MUSIC FEATURE: Ones To Watch – Canada

Last year in our Ones To Watch series we highlighted some of our favourite up-and-coming and established acts from AustraliaItaly, Romania and France. We also let you know who looks set to be big in 2021 and now we’re heading over to Canada, to tell you about ten artists that you should check out. Be sure to let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourites!


Ambient emo punks romancer are a band who have a craft for creating a moment. Founded in 2012 and hailing from Canada, this four-piece comprised of Adam Horrocks, Benjamin Abu Halaga-Dilgert, Riley O’Donnell and Nathan Cumber take all the best influences from noughties to modern day alternative and R&B music, whilst adding their own indie/post-hardcore gaze. Having released a string of singles, Nausica, Milo And Pink Regret, Honeybee and Lottery, the last of the four taken from their full-length As We Both Close In On The Water, this band’s complex guitar work, melodic vocals and pummelling percussion is something to listen to. Having supported some of the scene’s most established live acts like Belmont, Counterparts and Free Throw, as well as touring the Canada border, romancer‘s punk rock music and consistent hard graft makes them ones to watch. (KCF)


Recently signed to InVogue Records, Calagary’s Widmore are kicking off 2021 in big style. Their new single and debut for the label, A Word Of Advice, sees them bring together screamo, pop-punk and metalcore into a neat, catchy package. Check out their 2019 EP Hostile, which showcases the differing elements of their sound, offering a little something for everyone to get their teeth into – with a notable mention going to the incredibly powerful lyrical effort on Welcome//The End. There’s new music, including their follow-up EP, on the horizon in 2021 – keep your eyes peeled on their socials for more updates. (NC)


Looking for something a little bit heavier? Then Calagary’s WAKE are the band for you. Over their decade-long career, the band’s sound has edged-away from the grindcore roots of 2016 debut album Sowing The Seeds Of A Worthless Tomorrow, into the realms of black and death metal. Investing their tour-free time into creating music, 2020 saw them release their Confluence EP and album Devouring Ruin , which once again showed WAKE reinventing their sound, delivering a diverse, empowered effort. Their ability to evolve has seen them constantly gaining new outlets of support, along with tour slots with Withered, Primitive Man and on Deathfest line-ups. Vocalist Kyle Ball‘s personal lyricism offers insights into situations including depression, addiction and sleep paralysis, with he later highlighted in recent single Kana Tevoro. WAKE recently signed with Metal Blade Records and announced they’ll be recording new material this year, returning to work with Dave Otero – keep your eyes peeled! (NC)


Photo Credit: Kaytlin-Dargen

Hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, Bearings formed in 2014 through a music industry program in their college. Now, seven years on, the quintet are signed to Pure Noise Records, who released their sophomore album Hello, It’s You in November 2020, and have toured alongside State Champs and Less Than JakeBearings‘ latest album, which follows their 2018 debut full-length Blue In The Dark, sees them expand their musical palette, delivering a fresh yet nostalgic sound which is perfect for the summer months ahead, not to mention the memorable lyrics that will have you singing from the top of your lungs – a winning combo in our eyes (HG). 

Strange Breed

Photo Credit: Bailey Morgan Photography

This queer, all-female alt-rock outfit from Vancouver released their debut album Permanence in 2019, which saw them discussing political and social issues. Single Reputation, which tackles the sensitive issues of sexual assault, it is a focal point in their discography. The track is littered with heavy riffs and gritty, angsty vocals, telling of a horrible situation but also one of empowerment and support for those who have faced this, with the band raising money for anti-sexual assault initiative Rainn.org in the process. Strange Breed have turned their words into actions, becoming known for creating a safe and supportive space for people who attend their live shows. The quartet recently released their new single Tethers, which showcases catchy, twangy guitar lines, singing of detaching from people and situations when you’re on a journey to find yourself, following your true passions in life. It’s something a lot of people will be able to relate to in one way or another. Unafraid to speak out for what they believe in, we think Strange Breed are a force to be reckoned, especially with the world still in a divided state. (NC)

