10 Essential Canadian Bands You Haven’t Heard

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Besides playing hockey, being polite, and pouring maple syrup on their pancakes, Canadians also like making music. You’ve probably already heard of The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, and Black Mountain, so we wanted to introduce you to some of their lesser-known, yet still great, musical groups. It’s easy to overlook our neighbors — they say “neighbours” — to the north when seeking out sweet melodies and relentless rhythms, but they got ’em up there in abundance, alongside their vast forests, fresh water, and socialized health care. Click through to meet ten of our favorite up-and-coming Canadian bands.

1. The Pack A.D.

This female duo is often compared to The Black Keys and The White Stripes for its straightforward blues rock. Armed with nothing but guitars, drums, and Converse sneakers, the ladies have been winning fans over one live show at a time. Becky Black, the guitarist and singer, has been known to play slide guitar with a shot glass.

2. Land of Talk

Hailing from the majestic city of Montreal, Land of Talk believe in making beautiful videos to complement their music. This video in particular was nominated for video of the year at the 2010 Juno Awards (the Canadian Grammys).

3. Babe Rainbow

It’s amazing what a man with a laptop and some creativity can do these days. In this case, Cameron Reed (a.k.a. Babe Rainbow) creates haunting, atmospheric sounds that aren’t quite electro nor dub. Strange, obscure, experimental — these are all adjectives Reed uses to describe the music he makes.

4. Matt Epp

There is something both creepy and comforting about Matt Epp. He sings about killing and dismembering, but only out of devotion to the girl he loves. Dudes with beards as full as Epp’s seem either simply not to care about grooming or to have deep-seated issues. Epp has issues. His chords, however, are as simple as his intentions — and both are good.

5. In Medias Res

In Medias Res like to claim they are the hardest-working band in Vancouver, but that’s doubtful. If they are the hardest-working, then they’re also the least efficient: they’ve been trying to finish their latest album for too many years to remember, but their fans keep waiting patiently. This music video was directed by the band’s bass player for a school project.

6. Silly Kissers

Even if you don’t like sugar-coated pop that comes dangerously close to saccharine, it’s good to know that somewhere out there catchy melodies about stars and hearts and death are still being sung. The duo of David Carriere and Sean Nicholas Savage give ’80s synthpop a home in 2010.

7. Fan Death

In this Wizard of Oz-themed video, Dorthy is reunited with pop icons from the past. Can you identify them all? The dancing is spectacular, and the one-word hook is irresistible. Fan Death is the more accessible side project of the band Dandi Wind, which, if you’re into music that some would call “out there,” is definitely out there.

8. The D’Urbervilles

Based out of Toronto, The D’Urbervilles have made a name for themselves playing the kind of rock music you’d hear on a Canadian university radio show. It’s rock without the cockiness. Apparently when they started out, they’d haul their gear to shows in red plastic wagons. Now that’s the opposite of cockiness.

9. My Friend Wallis

This song sounds like is was made for that hot afternoon in the last week of August when you reminisce about a great summer filled with trips to the beach, holding hands, and bonfires underneath the stars, while silently acknowledging that it’s almost time for September, jackets, and responsibility.

10. The Ripperz

From the prairies of Manitoba comes a three-piece band that works blue-collar jobs during the day and plays rock ‘n roll in bars at night. If you like CCR and Bruce Springsteen, you might like The Ripperz. Fun fact: they got their band name from Full House‘s very own “Jesse and the Rippers.” Remember them?