Best Vancouver Bands of 2016 Part Two.
The Best Vancouver Bands are here on VanMusic
Complied by Oswaldo Perez Cabrera.
We are back with the second installment of the best bands of Vancouver in 2016. This year, 2017 will be challenging for many new bands who will have to go back to playing basements (due to lack of live music venues and exposure). Hopefully some will see the light and these bands that we showcase here will continue to share their talents. In this second part you will find an eclectic mix as well, reggae, hard rock, punk blues, Latin, Ska and more.
The bands are in alphabetical order except for the Evaporators that we missed in Part 1. As with the first post the info is taken from the bands promotional materials with little blurbs. I hope for the listeners and music lovers that these two posts will take you on a journey of discovery of the best bands our city has to offer. Explore them and help them reach their goals by buying their albums and going to their shows. The Vancouver music scene needs you!
The Evaporators is a Vancouver garage rock band formed in 1986. Nardwuar, its founding member, is known for interviewing musicians and celebrities in his radio show at CiTR and in Much Music. After 4 years they released a new album called Ogopogo punk. The Evaporators is a staple of the Vancouver scene.
The band consists of vocalist/keyboardist Nardwuar the Human Serviette, guitarist David Carswell, bassist John Collins (New Pornographers), and drummer Scott Livingstone. The band members also perform as Thee Goblins and other incarnations. Lisa Marr, formerly of Cub, was also formerly a member of The Evaporators. The band gives the impression to be a side satiric project for the musicians, but their concerts are pure energy, almost like a punk band with antics and props. Fast and entertaining music, it is a delight to see them live.
Directed/Edited/Filmed/Created by William Jans & his super crew of Christin Herrmann (assisting) and Alex Sorensen (pre-production). Special thanks to Suzanna Schultz, Joe Klymkiw, & Stephanie from Devil May Wear! Doot doo do do do!
Los Furios is the best ska band in the country. Their music is catchy and every time they play people fill the dance floor. This year saw them tour Mexico for the fifth time. They were invited to the Non Stop Ska festival which attracted almost 20,000 people.
Los Furios is a high-energy Rock/Ska/Reggae indie band that is quickly rising to international notoriety. 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!
They released a Spanish two song album for all their Mexican fans, Una Mas (lyrics by me) and Cantina. The band consists of guitar singer Kyle Fury, Steffen on guitar, Blake on Keys, Corinne on Trombone, Jimmy on Sax, Jethro on bass, Sean on drums, Matt on trumpet.
John Welsh band
I met John Welsh when I booked his duo Rhythm and Cello years ago; this duo (Welsh with Stephanie Glegg) plays folk, rock, reggae and Latin music cravings on acoustic guitar and cello! The John Welsh band also has a Mexican hit Sayulita with a video shot in this paradisiacal Mexican town and recently released his latest hit Life Na Jeje (Take It Easy) with a video shot in Wreck Beach, the best one in Vancouver.
Over the last 10 years John Welsh has been performing his eclectic style of music for audiences around BC and the greater… Vancouver region. John draws influences from artists such as Ben Harper, Sublime, Sam Roberts and Joel Plaskett. His songs are often inspired by his travel experiences and blend elements of folk, surf rock, reggae and latin.
This year they finished mastering the final tracks of their newest album, so look for the newest released expected in early 2017.
One of the most original bands. Kutapira is a high energy marimba/percussion ensemble band that has gather the attention of audiences in their hometown. Proudly from East Vancouver, I recall they started jamming at Britannia on Commercial Dr. But it also seems this band was born as a side project for a couple of their members. It doesn’t matter, what matters is the final result: one of the best bands to watch LIVE, a completely different spectacle.
Their third and newest album All Aboard was released on October 2016 featuring all original compositions and collaborations with a variety of other local musicians.
A fresh collection of music from Vancouver based marimba percussionists Kutapira. The band brings Afro-Cuban vibes together with the melodies of Zimbabwe, creating an original sound guaranteed to at least get your toe tappin’.
Listen to their album Beginnings here.
These guys had a great year! They had a couple of great performances like the Reggae Festival in Surrey and opening for Scratch Lee Perry. They are almost ready to release their first single and CD. However, this new band has been playing around the reggae scene in Vancouver. Now they are on their way to represent Vancouver in the reggae world scene. I am sure these guys will be on the 2017 list as they are going to perform at the One Love Festival in Swangard Stadium and they will have a new album.
What happens when you get two Mexicans and blend them with Russians and Canadians and throw some Cumbia and African rhythms in it? The result is Mngwa. A Cumbia, Mexican dub psychedelic rock salsa. They released their new album, Que MNGWA Llegó, this year. Listen to it here.
Mngwa, named after a mythical African cat, or “the strange one”, is an 8-piece experimental Latin band based in Vancouver, but their spirit is rooted in the cumbia of South America. Far removed from a cohesive Latin music scene, Mngwa has created their own singular style, mixing psych rock, dub, hip hop, and surf influences into their afro-latin polyrhythmic pot. With band members from Russia, Canada and Mexico, Mngwa makes wild new music that jumps many boundaries without ever losing the groove.
