It Never Really Leaves Us: The Canadian Indie Music Scene


By Hope Delongchamp

Society today loves music; we crave it. The world of music in this day and age, specifically in the independent music scene, seems to be wildly popular in the Western world, notably in the US. However, the northern counterparts — Canadian indie artists — aren’t given half of the appreciation that they deserve. Don’t worry about the difficulty of finding good indie music — our team has done all of the hard work to help you discover your new favourite Canadian band.

Some bands and artists are beginning to receive their well-warranted worldwide recognition. This was the case with Arcade Fire and their fifth studio album, Everything Now, with hit singles such as “Creature Comfort” and “Everything Now”. Every song by Arcade Fire is influenced by the media and cultural issues surrounding not only Canadians but the entire world. Ever since the debut album Funeral, Arcade Fire has been touching on critical matters, from the need to control one’s life through the song “In The Backseat” after the main singer, Régine Chassagne, lost her mother, to transgender equality in Reflektor’s “We Exist”. These issues were the basis for their latest single, “Creature Comfort”, a song that depicts the need for fame in modern society and the need to release oneself from inner turmoil.

The independent music scene is both so large and so small at the same time; it’s like a warm blanket wrapped around your inner being. It’s comforting and at times, nostalgic. Take, for example, Vancouverite artist, Haley Blais. Her last EP, Late Bloomer, is indescribably pure. Her lyrics flow together with the melody to create a rare charm and unique delicacy. We are left aching for more and wishing to relive certain moments in our own lives because of these songs. This subtle beauty is found in songs from the evocative “Good Feeling,” to one of her recent demos, the haunting “After That”. Blais cultivates feelings that you want to keep locked deep within yourself; she releases them in such a way that makes you regret not previously letting these emotions free. Only time will tell where Haley Blais will go, but you will regret not discovering her music sooner.

Nonetheless, this beauty doesn’t last forever. The people and places that you’ve left behind in life never disappear. In fact, they become a part of your being. There are songs to rely on and memories to remember forever. It is through feeling loss in which you appreciate the existence of great things. Hey Rosetta! is an example of this all-encompassing beauty. This band, which has been in existence for over a decade, has released amazing songs such as “Welcome”, “Harriet”, and “Yer Spring.” However, this October, they released a statement announcing that the band will be parting ways after their final shows this December. They will be playing their final shows in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Toronto, Ontario. The band released a statement, saying: “Over 10 years ago now, Tim wrote “we’re taking our aging lives, and we’re waving a new goodbye, our arms open wide” — [“New Goodbye” is] a song we’ve played on every tour since, and a song that seems to fit here again. It’s a song about leaving home and touring across the country and encountering so much more love and support and goodness than you ever expected. It’s about saying goodbye, but not by looking at what is lost, but by embracing what’s coming at you.”

Another influential band that is extremely popular in Canada is The Tragically Hip, with songs such as the 1998 hit “Bobcaygeon”. This band is one prime example of nation-wide popularity that was never able to cross into the American music scene. Unfortunately, the lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2015. The Tragically Hip released their latest album, Man Machine Poem, in 2016. To many fans, their most important song is “Machine” from said album, with lyrics penned by Downie: “I write about words / I find treasure or worse / I watch the end of man / And I dream like a bird.” Downie, unfortunately, passed away October 17th, 2017, but there is still unreleased material that could make for more albums in upcoming years.

The Tragically Hip blazed a trail for many other indie outfits, such as Current Swell, who are currently wrapping up their Canadian tour with their new album, When to Talk and When to Listen. The band gushed about how much they were inspired by The Tragically Hip, especially due to their Kingston, Ontario roots, at their concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa last month. They spoke about the prime reason that music exists: to speak to your soul in a way that no other existing entity can do. Their title track had the audience not only dancing but also reminiscing. Music is beautiful, and every time a song from a Canadian artist plays on a Spotify playlist or the radio, I can’t help but notice how much the audience seems to sing right back to the community of music overall. Just like the striking lyric on Current Swell’s title track, it’s “so nice to see you / My good old, my good old friend”.

Find your soon-to-be favourite songs by Canadian artists on the Spotify playlist: (x)