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The Best 25 (plus one) Indie Vancouver Bands of 2012 (part 1)

7 January 2013 2 Comments

 The Best 25 Indie Vancouver Bands (part 1)

(According to us in 2012)

Photo Tizoc Flores

Once again we want to expose the bands that we enjoyed and we think they rocked during this last year. We thought the world was going to end so we didn’t bother compiling the list on time as the VanMusic peeps threw themselves into debauchery. Once we realized that the world is still a harsh, cold (and in Vancouver a rainy) place, we decided to pay tribute to the hard working and talented musicians in our city. Vancouver is teeming with talent and as a very important part of the society, music should be supported and spread across the world. From Vancouver, many bands are spreading the love across the globe putting the name of our city in the map. Los Furios and Japandroids are icons in Mexico, Bend Sinister, Redrick Sultan, Said the Whale are touring the United States, Brasstonaut and Hot Panda touring Europe and so on.

Who are we to say which are the best 25 bands (plus one) in Vancouver? We all have different tastes and allergies, but as some one who is directly connected to what is happening in the Vancouver cultural scene there are bands that I enjoy tremendously that are not only super talented, but hard working individuals that are chasing their dreams while feeding the community with a message of peace and love. I think these artists should be recognized and deserve my admiration. You see, most musicians are open minded individuals that contribute to make a more progressive society.  I must have seen at least around 300 acts  in the past year, received many CDs and submissions. We put over a 100 shows last year, 52 open mics, I did over 50 radio shows and let me tell you the Vancouver musical movement is getting stronger every day. It is a shame that the scene does not have enough fans and followers yet. Vancouver would be the envy of a lot of European and Latin American cities where people are hungry for live music. So this year, make it a new year resolution to support our local musicians and if you are a musician go and support your fellow rockers so the community gets stronger. Do it!

So this is the list of some my favourite Vancouver bands that rocked 2012 in alphabetical order!

Bend Sinister

Bend Sinister is a tour machine, they will be on the road again in March in USA and Canada bringing their music all around with their brand new CD Small Face. Bend Sinister is Dan Moxon (Vocals/Keys), Jason Dana (Drums), Matt Rhode (Bass) and Joseph Blood (Guitar). Via Internet Bend Sinister’s lead man Daniel Moxon told us he is very satisfied with 2012.

Bend Sinister had a great year in 2012 with the release of their new album SMALL FAME and almost 4 months of touring in support. Now in 2013 the band has a March tour booked down to SXSW and plans to hit the festival circuit in the summer. In the meantime they are writing new songs for an album which will hopefully be recorded later this year and released in early 2014.

The Boom Booms

The Boom Booms Photo by Tizoc Flores

I saw The Boom Booms in Kelowna at the Keloha festival and they got the audience jumping in the heat from the first song. If you have the chance to see them live don´t miss the opportunity to dance to their Latin infused rhythms. Some of them know each other since childhood and that bond gets reflected in the energy that the band projects “We went to Cuba and loved the music so we said we have to bring that to Vancouver” they told us in an interview when asked about their Latin influences. The band started around 2006, they have an album and an EP. Second album is in the works.

This East Van natives have been building a loyal fanbase that stretches across generations. The Boom Booms have wrapped up a successful tour of Brazil, which included sold out performances in both Rio de Janeiro and Manaus, playing for one thousand people in the heart of the Amazon. While on tour, the band fell in love with the Brazilian culture, music and people. They created a series of videos to raise awareness for the Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon Rainforest that is destroying and displacing a huge number of locals and causing an ecological disaster. The Boom Booms recently performed in front of thousands of fans at the 2012 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.


Brasstonaut is the brainchild of  Edo Van Breemen, a  6 piece Vancouver band that released their new CD Mean Sun 2012 to raves. They are ready to embark into an European tour in 2013. Their beautifully crafted music is a trip for the ears.

Emerging in 2008 with their debut Old World Lies EP, the Vancouver based sextet has developed a distinctly unique sound that continues to defy genre pigeonholing. Their ability to weave together unexpected textures of clarinet, slide-guitar, trumpet, noise, synthesizers, voice and rhythms has garnered them international acclaim from notable critics such as Gilles Peterson, BBC1, CBC Radio3, Exclaim!, Q Magazine, Toronto Star, to name a few. Other achievements include winning the 2010 Socan Echo Prize, a Polaris Prize nomination, a #1 Hype Machine listing, and also having completed a creative residency program at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts. The UK’s Independent newspaper has even called the band’s sound “a new way forward”. Their second full-length, forthcoming, record was recorded with Juno Award winning producer Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Dan Mangan, Cave Singers, etc.), and was released in Canada on May 15, 2012 and October 21, 2012 in Europe and Overseas. 