The video was shot in Oaxaca during their first international tour a year ago.
Anton Ayzikovsky – Drums
Blanca Escobar – Voice
Boris Mandlis – Congas
Igor Barbashin – Keyboards, Piano, Voice
Maksim Bentsianov – Guitar
Nick Lagasse – Bass, Voice
Pavel Burakov – Violin
Roberto Cruz – Percussion, Timbales, Voice
No Sinner is a blues rock quartet led by singer-songwriter Colleen Rennison. Their second album Old Habits Die Hard, a very personal album, was released in May after a lot of hurdles. The band has toured Europe and North America with their hard dirty “take no prisoner” blues. They attract a lot of attention from journalists and fans alike. Colleen is one of the two more powerful and hypnotic voices in the city, the other is in the next band of this article. No Sinner has also a new line up from their first album Boo hoo hoo. Daniel Svienson is on lead guitar, Cole George on the drums. Nathan Schubert on keys and Joseph Lubinsky-Mast is on bass.
“Old Habits Die Hard” is a more accurate portrayal of where Rennison’s head is at now than the songs on Boo Hoo Hoo. Or as she puts it, “It’s like the difference between your high school grad photo and your first mug shot.” She brings it all home on the track “Saturday Night.” “Tell you once babe, I’ll tell you twice, I’ve got more to give than sugar and spice.”
As Colleen explains “I live and breathe rock ‘n’ roll. It’s a disease to want to push the envelope, to be an enemy to yourself at times, to want so much from the world that sometimes you can’t even stand to be in it. I never really felt like I belonged anywhere, and then I found the people that felt like me, that woke up every morning with a hole in their heart that can only be filled by music.”
The Pack AD
Another super powerhouse of Vancouver. They are well known around the world. Their show is simple but powerful. A garage/blues duo. They are very prolific; they have 6 albums, the latest one was released August 2016 and it is called Positive Thinking. They also tour a lot! This year they visited Europe and North America. Maya Miller’s words, the album explores “the numbing day-to-day routine of depression and the fantastical ways that we look to mask it from ourselves and others. The lyrics on this album are probably more personal to us than on any other record we’ve done.”
Over 12 tracks, Positive Thinking — the title itself equal parts facetious and honest—delves into apathy and ageism, sorrow and fear, fantasy and chilling reality.
Destruction and melody, acid wit and bruising vocals—this is the Pack A.D. Singer/guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller have made a sound so gigantic, so fierce and raw and empowering, that it’s easy to forget there are just two people behind this brilliant, carefully constructed havoc. Shredding and pounding their way through every song, the Pack A.D. swallows you whole inside their fearless Franken-blend of heavy psych-pop/garage-rock. Their lyrics are wild nests, human and complex: darkly funny disclosures about depression; indictments of digital excess; grief-stricken fire bombs; sly crusades against stupidity. The Pack A.D. is also one of Canada’s “must-see” bands. The Pack A.D are still going to steal the spotlight on every damn bill and fucking level rooms with sheer force. Check out their new album, Positive Thinking.
Railtown Sound System
The foundation of their sound is deeply rooted in reggae music; and ROOTS REGGAE is what they play…with heavy infusions of dub and touches of funk, rock and modern Jamaican influences. They create an inclusive live show where audience interaction and engagement is the cornerstone. The feel and delivery invoke the rich textures of the Pacific Northwest; adventurous, exciting, exhilarating and organic. Socially conscious lyrics and crowd engagement flow through the melodies of Scott Candiah backed by the soothing background harmonies of Rachel Strobl. Reg Wilford (drums) and Paul Ryan (bass) lay down a solid rhythm foundation while Matt Doctor (guitar), Brian Battaile (keys) and Greg Kelly (keys) layer on the lead lines, skanking, bubble and dub delays from the 1970’s space echo to round out the traditional, organic, analog roots sound.
They were formed in 2012, so its not really a new band, but 2016 is when they are consolidating as a representative party reggae/dub band in Vancouver. They played Rifflandia and it seems they will be performing at the Victoria Ska Fest. Debut Album released May 2016. Listen, see and learn more about the band here.
Another not so new band that is starting to get people noticing with great vocals, psychedelic riffs and complete sound. It reminds me of Dover and can easily play with No Sinner or The Pack AD, they also have that dirty blues attitude.
Random Dander defines their name musically. Consisting of four guys and two girls, with influences from funk to folk, blues, jazz, reggae, psychedelic and hard rock, this tight knit group mixes genres comfortably. James from Hammer Records called them a “very energetic band” and an “extraordinary experience” from a “very crazy cast of characters”.
