While Sled Island 2020 will not be happening this coming June the way we had all imagined it -- as one hell of a communal release of pent up energy through magical music and art in the bars, venues, theatres, churches and Legions across this city that so desperately needs an injection of liveliness right now -- we still have plans to carry on the spirit of the festival in the coming months. In the end, Sled Island isn't just about five days of music and art that happens in this city. It's also about the discovery of the music and art that we carry with us, cherish and look to for inspiration in the face of the best and most difficult times of our lives.
Enter the Sled Island 2020 Alternate Timeline Festival. Below you will find a list of all of the artists that, before the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic forced our cancellation, were contracted or invited through our submission process to play the festival. While this list does not represent a complete picture of the festival that would have taken place, as we were still working diligently on bringing in bands from across the globe to headline stages of all sizes, it does represent a snapshot of our plans at the time. We hope that you can not only find a soundtrack to your time in isolation, but a soundtrack to your 2020 and beyond. The Sled Island 2020 Alternate Timeline Festival features over 270 artists that hold the potential to become your new favourite band, or remind you why you fell in love with them in the first place. If you have the means, we humbly ask you to support those artists that catch your attention with a follow on social media, a purchase of an album or a t-shirt, or spreading with the other music lovers in your life.
This post will be updated throughout the spring and summer to become not just a list of the bands that were slated to play Calgary this June, but also a collection of write-ups on each artist, often promoting new releases, new music videos, livestreams and fundraising initiatives these artists undertook during these unprecedented times. In the end, while a pandemic can put a temporary stop to live music, it can't stop the passion and drive of musicians.
Stay safe, stay home, stay hopeful, friends!
The Sled Island Team
36? - A 36? set feels like both a history lesson in the last 50 years of rock history, and also a glimpse into the future of the form. With everything from Prince-like falsettos, to dizzying and cacophonous electronics, to pure pop songcraft, to neo-psychedelic excursions to genuine frontman swagger and beyond, it's tempting to say that they sound like 100 different bands at once...but after seeing them once, it's clear they are a rare band that sounds, more than anything else, like themselves.
A.Y.E. & The Extraordinary Gentlemen - Featuring as fierce a six-piece live band as you could imagine, Calgary's A.Y.E. & The Extraordinary Gentlemen bring the soul and cosmic freakouts alike to their own mix of old school reverence and genre-pushing hip-hop.
Ahya Simone - One of Sudan Archive’s spot-on picks, Ahya Simone is a Detroit-based harpist, singer, actress, artist and organizer. Similar to SA, Simone uses a typically classical instrument to create music that's thoroughly modern and exquisite. Blending classical harp and vocal styles with jazz and soul influences, Simone’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous performances will leave you breathless.
Aladean Kheroufi - The soulful indie rocker you might recognize from a stint with Marlaena Moore or playing in The Velveteins is set to release an EP of catchy new tunes in May 2020.
Alex Bent + the Emptiness - Recently released a deluxe version of their alt-pop and R&B debut album Baby, with stems available for remixes, video interviews and a whack of bonus content, all perfect for quarantine!
Alex Cameron & Roy Molloy - Put on a lengthy telethon event Al-Camathon to support their latest album Miami Memory in 2019, and released it in its entirety on YouTube for people to enjoy while in quarantine.
Alexia Avina - The pure definition of ethereal, Montreal artist Alexia Avina is here to soothe those quarantine blues. Meditative and totally hypnotizing, Avina loops soft guitar and beyond dreamy vocals to make the lushest ambient folk you’ve ever heard.
All City Jimmy - You might not know the name yet, but Los Angeles hip-hop artist All City Jimmy (formerly known as Nocando) came with 2020 guest curator Sudan Archives' personal stamp of approval and we were confident this would have been, like Tierra Whack at Broken City before, the talk of the fest, followed shortly by an explosion in popularity.
Amy Nelson - Classic ‘50s country and blues themes sound even tougher when delivered by Amy Nelson's unmatched voice and hints at psyched out banjo drones.
ANUNNAKI - Take Dave Read from Moths & Locusts and Arlen Thompson of Wolf Parade fame and you get ANUNNAKI. Experimental stoner metal is the best descriptor for this band who’s live show is said to be the stuff of legends.
APOLLO - The moniker of Vancouver-based instrumentalist and producer Joel Jasper, APOLLO cranks out celestial club vibes that you’ll want at your next party. Classic house beats are given an ethereal wash for music you can move or meditate to, in equal measure. On top of that, you’ll hear elements of funk, disco, R&B, chillwave and much more, blending it all together into a cosmic concoction that’s all his own. If that sounds up your alley, be sure to check out his latest release NIGHT TRAIN, a two track EP that dropped on July 3.
B.Michaael - Released his new album White Rooms, Glass Bells on May 22. Brimming with his signature experimental, electronic and ambient soundscapes, B.Michaael continues to push the envelope of his genre on his new record, building a wall of sound with acoustic and electronic instrumentation, raw piano, distorted synthesizers, and screeching guitar work that can fill the atmosphere with ambience, chaos, and every feeling in between, all within the same listening session.
Bad Bodies - Sweet-and-soft contemporary R&B, Bad Bodies are your mellow mood VIPs. Dreamy soul-inspired tunes with ‘60s R&B influences and groovy bossa nova backdrops, one listen to Bad Bodies will leave you floating.
Be Afraid - Released their new EP Remember Fun on Hidden Bay Records on May 8. With a new lineup featuring members of Supermoon, Maneater, Sightlines and Dead Soft, you can trust this is a legit Vancouver supergroup with some head-boppingly cool new tunes to prove it.
Beach Towels - You might not expect a band called Beach Towels to be from Edmonton, but here we are. Equal parts psych, surf and garage rock, this four-piece is a more than established band, having put out nine different releases since 2016 with no signs of stopping in 2020. Keep your eyes peeled for their newest single We’re Gonna Run Away due out July 23.
Béret - The solo project of Seattle artist Ian Kurtis Crist, Béret is minimalist art-rock done to perfection. Lou Reed meets Preoccupations, his avant-garde sensibilities gently pay homage to the past, while facing straight on to the future, carving out its own legacy amongst the greats.
Big Evil Rat - While many Sled-goers may know ex-Calgarian Nolan Bossert for the incredible and joyous garage rock of Power Buddies, he was all set to return home with Big Evil Rat, another big, loud and infectious garage rock project for Goner and In The Records nerds.
The Black Angels - One of the most anticipated sets of Sled Island 2020 was the sure-shot mind-melter that would have been Austin's neo-psych torchbearers The Black Angels at The Palace Theatre.
Black Thunder - Despite being festival veterans, Black Thunder are somehow still something of a surprise attack with each visit to Calgary. They use massive stoner rock riffage as a trojan horse to introduce everything from psych rock freakouts to prog rock ambition to jazzy time signatures. Their latest La Fine Creata is their best release yet.
Body Lens - Equally kooky and hooky, Body Lens are Lethbridge’s post-punk heroes. Deep monotone vocals, angular riffs and a top-tier rhythm section define these Alberta art kids, crafting new-wave bops that rival that of their contemporaries, and give a sharp nod to the past.
Bog Bodies - The first time you hear this gutter punk pair, it might leave you in a fog of confusion for the rest of the day, but trust us when we say you’ll be immediately hooked on Bog Bodies. Two frantic guitars, shrill shrieks and a chaotic drum machine, their scuzzy noise is your soundtrack to the apocalypse.
Bonnie Trash - The punk project of Guelph, Ontario sisters Sarafina and Emmalia Bortolon-Vettor, Bonnie Trash is goth with a twist. Dark folklore-inspired lyrics are paired with gritty guitars and relentless drums for a moody macabre sound you’ll feel in your core.
Booty EP - Whether it’s their energetic and visually stunning live show, their self-produced singles or their wealth of DIY music videos, they’re always up to something, and it's always interesting. This year would have been Booty EP's Sled debut, but keep an eye out for their first full-length album Don’t Fix Anything ;) due out later this year.
Briana Marela - Electro-pop with an ambient core, Seattle-based artist and composer Brian Amarela makes dreamy experimental soundscapes with a pop sensibility. Having toured with artists such as Jenny Hval, Waxahatchee, and Sled 2020 pick Alex Cameron, Briana Marela is a star on the rise, combining pop hooks with stunningly lush and ethereal electronic compositions for something equally as reflective as it is infectious.
Bridgeland - Every year Sled Island holds a Rock Lottery, where local musicians throw their names in a hat to form random, one-off bands that are tasked with writing a new set to perform later that night, and in 2019 we were introduced to Bridgeland. Made up of members of Melted Mirror, The Allovers, wanderingaria, Witch Victim, and Knerd, they sound like all of their individual bands and none of them at the same time. It's wild, surprising and inspiring.