Like Pacific

Toronto’s pop-punk phenoms Like Pacific deliver an exciting combination of heartfelt lyrics and melodic guitar sections, which have made them a definite one to watch. 2016’s Distant Like You Asked put the band firmly on a road map to success, with a record full of attitude and rhythm which earned them a spot at Slam Dunk Festival, as well as a supporting slot for Four Year Strong. 2018’s In Spite of Me further cemented the band’s place on the path to a thriving career, with the album fill to the brim with fun choruses and a clear passion for what they do. It is genuinely amazing how these guys are not bigger. However, with album three edging closer, Like Pacific might soon become a band hot on the lips of every pop-punk fan. To quote the band’s Instagram, “we’re gonna be so big that I’m gonna have to have a goddamn mansion for my e-bikes” – maybe their third record in 2021 will be the year they get their mansion, only time will tell. (JL)


Photo Credit: Wyatt Clough

Since their formation in 2011 and signing to Pure Noise Records in 2014, Seaway have made a clear impact on the pop-punk scene both in and out of Canada. Over the years the band have toured with the likes of Knuckle Puck, Four Year Strong, With Confidence and Sum 41, gathering a supportive following along the way thanks to the high-octane energy of both their releases and live shows. Now with four albums under their belt, Seaway‘s sound has evolved into new realms, as latest album Big Vibe steps away from the pop-punk ties of 2017’s Vacation and strides confidently into the pop-rock arena, whilst retaining the catchy sing-along choruses, uplifting and feel-good vibes which fans became hooked on (check out single Mrs David for a great example of this). Looking for something to soundtrack the summer days ahead? Seaway are here to do just that. (NC)

Dead Quiet

Photo Credit: Milton Stille @Darkenergyindustries

Having previously performed with the likes of Cancer Bats and John Garcia of Kyuss, Dead Quiet have proved they’re anything but quiet. Having released their first full-length Grand Rites in 2017, the band followed in 2019 with their self-titled album and last year, they released their third effort Truth and Ruin via Artoffact Records. Showcasing their classic hard rock and heavy metal-edged sound, alongside personal lyricism across each release, with just one listen you can sense that moshpits will erupt wherever they land. Although the pandemic put a number of plans on hold for the band, it didn’t stop them creating a video for single Partial Darkness which saw them join forces with Rob Zawistowski and record from their individual bathrooms – it’s pretty genius even it feels slightly dangerous. Some may know vocalist Kevin Keegan from Barn Burner, Brock MacInnes from Anciients or Mike Grossnickle from Hashteroid, and this industry experience across the band is reflected within the music they release. (NC)


Photo Credit: Jess Baumung

PUP are a band that deserve far more attention than they get. The Canadian group have been steadily crafting their particular brand of hardcore-tinged punk-rock for over a decade now, and have strung together a stellar back-catalogue that has grown with every release. Their 2013 self-titled debut album garnered critical acclaim and cult status, with tracks such as Dark Days and Reservoir becoming mainstays of the band’s setlist even now. The band’s latest full-length Morbid Stuff dragged the band to the forefront of the scene and got them added to some pretty heavyweight tours. PUP capitalised on their hard-earned spotlight and struck while the iron was still hot, with a six-track extended play entitled This Place Sucks Ass which mostly contained recordings from the cutting floor of the aforementioned Morbid Stuff. If you’re a fan of bands such as The Wonder Years and Spanish Love Songs that wear their hearts on their sleeves and wrap heartfelt, weighty subject matter with melodic hooks and massive choruses, then PUP are a band that may well find their way into your most played come the end of the year. (RW)

The Dirty Nil

Formed in 2006, Ontario trio The Dirty Nil kicked off 2021 with the release of their third album Fuck Art via Dine Alone Records. The release saw them showcasing energetic pop-punk alongside heavier metal influences, all whilst ensuring their chaotic energy didn’t faulter. Looking back to the earlier stages of the band’s career, The Dirty Nil quickly gathered attention following the release of their debut album Higher Power in 2016, and in 2017 they were announced as the JUNO Award winners for Breakthrough Group Of The Year.  The band have gone on to see their second album Master Volume nominated for Best Rock Album at 2020’s JUNO Awards and performing shows with the likes of The Menzingers, Billy Talent and The Wonder Years, helping to muster up a fanbase across the pond. Looking for something to brighten up your day? Check out their fun video for Elvis 77, which sees fan-made videos from their Nillionaires bringing the lyrics of the track to life. Head HERE to see it for yourself! (NC)

Written by: Nicola Craig, Hannah Gillicker, Joe Loughran, Katie Conway-Flood, Rich Webb

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar