motown tunes decides to start band. That guy is Rusty Matyas, former member of Juno-nominated act The Waking Eyes, who's also toured and performed with the Weakerthans. And that girl is powerhouse vocalist Marti Sarbit, formerly of soul cover band The Solutions. The band has been riding a critical wave since the release of their debut effort, "Temporary Resident," which was also longlisted for a Polaris Music Prize in 2011. Imaginary Cities will perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and others on Friday, March 28, Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30 at the Centennial Concert Hall as part of JUNOfest.
3. KEN mode
Metallic noise rock trio KEN mode raised an already elevated bar with their latest offering, "Entrench," which is being hailed as the band's masterpiece. They landed on tons of year-end lists in 2013 and secured a spot on the Polaris Prize longlist. Nominated for a 2014 Juno Award for Metal / Hard Music Album of the Year, the band won a Juno in the same category for its album, "Venerable," back in 2012 when the metal / hard category was first introduced at the Junos.
2. Royal Canoe
With a major penchant for Big Boi, catchy, convoluted arrangements and weird videos, the Winnipeg six-piece embraces the kind of surrealist humour that might resonate with fellow hometown eccentric Guy Maddin. Their debut full-length, "Today We're Believers," is up for a 2014 Juno Award in the category of Alternative Album of the Year, and the record's getting a lot of international attention. They recently made a creepy video for track "Birthday," and it might be the closest thing we've seen to Aphex Twin and David Lynch meeting minds. Royal Canoe will perform with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and others on Friday, March 28, Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30 at the Centennial Concert Hall as part of JUNOfest.
1. John K. Samson
We would have put his band the Weakerthans on this list, but aside from a few odd festival dates, they haven't been doing much as of late. That said, frontman John K. Samson released a notable solo album, "Provincial," in 2012; he also frequently collaborates with other artists, and we suspect there's much more to come. Let's face it, John K. is to Winnipeg’s Gen Xers and Millennials what Randy Bachman is to the city's Baby Boomers. Winnipeg. Loves. Him. For that reason alone, he had to be on this list.
JUNO Fan Choice Single of the Year Album of the Year Group of the Year Songwriter of the Year Alternative Album of the Year
JUNO Fan Choice Album of the Year Artist of the Year Rap Recording of the Year
JUNO Fan Choice Single of the Year Album of the Year Artist of the Year Pop Album of the Year
JUNO Fan Choice Single of the Year Album of the Year Artist of the Year Songwriter of the Year
JUNO Fan Choice Album of the Year Artist of the Year Adult Contemporary Album of the Year
JUNO Fan Choice Group of the Year Pop Album of the Year Video of the Year
Tegan and Sara
Single of the Year Group of the Year Songwriter of the Year Pop Album of the Year
JUNO Fan Choice Artist of the Year Pop Album of the Year
Walk Off The Earth
JUNO Fan Choice Group of the Year Pop Album of the Year
A Tribe Called Red
Electronic Album of the Year Breakthrough Artist of the Year
Rap Recording of the Year Single of the Year
Songwriter of the Year Producer of the Year
Adult Alternative Album of the Year Songwriter of the Year
Dance Recording of the Year
>album title goes here< — deadmau5 Tsunami — DVBBS & Borgeous Locked Down — Jacynthe Heartbreaker — Mia Martina This is What it Feels Like — Armin van Buuren & Trevor Guthrie
BREAKTHROUGH GROUP OF THE YEAR
A Tribe Called Red Autumn Hill Born Ruffians Courage My Love July Talk
ADULT ALTERNATIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Tall Tall Shadow — Basia Bulat Shut Down the Streets — A.C. Newman Us Alone — Hayden Forever Endeavour — Ron Sexsmith Internal Sounds — The Sadies
ALTERNATIVE ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Reflektor — Arcade Fire The Poet’s Dead — Rah Rah Today We’re Believers — Royal Canoe Warring — The Darcys Uzu — Yamantaka//Sonic Titan
ROCK ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Love + Fury — Headstones Coyote — Matt Mays Arrows of Desire — Matthew Good Furiosity — Monster Truck Transit of Venus — Three Days Grace
INSTRUMENTAL ALBUM OF THE YEAR
New History Warfare Vol.3: To See More Light — Colin Stetson Dalmak — Esmerine Senna — Mahogany Frog Down Home — Petr Cancura Invitation — The Peggy Lee Band
R&B/SOUL RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Kaleidoscope — Joanna Borromeo Can’t Choose — JRDN ft. Kardinal Offishall There’s Only One — Kim Davis Gone — Melanie Durrant Kiss Land — The Weeknd
REGGAE RECORDING OF THE YEAR
Mandela — Akustix Baby It’s You — Ammoye Love Collision — Dru Rebel Massive — Dubmatix Strive — Exco Levi & Kabaka Pyramid
Roots & Traditional Album of the Year – Group
Lee Harvey Osmond, The Folk Sinner Little Miss Higgins & The Winnipeg Five, Bison Ranch Recording Sessions The Devin Cuddy Band, Volume One The Strumbellas, We Still Move On Dance Floors The Wilderness of Manitoba, Island of Echoes
Roots & Traditional Album of the Year – Solo
Daniel Romano, Come Cry with Me David Francey, So Say We All Donovan Woods, Don't Get Too Grand Justin Rutledge, Valleyheart Lindi Ortega, Tin Star
Video of the year:
Je t’aime comme tu es - Daniel Bélanger Friend of Mine - D-Sisive Anything - Hedley King and Lionheart - Of Monsters and Men Feeling Good - The Sheepdogs
FRANCOPHONE ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Himalaya mon amour — Alex Nevsky Omniprésent — Damien Robitaille Chic de ville — Daniel Bélanger Fox — Karim Ouellet Punkt — Pierre Lapointe