As I write this article, my browser is dominated by tabs of different Canadian Artists who either have released or will be releasing albums this year. We are all already familiar with four new singles off of the Arcade Fire’s new album entitled The Suburbs set to drop sometime in the next few months, and the newest release by Broken Social Scene called Forgiveness Rock Record which, in my opinion has been one of the most impressive releases of the year. Stars’ album is set to drop tomorrow, but what about two artists who haven’t really been mentioned all that much?

Crystal Castles are a Toronto-based duo who plays nothing but anger fuelled electro-punk. Their first album, Crystal Castles, got so much praise that after recording their second album, Crystal Castles II, the band was forced to release their album earlier than expected after it had been leaked online. The album was originally set to be released earlier this month (June 7th) but was actually released April 23rd, digitally, and May 24th, physically. Known for their haunting sound, via singer Alice’s voice and the echoing background music, this album has not disappointed fans and demonstrates the band’s new level of maturity while maintaining the same amount of energy they put into their last album. Samples of the album can be found on the band’s myspace. The band is scheduled for mostly European tour dates, but will be returning to North America to make a few US and Canadian stops in between dates in Europe:

North American Tour Dates – Summer 2010
09.06. – Fox Theatre – Oakland, California
09.07. – HARD Summer at Los Angeles State Historic Park – L.A., California
09.09. – Ogden Theatre – Denver, Colorado
09.11. – Stubb’s – Austin, Texas
09.13. – Congress Theatre – Chicago, Illinois
09.14. – Koolhaus – Toronto, Ontario
09.15. – Metropolis – Montreal, Quebec
09.17. – House of Blues – Boston, Massachusetts
09.18. – Electric Factory – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
09.20. – 9:30 – Washington, D.C.
09.21 – Terminal 5 – New York, New York
09.22. – Sonar – Baltimore, Maryland

Keeping on topic, You Say Party We Say Die is another Canadian dance-punk/new-wave band based in Vancouver British Colombia. The band’s sound is similar to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in some ways, (like in their song Monster), and also channels their inner Riot Grrl in others, (checkout The Gap), but are most definitely a lesser known Canadian gem. Having both released a new album called There is XXXX (Within my Heart), (XXXX standing for love, not anything pornographic), and lost a member this year, (their drummer passed away, unexpectedly), the fact that this band is still touring is incredible. You can hear tracks such as “Laura Palmer’s Prom” and “Dark Days” off of XXXX on the band’s myspace. Although there are currently no summer tour dates mentioned at this time the band did tour throughout the month of April so there is no doubt that the band will tour again. Make sure you get yourself with their new album before they hit the road again so you’re not the only one not singing along to each of the catchy tunes while they play your city.

Canadians get a lot of flack for not producing great alternative musicians like Americans do, but as you can see this flack is totally unnecessary, we just choose to keep them a little closer to our hearts. If you were impressed by these groups, just wait until you see what we have in store for tours.

Being born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, I was convinced I lived in the capital of Boredom/Uncool and not Canada. I read about Lollapolooza and Coachella and dreamed of days when Canada would get it’s own wicked music festival – that was when I was 15. Growing up and becoming more savvy in the ways of Alternative music, I realized that Canada not only had one good music festival, but quite a few that mostly take place in the summer.

North By Northeast (NXNE) happens every June in the city of Toronto, which is pretty much the New York of Canada. It takes place over one week (this week it was the 14th – 20th of June) and takes over the city with everything new-music related whether it be shows or films. They usually showcase on average 650 performers to fans, agents, talent scouts, etc. and really make the city come alive for these 7 days. In the past, NXNE has hosted concerts by: Black Lips, Broken Social Scene, GZA, The Cool Kids, King Khan and the Shrines, Feist, MC5, Television, Dinosaur JR., The New York Dolls, among other highly impressive guests. This year, Matador Records’ babies Cold Cave, DD/MM/YYYY, Eagles of Death Metal, Hexes & Ohs, Iggy and the Stooges, Les Savy Fav and many many more artists graced the streets of Toronto with their presence and performances. If you are not a fan of any of the 650+ performers there are other events that take place during NXNE so no one is left unsatisfied: presentations take place throughout the week with titles like “Death of the Critic” and “Social Media Circle Jerking 101” to captivate audiences in intelligent banters by people obviously deemed interesting enough to speak at this festival and things like record sales happen throughout the week as well. Although I could not personally make the festival myself, I have friends who are just returning from it, exhausted, telling me they had the time of their lives. This festival happens every year, so keep your eye on their website for next year’s upcoming lineup.

Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest is another festival that takes place in my city, from the 6th – 18th of July. It is usually entirely hit or miss, but this year’s lineup is pretty decent. The city has brought in acts like The Arcade Fire (who I am SO excited to see again), Blonde Redhead, The B52s, Stars, Metric, Jimmy Cliffe, Weezer, Hole, Passion Pit, and a few dozen more. Keep in mind, that this festival isn’t devoted just to alternative music, though; they’ve brought in Iron Maiden and Drake as well so everyone’s needs are catered to. The lineup is pretty good, but the scheduling wasn’t done very well, for instance, I would love to see both Jimmy Cliff and Weezer but they are playing at the same time. I mean, I guess I could run from stage to stage, but that wouldn’t provide a very good watching/listening experience for either act. I haven’t made up my mind as to who I want to see yet, but I’ll figure that out when the day comes. For more information regarding the lineup/scheduling/prices of this festival, you can visit their website.

The next festival a friend mentioned I should check out is Evolve, which takes place in the Antigonish area of Nova Scotia; I don’t know exactly where that is, but apparently it’s close to Halifax says a friend who is currently living there. This festival takes place from the 23rd to the 25th of July on a private farm, where you go and camp for the duration of the festival. Camping isn’t really my thing, but this festival might change that for me; promoting a sense of environmental awareness and just general well-being in life, the festival has grown since it’s start in 2000 from just hosting concerts by local bands to attracting global performers. They’re not kidding when they say “global”, I barely recognize any of the names on the lineup, but Jenn Grant, DJ Skratch Bastid, and Fred Penner make honourable mentions as well as a few others. Regardless of recognizable artists, this festival has been nominated Canada’s best summer music festival which proves that the eclectic conglomeration of artists and camping is an experience worth having.

Osheaga takes place in Montreal from the 31st of July – 1st of August this year. I personally always associated Osheaga to Coachella in a very less impressive form. I have been to this festival a few times, and always enjoyed myself, seeing acts such as: Gogol Bordello, NERD, Metric, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Crystal Castles, Lykke Li, the Kills, Iggy and the Stooges and many more. Osheaga’s lineup is usually similar but much better than Bluesfest’s lineup. This year, it includes: Weezer, The Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, Deadmau5, Devo, Metric, Jimmy Cliff, Snoop Dogg, K’Naan, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Stars, Major Lazer and so many more. “Osheaga in the City” takes place at various clubs the week before and consist of three acts this year: YOAV will be playing at Club Soda on the 28th of July, Of Montreal will be playing at Metropolis on the 30th, and Chromeo will be performing at Metropolis on the 31st. For the full lineup and ticket prices, you can visit the Osheaga website, but this festival is usually a definite yes for most music fans.