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MANILA GREY - No Saints On Knight Street

BC: Top 10 of 2021

by Ben Boddez

Alt-R&B and melodic rap duo Manila Grey took home the 2021 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year after dropping this sophomore project, and they continue to add a distinctly Canadian voice to the ongoing psychedelic rap craze with some expert-level braggadocio. It’s a blast to hear the trendy style interspersed with some hyperspecific Vancouver references, but the real treat is the interplay and synergy that could only come from a couple of childhood friends, Neeko’s deep vocals bouncing off of Soliven’s higher tone.

Bo Burnham’s transcendent comedy special isn’t the only great piece of COVID-adjacent art titled Inside released this year. The indie-rock quintet’s latest opens and closes with the sounds of the 7pm clanging pots and pans that once heralded the essential workers, and many of the tracks find them grappling with introspective thoughts while trapped in a room – being stuck inside one’s own head being an even worse fate than the physical boundaries.