Blundstone Playlist Volume V:
Exploring Canada’s Music from Coast to Coast to Coast

The Blundstone Playlist is back!

Volume V of the annual musical tour of Canada has extra poignancy this year, commemorating the re-opening of outdoor music venues and the return of live performances—bringing musicians back to the stages and stands where audiences and artists connect. This year’s rollicking playlist is a celebration of resilience and the collective joy music brings.

A virtual road trip from east to west, the playlist highlights thirteen artists from across Canada —some newcomers to the music scene, others seasoned veterans.  Every one of them passionate about their work and their local communities.

The Playlist is the brainchild of community-focused songwriter and former Australian Boot Company employee Pat LePoidevin. From his home in Nova Scotia, he seeks out the best new singles representing the breadth of talent from across the country. Now in his fifth year compiling just the right mix of regional tracks, he says, “We looked for hard-working musicians across Canada… who have a unique sound and haven’t yet been heard by most of the general public.”

New to the Playlist this year is the Playlist Call For Art Contest, held this spring via virtual submission and won by Diana Tzinis. In her winning Playlist Volume V illustration, the Toronto designer took colour inspiration from the Group of Seven and wove together iconic symbols of music with imagery of Canada’s geography, from mountains to farmlands and forests.

Beginning on the East Coast with Jenn Grant’s award-winning singer-songwriter sound, thumping its way across Quebec with the synth-pop beats of Bodywash and head-banging through Ontario with the retro Body DBL, the Playlist takes a smooth tour through the prairies for a visit with the Manitoba’s Virgo Rising and their bedroom pop sound—and a rollicking romp with Diyet and the Love Soldiers in the Yukon—before landing with a splash in Nunavut with a track from Riit’s new electro-pop album.

The Blundstone Playlist Volume V, with its winding musical journey from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia and every province in between, is your personal tour of Canada’s indie sound—and your jump-start to the energizing live performances on tap for us all. 

Learn more about this year’s artists:

Jenn Grant (Nova Scotia)

With her dreamy voice woven into lush, layered recordings, Jenn Grant’s lyrical folk-to-pop sound is soothing and sumptuous. An award-winning singer-songwriter, painter and producer, Jenn spent more than a decade writing music, releasing records and touring the world before focusing her energies closer to home during the pandemic.

Born in PEI and raised in Halifax, Jenn and her husband, producer and collaborator Daniel Ledwell, spent their lockdown months alternately cocooned at home with their two young boys and recording her holiday album, Forever on Christmas Eve.

Raven is the light, pop-driven lead track on her 2019 release Love, Inevitable, described by Spill magazine as “a beautiful album that showcases Grant’s smooth and nuanced voice, while highlighting her love of nature, and the struggles of life.”

Chloé Breault (New Brunswick)

Love, Francophone artist Chloé Breault’s debut EP, showcases her bright, clear vocals over powerful beats and light folk harmonies. After three years touring and charting, her 2020 full-length album, Plage des Morons, aims to repeat the popularity of Love and its Music New Brunswick’s Recording of the Year award.

A figure in the world of Acadian pop music since 2014, Chloé’s songwriting conveys the depth of her growing maturity and the lightness in her heart. With hints of the groovy disco sounds from her work with trio BAIE, Chloé’s solo album keeps your head nodding—and, at times, your heart pumping.

Rachel Beck (Prince Edward Island)

PEI native Rachel Beck captured CBC listeners with her single Reckless Heart, the moving, soulful #1 hit single from her self-titled 2018 debut. She brings that soaring energy and empowering lyrics to her sophomore release, Stronger Than You Know, named Music PEI’s 2021 Album of the Year and nominated for three ECMAs. Bob Mersereau of Top 100 Canadian says of the release, “Beck’s rich, haunting vocals always deliver an emotional punch, something ethereal and uplifting and a tiny bit mystical.”

Kellie Loder (Newfoundland and Labrador)

With a singing talent as deep and broad as the lyrics they pen, Kellie Loder has grown well beyond their beginnings in the Christian music scene in the early 2000s. The Badger, NL, native’s transition to pop music brought their powerful, poignant lyrics to a broader audience, capturing hearts and garnering accolades, nominations and awards.

In the heralded single Fearless, Kellie oscillates between the driving, escalating refrain and the stripped-down storytelling verses, evoking a cinematic energy well-suited for its use in an IMAX Trailer for the documentary Superpower Dogs, narrated by actor Chris Evans.

Bodywash (Quebec)

Montreal-based Bodywash’s sound is guitar-driven and synth-filled, straddling the lines of dream pop and shoegaze, in a trippy otherworld filled with hypnotic vocals once dubbed cream pop

The duo, formed at a jam session at McGill University in 2014, is Rosie Long Decter and Chris Steward—two souls who shared a passion for the reverb sound and a drive to create beautiful music.