Cedric Noel - After a highly lauded performance opening for Jessica Pratt and Squirrel Flower at Sled Island 2019, we were thrilled to invite Montreal singer/songwriter Cedric Noel back to Calgary for Sled Island 2020. Having written and recorded for over a decade, Noel makes gentle folk that’s powerful in its simplicity.
Ceremony East Coast - The solo project of Skywave drummer John Fedowitz, Ceremony East Coast is the reverb drenched post-punk project of your dreams. After taking a hiatus from performing live in 2013, Fedowitz took CEC back on the road in 2017, touring with former bandmate Oliver Ackermann’s group A Place to Bury Strangers, and has been going strong ever since. Now joined by his wife Sandra, CEC are a duo made in heaven, making densely distorted, psych-heavy tunes you won’t be able to get enough of.
The CFB - Calgary’s newest supergroup, The CFB is comprised of members from Calgary faves like Glitter, Janitor Scum and Vacuum Rebuilders, so you know the output is gonna be sweet. Jangly indie-pop with a little post-punk edge, The CFB are gearing up to be Calgary’s newest party band.
Chairman - Understanding that the genre was always about more than three chords played very fast, Edmonton's Chairman are both a time capsule from that sweet spot in time when punk split into post-punk and new wave, and an important reminder that time capsules dug up years later are usually more exciting than when first made. Timeless and timely, and most importantly, super fun.
Chron Goblin - Calgary's Chron Goblin set the bar high for Western Canadian riff rock, not just with expert musicianship and cathartic, feel-good live shows, but also with more recent, clever and fitting musical diversions into southern rock and psychedelia.
Chunder Buffet - Grungy, sludgy and sleazy, Chunder Buffet take all the admirable qualities of their predecessors and put their own stamp on it. With a gritty garage sound that will undeniably remind you of groups like Siouxsie and the Banshees or The Coathangers, this four-piece is a brick wall of that classic dirty punk sound that we’ll never quite get enough of.
Co-op - Chosen as one of Cups N Cakes top five, Vancouver's Co-op has a clear post-punk sound with a little more punk rock grit that is often missing from the genre.
Collar - Something of a Calgary supergroup, featuring some of Calgary's favourite people (and members of Horse Girl and Milk Toast), Collar brings the loose, lo-fi exuberance of early Guided By Voices and K Records, making sure not to fuss up a perfect song with needlessly distracting elements.
Control Top - We were beyond excited to have them play at Sled this year - this brash trio is a sneer-filled, anti-authoritarian mess of heavy post-punk, with an incredibly high-energy live show that would have left you punch-drunk. Be sure to check out their latest single One Good Day.
Conversations With Bears - The solo project of Calgary musician Lucien Lahey, Conversations With Bears is intimate indie folk that cuts deep. Lahey’s paper-thin vocals and echoing guitar plucks combine for something deeply introspective, sounding simultaneously intimate and vast as he ponders the intricacies of the universe.
Crystal Eyes - As part of the Sled Island Lemonade Stand, we were very proud to present the video premiere of Wishes: The Isolation Session, a musical experiment where the group recorded a new track and video while each band member was in self-isolation.
Daddy - One of Sudan Archives’ picks, Los Angeles artist Daddy (formerly Cat 500) makes experimental pop fit for life on mars. With glitchy electro beats and warped, almost alien-like vocals, Daddy is straight out of the future.
Dark Time - Calgary’s Dark Time has been kicking out the jangly psychedelic dream pop jams since 2016 and released their first self-titled EP in 2018 with the help of local producer extraordinaire Chris Dadge. Self-described as “David Lynchian goth meets Jeff Lynne glam” begs the question, how could you not want to hear that?
Dead Fibres - Taking punk and pushing it to its avant-garde limits, Dead Fibres are a dark force to be reckoned with. Experimental, psychedelic, post-punk and noise all join forces to create a musical psych-out that will put you through the wringer in the best possible way. Keep an eye out for their third studio album John Q. Citizen due out on Transistor 66 later this year.
Dead Friends - Released new western-psych LP Shirley on May 1, and had intially planned to go on tour shortly after, including a stopover in Calgary for Sled Island. Of course, plans have changed, but at least we still have their new record.
Dead Soft - The best grunge bands always had a real knack for knowing when to let the melody peek out from behind the curtain of fuzz, so it's a testament to Dead Soft's songwriting that each new release of theirs sounds like a mixtape of all of the best loud/quiet/loud earworms imaginable.
Death Hags - The solo project of L.A. based artist Lola Jean, Death Hags is synth-pop with a psychedelic twist that would sound right at home in a John Carpenter flick. Check out the video for their latest single Keep Calling.
Deathsticks - Spitting out 90-second garage punk jams at the highest possible decibel, Toronto duo Deathsticks are DIY pros. With a heavy injection of snark and sarcasm put into everything they turn out, the biggest error you can make while listening to this power-duo is taking it all too seriously. That, and not having the volume turned all the way up.
DEBBY FRIDAY - She lists her reference points as Nine Inch Nails, Death Grips and The Runaways, and that's kind of enough said. Check out her mixtapes DEATH DRIVE and BITCHPUNK for some seriously fiery industrial music.
The Definitelays - The fact that The Definitelays are as landlocked as a band can be may at first feel at odds with the perfectly-penned, surf-inspired garage pop they so effortlessly play, but it kind of makes sense as an escapist fantasy. Even in the best of times, we could all use a musical vacation to the ocean, but in quarantined hellscapes? Blast this as loud as you can right now, you deserve it!
Delly - Our pick for "soon-to-be-rocking-stadiums," at just 21 years of age, Harlem rapper Delly already has mixed trap, R&B and Neptunes-era hip-hop into more radio-ready jams than most emcees get in their entire careers.
Dishpit - Released a music video for their brand new single Plaza People on June 22. Recorded by legendary producer Steve Albini, the new track is themed around self-isolation – although, strangely written before the pandemic – and the creepy video goes hand-in-hand with the downright menacing feeling of being trapped inside for too long.
Doreen - Crafting indie-pop jams with an art-rock twist, Doreen is the quirky Edmonton quartet you never saw coming. Bandmates and roommates, the foursome’s familiarity can be heard in their songs, each element distinct, but combined to create one-of-a-kind indie rock earworms you’ll wanna have on repeat.
Dresser - Laidback indie-pop tailor-made for those steamy Montreal summers, Dresser ought to be at the top of your list for go-to chill-out tracks. Groovy basslines and slick riffs combine with shimmering melodies for mellow indie jams that are the perfect accompaniment for trying to keep cool in the scorching summer sun.
DRI HIEV - Calgary’s industrial punk luminaries, DRI HIEV’s killer mix of distorted drum machines, angular guitar lines and delightfully unruly snarls have made them Sled Island favourites year after year. Sure, listening to these electro noise punks on the radio is fun, but it’s their frantic and frenzied live show, complete with manic antics and an all-too appropriate smoke machine, that will leave you swooning (and probably a little bit scared).
Dual Nature - Post-punk punched through a fuzzed-out filter, Dual Nature is a thunderstorm of noise ripping through the prairies. Cathartic caterwauling set against a broody backdrop of scuzzy guitars and relentless drums, Dual Nature expertly welds old-school rock sensibilities with a punk rock attitude.
DUMB - One of Vancouver’s most beloved post-punk outfits, listening to dumb is non-stop fun from beginning to end. The opposite of their name, dumb churns out whip-smart garage bops with relentlessly catchy riffs that guarantee a good time.
EEJUNGMI - The solo project of Calgary artist Katie Lee, EEJUNGMI is an electronic awakening a long time in the making. A former member of projects such as Braids and Port St. Willow, Lee’s shift from indie to electronic sparks something new and exciting, exploring the “emotional landscapes surrounding dissonance of two cultural identities” through diverse and danceable mixes.
Elan Noon - A well-known drummer in Victoria, Keenan Mittag-Degala exchanges drumsticks for a guitar in his solo project, Elan Noon. Lo-fi folk-pop in the style of Sufjan Stevens, Elan Noon is the gentle soundtrack for your summertime trysts.
Enchanters - Power trio Enchanters are the eccentric garage rock characters you need in your life. Led by guitarist and vocalist Classy Craig Daniels, the three-piece are a high-energy force of catchy riffs, hard-hitting bass lines and hammering drums which they characterize as “a heavy mix of garage punk and freakbeat with a touch of trash-can glam.” Yes please!
Ex-Softess - Nightmarish in the best possible way, Ex-Softess embody the dark and moody vibes of their predecessors. These Vancouver noise-punks are the perfect fit if you’re looking to extend your knowledge of no-wave.
Failed States - Made up of "a drummer, two art educators and a couple of art handlers," Failed States' very unique Satanic hardcore lies somewhere between vital punk rock and visceral performance art, which is to say that it needs to be seen and heard to be believed.
