Canadian artists on top of the world as NEXT’s Canuck Top 10 is bursting with talent

From big beats to softly sung ballads to riveting rock, Canadian acts among best in the business.

Unsurprisingly, we spent this year listening to a ton of music — because, let’s face it, what else was there to do? — and as usual, Canadian talent was our 2021 highlight. Artists from the Great North spent this year putting out albums that were innovative, addictive, and cooler than our winter temperatures. So, if whether you’re looking for groovy rap beats or soulful singer-songwriter ballads, put a little Canada on your playlist!

Here are our top Canadian albums of 2021 in order of preference.

I Lie Here Buried with My Rings and My Dresses album cover

1. Backxwash

I Lie Here Buried with My Rings and My Dresses

This 2020 Polaris Prize winner’s third full-length album left us speechless the first time we heard it. Pushing the already impressive boundaries of her earlier work, I Lie Here… is a horrorcore masterpiece that’s aggressive in instrumentation, vocal delivery and lyrical messaging. It delivers an anger that sticks with you long after the synths fade out.

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Album cover for Weather Station's album Ignorance

2. The Weather Station

Ignorance

For its clean rhythms and urgent, emotional precision, The Weather Station’s Ignorance features on both our Canadian and Best Album of the Year lists and landed on the Polaris Prize long list. Toronto talent Tamara Lindeman conjures introverted, lush folk soundscapes with virtuosity.

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Hope for Sale album cover

3. Chiiild

Hope for Sale

Montreal artist Chiiild’s heavily anticipated release, Hope For Sale, is hypnotizing, impossibly smooth electro-soul. He pulls inspiration from the best of Tame Impala, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye and more to build a mesmerizing, shapeshifting aural experience that sets a gold standard for Canadian music.

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Cover of Cadence Weapon's abum Parallel World

4. Cadence Weapon

Parallel World

Cadence Weapon took home the Polaris Prize for this timely album full of news headlines spun into tight rhymes designed to stop listeners in their tracks. Inspired by sonically menacing U.K. drill with biting kicks and sliding 808s, Weapon spits whip-tongued verses about systemic racism, society becoming an episode of Black Mirror and Toronto’s rapid gentrification.

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Alpha album cover

5. Charlotte Day Wilson

Alpha

Besides bagging a host of collabs with the likes of KAYTRANADA and King Princess, Toronto cool girl Charlotte Day Wilson proved she can also kill the solo game with Alpha. Her formidable voice soothes over lush, R&B/contemporary soundscapes featuring BADBADNOTGOOD, Daniel Caesar and Syd, while bleeding-heart lyrics adorn spiritual sounds.

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Crown Lands' album cover for White Buffalo

6. Crown Lands

White Buffalo

Canadian rockers Crown Lands have more than mastered the art of the old-school homage: Their prodigious vocals, mind-bogglingly elaborate guitar and experimental instrumentation would make Rush proud. Their music is made even more complex by the commentary on Indigenous rights that soars alongside wailing guitars and complex riffs.

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Cover art of Snotty Nose Rez Kids' Life After album

7. Snotty Nose Rez Kids

Life After

Indigenous rap icons Snotty Nose Rez Kids have typically drawn inspiration from ’90s hip hop, but on their latest album, Life After, they delved headfirst into heavy-hitting, gritty futurism. Synths soar over distorted, glitchy production and nonstop bars, and tracks draw clear influence from punk, alt-rap and noise to craft a darkly badass ambiance.

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Spiritbox's Eternal Blue album cover.

8. Spiritbox

Eternal Blue

These west coast progressive metal rockers made big waves around the world with their highly-anticipated debut record. Heralded as one of the best metal albums of the year, Eternal Blue pairs ethereal vocals with djent-style guitars. We interviewed singer Courtney LaPlante last summer ahead of the release and anticipate even greater things from them in the near future.

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Cover of Charlotte Cardin's album Phoenix

9. Charlotte Cardin

Phoenix

When Cardin burst onto the scene in 2016 with the coquettish nonchalance of Jane Birkin and the braggadocio of A$AP Rocky, big things were expected of her. After years of trying to hit the right note with a debut album, she finally dropped a masterpiece. Phoenix is a searing emotional trip blazing with sexy, smoky, snap-along sonics.

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Cover of Dijahsb's album Head Above the Waters

10. DijahSB

Head Above the Waters

Toronto-based rapper DijahSB is smooth as silk on sophomore album Head Above the Waters. With a classic, summer-groove sound and local lineup of vibe-heavy features, every track on this album is chill, danceable perfection that’s built to put you in a good mood.

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