• O Canada! To narrow down the massive number of gifted artists from the North American nation to just five is daunting. From the prog-fathers Rush to hip-hop heartthrob Drake, to the legendary Neil Young and the country diva Shania Twain, there’s no shortage of talent from the provinces. But here is a quintet of musicians “You Oughta Know” a little bit better. (Sorry for nicking your song, Alanis.)

     Stars

    The chamber pop group has been around for two decades, but their music is as fresh as ever. Last year’s No One Is Lost inserted them into the growing dance rock scene. Dual vocalists Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell are the ultimate twosome, trading barbs and valentines through seven albums. Their perspectives are not just lovelorn— Campbell has been a stern opponent of previous Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former American President George W. BushLead image courtesy ATO.

     

    Mariame Hasni

    With the gusto of Rihanna and a reverence for her mixed ancestry, Quebec’s Mariame Hasni is an R&B powerhouse. She blends modern beats with Cree instrumentation, along with Algerian inflections. She sings of motherhood and community, all while delivering memorable melodies. Her 2015 album, Bloom, featured tracks such as the sweet shuffle of “As Long As You Are Here.”

     

    Copperhead

    Liz Stevens’ smoky vibrato begs listeners to come hither and be swallowed by her mystic energy. “She is a heavyweight,” she sings in the Calgary group’s 2014 breakout track. She might as well be speaking about her project because that voice and the slick prog-jazz of her fellow musicians are heavy and luscious. Copperhead’s self-titled mini-album came out last September and continues to burn through the polar vortex of winter.

     

    Sharique DeVonte

    “Neo Human” is one of 10 metaphysical tracks off this Montreal rapper’s collaboration with Nakiem the God, Echo Gods and Silent Mountains. He practically speaks in tongues as he explores otherworldly subjects. With his exploration of higher consciousness, DeVonte grows his terrestrial reach. He was recently named one of the Top 40 Up-And-Coming Canadian Rappers by HipHopCanada.com.

     

    The Burying Ground

    “Haunting” gets thrown around a lot in music journalism, but Vancouver’s the Burying Ground includes a singing saw that sounds legit ghostly. Plus, Woody Forster could pass for the late, great Louis Armstrong in an imitation contest. His gruff, mournful vocals are caressed by those of multi-instrumentalist’s Devora Laye. Theirs is a brand of blues and folk Alan Lomax would have loved.

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