Capitol 6

Capitol 6 remind us of an old sound, but Capitol 6 is a fresh discovery. Their style is catchy with pop melodies covered with Psychedelic synths and soft reverberations. Capitol 6 music is a combination of folk rock (slide guitar included) with British rock a la late Jesus and Mary Chain or Inspiral Carpets, and late 60s music like Velvet Underground.  Alex Chilton would love them. Their debut album is really good. Playing Dead is a jewel and my personal favourite. Far Away has that groovy old  feeling that we were talking about, like the Flamin Groovies. Cold Ride is closer to the 13th Floor Elevators, one of their recognized influences. But, despite their  influences, which are many, the singer Malcom Jack has a particular style and the band mesmerizing rhythm is really enjoyable. I saw them LIVE at the Freak out Summer festival at the British Ex Servicemen Association and the crowd went wild.

Capitol 6 are a psychedelic folk pop band from Vancouver BC. They formed in 2011 as a recording project for singer Malcolm Jack but quickly evolved into a five-piece rock n roll group, releasing the Captain Rehab EP and the Fever 7″ single on Light Organ, as well as a cassette EP on Green Burrito in their first year.

Chains of Love


This 60’s soul/girl group/Phil Spector-ish/garage rock from Vancouver is one of my new favourites. Their sound also combines a retro feeling with refreshing melodies. They have three recording out, the latest Strange Grey Days was always requested at The Morning After Show by the listeners. Unfortunately I haven’t seen them much playing live around the city.

Chains of Love started when Guitarist Felix Fung, the engineer and owner of Vancouver’s Little Red Sound, hatched a plan to start a girl group with Nathalia Pizarro, who shares the vocal and lyrical duties of the band. Nathalia was known as one of the best singers and all around performers on the scene, and with her voice and the harmonic help of Rebecca Marie Law Gray, Felix knew that they had something truly amazing on their hands. They had what they call a “memory of that girl group sound” and a free studio on Tuesday afternoons, so they started inviting their friends over to see what they could make of this fortuitous combination. What you have in your headphones is what came of these nostalgic happenings, Spector harmonies, Motown bass lines and rich, thumping drums.

Combine the Victorious

These guys belong in Europe where they would be selling out venues. Their style started between Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and New Order with shoegaze atmospheres evolving into trip hop territory in the likes of Portishead. The band is Mark Henning (Pure, Guilty About Girls) and Isabelle Dunlop (Sex with Strangers). Combine the Victorious have just released their brand new EP Crumbling Hearts and to celebrate it they performed it at Bonden Bar, Stockholm, Sweden and the UK. The new EP, Crumbling Hearts, collects all the songs they have written and recorded over the past summer. It reflects a new sound compared to their earlier works, more electronic, more dance. Their set at the British Ex Servicemen Association has been one of the best ever in the Indie pop Vancouver Series. According to them, they are back in the studio.

Electronic duo from Vancouver, featuring Mark R Henning (formerly Pure/Guilty About Girls) and Isabelle Dunlop (fashion designer formerly Sex With Strangers). They are writing and recording their third full length album and have just toured Europe for the first time in OCt 2012.

Dan Mangan

Photo Tizoc Flores

Two time JUNO Award winning Canadian musician, Dan Mangan is one of the most respected musicians in North America. With various collections of musicians, Mangan has toured extensively throughout Europe, North America and Australia. Originally from Smithers, Dan has moved between Ontario and Vancouver, based in our city now, he is one of the most prolific and successful singer songwriters of our country. Maybe not as indie anymore but we have to recognize his trajectory as he has been dominating the headlines across the country.