The Faps - An outrageously entertaining band that you just gotta see live, we’re sure The Faps are just dying to turn up in a crowded venue again soon. This high-energy experimental punk duo is just as noisy as they are outlandish, but whether they show up decked out in costumes, painted as Juggalos, or covered in blood, you can count on sheer chaos, loud tunes, and a really wild time.
Feed Dogs - While Edmonton's Feed Dogs only formed in 2015, they've played every Sled Island since. It turns out our festival programmers (and really, everyone we've talked to) are suckers for the best power pop melodies bursting through walls of fuzzed out shredding that'd make J. Mascis proud, all filtered through an incredibly inspiring punk rock ethos.
Fitness - Expertly played art rock and post-punk with standout lyrics sets Fitness apart from the crowd.
Fiver - Simply put, Simone Schmidt's staggering body of work across Fiver, The Highest Order and One Hundred Dollars has deservedly made them one of the fest's most beloved artists in our nearly fourteen-year history. Absolutely vital and essential listening.
Florida BC - The newest project of Calgary singer-songwriter Clinton St. John, Florida BC brings together a bevy of Canadian talent for this latest folk-rock endeavor. With a live lineup featuring Baths’ Morgan Greenwood, and members of Preoccupations and Cindy Lee making appearances on their upcoming album, Florida BC expertly blends classic folk songwriting with post-rock influences for tracks that are sure to be instant classics.
Fox Opera - Combining the chill vibes of indie rock with the abrasiveness of math rock, Calgary’s Fox Opera ain’t your mama’s indie duo. Off-kilter rhythms and angular melodies collide head-on with catchy pop hooks and a lo-fi luster for a sonic cocktail that’s shaken, not stirred.
Friolento - While punk rock sub-genres can become irritatingly rigid, Vancouver's Friolento are anything but! With not just ebbs and flows in their raw and visceral sound, from screamo to post-rock to metal, not just in their perfectly played, oft-improvised breakdowns, but also in the very makeup of the band itself, which ranges from a three-piece to a seven-piece depending on the day.
Fulfilment - One of Calgary's most well-loved and prolific artists, Kevin Stebner (Stalwart Sons, Cold Water, Greyscreen, Prepared, etc.), returns with members of Big Knife Little Knife and Fuzzy Lights to form Fulfilment, a group that delivers ear-drum pulverizing punk and post-hardcore for fans of Wipers and Drive Like Jehu alike.
Funeral Lakes - Blending indie, folk and shoegaze, Funeral Lakes have something to say. Songs like Anthropocene Dream and Forest Burns are reminiscent of the hazy dog days of summer, but listen closer and you’ll hear their growing distress in light of the climate crisis. Their self-titled album is catchy, poignant and worth a spin
Gone Cosmic - While Gone Cosmic could certainly ride the coattails of their other bands, with members from Chron Goblin, Witchstone and The Torchettes, they instead challenge themselves with hugely expansive, mind-melting futuristic freakouts emanating from the late ‘60s groove-centered hard rock guitars, challenging the very notion that in space, no one can hear you scream.
Good Information - While maybe not quite coming from as far as Sun Ra, cosmically, Edmonton-based jazz and neo-soul filtered through post-rock quartet Good Information was to debut material written in Finland. They had already blown our minds and we were sure they were going to do the same for you.
Gorgeous - Selected in Sled Island Staff Picks as one of Morgan's top five artists. Take a little bit of math-rock, a little bit of post-punk, a little bit of noisy pop, add a dash of that Brooklyn NY cool, and you get Gorgeous.
Hair Control - The solo project of Calgary multidisciplinary artist and music scene mainstay Ryan Bourne (Devonian Gardens, Sleepkit, Lab Coast, Chad VanGaalen, Marlaena Moore), Hair Control is an otherworldly mix of lush synths and calisthenic beats that will get your heart pumping.
Hairnet - Listed as one of festival manager Shawn Petsche's top five, he says "I've come to the realization that in any given year, if you ask me who my favourite Calgary band is, the answer will be as simple as 'whatever project Arielle McCuaig is currently in.' From the hook-filled power pop of The Throwaways, who have blown my own band off the stage, to the reckless abandon of Janitor Scum, who set the bar for every punk band in town, it's a guaranteed wild show. Hairnet, her latest (I think?), is probably my favourite one yet."
HARSH - Snotty punk with feminist values, Calgary band HARSH are here to kick ass and take names. Howling and ripping at 1000 miles a minute, HARSH’s punk attitude and rousing unpredictability keeps you on your toes and makes every set a wild ride.
Hélène Barbier - You may have seen Hélène Barbier perform at Sled Island with post-punk trio Moss Lime back in 2015. With Have You Met Elliot? she comes back as a solo project that marries dissonant guitars and Françoise Hardy-esque vocals effortlessly, making for a refreshing take on the genre.
The High Dials - Montreal music scene mainstays The High Dials have been churning out their distinct brand of indie-pop since 2003, and they don’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon. Their most recent release Primitive Feelings sees the band fast forward from their usual ‘60s-inspired sound to more ‘90s influenced grooves; but don’t worry, that hazy psychedelic sound you know and love hasn’t gone anywhere. If anything, it’s only gotten better.
Holy Drone Travellers - No strangers to Sled Island stages, Holy Drone Travellers are Alberta sonic adventurers that blend free-jazz, psychedelia, drone, and Hindustani classical into not just something that sounds uniquely their own, but something that is uniquely their own that can change show by show.
Holy Void - Fresh off the release of their latest LP, 2019’s Naught, Holy Void began touring extensively promoting their new album, and their dark, almost goth-like brand of psych rock, and it’s then that the band really began to pick up steam. Now, with the addition of a permanent violinist, Holy Void is even fuller as a five-piece and continues to push the boundaries of their genre.
HomeSick - Released an incredible video on May 22 for his new single FAKE. “Powered by modern machine-learning algorithms, ‘FAKE’ surrenders control of the visuals to the music itself, granting it the ability to control the 'face network' at its core. With every sonic strike, viewers are transported from one eerily-human portrait to the next, and granted an insight into how computers perceive us versus how we perceive ourselves.”
Housepanther - Winnipeg darlings Housepanther make the kind of bedroom indie pop that’ll have you jumping on your bed for nostalgia’s sake. After a stunning performance opening up for Hop Along and Bully at The Palace Theatre at Sled Island 2019, the power pop four-piece was set to make their third appearance at the festival this year, and we were looking forward to bopping our heads once again.
Indigo Rose - In honour of the Black Lives Matter protests, on June 5th we wanted to highlight all of the incredible black artists slated to play Sled Island 2020. Indigo Rose is equal parts R&B, hip-hop and soul, with standout lyricism and an incredbily unique presence to the Calgary scene.
Intimacy - Featuring members of scene stalwarts The Mandates, No Problem and Uncanny Valley, it's no surprise that in their short existence, Intimacy have already established themselves as one of the most exciting punk rock bands in Calgary. With more than the requisite raw intensity, they're on track to give Amyl & The Sniffers, Vanilla Poppers, The Chats and Civic a run as worthy of the new gunk punk crown.
Jailpocket - With hardcore punk that nails the hallmarks of the genre with unbridled energy, give-two-shits, anti-authoritarian lyrics and the razor sharp riffs of Black Flag and Circle Jerks, Jailpocket might not help to make sense of or fix the world, but they sure make you feel like we at least have someone to be happy to not belong with.
Jamire Williams - Free-form futurist jazz drummer Jamire Williams has worked with everyone from Herbie Hancock to Solange to Madlib and came hand-picked by 2020 guest curator Sudan Archives.
Janette King - In honour of the Black Lives Matter protests, on June 5th we wanted to highlight all of the incredible black artists slated to play Sled Island 2020. Janette King is a producer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and DJ from Montreal, who blends electronic elements with R&B to make a sound that's all her own.
Jed Arbour - Crafting deeply personal and profoundly relatable grunge folk gems, Montreal’s Jed Arbour is the newest voice to emerge from the east coast’s ever impressive roster of singer-songwriters. The solo project of Dishpit’s Jed Stein, Jed Arbour is a decidedly more intimate project, with Stein relying on more delicate subtleties to compose songs with such heavy topics as death, love, family, sexuality and friendship.
Jiajia Li - A classically trained flutist bridging avant-garde, classical and electronic genres, JiaJia Li previously stunned Sled audiences opening for Polaris Music Prize shortlisted Jean-Michel Blais, and we had no doubt she'd do it again in 2020.
