In a year that felt like an endless series of rugs being pulled out from under us, the one thing you could always rely on was the music. This year delivered a near-endless stream of beautiful, challenging, life-affirming songs — escape hatches to new worlds and maps to help us better understand our own.
Canadian artists in particular have released some incredible music this year, from the righteous fury of Vagina Witchcraft, the serpentine jazz of the Weather Station, the horror-rap of Polaris Prize winner Backxwash or the searching indie rock of Amos the Kid.
This playlist barely scratches the surface — there’s no way to capture every worthy piece of new Canadian music in a single list.
There will be unintentional snubs and dozens that simply couldn’t fit, but it’s a tasting menu of sorts, a collection of some of the best and most exciting new music to come from our home province and beyond. There are ’80s-pilfering glitter bombs from Boniface and Mise en Scene, wild-eyed, joyful art punk from Hut Hut and Crack Cloud, blooming pop songs from Lido Pimienta and Austra, among a dozen other vital sounds and voices.
Some will make you want to dance, some will make you want to cry and some might have you doing both. The moods and energies are as varied as the artists themselves, but they all point to one undeniable truth — in a year defined by loss and upheaval, Canadian artists continued to make vital, necessary music. Hopefully, with this playlist as a jumping-off point, you’ll discover a record you didn’t know you needed.
Robber — the Weather Station, Ignorance
Jesus Cocaine Ketamine Christ — Amos the Kid, Mountain View
Where Are You Judy — Andy Shauf, The Neon Skyline
High School Feeling — Mise en Scene, Winnipeg, California
Count Me Out — Chiiild, Synthetic Soul
Midnight: Ghosts (feat. Chad Price) — Odario, Good Morning Hunter
Center of the World (Kotti Blues) — Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu, Renegade Breakdown
ALVVAYS — Vagina Witchcraft, Vagina Witchcraft
Woodstock ’99 — U.S. Girls, Heavy Light
Hey Strangers — Hut Hut, Hut Hut Hut
The Next Fix — Crack Cloud, PAIN OLYMPICS
Cue Synthesizer — Destroyer, Have We Met
Fear — Begonia, Fear
Spells — Backxwash feat. Devi McCallion, God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It
How Did You Know? — Austra, HiRUDiN
Sideways — TiKA, Soothing Love
Susie Save Your Love — Allie X & Mitski, Cape God
I Will Not Return As A Tourist — Boniface, Boniface
New Low — Sarah Harmer, Are You Gone
Barb 217 — Julien’s Daughter, The Static That Caries Over
Riverbank — Danny Bell and His Disappointments, Songs for the Town
Reliever — William Prince, Reliever
Crown of Leaves — Mellifera, Crown of Leaves
Pale Blue — Basia Bulat, Are You in Love?
Eso Que Tu Haces — Lido Pimienta, Miss Colombia
Both Of Us — Jayda G, Both Of Us/Are U Down
New Jade — Caribou, Suddenly