After their first EP release in 2016 and debut full-length album Comforter three years later, their latest single Follow is described by Dominionated as “simultaneously concentrated and non-confrontational,” and that it “illustrates the restlessness of wondering if things could’ve been different.”

Body Dbl (Ontario)

Hardcore punk. Musical theatre. ‘80s glam rock. Subversive lyrics. Fishnet stockings. Dynamic Toronto-based Body DBL brings everything to the party. 

The trio—Evelyn Long, Oliver O’Brien and Eric Davis—released their first EP Jazz Baby 2000 in the midst of the pandemic, and its head-banging, bass-driven tracks beg for the pre-COVID days of dancing, screaming, sweat-filled stage shows. Crank Dirt up to 11 and learn the lyrics by heart before you catch this energetic band live in all their face-painted glory.

Virgo Rising (Manitoba)

Emily Sinclair and sisters Lauren and Jenna Wittmann have been making music together as Virgo Rising since 2018, releasing their first EP Sixteenth Sapphire in March of this year. Prior to that release, their live performances made waves in the Winnipeg area, named one of the best shows in the city two years in a row by readers of The Uniter, the University of Winnipeg and downtown community newspaper.

Their bedroom pop sound, a dreamy entwining of powerful guitar chords with Emily’s commanding vibrato, welcome the addition of warm harmonies atop violin, keys and trumpet. As producer Adam Fuhr of House of Wonder Records says, “These folks have boundless talent, and everyone should be watching out for them.”

Close Talker (Saskatchewan)

Saskatoon-based indie rockers Close Talker are tireless workers at their craft, striving for an innovative, timeless, unique sound. In 2020 they became the first band to perform a 3D 360-degree silent headphone series of concerts, collaborating with visual artists in Canadian cities for a one-of-a-kind, immersive, live, multi-sensational, inclusive experience.

Will Quiring, Matt Kopperud and Chris Morien have been playing together for more than a decade, melting their wide-ranging influences into the pot that is Close Talker. Their 2020 release, a deluxe version of How Do We Stay Here, revisits tracks from the original 2018 album, rethinking the songs with new perspective.

VISSIA (Alberta)

With a polished alt-pop sound, Edmonton-based VISSIA fills her latest release With Pleasure with playful, self-aware tracks that bring a full-band rock and soul sound to her introspective lyrics.

A talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, VISSIA’s live performances (like those at NXNE, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and the Canmore Music Festival) showcase her confidence and honesty—and a determination for fun.

Of the new album, VISSIA says, “With Pleasure means that there is joy in experiencing all of our dimensions: the light and the dark, the helpless and the triumphant, the ashes and the rebirth. That’s what authenticity is. That’s how it feels to be alive.”

Biawanna featuring INJA and Sammi Morelli (British Columbia)

A collaboration spurred by the loneliness of early-pandemic lockdowns, the indie-pop Quarantine BB is the work of British Columbians Biawanna, Sammi Morelli and INJA. Its simple, sensual lyrics mixed with sparse synth waves of sound create a seductive track that found its groove in a summer of isolation.

Biawanna is a vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, performing since the age of 7. Sammi Morelli, who released her debut album at only 13, was awarded vocalist of the year at the 8th annual Niagara Music Awards. And INJA, also a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, produces music in his home studio The Dojo.

Celeigh Cardinal (British Columbia)

Earning the 2020 Juno Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year, Edmonton-based Métis singer-songwriter Celeigh Cardinal told CBC News the honour “makes me feel like maybe I’m on the right path.” 

That path has taken her from her hometown of Grande Prairie to Edmonton, creating music for more than two decades and performing throughout the world. She brings her rich, powerful voice and confident energy to projects with CKUA Radio Network and CBC Edmonton’s Radio Arts column In Crowd, focusing on representation and amplification of indigenous peoples and voices.

Diyet and the Love Soldiers (Yukon)

Diyet’s storytelling tracks blend the country, roots, traditional Aboriginal and alternative folk genres that represent her heritage—Southern Tutchone, Japanese, Tlingit and Scottish—into a distinctive, boot-stomping style of her own.

Creating music with her husband, Robert van Lieshout, and multi-instrumentalist Bob Hamilton, the trio won the Canadian Folk Music Award for Indigenous Songwriter of the Year and earned nominations for the Indigenous Music Award for Folk Album of the Year and the Western Canadian Music Awards for Indigenous Artist of the Year.

Riit (Nunavut)

Written and performed in Inuktitut, Ritt’s 2019 release ataataga explores family, life and love. Dedicated to her father’s memory, the electro pop album showcases her songwriting and spotlights Inuktitut classic songs with her own modernized covers.

Riit, the stage name of Rita Claire Mike-Murphy, is best known as the host of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network series Anaana’s Tent, a children’s program in both Inuktitut and English. An accomplished throat singer originally from Pangnirtung, Nunavut, she is passionate about her culture and her efforts to share it with southern Canadians.

 

Discover more indie Canadian music with past Blundstone Playlists: