Ten local indie artists you need to listen to right now

By: Amanda Mcmillan


There is SO much incredible talent all around us, much of which might be just around the corner from you. Yes, 2020 has been a strange time, but it’s also been a very creative time. It’s been a time for discovery, and exploration, and getting stuff done because there are no excuses or other things to do.


It’s been a time of unrest, and great and long overdue change. We are on the precipice of something, we are living history every single day. And that change, all those moments, they certainly need a soundtrack.


Here is a collection of some incredible Local Talent to set your heart right.


Wolf Saga


Wolf Saga is a London, ON born Indigenous artist who makes sweet, fun, playful electro-pop songs that make you feel instantly in a good mood. He’s the kind of artist that seems to fit on nearly any playlist, always a delight when a track appears.


Listen to: “Through This Night”, bonus: his cover of Bowie’s “Heroes”


NYSSA


NYSSA released her first LP, Girls Like Me, in late August. It’s an honest, experimental album that gives us a little bit of an 80s Sinead O’Connor vibe. Based out of Toronto, NYSSA has a distinct voice that instantly grabs the ear, and keeps you listening with story-telling that’s reminiscent of early Tegan & Sara. Our new self-proclaimed “patron saint of lost and lonely outcasts.”


Listen to: anybodys


Tafari Anthony


Tafari Anthony always seems to write songs that we can all relate to. The Toronto artist fuses pop, R&B and soul into a perfect cocktail, shaking each song with his clever and engaging lyrics. This is the sound of the new Toronto pop! We have long been fans of Tafari’s work, and can’t wait to see what he has in store for us.


Listen to: Centerfold


The OBGMs


Who said punk was dead? If it was, The OBGMs have revived it. Raucous, assertive, and in your face, the newest tracks from their upcoming album are everything you want in a punk band and more. Nods to an old school sound, but adding their own unique, Toronto-inspired spin, puts OBGMs in a league of their own.


Listen to: Not Again, mid-90s punk vibes



Rough Shapes


Toronto-based Rough Shapes released their debut EP this summer, called Pattern No Frame. It’s a tight-five of tracks, packing a lot of punch and nuanced guitar. It’s gritty but methodical. It’s very 90s grunge-inspired, and fans of Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., or the Smoking Popes will certainly enjoy.


Listen to: A Week’s Worth of Corporate Spam


Mustard Tyger


Based out of Toronto and Ottawa, Mustard Tyger is your friendly neighborhood grunge band. Former advertising colleagues, the band released their EP “Lovely” in September as a fun, nostalgic nod to simpler times. Sometimes political, other times just plain ol’ rock n roll, it’s got a whole lot of heart.


Listen to: Temperature Rising, bonus: their cover of “Freakin’ Out” by Detroit proto-punk band Legend


[Author’s note: in full transparency, this is my band].


Odario


Creative jack-of-all-trades, Odario truly is one of a kind. Based in Toronto by way of Winnipeg and Guyana, Odario is a songwriter, rapper, producer, actor, poet, journalist, and teacher. Damn. The energy so far on his forthcoming album Good Morning Hunter is exciting, beautiful, and a whole entire vibe. Keep your eyes on this guy!


Listen to: Peace


BAMBII


Bambii is the epitome of the Toronto underground sound. When we could still congregate in large groups, Bambii was the DJ you wanted to hear spin in the city. Eclectic, smart, and with killer instincts, she’s bringing back the art of DJ-ing. Influenced by her Jamaican heritage, and the QPOC community, Bambii says she serves up “the Toronto they don’t show you.” I’ll take two, please!


Listen to: NITEVISION


Iskwē


Drawing on the power and creativity of her Cree & Métis ancestry, and dipped in electro-pop, industrial, and alt-rock glitter, Iskwē is a powerhouse. Experimental, beautiful, and truly unique, her work evokes Björk, FKA Twigs, and a little bit of Portishead. Digging into her 2019 release Acākosīk is as much an adventure as it is a treat.


Listen to: Breaking Down


Caveboy


It’s hard to categorize Caveboy...are they pop-infused alt-rock, or are they a full-blown dance trio? The band captures that familiar feeling of wanting to loudly sing and dance at the same time, the way one might when they’re home alone. It’s playful, free, and a little melancholy. Perhaps it’s simply the lovely sound of Montreal’s queer community, but whatever it is...it’s fantastic.


Listen to: Hide Your Love