The Weeknd – House of Balloons / Thursday

Canada; the boring loft gathering above the killer house party that is America. That’s how I’ve heard it described before. I’m not sure that such a description is really fair, and given the rate at which Canada is bringing us a whole raft of new creatives, I’d say the tables could be turning.

The likes of Drake have made it HUGE on a global scale in the last few years. You can see that through the decadence in the video for Headlines, doesn’t the man know there’s Euro zone debt crisis going on! Lunice has raided the UK this year to bring his own blend of electrified hip hop madness to Carnival and the Boiler Room to great effect. More than just a DJ, he’s a one man mime dance troop to boot (I sometimes wish his audience would give has much as he does).

For me, the maverick of the bunch has been 21 year old game changer Abel Tesfaye, you probably know him by his stage name; The Weeknd.

This, his latest offering called Initiation, is full of angst ridden, pitch shifted vocals, eerie guitar loops and a drum shuffle that would break down any club floor.

But what’s the big deal, surely he’s just another major label backed, R&B crooner with a bit of edge. No sir! Rumour has it he’s never even left his home town of Scarborough, Ontario (although some of the lyrics in “The Morning” suggest otherwise).

His two releases to date have both been put out on his own “XO” label as completely free (you don’t even need to give him your e-mail address) downloads.

Out of the two, I’d say debut offering “House Of Balloons” is the stronger, with tracks like “What You Need” (introduced with Aliyah samples then slinking along in the style of a smooth K-Ci & Jo Jo classic) and “The Morning” (picture waking up to a Prince guitar solo, being serenaded with memories of the night before before an 808 roll explodes to snap you back to reality) standing firm in the pack.

It’s the emotion in his delivery that really mark The Weeknd out. That and the fact that, by all accounts, there’s been little outside assistance in pulling these albums cum mixtapes together.

Still unsigned at the time of writing this, and with another self released album “Echoes Of Silence” pencilled in for this year, we could be seeing The Weeknd and Canada riding higher and higher on the musical map in the coming year.

Click the pics, download the albums and enjoy the weekend!