Jordaan Mason - Experimental folk through an unabashedly queer lens, Toronto’s Jordaan Mason is an artist to watch. Exploring themes such as “gender identity and dysphoria, mental illness, processing trauma, and finding home and community as a queer person,” Jordaan Mason is, truly, the future of folk; not only in their largely uncharted lyrical explorations, but in their defiance of genre, pushing folk to its limits with their unapologetic point of view.
k.burwash - Immediately casting a chill over you at first listen, a smooth motion aerial shot of endless miles of arctic tundra would be the perfect visual accompaniment for these new age tunes. Modular synths with an icy wash, k.burwash composes ambient drone pieces as cool as Alberta winters.
KERUB - The Vancouver-based, Metis producer and composer prepared a special ambient and experimental electronic set inspired by frustration and intangibility for the online edition of Cluster Festival, one of the first Canadian festivals to respond with digital initiatives to replace their cancelled in-person event. Listen to it at www.clusterdigitaledition.com/kerub
Khillah Khills - The synth-pop project of former Lashes members Katie Hilson and Kylah Floen, Khillah Khills is the new wave dance floor duo we’ve all been waiting for. Working with Calgary pop vet Mark Mills to produce their self-titled debut EP, Khillah Khills are bringing the ‘80s into 2020 with stacks on stacks of Depeche Mode-esque synths and an acid-soaked maximalist aesthetic that would even make Debbie Harry jealous.
King Scrat - With a "if it sounds good, go with it" ethos, King Scrat push the sonic boundaries of the too-often limiting genre with welcoming psych rock detours and krautrock moments of Zen.
Kommissars - Trust us, Sudbury punk trio Kommissars don’t mess around. Post-punk meets deathrock in an all-out brawl of screaming guitars and pummeling drums that’ll open up the pit from the very first riff.
Krill Williams - Calgary indie newcomers and self-proclaimed “sad girls” Krill Williams released their first single Spaceships on July 31 - the first release from their forthcoming debut EP Cocktail Hour.
l.n. baba - A member of Edmonton post-punk faves Fitness, guitarist Keanan Swan-Azmon completely flips the script for his solo moniker l.n. baba. Citing his background in real estate as inspiration, l.n. baba composes innovative folk-pop tunes intended to sonically transport you to different spaces. Whether it’s an old family farm, a claustrophobic office or a bare apartment, l.n. baba is here to take us on a journey, and we’re more than ready to follow.
Lab Coast - To the best of our knowledge, Calgary's Lab Coast have more Sled Island appearances than any other band in our history, and it's no fluke as to why. They continue to release perfectly-penned indie rock earworms that sit somewhere between Big Star, Guided By Voices and Teenage Fanclub. Rumour has it there's a new album coming out soon (and you might even be able to catch a sneak peek via our Sled Island Lemonade Stand compilation)!
Lavender Bruisers - Featured in our Ex-Albertans showcase, we were incredibly excited to hear highly danceable electro-pop of Lavender Bruisers, which includes ex-Calgarian members Jesse Locke and Matt Learoy.
Laverne - Vancouver always seems to be turning out one amazing post-punk band after the other, and Laverne is no exception. Angsty and merciless (just like good punk should be), Laverne holds nothing back. Strong and steady drums merge with a throbbing bass line for a solid rhythm section while fitful riffs and post-hardcore chants add a sleazy sheen, sending you into a moody spiral you wont want to recover from.
Leather Jacuzzi - Listed as one of festival manager Shawn Petsche's top five, he says "I could spend an entire paragraph just listing off all of the incredible projects that members of Leather Jacuzzi have been in (SIDS, Feel Alright, The Mandates, etc.!), but instead I'll say that a couple of years ago, at the festival's annual Wrap-Up Pig Roast, they put on what I think was my favourite show of the year. Super tight punk rock with humbling and eardrum popping tones and effortless showmanship."
Leucrocuta - Toronto-based experimental electronic artist Leucrocuta released a new video for Don’t Resist, the first single off her recently released sophomore album How I Touched It Last on July 24.
Liquor Mountain - Sitting somewhere between alt, cosmic, psych and acid-country, hometown heroes Liquor Mountain – made up of members of Deadhorse, Ghost Woman and Foldhed – have been steadily releasing sing-along anthems so good that you're hollerin' along even the first time you hear 'em.
Liturgy - Never content to let the conventions of black metal go undisturbed for long, Liturgy returned with the new album H.A.Q.Q. in 2019 — their most merciless effort yet. It comes with a new set of mysteries to untangle, paired with the throat-shredded howls, epic dirges and dalliances with a very un-metal instrumentation we’ve come to love and expect.
Local Singles - Glittering electro dream-pop, Local Singles are in your area and ready to meet you. Ethereal vocal harmonies take centre stage, warmly wrapped in shimmering synth lines and sprightly beats for something totally celestial and sublime.
Lonely Boa - Creating “sonic safe spaces for emotional experiences,” Lonely Boa is here to help you feel your feelings. The solo project of Montreal artist Eve Parker Finley, Lonely Boa combines classical influences with electro-pop arrangements for striking contemporary works fit for every mood, emotion and feeling.
Loose - With energetic riffs and infectious hooks, this indie rock trio from Portland make the kind of upbeat tunes that are a perfect accompaniment for beers by the river, or riding your bike to the bar at dusk.
Los Retros - Straight outta SoCal, Los Retros is a 19-year-old wunderkind who has gained serious momentum for his toe-tapping bedroom pop, having been signed to Stones Throw Records (alongside guest curator Sudan Archives) just over a year ago. We were thrilled to see his transition from bedroom to centre stage at Sled this year.
Low Hums - With expert musicianship that confidently skitters across psych, krautrock, acid rock and genuine classic rock, it's no surprise that Seattle's Low Hums have been busy making mind-expanding, dance-instigating anthems for over a decade.
Lowkita - For Vancouver based rapper Lowkita, mixing and matching genres is all part of the game. Influenced by Carribean beats, Dancehall, UK grime and old-school hip-hop, she weaves bumpin’ bedroom beats with catchy-as-hell verses for mixes that would sound equally at home driving around with the top down as they would at the club.
LUCIA - The heavy feelings of Vancouver's LUCIA call to mind the Cascadian black metal of Wolves In The Throne Room and the emotionally exhausting and cathartic swells of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, proving that not all doom is gloom.
Lucky - Formerly known as My Wife, Vancouver three piece Lucky are here with a new name and brand new EP. Released in March, We’ll Find the Time is four songs of unpretentious indie-pop. Mellow arrangements speckled with soothing vocal harmonies, it’s no surprise that these three friends make tunes perfect for chill hangs with your pals.
Lydia Lunch RETROVIRUS - We were thrilled to have the legendary Lydia Lunch and her punk outfit RETROVIRUS play a career-spanning set at Sled Island this year. You can hear them in action on a live album available on Spotify.
LYRIQUE & DJ C-SIK - With supreme mastery of thoughtful lyrics, impeccable cadence and confident flow, hometown heroes Lyrique & DJ C-Sik are already festival veterans. We were stoked to see them hold court once again.
Mahogany Frog - With the release of their seventh full-length album expected out later this year, a JUNO nominated album, and opening spots for bands such as Deerhoof, BADBADNOTGOOD, Caribou and The Flaming Lips (at Sled Island 2018), Mahogany Frog should definitely be on any art-rock fans radar. Filled with analog synths, fuzzed-out bass, squealing guitars and walls of electronic sounds, this is a must-watch act that we’re hoping to have back to Calgary soon.
mal/aimé - The ambient instrumental project of Ottawa artist Yolande Laroche, mal/aimé weaves together dreamy synth and vocal loops with experimental clarinet and percussion elements to create surreal atmospheric landscapes. An off-shoot of art-rock collective Pony Girl, this chamber trio slithers and swerves through song-length pockets of instrumental experimentation, setting their own rules and remaining unbound by limitations.
the mandates - Calgary's reigning rock and roll heartthrobs (who probably hate being called that, sorry), The Mandates recently lost a member to the pull of Vancouver's... rain and high rental rates and probably better schools. Which is weird, because Matt Wickens also played in Quit School, which is what we'd recommend he do so that we get more Mandates shows back home.
Man Meat - A fistful of noisy, scream-filled post-punk, Man Meat is guaranteed to leave your brain throbbing, mostly due to you banging your head too hard. Ever since the release of their debut album Hail Nothing Eat Shit, the trio have been hard at work releasing music and touring, including two (would be three this year) appearances at Sled Island.
Marona - Release their debut single Cut My Hair on May 15. Recorded with Edmonton heavyweight Aladean Kheroufi, the new track is a very promising first release – a soft, moody arrangement with spellbinding vocal harmonies.
Matthew Cardinal A member of acclaimed Edmonton trio nêhiyawak, Matthew Cardinal's solo project steps away from the thunderous rock of his band, and instead crafts avant-garde improvisations that are equally impressive. Armed with a fleet of samplers and synthesizers, Matthew Cardinal will take you on a journey through the human psyche, one moment spinning sweet ambient lullabies and the next conjuring towering and impenetrable walls of sound.
