Top 10 Canadian Indie Bands

As this list of the top 10 Canadian indie bands attests to, the last decade has seen a surge of great music coming out of the United States’ universal healthcare-touting neighbor to the north. We’re not saying there’s a connection between being able to afford a visit to the E.R. and writing great music, but we're strongly implying it.

  1. Arcade Fire. Hailing from Montreal as many Canadian indie bands are, Arcade Fire have pretty much set the gold standard for the indie rock genre. Their songs are complex, beautiful, and introspective without resorting to naval gazing. They’ve also sold an impressive number of records.
  2. Broken Social Scene. Not so much a band as a musical collective, Broken Social Scene’s music started out as ambient bedroom post-rock and has become increasingly expansive, ambitious pop music. Sporting at times over a dozen musicians onstage at once, they certainly eschew the minimalism that is prevalent through much of the indie scene.
  3. The New Pornographers. Also known as the Canadian indie pop juggernaut that isn’t Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers are no slouch, either. Despite having a gig canceled by at least one Christian college over their name, there is actually very little of pornographic note to their music.
  4. The Rural Alberta Advantage. With only three members to the band, The RAA are a bit more modest in size and scope than the previous three Canadian indie bands on this list. They are no less talented, though, and what they lack in size they make up for in enthusiasm during their live show. Also, they do a pretty good cover of “Eye of the Tiger.”
  5. Tokyo Police Club. Skewing a little more toward the rock end of the indie spectrum, Tokyo Police Club have often drawn comparisons to The Strokes. There’s a difference, though: whereas The Strokes emphasized style over substance, Tokyo Police Club have substance to spare. Oh, and they’re from Newmarket, Ontario, rather than New York City.
  6. Crystal Castles. Canadians often are often saddled with stereotypes of being friendly and easy-going. Not so the electronic music duo of Ethan Kath and Alice Glass. They have become as well-known for allegations of plagiarism and bad behavior as they are for making insanely catchy, noisy dance music. Despite their questionable reputation, though, they remain critical darlings.
  7. Stars. Although affiliated with the all-encompassing musical collective that is Broken Social Scene, Stars are a great Canadian indie band in their own right.  They’ve also released considerably more material than BSS, perhaps as a result of not having over a dozen members to keep track of at any given point in time.
  8. Metric. Yes, they’re yet another band affiliated with Broken Social Scene. As you can imagine, they make dreamy pop music, etc., etc. Trust us, though, they’re totally worth listening to.
  9. Wolf Parade. Many of the bands on this list so far have been more pop-oriented, but Wolf Parade work more in the art rock vein. Thankfully, they are not associated with Broken Social Scene. They are, however, associated with Sunset Rubdown and Handsome Furs. Is anyone in Canada in just one band?
  10. Tegan and Sara. OK, now this is more like it. Tegan and Sara Quin are in one band and one band only: Tegan and Sara. They are two badass twin sisters who look like they should be belting out punk rock anthems. Instead, they write songs that are notable for having been featured on Grey’s Anatomy. Go figure.
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