Narrowing down our favourite Canadian artists to a list of just 10 has always been a difficult task, but it was particularly challenging in 2014. Montreal leapt far beyond its bounds, Toronto continued to diversify, and Vancouver slowly built itself up in the shadows. The rest of Canada just kind of shuffled and shook its hips.
In an effort to showcase all that this country has produced this year, we've assembled the Great White North's many talented musicians and categorized them into one of three lists. Today, we're revealing our highest honors. (Before all the other lists, for some reason.)
Sit back, relax, and prepare to read some well-written arguments in the comments.
We're going to be completely honest with you-when we started discussing this list back in the summer, Pomo was originally supposed to be in our Top Up-and-Comers list. (Out tomorrow!) But then we went to a few of his shows, saw how well crowds from Vancouver to London reacted, and knew once and for all that he was the real deal. From January to December, Pomo went from being a resident DJ in Montreal to an international tourer throughout Europe and North America. That's a big feat by any respect.
Then, there's his music itself. Our first exposure to Pomo was by way of his earlier project, Nouvel Age, and since then he's continued to develop the funky stylings we came to know him for. Whether it was with an official remix for Tinashe or a single for HW&W, Pomo repeatedly impressed us in different ways throughout the year and cemented his inclusion in this list.
(Photo via Facebook/Nick Cooper)
When "On Your Side" featuring How To Dress Well was released back in 2013, we knew we could expect great things from Jacques Greene the following year. Twelve months and three spectacular EPs later, Jacques' SoundCloud has become a staple of our daily routines and a testament to the longevity of his sound.
Also, remember when Jacques Greene delivered a pizza to fellow Montreal producer, Tiga, on stage in New York? That was a thing that happened.
(Photo via Facebook/Jacques Green)
At this point, you might be thinking, "Why Illangelo? Doesn't he make R&B for The Weeknd?" Well, yes, but that's besides the point. In 2014, Illangelo continued to evolve his solo work and showed us why his skills are so valued by artists in all areas of the music industry.
His debut YOUTHQUAKER EP was a monumental piece of work. His collaboration with Bromance, however brief, excited us more than a teenager's first blowjob. If Illangelo's work this year was a sign of more projects on the horizon, the world will be in a much better place for years to come.
(Photo via Josh Goleman/Illangelo)
Remember when Purity Ring did a track with Danny Brown for Fool's Gold? Remember how great that was?
Remember when Corin Roddick (one half of the group) did a track with Elijah Blake? Remember how great that was too? Because it was fucking monumental.
In just two tracks, Corin Roddick and Purity Ring had a greater impact on our musical well-being than most artists have in their lifetimes.
(Photo via Facebook/Purity Ring)
Oh, Tiga. You've taught us so much over the years. With Sexor, you taught us not to take ourselves to seriously. With Ciao!, you taught us that we could do or say whatever we wanted so long as we were true to ourselves. Then, with "Bugatti," you taught us that a truly infectious song is both of those things.
Receiving one of the year's best original videos was just the tip of the iceberg. "Bugatti" became an anthem all over the world, whether it was 4 PM in Ibiza or 4 AM in Detroit, you could be rest assured that someone, somewhere, was enjoying Tiga.
(Photo via Facebook/Tiga)
5. Majid Jordan
Majid Jordan stood out this year as the bridge between two worlds. Do they belong on your iPod or do they belong in the club? Do they belong on OVO or do they belong on Method Records? Are they sugar or are they spice?
What we know for sure is that "Forever" was a tune and a half, "A Place Like This" made us sing in the shower, and that the Toronto duo have well-deservingly become a household name in a very short period of time.
(Photo via Facebook/Majid Jordan)
Did anyone really doubt that Caribou would make his way to the top of countless lists this year? With his sixth studio album, Our Love, Caribou showed us all that nine years later, he wasn't even close to being out of ideas.
Then, there was his collaborative EP as Daphni with Owen Pallett, Julia/Tiberius, that showed a completely different side to himself. It was pure, unadulterated techno bliss. If moving to London and buddying up with Four Tet and Floating Points is what it takes to make music of this calibre, we recommend more people try it.
(Photo via Division Agency)
Unfortunately, we were not blessed with a new Kaytranada album this year, but hope is on the horizon. The Haitian producer turned Montreal legend recently announced that he'll be releasing a full-length LP with famed record label, XL, next year. In the meantime, lets think back on all of 2014's top Kaytranada moments.
First thing's first, he produced upwards of 30 tracks this between his solo project, The Celestics, and production credits. That's just the tracks we've seen, mind you. Some artists spend a year on four tracks and only really deliver on a single one.
Kaytranada proved that he has that oh so uncommon ability: he can consistently out-do himself. Whether it was producing for Goldlink, Vic Mensa, Chet Faker, T.I., Pharell, or his kid brother, Kay shone through in 2014 as an artist that will not fade away into obscurity.
We've had the immense pleasure of seeing Kaytranada perform in close to a dozen cities around the world this year, and everywhere we went we saw the same thing. Great people, great vibes, and one hell of a musician. No wonder he's joining BBC Radio 1's Residency program in January.
(Photo via Facebook/Kaytranada)
Oh, Richie. You beautiful, well-kempt man, you. What a year you've had. Between reviving Plastikman after 11 years, releasing a full-length album, and establishing a refreshing Ibiza party series, it's hard to see where you had time to play every credible festival from Detroit to Berlin.
You did it though, and at every step of the way you succeeded immensely.
Best of all, we got through this whole blurb without mentioning #speakergate. Shit.
(Photo via Facebook/Richie Hawtin)
Yes, Ryan Hemsworth is from Halifax, but hear us out for a minute. To understand why he's our number one, you need only recall everything he achieved this year. In the past twelve months he has:
- won a Juno (which is kinda lame, but also kinda awesome)
- launched an imprint called Secret Songs that is super cute (and doesn't give a fuck about PR)
- brought an incredible duo, Tennyson, to the world's attention (they're from Edmonton, which is mind-boggling)
- played a show at SXSW for dogs and only dogs (it was called South by South-Woof)
- travelled to Nepal (and shaved his head)
- released an album that at long last defined who he is and what he's about (it was really sad, but also really cute)
Through all of the above, he never stopped producing great music, never stopped responding to tweets, and never stopped trolling people on his Facebook. We think that's damn commendable.
Here's to you, Ryan. May your music always delight us and may puppies always delight you.
(Photo via Red Bull/Eric Voake)
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