MechaDroid - Apparently, MechaDroid sounds like Death From Above fronted by PJ Harvey (!), which is probably what every rock band, Death From Above included, wishes they sounded like? Super fun, danceable garagey rock n roll!
Media Jeweler - Like the musical equivalent of spinning around in a tire swing when you were a kid: dizzying, a little disorienting, and way too much fun. Feverish guitars, spastic percussion and erratic time signatures make this L.A. group a fun and freaky time.
Mi'ens - The Vancouver noise tock duo announced that they had been signed to Kill Rock Stars on June 26, and that their upcoming album would be the first LP released through the new label. Look out for Future Child on September 25.
MIMICO - The synth heavy psychedelic post-rock of MIMICO is about as spacey as it sounds, and it’s definitely got people listening. Having been direct support for musical heavyweights like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Do Make Say Think, Protomartyr and Metz, this far-out trio is currently earning their crown to stand amongst the greats. Check out their latest album Hi-Action and you’ll hear what we’re talking about.
Mire - Featuring members of Mortality Rate, Open Letters and KALI, the desolate hardcore metal punk of Vancouver's Mire is a vitally important dose of personal and societal grief via Cursed-inspired blasts.
Mirska - You may know Calgary music scene mainstay Chris Zajko from his work in post-punk favourites Melted Mirror and The Soft Option, but it’s his new solo project Mirska that you’re going to want to pay attention to. With Zajko in full creative control, Mirska has the same goth-pop synths and Ian Curtis-esque vocals you’ve come to expect, but turned all the way up to a ten.
Molan - A one-man-band band that would have been perfect on a bill of all the late ‘90s and early ‘00s Montreal rock and roll giants, from Spaceshits to BBQ to Sunday Sinners to Demon’s Claws and beyond!
Mother Tongues - Featuring members of Hooded Fang, Lido Pimienta's band and Luna Li, Mother Tongues pedigree is impressive, for sure, but this is no simple side project, expanding the borders of psych rock, balancing momentous fuzz rock riffage with end of night disco come downs.
Motorists - Featured in our Ex-Albertans showcase, this year we would have had the pleasure of hearing the pre-over-saturated REM power pop of Motorists, featuring ex-Calgarians Craig Fahner, Jesse Locke and Matt Learoy.
Mouraine - With energetic performances and a commanding stage presence, it's no wonder why Edmonton's Mouraine has been buried in music industry awards and Canadian festival invites over the past handful of years.
Mr. Merlot - Selected in Sled Island Staff Picks as one of Morgan's top five artists. A major contender to be an opener for Alex Cameron & Roy Molloy, Mr. Merlot emotes that same sleazy, sexy lounge vibe but with a heavy dose of disco and funky finesse.
Nebular Wave - Chosen as one of Cups N Cakes top five from the Sled Island 2020 lineup, Edmonton’s Nebular Wave became an instant favourite of theirs with the release of their album Chicxulub this past January. The record is a psychedelic journey featuring experimentation and krautrock wrapped up in lush, spacey textures.
Necking - After the release of their wildly popular debut Cut Your Teeth in 2019, Necking have become a garage-punk powerhouse, showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Necking may have the livewire energy of a sugar rush, but don’t expect anything too sweet from this foursome. Thrashing punk injected with a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor, songs about messy breakups, oral sex and self-improvement accompanied by fuzzed-out riffs and shouted vocals are perfect punk confections you’ll wanna scarf right down.
NETRVNNER - Harkening back to the ‘80s in the best possible way, NETRVNNER concocts dreamy synthwave jams that would sound as equally at home in a John Hughes flick as they would in a John Carpenter slasher. Like a soundtrack satisfyingly sectioned off into bite size pieces, producer and retrowave mastermind Andrew Tyukasz expertly layers oozing synths and post-rock guitar lines over pumping drum machines for a nostalgic trip with a thoroughly modern spin.
New Age Healers - Seattle’s New Age Healers sound like if the descendants of Screaming Trees started a shoegaze band, but of course, it doesn’t end there. Further experimenting with multiple genres including ‘60s psychedelia, proto-punk and garage rock, New Age Healers are definitely on the already towering list of experimental, cross-genre bands that proudly call Washington their home.
Nice Apple - This Vancouver three-piece had our heads bobbing from the first few seconds of their track Hard to Know, which is always a good sign. Let them lift your spirits up and make you dance in your kitchen because let’s be real, we could all use a bit more of both during these wild times.
Night Committee - Writers of perhaps the best song to ever come out of Calgary ("Loss Leaders"), Night Committee features members of Hot Little Rocket, Fire Engine Red, Cardiograms and countless others prescribing the healing power of rock. For fans of those bands, but also The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, Hot Snakes, and well, really any great rock and roll band.
Nivhek - A side project from Grouper's Liz Harris, Nivhek has some familiar bits but rearranged, cut up, spaced out and elongated and left to steep. Her album from last year, After its own death / Walking in a spiral towards the house, is achingly gorgeous.
No Frills - Described as “bummed-out pop songs” No Frills is the cathartic project of Daniel Busheikin, who has taken themes such as anxiety and depression, and turned it into toe-tapping bedroom pop that will make you feel anything but! What was once a solo venture, No Frills is now complete as a five-piece with keys, bass, drums and multiple guitars that is sure to chase away the sads, regardless of the subject matter.
NOIA - Emerging from the musical mecca that is Montreal, synth-pop duo NOIA brings the party everywhere they go. Drenched in a neon glow, NOIA fuses spunky electro beats with new wave synth lines, vocal FX and a hearty helping of disco to spawn creatively catchy dance tracks that will have you on your feet and smiling from ear-to-ear.
Nomke - Built around the distinctly singular voice and beautifully crafted songs of singer/songwriter Noam Sadan, Tel Aviv's Nomke is an ever-evolving, dreamy indie rock project that is guaranteed to have you reflecting on your past loves.
Nutrients - Late last year, indie-pop group Nutrients put out a music video for their track Hide & Seek, the second single off their self-titled debut album. In this stunning homage to ‘80s videography, this purple clad Toronto-based five-piece show us that not only can they lay down extremely catchy, chorus-heavy jangle pop tunes, but they can also look really good while doing it.
Obroa-skai - One listen to Obroa-skai and you’ll be taken on a punk saga you won’t soon forget. Hardcore gives way to harsh noise which turns over to drone before pummeling back to screamo, the only thing you can expect from this Edmonton trio, really, is the unexpected. Refusing to work within the limits of genre or time, Obroa-skai make their own rules, dammit; but don’t be too surprised if they break them.
OKGB - A group of majority Calgary ex-pats, OKGB have brought that prairie post-punk sound to the island. Power-pop vocals combine with frantic guitars and a relentless rhythm section for an unpredictable sonic frenzy that would make OKGB sound right at home at CBGB. A fun treat for their fans, the band has recently returned to their Alberta roots, releasing an alt-country album under the name Peggie & the Discount Country Band.
Olivia Awbrey - Released her debut LP Dishonorable Harvest on May 1. With a punchy indie-rock backbone and witty rambling lyrics reminiscent of Courtney Barnett, her first full-length shows nothing but promise of a charismatic singer/songwriter on the verge of a breakthrough.
OM - The earth shattering and mind-melting OM originally formed from the untouchable rhythm section that arose from the still warm ashes of legendary sludge and stoner outfit Sleep. They have since grown into a trio that hasn't just continued to explode eardrums but exploded the very tenets of the idiom within which they work. They don't make music just for the bangers or music nerds, they simply make music that continues to fill the pews with true believers of all kinds.
Ora Cogan - Counting Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star as a fan, Victoria indie-folk artist Ora Corgan spins maudlin soundscapes to much acclaim. Washing over you like a wave in a serene sea, Cogan sings like she’s guiding you through a dream, with synths and violins swelling to crescendo, and rolling guitars that keep everything grounded.
Pale Lips - While immediately checking out pale lips is medically recommended, checking out Montreal's garage punkers Pale Lips is an outright festival emergency. They are everything rock and roll should be: loud, fun and bursting with both energy and hooks. Their latest video The Kids is a perfect introduction.
Pancake - Just as their name would suggest, Calgary’s Pancake serve up sweet and fluffy indie rock bops, equally befitting of a Sunday morning brunch, or a late-night snack. Surf rock guitars and buoyant beats, Pancake serves up a platter of pop-y perfection, butter and syrup on the side.
Paradise - For those who have been looking to scratch their Sebadoh and Hüsker Dü itches, Calgary's Paradise (members of PMMA and Empty Heads), will supply all of the relief you need with huge hooks and walls of feedback and distortion.
