Canada has produced some amazing bands over the years. They have a thriving artsy indie music scene with bands like Arcade Fire, Chad VanGaalen and Andy Shauf and a stable more mainstream sound with groups like The Sadies and The Band. Based on the time I have spent in Canada, the country is very pleasant and full of very nice and polite people. Most of the music on this list reflects Canada’s chill, easy going vibe and overall artistic creativity.
- Andy Shauf- This multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan blends elements of indie folk, jazz and baroque pop, making him my favorite Canadian artist. His songs are heartfelt and at times deal with dark subject matter. He likes to tell a story in his songs and creates a very intimate mood. He plays the clarinet and uses this sound often in his music, giving it this big city jazz sound that reminds me of 1970’s Paul Simon. My favorite album is The Party, which exemplifies his complete style, touch and songwriting ability.
- Mac DeMarco- One of the more well known Canadian indie artists, Mac Demarco creates a unique sound that blends lo-fi indie, electronica and folk. He has made a lot of music over the years but has always stayed true to his chill laid back Canadian style that mixes synth elements and his unique off key guitar picking.
- Homeshake- This indie electronica project from Montreal headed by multi-instrumentalist Peter Sagar mixes hip hop beats with smooth jazz licks. He has a sound that is very catchy and easy to listen to. Very similar to Mac Demarco in his laid back lo-fi sound, but with a bit more hip hop and less guitar.
- Arcade Fire- Pioneers of the modern indie sound, this large and talented band began making music in 2001. They grew to enormous popularity with their Grammy winning album The Suburbs. Although I haven’t always agreed with their musical direction, changing to a more electronica/synth style over time, I’ll still always have love for their energy, creativity and innovation.
- The Sadies- This Toronto-based country rock band began making music in the late 90’s. They are influenced by various bands including fellow Toronto-based group, The Band. Many have dubbed them the new The Band, and critics have praised them for being one of the best Canadian bands of all time. They are completely unique and blend multiple genres together including folk, country, rock, western, jangly pop, psychedelic rock, surf rock and Americana.
- Chad VanGaalen- This indie folk artist has just the right amount of strangeness and darkness, while creating an approachable sound. He is not for everyone but something about his style, with his long echoing songs and creepy guitar, draws me in, making him one of the better Canadian indie folk artists.
- Patrick Watson- This talented producer, composer and singer songwriter uses his knowledge of classical music to create a beautiful sound. He has a lot of passion in his songs and the arrangements he creates will make you tingle.
- TOPS- Mixing dream pop with 70’s style soft pop, this group has a great sound backed by vocalist Jane Penny. They have become an influential underground group in Canada and have gained a cult following because of their style and disco swagger.
- Wolf Parade- One of the more influential indie rock bands of the early 2000’s, this Montreal based group blends elements of punk revival and indie rock. Coming with a lot of youthful energy, I’ve always enjoyed their unique singing style and hard edged instrumentals.
- The Barr Brothers- This indie folk group was created in 2006 by two American brothers in Montreal. They blend Delta blues with folk and use a lot of slide guitar, violins and harmonies to create a very pleasant sound.
- Black Mountain- Formed in 2004, this Vancouver based psychedelic rock band blends all the best elements of the genre to create a truly remarkable sound. Their sound is a mix of 60’s style rock like Led Zeppelin, vintage metal like Black Sabbath and 60’s psychedelic pop similar to Jefferson Airplane. They bring a lot of energy and have some amazing guitar solos. Definitely one of my favorite psychedelic rock bands I’ve discovered.
- Loving- This folk pop group has a very approachable and lo-fi vibe. They sound a lot like The Beatles and their layered melodic songs are highly addictive and infectious.
- Men I Trust- This synth pop group from Montreal combines jazz and electronica to create a unique and amazing sound. They use sharp and clean beats with soft, warm vocals. A highly addictive sound that is hard to find fault in.
- Tess Parks- Inspired by 60’s psychedelia, Tess Parks hypnotizes her audience with her deep raspy voice. She has collaborated with many famous groups including The Brian Jonestown Massacre and is an important figure in the neo-psychedelia movement.
- Timber Timbre- Mixing together vintage folk pop and dark gothic folk, this group has a sound that is both unique and creepy. Definitely worth listening to if you are up for something new and bold.
- Meltt- This dream pop group from Vancouver creates colorful soundscapes that are both catchy and subdued. They mix alternative electronica with psychedelic dreamy rock sounds to create a very pleasant style.
- Elephant Stone- This Canadian indie rock band combines traditional Indian styles with western psychedelic rock. Together these styles create a great trippy psychedelic sound that is highly unique and smooth.
- Kacy & Clayton- This folk and roots duo from Saskatchewan brings a vintage folk sound with amazing harmonies and chill instrumentals. They have great tone and touch and have a great Canadian sound with a mix of American country and folk.
- The Band- This pioneer folk and rock group began in the 1960’s and have been praised as one of the best Canadian bands of all time. Most of the groups’ members are from Toronto, which most people don’t know and wouldn’t assume as they have a very southern rock, American sound. They have influenced countless bands with their blend of country, rock, blues, folk and R&B. Their songs like The Weight and Up on Cripple Creek are played throughout the world and have had a lasting impact on the music industry.
- Blood Ceremony- Beginning in 2006, this Toronto-based hard rock band blends heavy metal, psychedelic rock, stoner rock and occult rock. They love to use the flute, similar to Jethro Tull and rely heavily on Alia O’brien’s wonderful opera-like voice. They are similar to Black Sabbath with a bit more folk inspiration and their songs deal with black magic, witches and mythology. Definitely a unique blend but they put it all together in an organized, clean and heavy package.
Written by Adam
One reply on “Best Canadian Bands”
What an amazing list of talented musicians! I definitely learned a lot and will try out a few new artists. Thanks so much!