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The Best 15 Vancouver Independent Bands of 2015!

7 January 2016 3 Comments

The Best Vancouver Bands of 2015 according to what we saw!

publicoAs every year, VanMusic puts out a small list of the best Vancouver independent bands that are conquering the world and our city. Some of the bands here were on our list last year, some are not, but all are good. Some will be on next year as they will be releasing albums soon. So check out bands like Combine the Victorious, Devil in the Woodshack, Good for Grapes, Tyrannahorse, You Say Party! among others.

The once thriving scene in Vancouver is winding down compared to 5 years ago, even two years ago. The venues are not helping either as some are closing; every year there are less spaces for artists to develop their craft, every year hockey and sports bars take precedent over music venues. Every year less people in Vancouver seem interested in live music, even the same musicians that are the base of the “scene” are attending less shows. Gone are the days when Vancouver was exporting bands to the world like Black Mountain, Mother Mother, You Say Party, etc. Egos, apathy, high cost of living, government hurdles, the weather, and the lack of late-night public transit are among some of the reasons people are not supporting live music as much. Vancouver likes reunion tours, old and new pop superstars, the classics and a few more that are on the road. The reggae, jazz, metal and punk enthusiasts are slowly leaving the stages. Nonetheless, here are some of the best bands of Vancouver in 2015. Some blurbs we wrote, some are from their bios and wikipedia, but you’ll get the idea of what they are doing, plus we included a video for each one of them.

Grimes

news-15-10-grimes_0This year the big winner was definitely Grimes.  The Vancouver born and raised singer nee Claire Elise Boucher has won international recognition thanks to her album Art Angels, which British New Musical Express hails as the best of the year.  Other publications specialized in music in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy also give praise to the album putting it in their best of the year. She is currently based in London, UK. Next year she is planning a European tour. Her previous album “Visions”, released in 2012, won her the Polaris award for Best Electronica album and although her style might be considered electronic it varies a lot being an eclectic mix of styles which she herself describes as “ADD music”, it shifts frequently and dramatically. Check out this B side video:

Los Furios

Los Furios are back on the list for another year as they keep consolidating as the best ska band in western Canada. This year the boys and Corinne released a brand new EP, almost an LP, called “Una Mas” with a heavy influenced Latino and Caribbean style. Front-man Kyle Fury got some good advice from the local Latin community and VanMusic.

The EP contains a song in Spanish (Una Mas)  that should soon break into the Mexican market where the band enjoys a vast amount of followers. The EP has won a couple of best local album recognitions from radio shows like The Morning After Show and Rocket from Russia on CiTR and Yucastereo and Radio Alicia on CJSF. Check out their new EP here.

IsotopesIsotopes

This Vancouver punk band also received high fives from radio shows and music aficionados. Their real name is Isotopes Punk Rock Baseball Club and their songs are all related to Baseball, a baseball theme band who surely are The World’s Greatest Baseball Punk Band. Their debut LP on Stomp Records “Nuclear Strikezone” is definitely the best punk rock ALBUM OF THE YEAR according to us.

We play the kind of music we like, with the intention of educating people on topics such as base running, fielding and batting techniques, strategy and general diamond etiquette.

Check it out here and buy their limited yellow vinyl LP.

Bear Mountain

This band is pure perfection. Their dreamy, electronic hypnotic tunes are a mix between driving in a sunset in a convertible and dancing on a desert beach with lights coming from the sky. Great soundscapes. They released their first album XO on Last Gang Records in May 2013. Bear Mountain have toured as direct support for Bloc Party, Cut Copy, Hot Chip, MS MR and have played major festivals including Lollapalooza, The Governor’s Ball, Sasquatch! Music Festival, Osheaga and Austin City Limits. The group was originally formed as a solo project by Ian Bevis. After playing several shows solo as Bear Mountain, Bevis invited friend Kyle Statham to join the band. Members Greg Bevis and Kenji Rodriguez were added to the lineup, with Bevis playing drums and keyboards, and Rodriguez performing live visuals as a full-time member of the band.

The Zolas

Vancouver pop darlings, The Zolas, have just released a new track off their Wino Oracle EP via Light Organ Records on October 2nd. The EP features three songs from the band’s forthcoming LP (out early 2016) and one b-side. The core of the band is duo Zachary Gray (vocals/guitar) and Tom Dobrzanski (piano). Their song “Fell In Love With New York” was charting on various indie radio stations. North America and a German Tour with sold out shows were some of their accomplishments of last year. Some of the best local pop rock around. 