Parisian Orgy - Slapstick synth-pop from the brain of Calgary artist Gwen Morgan (Purlicue, Polly Dactic, Uncanny Valley), the band’s debut EP Come Pretty Pump Sleep is like an electro-pop funhouse you'll never want to leave, with each room a unique concoction of fun and frenzied beats, quirky vocals and kooky lyrics.
Passive - Doom meets post-punk; Passive is as hard-hitting as they come. Guitarist and vocalist Ian Schram’s guttural screams are a perfect match for April-Lee Johnson’s passionate and powerful drumming that will drill a hole into your skull within seconds of listening.
Peace For Bombs - After a ten-year hiatus, Lethbridge’s Peace For Bombs is back and better than ever. Trading teen angst for adult angst, guitarist and vocalist Jeff King brings the same attitude and grit present in the project’s early years, but with a shifted perspective and melodic refinement that proves we don’t just get older, we get better.
Peach Pyramid - Victoria indie-pop outfit and Sled Island vets Peach Pyramid were slated to make a triumphant return at the 2020 fest. Led by former Calgarian Jen Severtson, Peach Pyramid reaches pop perfection with dreamy guitar-driven melodies and Severtson’s commanding vocals, one minute gently cooing and the next hitting that striking high note.
Peanut - Featured in our Ex-Albertans showcase, this year would have seen the Sled debut for the Coneheads-meets-Jay Reatard sci-fi synth punk Peanut, the new project of the now Toronto-based musician Craig Fahner.
Peeling - The brainchild of Toronto musician Annabelle Lee, Peeling’s brand of fuzzed-out post-punk will stop you dead in your tracks. Evoking the likes of punk greats like The Gun Club and Sonic Youth, Peeling twists, turns, lurches and rips through every track, moving from noise-pop to country-goth with the snap of a finger.
Penny Diving - Led by twins Chantal and Kathleen Ambridge, Montreal indie rock outfit Penny Diving is a family affair. Joined by Chantal’s husband Thomas Augustin and Silver Dapple’s Melissa Di Menna, Penny Diving concoct shoegaze infused indie rock tracks with enough infectious pop hooks to keep you humming along for hours.
Pinch Librarian - A brand new group born out of the thriving Vancouver post-punk scene, Pinch Librarian are already making a name for themselves. Sharply spoken vocals atop fitful drums and zig-zagging guitar lines make for an instant post-punk classic, and they’re just barely out of the gates.
Polly Dactic - A three-synth setup with a heavy dose of hypnotizing drum machines and surreal samples, Polly Dactic’s stream-of-consciousness songs will send you to a whole other galaxy.
PONY - Toronto funsters PONY are known for their power pop anthems. Released in 2019, their latest jam Limerence is on the grungier side, throwing a dash of spice into their sweet pastel oeuvre. As a bonus, they recently dropped a cover of Somebody Kill Me Please earlier this month and it is hot fire.
punctï - punctï (featuring Laura Bardsley of Blue Odeur/blü shorts) is a monthly collaborative recording project that writes and records an entire album in a single session, already producing over 35 albums to date. Talk about productivity!
Purlicue - If Pee-wee’s Playhouse was resurrected in 2020 and needed a house band, Purlicue would be a shoe-in. Quirky vocal harmonies and campy lyrics, this art-punk quartet will baffle and bewilder you, and you’ll love every damn minute of it.
Pussy Riot - Pussy Riot have become a household name for their guerilla performances in their home country of Russia, opposing president Vladimir Putin and advocating for women's and LGBTQ rights. Going as far as being arrested and imprisoned for her activism, Nadya Tolokonnikova is a feminist icon who has since turned Pussy Riot into an electro-rap project for her anti-establishment movement and would have easily been one of the most radical musical acts to grace our stages this year.
R. Flex - R. Flex’s next-level performance opening for Le1f in 2019 made them one of the most talked about artists of the fest, and we can bet the same would have been true of Sled Island 2020. Slick and sexy R&B made all the more sensual by their smooth-as-silk voice, R. Flex's powerful pop celebrates queer black creativity in the grooviest way possible.
ra / sol - Released her gorgeous new EP the in between which she would have debuted at this year’s Sled Island. Filled with elements of ambient, psych and shoegaze, the new record is brimming with beautiful soundscapes that’ll leave you daydreaming. All proceeds from sales are going to the Black Liberation Collective - an international collective consisting of Black students who are dedicated to transforming institutions of higher learning through action, education and unity.
Raeburn - We can't imagine a better soundtrack to a sunny Friday afternoon than the warbly, reverb-drenched psychedelic pop of Raeburn, the dreamy solo project of multi-instrumentalist Maxwell Raeburn Warner.
Raf Wilcot - Classic ‘70s era folk gets a spacey twist courtesy of Calgary artist Raf Wilcot. Think Joni Mitchell through the looking glass, Wilcot’s gentle fingerpicking and stunning falsetto are accentuated with ethereal synth sounds and avant-garde percussions for shimmering surreal folk befitting of a daydream.
RAG - Having released their debut LP Cave Mentality only months ago, we can only imagine how badly RAG is jonesin’ to get back to playing live shows, and we were more than excited to see their inaugural Sled performance this year. Garage rock, punk and noise with a strong psych influence, RAG is a vicious three-piece out of Vancouver who has already gained serious recognition despite only having formed in 2018.
Rapport - Self-proclaimed “fun/sad Baroque pop,” Rapport is a dynamic three-piece that continuously pulls influence from unique pockets of music history. Whether you’re hearing their ‘50s-esque vocals, or their ‘80s-esque synths, they’ve blended it all together, and well… created their own rapport. Wait! Maybe that’s how they came up with their name!
respectfulchild - Saskatoon’s respectfulchild will make you rethink what is possible with a violin. A Sled Island vet, respectfulchild has opened for Sled acts such as Grouper and Hailu Mergia, crafting dreamy, minimalist soundscapes that puts them on par with the greats. More recently, they composed the score for the short film In The Shadow Of The Pines by Anne Koizumi which premiered on CBC Docs.
Reviews - A bona fide mashup of genres, Montreal foursome Reviews combine elements of shoegaze, kraut, post-punk, psych and noise pop for a sound that may be hard to classify, but is easy to fall in love with. Gripping vocal melodies are accompanied by jangly guitars and toe-tapping rhythms for songs that are instant earworms.
Rhythm Of Cruelty - This would have been the duo's first Sled Island appearance. A post-punk mainstay since 2011, we were so excited to finally have ROC’s moody, ‘80s-inspired aesthetic on the lineup.
Rip Room - We were so excited for this L.A. trio to make a triumphant return to Sled Island this year. Bass-heavy riffs and eerie vocal harmonies driven forward by tight, focused drumming, these “wound-up art-punks” have it on lock. Expect a new album from them this June!
Sacred Paws - One of our top picks included in our first wave lineup announcement, Sacred Paws would have joined us all the way from Glasgow, finally sharing their unique brand of pop-infused indie-rock with the people of Calgary.
Sarah Christine - Formerly fronting Calgary punk group Sellout, Sarah Christine is ready to conquer a new genre as a solo act. Bringing forth the same moodiness and angst of her punk past, Sarah Christine’s emo folk-pop is reminiscent of the early work of Canadian icons like Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morrisette, but decidedly more personal and with a modern edge that quickly distinguishes her from the rest.
Sebadoh - After playing Sled Island both solo and as part of Dinosaur Jr., Lou Barlow was scheduled to return to Calgary with long-time festival bucketlist band Sebadoh.
Selci - Released a new video for the title track off her forthcoming EP A Soft Place. Filled with pastel colours and bright visuals, this is the perfect accompaniment to her highly danceable and incredibly cathartic new tune, and we can’t wait to hear the rest of the EP due out July 28.
The Sex Geckos - Returning to Sled once again, The Sex Geckos write fuzzy, sludgy garage punk and pop tunes that decimate your ear drums at the same time they burrow perfect earworms into your skull.
Shirley & The Pyramids - A sonic kaleidoscope of dream-pop and psychedelia, these fest veterans have been incredibly prolific and consistently excellent since their formation in 2015. For fans of Jesus & Mary Chain and Brian Jonestown Massacre alike.
Show Me The Body - Chosen as one of Colin's top five, Show Me The Body makes the kind of punk that folds in on itself and then transforms into a new shape over and over. Buy last year's Dog Whistle LP if you like RATKING or UNIFORM or doom-tinged poems read over some tape hiss.
Sigh - With softly sung lyrics and bold instrumentals, Sigh's indie bops sound like they should play as the credits to a movie roll, compelling listeners to sit with their emotions. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes surf, sometimes pop, their latest release Images is the album you throw on as you drive into the sunset.
Sigil - Calgary's Sigil never waste a moment, allowing black metal, death and doom to morph into something oddly cathartic and uplifting through expertly played post-hardcore explosions.
