We’ve heard the pundits, read the reviews, caught the highlights and listened to the discussions about who and what was and wasn’t important in 2012. Now it’s time to shine the light on who’s on next...in 2013. NCM sent invitations to a web of people whose ears are finely tuned to the underground and asked if they would be willing to spare the time to name some of the acts that have caught their attention, and hold the promise of making an impact in the year ahead.
Here’s what they had to say:
ALAN CROSS -Writer/broadcaster, Toronto
- METZ: Toronto post-grunge noise band has already become hip with the bloggers and forward-looking members of the Polaris Music Prize for 2013. Signed to Sub Pop, I have high hopes for these guys.
TERRY WICKHAM - Artistic Director, Edmonton Folk Festival
- Cold Specks: Some buzz already and I think it will grow
- Good for Grapes: Out of Vancouver, I just think they have a great sound
- Laura Smith will make a comeback in 2013. She will have a new album featuring Tony McManus, one of the finest guitarists in folk music.
GREG NISBET -Mediazoic, Toronto
- Hippy Mafia: Comprised of a diverse crew of musical troublemakers that includes former Happy Mondays drummer Gaz Whelan, theHippy Mafia's brand of "Psychedelic Street Funk" lives where the "Beatles Meet Breakbeats & Grace Meets Gangster". Check out their mind-bending, booty-shaking video of King Of The Sky, chock full of live footage from the band's recent tour through the UK in support of Beady Eye.
- If there were any justice in the world, Vancouver's Five Alarm Funk would break out big in 2013. Seeing them live can be transformative.
BRIAN BLAIN - Editor Toronto Blues Society magazine
- I think Steve Strongman is a contender. Also Irene Torres & the Sugar Devils. A couple of unknowns at Women's Blues Revue made a big impression: Sacha Williamson & Tanika Charles. Quebec artist Angel Forrest has a strong CD and also did well – (and) sold the most CDs at WBR.
SHERI JONES - Artist manager, Halifax
I work with the first two artists on this list:
- Mo Kenney
- Molly Thomason: Releasing her third record in 2013, produced by John Angus MacDonald (Trews) and mixed by Gordie Johnson
- Paper Beat Scissors, very cool, just saw him in England
- Willie Stratton, people are chatting about him
YVONNE MATSELL: Director, North By Northeast
- Serena Ryder
- The Heartbroken
- Indian Handcrafts - rock duo, who literally will blow your mind ! Recently signed to Sargent House records in LA and just added to the Billy Talent tour.
- Rah Rah, a wonderful folk –pop collective from Sask. who put out a lovely record in 2012.
- Carleigh Aikens, back up vocalist with Bahamas – super talented singer who is getting ready to record some of her own material. Keep your eye on her name , it’s just a matter of time.
- Elisapie, a folk /pop/ jazz chanteuse from Quebec, delightful singer , reminiscent of Feist.
STEPHANIE JOHNS Arts Editor, The Coast, Halifax
POP/PUNK GARAGE BANDS:
- Cold Warps
- Long Weekends
- Jay Mayne
- Weirdo Click
- Life Chain
- Word on the Street
- Mean Streets
- Dark for Dark
- Jennah Barry
- Willie Stratto
- Nick Everett
BROCK THIESSEN -News Editor, Exclaim!, Vancouver
Vancouver's Slow Learners have something cooking for next year, and I'm super excited about that. They're recording their debut album now with Jesse Gander (Japandroids, Bison B.C.) at the Hive I believe. Slated to arrive sometime in 2013. Their 7-inch was great, and the band hit that sweet spot between '80s Replacement-like booze rock and the whole '90s grunge revival thing. As an added bonus, Sean from Ladyhawk is in the band, but it's the red-lining guitar theatrics of frontman John Johnston that are the real draw.
EDEN MUNRO, Music Editor/ME, Vue Weekly, Edmonton
I've actually had some interesting conversations while thinking about this the last couple days. I think a lot of the most interesting artists are pretty unlikely to have a lot of impact outside of this region because what we're seeing now is a lot of kids growing up in the changed music industry where their focus is on making the music they want to make without any regard for trying to play nice with the industry. Instead they work their jobs, go to school, whatever, and then make their music in their downtime. Not that people didn't always do that, but I don't think many people are sitting around today dreaming about being signed to Universal. They just do their thing on their own time.
That said, if I had to name a couple who are reaching beyond the city's borders, Wool on Wolves is a contender—the band is made up of a bunch of talented dudes and with their second album they've pushed themselves out of what could have ended up being a folky comfort zone had they stayed the course they were on.
Renny Wilson is one who's going to be out there next year—he was signed by Mint who is re-releasing Renny's Sugarglider album early in 2013.
There are also a couple of guys from here who've headed east, and they're both pretty stunning songwriters, plus they've been doing a lot of recording with other people, which is helping to get their names out there a bit more. That would be Michael Rault and Eamon McGrath.
I think the days of really being able to predict what's going to happen are long gone, though. Renny has actually been around these parts playing for years and years (he was one of a bunch of kids in the same circle that Michael Rault came from). It's just kind of random that the right people picked up on this album and he's getting a push from it now.
RICHARD FLOHIL -Concert promoter/publicist/journalist, Toronto
In no order of importance
- Ariana Gillis - she's doing a run of 17 dates at the Living Room in NYC (whence came Norah Jones).. into pre-production of new songs for next (third) album...
- Jadea Kelly — new management (Allan Wells), new album (Clover) next year, and there's nobody with her winsome appeal
- Harlan Pepper - I have nothing to do with these guys, but every time I hear them they are streets ahead of where they were just six months before.
- Whitehorse - Luke and Melissa have upped their game SO much — they will sell out Massey Hall in March and they will finally get traction in the States. For a duo they have a huge sound, play multiple instruments, and write songs that grab you by the balls. Luke Doucet is a world-class guitarist..
- .MonkeyJunk — Ottawa's gift to hard-core blues, will move their game, with their third CD, into a more out-and-out rock stance. Watch them clean up at the Maple Blues Awards for the third year in a row.
- Matt Andersen —He'll finally make a really good record, he'll continue to build a solid fan base, show after show after show - and expect him, next year, to play the UK and Europe, Australia, and build in the US. He'll play 200 shows, and knock 200 audiences on their ass — one of the best live performers anywhere.
- Amelia Curran - An amazing songwriter who makes me cry. Surely, someone in commercial radio will discover her, soon. Please...
* Special thanks to Kerry Doole who did much of the leg work in following up at an overload time of the year for all of the above respondents.