Delhi 2 Dublin

If you haven’t been to a Delhi 2 Dublin concert you are missing out. They are super fun, great mix of genres, socially conscious and will get you dancing. A truly international act bred in Vancouver, they are a very unique band for our city.

Delhi 2 Dublin (sometimes abbreviated D2D) is a Canadian world music group formed in 2006 in Vancouver who play a fusion of Bhangra, Electronic, Funk, Dub Reggae, Hip Hop, Celtic music and a mash up of other genres. The latest studio album, “We’re All Desi”, was released on Sept 18, 2015 on Westwood Recordings. Inspired by their favourite Bollywood records of the 70s and their love of bass music, D2D teamed up with producer Nick Middleton (of The Funk Hunters) to create what they believe is their strongest offering yet.

Brass Action

Another ska band, they have a new CD which is very popular within the ska and indie circles in Vancouver. It is called No Soundcheck. Their video “The Devil Down Below” for the film Horns is a must see for ska lovers.

The Brass Action is a 6-piece independent band from Vancouver, British Columbia. The band plays a unique style that mixes the intensity of punk rock and rockabilly with the dancey, horn driven sounds of ska. The Brass Action has supported many notable acts, including The Toasters, Chris Murray, The Beatdown, K-man and the 45’s, The Fundamentals, Los Furios, and The Bone Daddies.

Ballantynes

theballantynes940x460-940x460I got a vinyl at CiTR. Nice cover photo and excellent music. I saw them a couple of times before opening for Los Furios at ANZA, then at the Fairview, and suddenly they have played festivals like Squamish, Sled Island, Khatsahlano and Rifflandia, as well as sharing the stage with legends like Lee Fields, Roky Erickson, and Memphis garage heavies, Reigning Sound. Their new LP, called Dark Drives, Life Signs, was released August 7, 2015 and includes a myriad of talented people. Here is the list of some of Vancouver’s most talented that participated in the latest album from The Ballantynes.
Jarrod O’Dell – Vocals, Guitar, Organ, Piano, Keys
Vanessa Dandurand – Vocals, Tambourine
Jennifer Wilks – Vocals, Organ, Keys, Tambourine
Corey Poluk – Guitar, Vocals, Percussion
Max Sample – Bass Guitar, Vocals, Organ, Percussion
Michael McDiarmid – Drums, Percussion Trevor Racz – Drums
Felix Fung – Guitar Haig Morrison – Baritone Saxophone
Matty Reed – Tenor Saxophone
Jeremy Vint – Trumpet
Trevor Tablotney – Trombone
Stephanie Chatman – Violin
Emily Bach – Violin
Elliot Vaughan – Viola
Michelle Faehrmann – Cello

 

Bone Daddies

One of the favourites who are technically from somewhere in the suburbs, but played quite a lot in Vancouver, I believe in every venue with memorable gigs at The Rickshaw.

The Bone Daddies are a 4 piece ska/punk/rockabilly band from Maple Ridge aka “The Ridge Radical”, BC. Originally formed in the summer of 2008 after the demise of their current bands, the boys got together to form a new sound, pulling from a plethora of musical genres. After a few months of rehearsal they hit the Vancouver ska scene with a fierceness that had not been seen before, quickly climbing the ranks as one of the top acts in city. After sharing the stage with hundreds of local & international bands, the boys have unleashed their newest creation in the form of their 2nd studio album “Sinister City”.  An 8 song onslaught of skanking sounds, ripping rhythms & monstrous music that can only be described as The Bone Daddies.

Caracas

caracas-water-fight-poster-2Formed in 2011 by Venezuelan-Canadian brothers Javier and Victor Badillo, and joined by their compatriot Luis Garzon (bass), Windsor ON-born Greg Samek (drums) and Saskatoon SK-born Heather Anderson (trumpet), CARACAS forges an unforgettable mix of Latin grooves, fiercely original rock and a high-energy live show, reminiscent of bands like Pixies, Talking Heads and Santana, and embedded with a Venezuelan fiery sense of social justice and independent spirit.