Fine Times

Fine Times came out of nowhere and they suddenly established themselves as one of the bands to watch. I saw them at the British Ex Servicemen Association when they played the Indie pop Vancouver series and I was impressed by their set. Their debut album was produced by Howard Redekopp (New Pornographers, Mother, Mother and Tegan & Sara) at the Warehouse studio on Light Organ Records. Their album is a full hand of synth pop with two years in the making. Fine Times was a CiTR and Discorder favourite for the year. They were discovered  by Jonathan Simkin. Next year they will be on tour in Spring performing at SXWS and Canadian Music Week along the way.

los Furios

Vancouver best ska band, hands down, maybe even Canada’s best band is a big hit in Mexico, people love them down there and their concerts in this city and surrounding are always a treat. You cannot not dance to Los Furios. They have a brand new EP Never look Back. Los Furios is a high-energy Rock/Ska/Reggae indie band that is quickly rising to international fame. Since 2003 they have been committed to entertaining their live audiences. With a devoted fan following, Los Furios performs an intense mix of reggae and punk infused ska originals (complete with a horn section) sure to get you out on the floor! Over the years they had some changes in their line up but Kyle Fury, Jethro Sweird and Corinne Kessel have been part of the band all along, new additions include excellent drummer Michael Nathanson (Waltz Darling) and Sax player James Wilfred Martin (No Island). They have played with the best ska bands with hundreds of shows under their belt. The next big one is with legend Chris Murray at the Rickshaw theatre on January 25th.

Hey Ocean!

Hey Ocean chatting with Oswaldo Perez Cabrera host of The Morning After Show. Photo by Tizoc Flores


Hey Ocean! is a Canadian indie pop band formed in 2005 in Vancouver. David Beckingham and Ashleigh Ball had been friends since grade 6, joining with David Vertesi in 2005 to form the band. The band consists of Ashleigh on vocals and flute, David on vocals and guitar and David Vertesi vocal and bass). Their music draws from many genres, including pop and acoustic.

The new album is being great, we have new fans, old fans, we are excited about it, we have it in the  can for over a year so we are super excited that is out now” refers the band in an exclusive interview. They have three EPs and three full length albums. They keep touring and working hard to deliver great shows and great music. They want to even go to Mexico following the footsteps of established bands there like Los Furios or Japandroids. Their advise to the emerging bands is to never give up and keep playing and making music.

Hot Panda

Since their signing to Canada’s Mint Records in 2008, the band has released two critically acclaimed full length albums (2010’s How Come I’m Dead, and 2009’s Volcano, Bloody Volcano). The band’s releases have debuted at #1 on Canadian college charts, and earned them a ‘Hot Track of the Week’ selection in Rolling Stone Magazine (Chinatown Bus), an iTunes track of the week selection (Start Making Sense), and won ‘Album of the Year’ at the 2010 Edmonton Music Awards (for How Come I’m Dead?). Hot Panda have literally driven four tour vans into the ground. They have taken their ferocious live show across North America over 10 times, as well as completing a tour of Europe in 2009 (opening for notorious Detroit rockers The Von Bondies), and a second tour of Europe in the fall of 2011 playing the Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg (as well as dates in France, Austria and the UK). The band has played some of North America’s premier showcase festivals, including South By South West in Austin (where they were selected by Esquire Magazine as one of fifteen hot new emerging artists of the 2011 festival), CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, Pop Montreal, Canadian Music Festival and North By North East in Toronto, Sled Island in Calgary, and Halifax Pop Explosion. They’ve also been happy to share the stage with bands such as Art Brut, The Raveonettes, Grimes, Chad Van Gaalen, Tokyo Police Club, Electric 6, PS I Love You, Julie Doiron, Women, You Say Party!, and many more. The band is excited to release a third album, once again produced by John Collins and David Carswell (Destroyer, New Pornographers, Stuart Murdoch, Tegan and Sara), which was released July 17 2012. They played The Great Escape in Brighton, shook the Primavera festival in Spain, and are ready to go back to the old continent.


This is another Vancouver band that has broken the frontiers and gathered recognition abroad. The Japandroids is a garage rock duo. The group consists of Brian King and David Prowse. Formed in 2006, Japandroids rose to prominence in 2009 following the release of their debut album Post-Nothing. I saw them played at Shindig and on CiTR and they truly rock the stage. Many people abroad would kill to see the gigs that I saw, specially in Mexico where they will play the most important festival of Latin America to thousands of people, the Viva Latino in March. Good luck guys!

Joyce Collingwood

These girls deliver punches in their short and straight to your face songs. Metal, punk, fast tracks that tackle pressing issues in our society are their specialty. They have gone through changes as well and they have just returned from an LA adventure where they played the best venues of the Californian City, the band currently features Twitch, Claudia and Gillian as the core members, they lost a singer and a drummer but they keep rocking in the free world. The merit of these girls is that they have made fast punk metalsongs accessible to the public.


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