Silence Kit - Fronted by the voracious howls of vocalist Mannon Smalley, Silence Kit has been described as post-punk, grunge, garage and everything in between. Their aggressive rock sound is complete with noisy, angular guitars, pounding drums, and a brazen high-energy live show, which has garnered the group a dedicated following in Winnipeg and beyond. 2020 would have been Silence Kit’s Sled Island debut, and you can imagine it would’ve been one to talk about.
Sinzere - One of Calgary's fiercest live performers, we were stoked to welcome back Sinzere to our stages, this time repping her brand new EP Buy Back The Block, which sees her creatively pushing the boundaries of her own voice while spitting optimistic lyrics when we need them most.
Sleeping Beauties - Giving the Stooges a run for their money, Portland’s Sleeping Beauties make grimy garage rock that sounds right out of 1969. Pop hooks meet gritty guitars in a fuzzed-out tapestry of sound, all woven together by vocalist Hart Gledhill’s Iggy-esque vocals.
Smokey - No stranger to Sled, we were stoked to welcome back Edmonton country crooner Smokey with open arms. Evoking the likes of Johnny Cash and John Prine, Smokey takes old-school country sounds and infuses dark, almost gothic touches to create something wonderfully moody and melancholy.
Snail Gun - Made up of members of Sled alums Bored Decor and Other Jesus, Snail Gun build layer after layer of feedback in a loving nod to, not a simple rehashing of, the discographies of everyone from Hum to Dinosaur Jr.
Snake River - Sitting somewhere between The Byrds, Neil Young, Vashti Bunyan and Roky Erickson, Snake River deliver jangly, instantly hummable, dark-but-not-downer psych folk played with expert musicianship (which should come as no surprise given that the band is made up of members of Radiation Flowers and Shooting Guns).
Sparrows - Toronto's Sparrows have spent the last decade as a band expanding the range of their chosen idiom with not just the whispers and screams you'd expect from a generation of musicians raised on Deftones, but also with hints of Slint's early and vital math and post-rock experiments and the chaotic riffage of a Dillinger Escape Plan.
Squids - Ever since they stole the show with their amazing performance at their Sled Island debut in 2019, Squids have definitely been on our psych-radar. Comprised of members who are both formally trained in both jazz performance and recording arts, it’s safe to say that Squids are a major band to watch for in Alberta, and we can tell you first-hand that their live show is not to be missed.
Stephen Hamm: Theremin Man - A Sled Island vet (Slow, The Evaporators) like you've never seen him before! Arguably the best named project of the year, Stephen Hamm: Theremin Man is your guide to an electro musical journey that is equal parts abstract, absurd, deadly serious and poppy as hell.
Stripmall - Owing as much to the Stones, Dead Moon and Country Teasers as someone like Patsy Cline, Stripmall give prairie punk a much-needed makeover, trading the well-worn lyrical tropes of the genre for something that feels more urgent and authentic.
Stuttr - This snarly four-piece is the musical geyser erupting from a Mentos and swamp water soda pop experiment made from equal parts Pissed Jeans, Metz and Zeke, all of which are bands, not soda brands. So, I guess that doesn't make much sense, but who cares when it sounds so good?
Sudan Archives - We don’t know about you, but the thing we were looking forward to the most this year was watching guest curator Sudan Archives blow us all away during her Sled Island performance. Lucky for all of us, next week she’ll be gracing us with a live interview and performance on Instagram Live on June 23 as part of the Sled Island Lemonade Stand!
Sufyvn - One of Sudan Archives' picks, Sufyvn grew up in Sudan, soaking up the wide diversity of Sudanese music before discovering hip-hop in his teenage years, and later on electronic music. Mixing all these influences with mastery, he creates rich and inventive tracks that will make you long for more and make him a talent to watch.
Sun Ra Arkestra - As a festival, confirming the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra to bring their legendary out-of-this-world and mind melting experimental, avant-jazz to the festival certainly ranks as one of our proudest moments. While we we won't be able to collectively transcend in their presence this year, we look forward to another chance to do so in the future.
Sunforger - Formed from the fertile grounds of their previous project Mono No Aware, Montreal's Sunforger are equal parts Chapel Hill indie rock, post-punk and grunge-stalgia, with infinitely hummable choruses blossoming from the smartly planted seeds of patient build-ups, dissonance and surprising start-stops.
Swim - Born in the heat of summer, you can always count on the surf rock sounds of Medicine Hat trio Swim to cool you off and liven things up. Bringing the party wherever they go, Swim’s lo-fi indie tunes jangle and jive, encouraging you, for even just a minute, to kick back and not take things so seriously.
Sydanie - Another Sudan Archives pick, Toronto emcee Sydanie is a rap star on the rise. Not only has she been highlighted by CBC and the Globe and Mail as an artist to watch, her 2019 album 999 was long listed for the Polaris Music Prize, and she’s toured with previous Polaris winner Lido Pimienta. Sydanie is currently raising money for four black mothers to receive training in birth work. Donate to her GoFundMe here.
Tallies - Tallies were set to make their Sled debut as part of a larger tour with Montreal's psych-rock faves The High Dials.
Tang - Beginning as the solo project of guitarist and vocalist Peter Connelly, Tang’s origin story commences with a 4-track recorder and a Toronto basement, but evolves into a dynamic three-piece that can get loud without sacrificing the mood of the project or the true roots of Connelly’s music. Taking the unique approach of combining solo bedroom recordings with full band studio sessions, the band really hit their stride with the release of their 2019 album Finding Peace, Isn’t the Point which is sincerely the best of both worlds.
Tarot - Falling more on the Blue Cheer and Melvins end of the heavy spectrum, Medicine Hat's Tarot infuse their whiplash-inducing, monolithic sludge riffs with a healthy serving of fever-dream psychedelia.
TeaFannie - Edmonton may not be known for its rap and hip-hop scene, but TeaFannie just might change that. Hip-hop with an R&B core, TeaFannie’s smooth-as-silk flow will remind you of rap legends like Missy Elliot and Rapsody, but don’t be mistaken, she has a slick style all her own.
Teeth To Your Throat - Formerly billed as Black Pills, the abrasive, off-kilter but jaw-droppingly tight noisy hardcore of Teeth To Your Throat manages to somehow infuse their absolutely crushing tunes not just with the immediacy you'd expect, but with genuine rock and roll swagger. Sometimes sung in English, sometimes in Spanish, the jolt of energy these punk rock blasts deliver are universal. Be sure to check out their latest video for their track Fox in a Trap.
Thanya Iyer - Montreal singer-songwriter Thanya Iyer released her sophomore album KIND on July 31. Blooming once again with her unique style of experimental pop and jazz, Iyer’s latest effort pushes the envelope even further. Exploring personal topics such as healing, cultural identity and interpersonal relationships, enlisting a congregation of musicians featuring brass trios, vocal sextets, flautists, harpists and more, and incorporating new electronic elements into her already unparalleled sound, it’s clear that KIND is her most ambitious work to date.
The This - The epitome of power-pop, Victoria trio The This are here to bring the party. (And the after party. And the after-after-party). Brash and buoyant from start to finish, The This are masters of the infectious hook, and will have you tapping your toe and humming along before they even get to the chorus.
Thomas Thomas - Invoking sunshine and good times, Thomas Thomas is the pinnacle of catchy retro pop. Fronted by Thomas Englund and Shannon Thomas, their ‘60s pop influences blend nostalgic sensibilities with a modern flair. A live show full of buoyant energy, they’ve been known to throw a classic Ronettes cover into the mix, which only serves to reinforce their status as doo-wop pros.
tiny shrine - Calgary's ear-drum decimating psych and shoegaze outfit Tiny Shrine has been busy prepping their long-anticipated album of cosmic freakouts. We were especially excited to get a preview of it at Sled Island 2020.
Tough Age - A Sled Island classic and Mint Records staple, Tough Age are Canadian indie rock icons. Jangly garage-pop with instantly infectious hooks, Tough Age is your soundtrack for playing hooky on a summer day, when it’s just too nice to stay inside. Keep an eye out for their fourth LP Which Way Am I? which will be released through Mint on August 7!
Trafic des airs - While solo drum performances might bring contemplative, wine-sipping evenings to mind, Trafic des airs, an offshoot of noise rock act VICTIME, makes art-punk inspired by everything from Liquid Liquid to Throbbing Gristle. The only wine glasses in sight would be the remains left shattered on the floor.
Trash Hawks - We're always blown away by the number of awesome bands that come out of Regina, and Trash Hawks are no exception. With a California, FIDLAR-esque surf punk sound that can easily transition from reverb-heavy beach vibes to scream-filled chaos, you'd never guess these guys are from Saskatchewan.