Caracas has completed a tour of the Mexican Mayan Riviera (2014) a tour of the Okanagan (2015), and 2 studio EPs + a demo, aside from having songs featured in TV shows and independent movies. The band also shared the stage with Latin Grammy nominated stars Jarabe de Palo (Spain), Gondwana (Chile) and La Gusana Ciega (Mexico), among many others notable artists. Caracas’ upcoming EP “Bring on the Playtime” (Summer 2015) was produced by South African-Canadian producer Dylan Ellis (Hokum, Rami Lakkis), and was recorded in Vancouver’s iconic The Farm studios (where bands like Aerosmith and Metallica recorded some of their best work), and at DeVille Studios, tucked in a small East Vancouver neighborhood.

Five Alarm Funk

Five Alarm FunkThe Vancouver-based band is nine men strong and over a decade deep into a career that has seen them release five acclaimed albums and burn up stages across the country on four national tours.  Drummer Tayo Branston says that although they are rooted in the style that gives the outfit its name, he and his bandmates thrive on being able to transcend that genre by seamlessly mixing in elements of Gypsy rock, Latin music, ska, and even prog-metal. “I would say that it’s intense, passionate, and fun, genre-spanning music that really anybody can get on board with,” Tayo says. “It’s got such an array of different sounds, and you can tell that each player has his own individual take and input into each track.”

White Poppy

white poppyWarm fuzzy sounds.  Victoria’s Crystal Dorval has been releasing eerie, phantasmagorical electric albums since 2012,  shoegaze dreamy pop with noise. Her latest LP Natural Phenomena is one of the best albums of the year. White Poppy’s music might be hard to swallow for some because of the noise, it might be a difficult album for some, but for lovers of echos and reverberations her music is perfect for setting a working atmosphere or to put on the headphones and go outside creating your own video in your head. Yes, there are evocations to My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and May Chain and even Teenage Fanclub, but who cares? It sounds raw and beautiful. The limited edition opaque white vinyl copies are sold out. In 2014 she did A collaborative album w/
Beau Devereaux (Samantha Glass) called Dorval & Devereaux.

White Poppy did a West coast tour in support of the new album. There is also a collaboration of one hour noise album with Gretchen Snakles.

 Skim Milk

Photo by Jonathan Dy.

Photo by Jonathan Dy.

Sam Davidson (aka Skim Milk) is a clarinetist, wind synthesist and composer from Vancouver BC. His latest LP is called Ghosts of Jazz although he plays with different genres. The album is mostly instrumental with few hints of vocals. He is embarking on an Australian tour this year. He is a member of Brasstronaut who also was part of this list a couple of years ago.

His music has a broad view merging influences from Bach to Boards of Canada with several pit stops along the way. What results is a unique concotion of funky beats, off-beat melodies and orchestral textures.

Davidson began playing the EWI – a breath controlled synthesizer – in 2009, and has since developed a totally unique approach to the seldom-heard instrument.

https://skimmilkofficial.bandcamp.com/

 

We Found a Loverbird

Very fine pop music, their album “Lets start a War” is nothing but belligerent, a six song EP full with well crafted songs. These lads have been playing regularly around the city and their new album is ready to go. Maybe is the less successful band of the list but it has the same quality and we are betting they will explode with their new material.

Let’s not forget that without a lost bird there is no sign, and the sign’s optimism loses its resonance without the disinterested passerby.

Fragile and fleeting, it is informed by tragedy and disregard. Yet someone has to take notice or the sign is not read; the bird is not found.

 

Warless

Warless is a ska, reggae, funky, danceable, fun  band from Vancouver. Warless reformed at Earth Dance 2011, when Keith and Rika propositioned Erin and Eric. With addition of Noam in 2013, it has been a love affair ever since. A furiously fun musical hybrid dance-a-thon that beams positivity through intimate Westcoast stories powerfully rooted in funky, graceland beats and ripping, old time guitar licks.

 

Also don’t miss Cawama, Jessie Lebordais, Dead Soft, The Black Halos, Weed, Brass, We Hunt Buffalo, Frankie, Dada Plan, The Ruffled Feathers, MNGWA, Population Drops and several other local acts that hopefully will surprise us in 2016. 

 

 

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  • Mr.Enviro

    These bands are awesome and we are fortunate to be blessed with great musical talent in Vancouver. Yeah!

  • Louis Cyphre

    Grimes is wretched. And 5 alarm funk? 4srs?

  • William Hardie

    Keep Doing what you love ,,, Thanks for helping so many Bands ,, VanMusic Rocks!!