Artists to watch this year in Canada

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for tunes and talent

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A collage of images and album covers from eight Canadian artists, with a grainy sky blue backdrop.
Images courtesy of Ruby Waters, Nehemie, Karla Ximena, Fantasy Records, Pirate Blend Records, Lindsey Blane, Ishkode Records, and Babe Corner

By: Hailey Miller, Staff Writer and Petra Chase, Arts & Culture Editor

With the new year in full swing, there are tours, new music, and new artists conjuring up high expectations for Canadian artists. Here’s a list of some who are bound to make waves.

The eyes are on Hotel Mira with their new album and tour 
For fans of Said the Whale, Arkells, and Dear Rouge

Hailing from Vancouver, alternative rock band Hotel Mira is in for another big year. Fresh off the heels of their 2023 album, I Am Not Myself, the band is about to embark on their latest tour. Having formed in 2010, they’ve been resurging on Canadian alt-radio charts in recent years. With hit singles including “The Eyes On You” and “This Could Be It for Me” from Perfectionism (2020) followed by 2023 releases such as “Fever Pitch” and “Dancing With the Moonlight,” their electro-rock sound is full of catchy hooks and captivating lyrics. Hotel Mira has toured with bands including Billy Talent and The Beaches

Catch them play their hometown headliner at the Commodore Ballroom on Jan. 19.

Edgy rock floods in with Ruby Waters’ latest releases
For fans of Tash Sultana, Jessie Reyez, and Lights

Indie rock Métis singer-songwriter Ruby Waters is back with more soulful singles including 2023’s “Flash Flood,” which delivered to the expectations set with heavy guitar-picking tunes like “Supernatural” (2019) and “Open Arms” (2022). From Shelburne, Ontario, Waters recently opened for City and Colour’s 2023 fall European tour, which continues this February, including a Vancouver show. As a Juno-nominee with a knack for rhythm, her raspy sound is raw and refreshing. 

See her open for City and Colour on Feb. 8 at Rogers Arena.

Jayda G circles back to her roots with new album
For fans of Fred again . ., Disclosure, and Major Lazer

From Grand Forks, BC, Jayda G is a Grammy-nominated musician and DJ. Her electronic dance style elevates signature catchy pop rhythms. G’s 2023 album, Guy, takes on an introspective approach to songwriting ignited by techno beats. Singles such as “Circle Back Around” and “Scars” showcase G’s softer side while still keeping true to her up-beat style. Jayda also performed heartfelt live sessions of many of the album’s songs this year. No Canadian tour dates are currently set, but 2024 is shaping up to be a big year for G as she’s set to perform in Spain and Australia this summer. 

Allison Russell Returns with soulful tunes and powerhouse vocals
For fans of Rhiannon Giddens, Brandi Carlile, and Dominique Fils-Aimé​​

Montréal-born singer-songwriter and activist Allison Russell will be embarking on her headlining tour this month, in support of her 2023 album The Returner. The immense success of the album has led Russell to receive worldwide accolades and applause, including three Grammy nominations. Russell’s rhythmic pop is captivating and sure to get you up off your feet. With recent releases such as up-beat, disco-influenced “Stay Right Here” and “Demons,” with harmonies dripping in soul, it’s easy to see all the hype. 

See her live at the Commodore Ballroom on Feb. 23.

Aysanabee wastes no time with new EP
For fans of Digging Roots, Dan Mangan, and Bon Iver

Oji-Cree singer-songwriter Aysanabee’s 2023 EP Here and Now includes the title track smash-hit alongside songs such as “Alone” and “Waste My Time.” The EP has attained countless accolades and attests to his intimate acoustic style and introspective lyrics. The album dives into how love is impacted by colonialism, Aysanabee described, saying, “Through this record, I wanted to be honest by facing my own fallibilities when it comes to building and keeping relationships.” Aysanabee will be the opening act for Allison Russell on her The Returner tour this February. He’s also set to perform at other shows and festivals this January. 

See him alongside Allison Russell at the Commodore Ballroom on Feb. 23.

Hua Li 化力 will make cherry blossom season “Cherrier” with sophomore album
For fans of FKA twiggs, MARINA, and Rina Sawayama

A springy synth bassline plucks over lush poppy poetry in Hua Li 化力’s freshest single, “Cherrier,” planting a seed for her upcoming project, ripe fruit falls but not in your mouth. Thematic track titles like “Peonies” and “Feed Me Petals” make us hopeful for a spring release. The Montreal-based “half-Chinese, half-militant, half-rapper of your heart” describes the album as her “crying at the club record.” A fusion of dance, R&B, jazz, and hip-hop, ripe fruit is sure to be, well, fruitful.

Babe Corner is a home-grown supergroup of your dream (pop)
For fans of Wolf Alice, Alvvays, and The Runaways

Vancouver is home to the harmonizing alt-rock supergroup, Babe Corner. We hope they regroup after their 2023 album, CryBaby, and their North American summer tour. Made up of five members — indie pop icon Haley Blais, synthpop duo Doohickey Cubicle, and vocalist/guitarist Lindsay Sjoberg — there’s no telling what their enmeshed styles will bring. We hope to see more drifty dream pop like “Bianca” and screeching garage rock like “Summer Slaughter;” showpiece works in babecore, a genre coined by the band. If you want to pretend you’re living in an early 2000s indie movie this year, we suggest adding babecore to your lexicon.

Babe Corner will be performing alongside Doohickey Cubicle on Feb. 1 at The Pearl.

Néhémie brings laid-back, ‘90s nostalgia
For fans of Destiny’s Child, Tinashe, and Jhené Aiko

Montreal singer-songwriter Néhémie has been consistently delivering smooth R&B and hip-hop tinged with nostalgic lofi loops. Since “Over,” her 2020 debut single about closure from a breakup, singles like 2023’s “Green” and this year’s “Run” bask in prosperity and self-empowerment, with notable ‘90s r&b influences and some French lyrics sprinkled in. We’re excited for more of Néhémie’s golden voice and heartfelt songwriting.

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