Published Dec 08, 2020December is typically reserved for looking back at the year's best releases, but between your millionth listens of the best albums of 2020 and catching up on the stuff you missed, don't forget to check out these emerging artists — they could definitely sneak onto your year-end playlist and set the mood for 2021.
Eve Parker Finley
For fans of: Owen Pallett, Julia Holter, Juliana Barwick
The music of Montreal-based Eve Parker Finley (f.k.a. Lonely Boa) is made for marvelling. Intermingling ambient drones, electronic beats, and magnificent string flourishes, Chrysalia, Finley's debut album under her own name, is an ever-evolving suite of eclectically orchestrated pieces, ranging from swooping violin loops on "The Rules" to the cinematic explosions of "Toy Animal Contemplates Life."
For fans of: Kodak Black, 21 Savage, Roy Woods
Whether it was single releases like "100 Rounds," "Nana" and "Pretty Vanilla" or his "Window Shopping" video with Lil Baby, FRVRFRIDAY has certainly made his mark this year, culminating in recent track "Prideful." Toeing the line of R&B and rap, FRVRFRIDAY blends infectious melodies and sultry sonics to create the perfect vibes for every occasion.
St. John's, NL
For fans of: Land of Talk, Hannah Georgas
Peterborough-bred/St. John's-based songwriter Kelly McMichael used to make indie rock as Renders, but she just released her first single under her own name. "Montreal" is an extremely promising hint at where she's taking her project, as McMichael adds a splash of modern synths to a classic-sounding chord progression (think "Crimson and Clover" or "Sweet Jane") and nostalgic memories about a vacation in the titular city. Look out for her debut album in 2021.
For fans of: Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief, Soccer Mommy
New Brunswick-born Babette Hayward, formerly one half of Halifax electro-pop duo Vogue Dots, has moved westward to Montreal and stripped down her sound for her new acoustic folk project. In Maybe Babs' first two singles, "Doorstep" and Simple Life," Hayward displays a talent for richly intimate arrangements anchored by captivatingly heartfelt storytelling.
For fans of: Deafheaven, Infant Island, Silver Mt. Zion
Deep-routed at the junction between black metal, post-rock, and screamo, Toronto's Respire majestically integrate unforgiving barrages of relentless guitar and guttural gang vocals with anguished violin and desolate moments of defeat. On their third album Black Line, Respire's crescendo-ing tension cloaks their blackened despair with a shuddering grace — a fierce but delicate look at our deepest hopes and aspirations.
For fans of: Richie Hawtin, Scuba, Floating Points
Lyle Adam Fox's 20-year musical journey has found the multi-instrumentalist wandering inwards, moving away from jangly folk into gorgeously encrusted minimal electronic. His latest project, Sunalta, finds the Calgary transplant drawing from his Windsor/Detroit techno roots, keeping things atmospheric and forward moving on debut EP Tidal.
For fans of: Real Estate, Alvvays, Beach Fossils
A survivor of the Sixties Scoop, Madisyn Whajne recorded her debut album, Save Our Hearts, with Montreal super-producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade). The result is a warm dream pop album that channels the beach-ready sounds of 2010 with chiming guitar arpeggios and sweet melodies that waft in like a summer breeze.
For fans of: Noah "40" Shabib, 6LACK, Young M.A
It always feels lazy to compare any Toronto-area rapper to Drake, but Scarborough MC Yasmine certainly channels the atmospheric, melodic sound of classic OVO productions along with her own expertly wrought stories of heartbreak and trauma on When Time Stands Still. The lean four-track EP dropped in late November through Heart Lake Records, the label founded by Witch Prophet and SUN SUN.
Listen to tracks from these and other New Faves in our Spotify playlist.