Ten years is a long time, but 2007 doesn’t feel like it was that far back. Facebook was just starting to become the dominant social media platform, Apple put computers in everyone’s pocket with the iPhone and Spider-Man 3 came to theaters, effectively setting superhero movie standards back about five years. Overall, a productive year.
But it’s not just cinema and technology that have been evolving. Since 2007 the roster of Canadian bands has continued to grow in quantity and quality. New artists have been popping up everywhere and bands who were just emerging at the time are now becoming some of the most well-known contributors to the alternative music scene.
The following list contains our picks for the top 10 indie bands from Ontario who released their debut albums between 2007 and 2017.
If this list had to encompass every province I don’t think there would be enough room on the Internet. That’s how the Internet works, right? Either way, let’s start.
Debut Album: The Listening (2009)
Certified Gold by 2010, Lights debut album The Listening was only the start for the electronic rock artist. Since then she has gone on to amass a huge following through Canada and the United States alike. Touring through Canada, the US and Europe, she continues to draw crowds to her unique and inviting sound. Her most recent 2016 release, Mightnight Machines, is a collection of six acoustic renditions including two new tracks.
Debut Album: Questamation (2009)
Though this alternative rock duo turned heads with their extremely catchy single Hollow Point Sniper Hybole, from their EP Welding the C:/, it was their first full-length debut album Questamation, with songs like Lances Out and Anti-Venom, that really got them popular attention. Since then the duo has been consistently producing their unique brand of electronica/indie rock. Their latest album New World Alphabet released earlier this year and was accompanied by a tour that will reach Canadian fans across the nation.
Debut Album: Crystal Castles (2008)
Crystal Castles have been active way before their debut album. Gaining a popular online following between 2005 and 2007, their singles were well known before then had even signed to a label. All good things come to those who wait it seems, as their self-titled debut released to critical acclaim, even reaching the no.34 spot of NME’s top 100 greatest albums of the decade. Their follow-up albums, Crystal Castles I and II, continued the success gaining similar critical and popular praise.
Debut Album: Pink Strat (2009)
Afie Jurvanen, also known as Bahamas, recorded his first album in a cabin in rural Ontario. Proving that you don’t need an expensive studio to make good music, Pink Strat was nominated for the Juno’s Solo Roots/Traditional Album of the Year. Both his follow-up albums Barcords and Bahamas is Afie, also received Juno nominations in songwriting and album of the year. Afie is credited with working alongside musicians including Feist, Lumineers, Jack Johnson and many others. A true Canadian bread musician you should get to know Bahamas, if you don’t already.
Debut Album: July Talk (2012)
Possibly the band with the shortest resume on our list, July Talk has none the less proven themselves as of one of the fastest growing Canadian bands in the last 10 years.Their debut album July Talk went gold within a year of its release and received a Juno for best Alternative Album of the Year. From their roots playing small venues in Toronto to music festivals across Canada and the US, July Talk found their following on the road. Known for their explosive live shows, the group’s chemistry on stage has been described as nothing less than “you need to see for yourself.” Their newest album Touch is living up to the first’s praise, with the single Push+Pull spending twelve weeks at the number one spot on the Canadian Alternative Radio Charts during the Summer of 2016.
Debut Album: Yukon Blonde (2010)
These rockers had their self-titled debut album in 2010, but it was really their second album, Tiger Talk, that put these guys on the map. It was also nominated for the 2013 breakthrough group of the year Juno. Outstanding live performers, Yukon Blonde are a must see. Currently, in the writing and recording process of a new album, keep your eyes – or should I say ears? – open for a single release in the upcoming months.
Debut Album: Record in a Bag (2009)
Before anything, check out Hollerado’s wondrous music video for the hit single Americanama. This video basically sums up the type of guys Hollerado are; four guys from Ottawa who just like to have fun experimenting and creating their own music. Their debut albums, Record In A Bag, will come nothing short of rocking your socks off. Their follow-up record, White Paint, that included their popular tracks So it Goes and Pick Me Up, built on their mounting success. Their third release, 111 Songs, features – you guessed it – 111 unique songs that are bizarre, fantastic and mystifying.
3.Tokyo Police Club
Debut Album: Elephant Shell (2008)
I know what your thinking, Tokyo Police Club has been making music since at least 2005. Though the grouped formed in 2005 and played festivals like Edgefest, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, and the Glastonbury Festival between 2006 and 2007 they did so with only a couple EP’s under their belt. Their debut full-length album Elephant Shell wasn’t released until 2008. I know that may be a technicality but I don’t care, they’re staying. Though Elephant Shell and their EP’s A Lesson in Crime and Smith, had some chart topping singles and were their gateway to the aforementioned festivals, it was their second album Champ that solidified the group as a Canadain Alternative rock staple. One of my favourite alternative record of all time, the album brought the band into the mainstream with tracks like Wait Up and Bambi receiving consistent air time.
2.The Rural Alberta Advantage
Debut Album: Hometowns (2008)
Following their self-titled EP in 2006 the Toronto-based indie rock group release their debut album Hometowns in 2008 and slowly gained a popular following throughout Canada by touring extensively. Playing shows from Halifax to Montreal, the group continued to make waves with the second release Departed, which was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize in 2011. The Rural Alberta Advantage shows no sign of slowing, continuing to play live in festivals and show across the nation they are an example of a Canadian band that plays for Canada. Their latest single Beacon Hill just released earlier this year and we anxiously wait for a new album.
Debut Album: Jackson Sqaure (2008)
On February 10th, 2017 Arkells returned to their hometown of Hamilton Ontario where a sold-out First Ontario Center welcomed them and they played their largest show to date.
The former McMaster University students have spent their musical career becoming one of, if not the, most prevalent Canadian band(s) in the last ten years. From their debut album Jackson Square, which feature classics like Oh, the Boss is Coming and John Lennon, to 2011 High Noon, which won them both 2012’s Juno for Best Group of the Year and Best Rock Album of the Year awards, Arkells have embedded themselves into both Canada’s music scene and Canadian culture. With their newest album Morning Report containing some of their best work, it doesn’t seem like they are showing any signs of letting up.
The Next Ten Years
Here are some bonus Ontario bands that have been making waves in recent years that will hopefully make this list in the next decade. Check them out and see what I mean.
Did we miss some bands on our lists? Probably. Let us know who we missed and stay tuned for more top 10 lists coming soon.