Wiping off the dander dust from a shelf one day while working a day job at a grocery store, Oke Chornick started repeating the phrase “Random Dander” and thought it would be the perfect name for the freewheeling, high energy vibe of her six piece (now four guys, two girls) band that’s become a dominant force in the Vancouver, BC area since 2011. Now with Pat Benatar/Janis Joplinesque female vocalist Jackie Lee stepping up to become their full time lead singer, Random Dander takes the vibe of their debut album First Delivery (which featured a male lead singer) to an explosive new level, creating something of a religious musical experience on their new eight song collection Second Cuming. Listen to it here.
Random Dander The Second Cuming Vinyl. Side B has been re mastered and the vocals were re done as compared to the CD version. It will sound considerably different.
James Kelly, guitar
Nicolas Mendonca, timbale
Luke Kokoszka, bass guitar
Oke Chornick, drums
The authors of one of the most asked songs at The Morning After Show: Stupid Dog. The band is kind of a mystery, they started literally a year ago, maybe the youngest band in the list, but don’t kid yourself, the members are seasoned musicians.
Drummer Capt. DeBeers and Mandolin Master Cmdr. Sexonovitch are battle-worn legends, always serving with distinction in the infamously accomplished Dreadnoughts. Sebastien Bullets has held down Bass Master Flash in a plethora of ska bands, but rose to myth-level as a venerable soldier in Venice Queen. Singer Christian Science helmed a well-liked, Vancouver ska-rawk party band – Fuzzcat, and together, they compose an expanse of musical fun. This unique combination of skills serves them well in their fantastical journey through time and space. Their song-style is described as reggae-rock with mandolin ranging from bluegrass to ska to reggae to punk, with unique takes on popular covers.
Drew Sexsmith: Master of Mandolin
Marco Bieri: Drum Lord and ’90s freak
Chris Ryan: Vocals and Guitar
Our intrepid Spacetronauts vanished when their Dimen-Warp™ engines engaged early, shifting our protagonists through dimensional barriers far beyond mission parameters. Without word or trace for over a month, the mighty Space Chimp are believed lost in time and space.
However, our heroes have survived, and even now are struggling homeward through a trans-dimensional reality, connected only by the universal spirit of music. They must fight Evil, and awaken Good, to fulfill an ancient alien prophecy – helped and hindered by forces they cannot quite comprehend.
When you are lost in music – far from Earth – look for them. They will be with you.
Another new and mysterious band based out of Vancouver. People in the “indie” community really dig this band. The proof is that their first cassette Freedom/constrain is sold out. Yes, you read correctly, their releases are on cassettes. The newest one is called Out of the Flood with 9 songs. The trio feeds on punk, blues, acid jazz. Its heavy, dark at times, distorted with vocals that reminds of Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth or Diamanda Galas. Definitely one of the best releases of the year. A very complete and interesting CD. 4AD meets SST records.
Dorothy Neufeld on vocals
Murat Ayfer on drums
Nick Short on guitar
We Found a Lovebird
This is a truly pop rock band with great melodies. They have a new CD called Lobby out this year that just passed. Their previous CD Lets start the War was a success and we expect the same from their new album. We named them on of the best bands in 2015 and this year we want to name them again, their CDs are constantly played on CiTR and CJSF. Their albums are a gem.
Stuck in the proverbial lobby of Vancouver’s music scene, We Found a Lovebird find themselves perched on the edge of genres; not hard enough to hang with the metal guys, not poppy enough to bop with the indie folk,
and certainly not punk enough to rage with the punks, regardless of the generation.
Still there’s no denying that the 70’s inflected, singer-songwriter material borrows from all those genres for their 3rd release ‘Lobby’.
The album was released last February 2016 on It’s Hard Man Records.
After the critically acclaimed release Deep Fantasy (2014), White Lung return with their fourth album Paradise, released in May 2016. Vocalist Mish Barber-Way, guitarist Kenneth William and drummer Anne-Marie Vassiliou (The Riff Randells) reconnected in Los Angeles to work with engineer and producer Lars Stalfors (HEALTH, Cold War Kids, Alice Glass). In 2015, the band announced that Lindsey Troy of Deap Vally had joined as a touring bass-player.
In October of 2015, White Lung spent a month in the studio, working closely with Stalfors to challenge what could be done with their songs. “I wanted it to sound new. I wanted a record that sounded like it was made in 2016”, says William of his mindset. Bringing all the energy, unique guitar work and lyrical prowess Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NME have praised them for in the past few years, White Lung curated their songs with a new pop sensibility. The album has “more story-centric songs while Barber-Way find that live the older songs “have taken on a new meaning when I’m onstage. I conjure up a new kind of anger“.
Every now and then, there comes a band that reminds you why you fell in love with rock & roll in the first place. In 2016, White Lung was that band, and Paradise was the record… – soaring pop hooks, thrash-tastic riffs and drumming, gleaming post-punk atmosphere, and lyrical narratives. Like Japandroids and Titus Andronicus, White Lung have set the gold standard for rock music in the 21st century. (Marcus David)
That closes our list “Best Bands of Vancouver 2016”.