Trench - On their latest release, Trench's all-out sonic assault, with pummeling rhythms and deafening riffs (that'd make any fan of Converge and Slipknot salivate for more), is met with ambient soundscapes; a musical excavation that's anything but narrow... as deep as it is wide.
Trigger Warning - With a completely improvised live performance, you never quite know what you’re going to get from Trigger Warning, but you know it’s gonna be good. The solo project of Calgary electro-whiz Mary Cleland, Trigger Warning falls into the vortex between hard-techno and harsh-noise, pushing hardware to its limits to create something totally unfamiliar and completely captivating.
Trout - This indie rock five-piece's expertly crafted ‘90s indie rock anthems, sitting somewhere between Pavement and Built To Spill, leave us no choice but to ask the burning question: whatever's in the water over in Windsor, can we have some too?
Trulla - What an eardrum exploding Sled Island debut Trulla would have had! While no strangers to the fest stages, having previously appeared with the infinitely hummable garage punk of Glad Rags, Trulla bring enough two-piece, down-tuned heavy doom to make even OM vibrate out of their own boots.
Truster - Lead vocalist and guitarist Stacey Burnett switches from low, barely audible growls to guttural, cathartic howls at the at the drop of a dime, the top-notch rhythm section a heavy, relentless force behind her. A band that demands to be seen, these noise punks have earned the reputation of having one of the best live shows around, reaching new sonic heights by screaming into their instruments mid-song, and pulling out a cover of “The Chain” that you never saw coming, but won't soon forget.
Twin River - Need some new music for summer bike rides and weekend getaways by the water? Look no further than Twin River. Shimmering synths and reverb-drenched surf rock guitars characterize this garage-pop fivesome, crafting lighthearted indie bops that beg to be blasted while the sun is shining.
Uncanny Valley - Dark wave you can dance to, Calgary music vet Gwen Morgan’s (Parisian Orgy, Purlicue, Polly Dactic) expert ‘80s-esque synths drive the outfit, while vocalist Alicia Palmar barks and moans along to the pulsing rhythm, keeping you totally entranced and ready to dance.
Vanity Pope - With an anthemic quality that sits atop a dreamy propulsion, these soon-to-be hometown heroes stand out from the standard post-punk crowd.
Wallgrin - Proving, once again, the surprising versatility of the violin, Wallgrin is the violin-centric experimental pop project of Tegan Wahlgren. Combining lush violin loops with layered, choral-esq vocals, Wallgrin crafts fairytale worthy tracks that are nothing short of magic.
Wangled Teb - Sure, describing Wangled Teb as electronic is a good place to start, but for this genre-mixing master, you definitely won’t want to stop there. Fredericton, NB producer Indigo Poirier (A.K.A. Wangled Teb) weaves together influences as diverse as breakbeat, jungle, trance, chiptune, classical, hip-hop, metal, noise, and jazz for delightfully weird experimental electro-bops that will have you feeling like you’re in the coolest (and trippiest) video game ever.
War Baby - For those who are afraid we might be losing guitar-based rock, this Vancouver power trio plays an in-your-face mix of garage, grunge, noise and alt-punk. 2020 would have marked their fifth appearance at Sled Island.
Wet Cigarette - With song titles like Being Gay is Good for the Environment and Everything Sucks, Wet Cigarette has something to say, and they’re ready to scream it directly into your ear. A band relatively new to the Victoria punk scene, Wet Cigarette released their debut album Uncut on July 1. Eight songs of snotty power-punk, this energetic fivesome is a band to watch.
WHOOP-Szo - Was set to make their fourth appearance at the festival in 2020, but despite a massive amount of cancelled dates on their 2020 tour they continue to share their art, and released a third visual effort from their incredible 2019 album Warrior Down for the track Nshwaaswi on May 5.
Wild Black - We would have loved to see the "how is this not already a radio hit," immediately hummable and undeniably danceable electro pop take over our favourite punk rock hot dog joint. Potentially the most talked about dance party of the entire fest?
Wild Friar - A band made up of four jazz degree graduates, Wild Friar take post-punk to a whole other level. The swing and syncopation of jazz collides head-on with the angular distortion of post-punk for songs that somehow manage to be simultaneously precise and incalculable. Wild Friar is expert musicianship at its most fun.
Window Lamp - Ethereal and introspective, lo-fi outfit Window Lamp bring a softer side to Calgary’s indie scene. Channeling the likes of Cate Le Bon and Angel Olsen, singer-songwriter Haley Gunn’s stream-of-consciousness vocals gently rise and fall, spoken one minute and sung the next, as guitars and percussion gingerly jangle alongside her, propelling her forward as she reaches narrative crescendo.
Wine Lips - Fuzzy, loud and fast, Wine Lips are a garage rock power trio whose music feels like a shot of adrenaline to the heart. A no holds barred kind of rock n roll that’ll make you want to buy a motorcycle, just to crash it. Always a head-bopping good time from beginning to end, this year would’ve been their third time playing Sled, and once again they would’ve shown us that Wine Lips isn’t just a good band name, it’s a way of life.
Wire Spine - Heavy industrial beats back up this dark wave duo as they layer digital and analog synths over throbbing drum machines to conjure up a raw and sneering sound that will probably terrify you, but you’ll love every damn minute of it.
Witch Victim - Over the past year and with just a handful of songs, Witch Victim has staked a claim in Calgary’s psych, shoegaze and post-punk scenes. You’ll be adding hits like Dropping Out – which has amassed more than 15,000 plays on Spotify – to your playlist before you know it.
WKO - The new project of Calgary experimental artist Whitney Kosuke Ota, WKO promises to be his most personal one yet. Known for other acclaimed projects such as Yankee Yankee, Burro and Dada Centauri, WKO utilizes eurorack modular synths to produce live improvisations with psychedelic and shoegaze influences.
Woodhawk - The pandemic was particularly cruel to Calgary's Woodhawk, with lockdown coming just weeks before a long-planned and sprawling tour of Canada to support their latest, stellar LP Violent Nature. That said, there's never been a bigger need for a soundtrack that inspires fist pumps and joy, and Woodhawk forgo the downer side of stoner rock for more triumphant Sabbath and Priestess riffage.
Wrecked Beach - Just as their name would suggest, Wrecked Beach is spunky surf rock with a grimy garage edge. Taking their name from Vancouver’s (in)famous clothing-optional beach, Wrecked Beach bring the groovy bass lines and energetic riffs that make them the perfect nude beach party band.
WUT - At the end of March, WUT took on the ambitious project of aiming to release a new music video every week. On May 13, we were very excited to share the premiere of their latest visual effort Hazardous Conditions.
Yawn - A long-time member of the Vancouver and Saskatchewan folk scene, Julia McDougall brings her folky sensibilities to pop with her solo project Yawn. Hazy and intimate, McDougall matches her soft and steady vocals with shimmering synth lines for whimsical dream-pop jams that will leave you floating.
ZAH - Intense techno soundscapes punctuated with industrial beats and operatic vocals, Los Angeles artist ZAH is like the ghost of music future.
Zia Baby CEO - She's the newest artist to emerge from the Edmonton pop scene, and even though she’s only released two tracks, her bedroom-pop prowess can’t be ignored. One listen to the track MEDITATING and you’ll be hooked.
Brandon Ash-Mohammed - The truly funny award-winning comedian would have joined us at Sled this year, but a world in lockdown certainly hasn’t slowed him down. Already a celebrated and trailblazing queer black Canadian comedian, Brandon is set to release his debut album Capricornication on Saturday, June 20, and it’s sure to be full of his self-reflective hilarity and self-proclaimed “whimsical sass.”
Jackie Pirico - If you happened to check out Virtual Laugh-Con: A Sled Island Comedy Special during the Sled Island Lemonade Stand, then you should already be familiar with the mega-funny Toronto-based comedian and actress Jackie Pirico. If you missed her set, or just need more laughs in your life, she released her hilarious debut album Dream Phone late last year, and more recently shared a video on YouTube of her last live set before the lockdown.
Jo Firestone - Jo Firestone (Everyday Decisions With Jo Firestone, Joe Pera Talks With You, Punderdome) joined Sled alum Aparna Nancherla for a timely livestream Zoom show all about self-care, with proceeds going to support the Bell House, the original venue for the show, and like all venues these days, a very worthy cause.
Joe Pera - We had a strong comedy lineup right off the bat this year, and a lot of that had to do with booking the uniquely hilarious Joe Pera, whose success continues to rapidly grow due to his stand up on Conan, his Adult Swim series Joe Pera Talks With You, and countless other programs. Most recently, he released Relaxing Old Footage with Joe Pera, a mega-funny quarantine special available on YouTube that is, well… exactly what it sounds like. Be sure to check out his other videos too! You won’t be disappointed.