For the last 13 years M for Montreal has acted as a launchpad for emerging artists to stake their claim to the global stage. With a past roster including Galaxie 500, M83, Death Grips, Mac Demarco, and Thundercat they’ve earned their reputation for having an ear to the ground to the ground for scoping out next year’s breakout stars.
The multi-day, multi-venue industry music festival has excelled at building a community that breaks down the barriers between artists and industry. By ramming everyone into the same room, at the beginning of the city’s coldest month, it’s a trial by fire to see what resonates.
Last year Prince Edward Island’s Russell Louder was the festival’s breakout star with a rousingly intimate set of celestial sophisti-pop, and Pottery—who would go on to get signed to Royal Mountain Records and open for fellow globally-renowned newcomers Fontaines D.C.—set a new bar for wide homegrown post-punk can reach.
Now that M is entering adolescence, here are the top acts we’re most excited to see.
Since forming nearly a decade ago, the London, Ontario-based band have been devoted to making music that utilizes a narrative throughline to unravel the harmful legacies of colonial violence. Sitting at the meeting point of sludgy post-metal, and jagged folk-punk, WHOOP-SZO craft melodies that perform the dual function of encouraging your rapt attention, and effectively melting into.
After landing the title spot in the 2016 Apple commercial for the iPhone 6, the Cameroonian artist has earned critical acclaim for a style that’s anchors thundering melodic builds with exquisitely crafted peaks. On his newest album, 1958, Bassy conjures intricate finger picking reminiscent of William Tyler; confidently ascending vocals that nod to Moses Sumney, and an attempt at high pop with higher ambitions.
Sprawling guitar licks, dexterous vocals meticulously overlaid in reverb, lyrics that cast a light on the mundanity of daily life, and a melodic articulation that pay homage to every glowing era of 90s alt-rock? Sold!
Based in Montreal, the indie-pop trio delivered one of the year’s sleeper summer hits, the queer anthem “I Wonder” and show no signs of slowing down. Coming off shows at SXSW, Osheaga, and Halifax Pop Explosion, what makes this trio so compelling is their focus on pulling in (and reinventing) the pop forebearers of the past, present, and future.