A case for the Junos

By Marta Ligocki

The 2014 Juno nominations were revealed on Feb. 4, highlighting some of the biggest names in Canadian music over the past year. The awards are often a source of eye rolling as the typical names like Celine Dion and Michael Bublé adorn the Album and Single of the Year categories. But dig a bit beneath the surface and you can uncover some amazing musical talent that our country has to offer.

Here’s a rundown of some artists that truly deserve top accolades for the work they put out in 2013.

A Tribe Called Red
Nation II Nation
Nominated for Breakthrough Group of the Year and Electronic Album of the Year

The group consisting of Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau, Dan “DJ Shub” General and Bear Witness have solidified their mark in the electronic scene with their distinctive electric pow-wow style. Blending traditional First Nations songs with driving beats, Nation II Nation challenges the expectations of electronic music while putting First Nations songs in the mainstream. A Tribe Called Red deserves to be seen live — you can catch them at Hi-Fi on Feb. 20.

Basia Bulat
Tall Tall Shadow
Nominated for Adult Alternative Album of the Year

The third album from Basia Bulat showed maturity in both her songwriting and composition. Moving away from the sparse folk melodies of Heart Of My Own, Bulat traded her autoharp for layered, orchestral arrangements within her band. Her cross-country tour saw sold-out performances from coast-to-coast and she is now taking her album across Europe.

The Strumbellas
We Still Move On Dance Floors
Nominated for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year: Group

After their 2012 nomination in the same category, this Toronto-based seven-piece group has perfected their upbeat, toe-tapping tunes. From start to finish, they manage to create their own special blend of bluegrass twang-inspired indie rock. From start to finish the Strumbellas will keep those toes tapping.

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan
Nominated for Alternative
Album of the Year

A welcome surprise, Uzu is an ethereal addition to the Juno nominations. Layered guitar over Ruby Kato Attwood’s haunting vocals, Uzu is a strong second album from this Montreal band.

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan manages to balance between experimental rhythms while keeping their foot firmly planted in solid rock and roll riffs.

Royal Canoe
Today We’re Believers
Nominated for Alternative
Album of the Year

Of all the bands on this list, Royal Canoe fits neatly into the ideal of Canadian indie rock. Playful guitar instrumentation sits beside catchy lyrics for the first half of the album, slipping into darker bass-driven tracks. You can see them at the Republik on March 7.

Although the Junos showcase the usual suspects in Canadian music, other deserving acts have made an appearance on this year’s nomination list. You can watch all the musical drama unfold on March 30.

Leave a comment