In honour of Canada Day, I decided to compile my list of the nation's best current talent in the world of music. None of these names are fresh to the industry. Many have been around for over a decade. However, some are just starting to elevate to the next level of their careers.
A few of these names are internationally recognizable. For others, you may just be hearing about them for the first time. Just don't expect the likes of Justin Bieber or Avril Lavigne. No offence, if you're into that kind of music. (Note: I'm no hipster. I like mainstream music too, as long as it's good!)
All these artists have either had recently released albums or have upcoming releases later this year. Check out the list (in no particular order) below! Do you agree with any of my choices? What are your picks?
I first discovered Serena Ryder back in 2006 when I heard her song, "Weak In The Knees." I was amazed by her raspy voice, which is reminiscent to a young Melissa Ethridge. Next, I heard her cover of Hair's "Good Morning Starshine," which is, dare I say it, infinitely better than the original. You would think that with a talent like hers she would have quickly become an international phenomenon like fellow young female singer-songwriter, Adele. But even Adele didn't break out in a big way until her sophomore album, 21. So I guess you could consider Ryder to be Canada's best kept secret since 2004.
But that secret is about to end soon. Her sixth studio album, Harmony, earned the 29-year-old Juno-winner from Millbrook, Ontario, another Juno for Adult Alternative Album of the Year. Her first single,"Stompa," is her most commercially successful song in the U.S. charts. It maintained a number one spot in Billboard's Triple A chart for over six consecutive weeks. With a U.S. release in September, expect Harmony to find international success.
City and Colour
The first Dallas Green (also known as City and Colour) album I listened to was 2011's Little Hell. With one of the most beautiful and soothing voices I've ever heard, I instantly became a fan. With songs that can be haunting ("Little Hell"), romantic ("Girl") or just pure rock 'n' roll ("Thirst"), there's no denying that the 33-year-old from St. Catherines, Ont., is one of the best singer-songwriters in today's music.
The former Alexisonfire singer-guitarist is back this year with his fourth solo album, The Hurry and the Harm. Reuniting with producer Alex Newport, the 12-track album was released earlier this month and sounds like a mix of signature Green with a bit of The Black Keys.
Tegan and Sara
The twin sisters from Calgary, Alberta, debuted over a decade ago. But like Serena Ryder, it was not until this year that they finally broke into the mainstream with the release of their seventh studio album, Hearthrob. It's one of my favourite albums of this year. The 80's style synthpop songs are incredibly catchy, infectious and brutally honest. Unfortunately, a few long-time fans online like to nitpick over the duo's departure from their usual indie rock style to a more commercially friendly sound.
As Tegan explained in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, the intention was always to make a mainstream pop album: "We didn't wake up one day and go 'Holy shit we made a pop record'. We wanted to make a bigger record, a mainstream record. But there was a bit of 'How do we do it and be credible? How do we do we still feel like artistically we've given the world something they needed and how do we do it and still keep our old fans and excite new ones?'"
If the music is still great, why complain about a change of style?
Formed in 2003 in Montreal, Quebec, Arcade Fire is one of the most notable indie band success stories. They made headlines at the 2011 Grammy Awards for winning the coveted title of Album of the Year, beating out mainstream names like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Eminem. For those of us music snobs, it was a triumphant and inspired victory. The band will reportedly release their highly anticipated fourth album on September 9.
Canada is a nation full of leading alternative bands and artists. With the combination of Emily Haines' hypnotic vocals and a mix of various genres such as synth pop and electronic, Toronto's Metric is certainly at the top. I dare you to find one Metric song you don't end up dancing or singing along to. The band's recent release, Synthetica, features some of their best music thus far. The song "Lost Kitten" in particular is my favourite.
Leslie Feist has an angelic singing voice that is so unique, you can't really compare her to any other artist working today. The 37-year-old alternative singer-songwriter from Amherst, Nova Scotia, first emerged as part of the band, Broken Social Scene. She broke out to massive success in 2004 with her second album, Let It Die, which was the perfect blend of various influences such as folk, pop and electronic. Her latest album, Metals, was released in 2011 and is proof that she is only getting better with age.
Undeniably the most famous name on this list, 37-year-old Michael Bublé of Burnaby, B.C., is one of Canada's superstars. The crooner's jazz-pop style has garnered fans worldwide with his covers of standards and original hits. The multiple Grammy and Juno award winner released his latest album, "To Be Loved," in April. Although it's mostly filled with covers, Bublé simply has one of those incredible voices that you would want to hear sing anything.