Perhaps it's the history of rebellion and the DIY counterculture - or maybe it's just that loft space is affordable - but for the past decade Montreal has been the country's incubator for cool music.
A bunch of these eccentrics take over this year's NXNE, bringing their synthesizers, effects pedals and haunted performance art along with them.
Montreal's finest aren't YD headliners, but their experimentalism has broken them out of the underground scene and art school circles - and into indie music's consciousness - which is the new mainstream anyway.
BRAIDS & Blue Hawaii
Montreal's hip Mile End neighbourhood reigns supreme where weird music is concerned. This was, after all, where Arcade Fire produced Funeral and Claire Boucher became Grimes.
Arbutus Records is reppin' the hood by sending cerebral post-rock trio BRAIDS and dreamy electronic duo Blue Hawaii, both of which feature Raphaelle Standell-Preston's powerful, acrobatic vocals. BRAIDS played the festival back in 2010, but Blue Hawaii are making their debut, sharing the stage with Standell-Preston's other band for a double-header.
Thursday, June 13, BRAIDS at 11 pm, Blue Hawaii at 1 am, Comfort Zone, NXNE wristband or $15.
Majical Cloudz, the moniker of Devon Welsh - one of the new Mile End's founding fathers - will also play NXNE for the first time. Now on Brooklyn-based Matador, he writes melancholic ballads that spotlight his arresting baritone.
He promises an intimate performance that could get uncomfortable in a city known for its standoffishness. He tries to connect by maintaining eye contact with people in the crowd throughout the set.
Saturday, June 15, midnight, Blk Box, NXNE wristband or $15.
Their name might not be music-junkie household, but Doomsquad are buzzy NXNE vets to watch for.
The trio of Montreal siblings are as likely to put you into a cathartic trance as they are to compel you to dance to their pulsing beats.
Although they've played DIY venues in Montreal and Toronto for the past two years, they had their unofficial coming out at last year's fest.
They self-brand as "shaman beat" and favour minimalist vocals laid over dark electronic sounds mixed with world music influences.
The band hasn't yet released an LP but has already developed a following, including composer Owen Pallett.
Thursday, June 13, 1 am, Creatures Creating, NXNE wristband or $12; and Saturday, June 15, 1 am, the Garrison, NXNE wristband or $15.
Caila Thompson-Hannant is no NXNE newbie: she's performed as Mozart's Sister for the past two years and played with Shapes and Sizes and Miracle Fortress.
On her solo project, she's an electro-pop princess with a knack for airy hooks and vocal transformation from Grimes-inspired spoken word to lo-fi 80s pop.
Wednesday, June 12, 11 pm, the Rivoli, NXNE wristband or $12.