8 Emerging Canadian Artists You Need to Hear in July 2021
Meet Exclaim!'s latest New Faves, including solo breakouts from stalwart bands and Saskatchewan's lo-fi vibesmith
Published Jul 06, 2021Nationwide concert tours are being announced at a rapid pace, and since we finally have reason to believe that these dates will stick, we're now eagerly anticipating being blown away live by local artists. Here are eight Canadian artists you need to check out once local shows come back, including solo breakouts from stalwart bands and Saskatchewan's lo-fi vibesmith.
For fans of: serpentwithfeet, Frank Ocean
Intimate, sensual and soulful, James Baley's R&B/pop confessionals showcase this versatile artist's refined pen and golden voice. While this Juno nominee has already proven his talents through collaborations with Badge Époque Ensemble, July Talk and U.S. Girls, his latest singles — the gospel-infused "Saviour" and the '80s-tinged "On My Mind" — show that Baley shines most when speaking his own truths.
For fans of: Begonia, Royal Canoe
Hey Ocean! singer Ashleigh Ball may already be familiar to many Canadian audiences, but solo album Before All the Magic's Gone, released in June, still feels like a reintroduction. The brassy strut of "Lavender" and the synthpop thump of "Keep on Pretending" serve as a bright, bold mission statement for those who only know her from her previous work.
For fans of: Lauryn Hill, Jorja Smith
Bukola channels the confidence of her favourite musicians like Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston, but instead of soaring anthems, the 19-year-old accentuates mid-tempo R&B jams about the isolation of growing up Black in Western Canada with her sparse but bright guitar playing. Her debut EP, The Chronicles of a Teenage Mind, dropped in June.
Leslie Ken Chu
Montreal, QC/Guelph, ON
For fans of: Julia Holter, Sandro Perri
Steph Yates' jazzy, bossa nova-laced folk music as Cots rings with her curiosity. Fittingly, the first word she sings on from her forthcoming Sandro Perri-produced debut album Disturbing Body, due on August 11 via Boiled Records, is "searching." While Yates' other projects (garage-rock band Esther Grey and punk duo Cupcake Ductape) embrace din, Cots leans into gentleness.
For fans of: Aminé, Smino
Maky Lavender represents the best aspects of Montreal. On May's double album We Here! On Est Là! and follow-up EPs 33 and FFF2, Lavender seamlessly flows between rapping in English and French while leaning into his Haitian roots. On songs like "Kess Passe?" and "Fek Vini 2," Lavender shows his music can equally belong at every summer cookout and late-night party.
Patrick Moon Bird
Prince Albert, SK
For fans of: Idealism, Joji
Lo-fi producer Patrick Moon Bird crafts deeply layered, atmospheric pieces that combine ambient, rock and pop nuances. His twin Days and Nights EPs speak to his mental health struggles, serving as a prime example of how an artist can articulate powerful and relatable messages in a soft-spoken way. Bird's rapidly growing fanbase proves he is every bit as talented as he is prolific.
Tinkertoy Fog Machine
For fans of: Connan Mockasin, Tame Impala, Mother Tongues
With only two singles to their name, Montreal's analog-forward duo Tinkertoy Fog Machine have already laid ample groundwork for their lush, psychedelic soundscapes. As longtime pals and coworkers at a toy company, Tyrin Kelly and Kai Thorpe string together their textural lo-fi sound with literal spare parts, employing homemade setups and vintage equipment to capture the warmth of their rainbow indie magic.
For fans of: Jessie Ware, Charlotte Cardin, SZA
Erez Zobary isn't easily pinned down. The singer-songwriter, educator and activist has one of those mahogany-toned voices that stretches out comfortably at the centre of lush, introspective ballads and brass-tinged disco heaters alike. Zobary's album To Bloom, out July 23, likewise promises to serve a medley of moods as hearty soul food, her empowered vulnerability a grounding force throughout.
Listen to tracks from these and other emerging Canadian artists in our Spotify playlist.