Prior to the arrival of Covid-19 here on our North American shores, this half of Team GDW would only find time to listen to music on weekdays during the commute to and from my place of employment. But thanks to the pandemic, I have been working remotely from home since late March, and after an initial adjustment to new demands and routines, quickly found that restrictions on having music at my place of work was no longer an issue. These last few months have seen me trading my music-free workspace for all-day radio access, which is a win-win for a bona-fide music junkie like me. Happy employees are productive employees, after all.
Streaming my favorite radio stations here at home during my work day, I have been fortunate to hear much more than I typically would during that traditional commute. I’ve lost count how many times I have been asked that, as a music blogger, I must be very familiar with all of the bands out there. Well sorry to disappoint, but I’m just a mere mortal too – and let’s face it, if I knew every band out there, how could I possibly enjoy the thrill of discovering great new music? Hence the “Positives From The Pandemic” tagline: access to non-stop music during my work days has introduced me to some wonderful new artists that I’d never previously encountered.
While some of these discoveries soon became featured artists in their own right here at GDW, such as the retro-rock sounds of The Blaze Velluto Collection (“Fish Mountain, Part II” remains one of my favorite singles of the year), and the larger than life persona of Orville Peck (“Summertime” still sizzles thanks to that larger than life baritone voice), there are of course several more talented artists from north of the border that managed to fly beneath our radar until now. Here are four emerging Canadian artists (and a selection of their songs) that I am glad to have become acquainted with over these last few months:
Artist: Wild Rivers (Toronto, ON)
Notable Tracks: “Left Off” – “I Do” – “Thinking ‘Bout Love”
Bio: Wild Rivers transpose personal experiences into relatable anthems woven from strands of folk, indie, rock, pop, country, and beyond. Their 2020 EP, “Songs To Break Up To,” brings Wild Rivers (Khalid Yassein, Devan Glover, Andrew Oliver and Julien Laferrière) closer as it also draws listeners in. (Source: Artist Website)
Artist: Jess Knights (Calgary, AB)
Notable Tracks: “Cover Your Eyes” – “Best Kind Of Light” – “Leave Me For The Last Time”
Bio: Straddling the renegade worlds of alt-country, blues and soul, singer-songwriter Jess Knight’s hard-to-pin-down style is reflective of her own unassuming past. A classically-trained opera singer who cut her teeth in the boozy, rough-hewn dives of her native Calgary, she’s not one to follow convention. (Source: Artist Website)
Artist: Ocie Elliott (Victoria, BC)
Notable Tracks: “Be Around” – “Forest Floor” – ““Rainbow And Arrow”
Bio: Ocie Elliott is a musical duo comprised of Jon Middleton and Sierra Lundy. The two have come a long way in a short time since a chance encounter in a Salt Spring Island café led to a spark, collaboration, and their ultimate partnership in music and beyond. (Source: Artist Website)
Artist: The Matinée (Vancouver, BC)
Notable Tracks: “Trouble Is” – “Ain’t No One Like You” – “Sweetwater”
Bio: Hailing from the west coast rainforests of Vancouver, The Matinée´s sound has always felt more southern, drawing off influences ranging from The Tedeschi Trucks Band to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. In the decade since they first formed, they have become a powerhouse roots-rock band. (Source: Artist Website)