The Best Vancouver Bands of 2016 Part 1
Vancouver’s best bands are always here on VanMusic.ca
By Oswaldo Perez Cabrera with Raechel Norrgard and Jordan Grey.
We have been involved in one capacity or another with the Vancouver music scene for over 10 years now. This list of Vancouver bands is a representation of our musical culture that nurtures from different cultures, especially Latin American. The list was based on merits like releases, tours, recommendations from readers and listeners of The Morning After Show on CiTR and Radio Alicia and Yucastereo on CJSF, and of course my taste in music. The descriptions are taken from websites and press releases and have a little commentary and justification as why this particular band is on the list. I hope this list will help the bands to add a little something to their resumes so they can keep growing amassing fans and help them tour. This is our sixth year compiling the list. It has to count for something.
Not much is new in the Vancouver music scene. Venues keep closing like the Railway, fewer of the public are attending the shows, bands disappear or metamorphose. The only serious battle of the bands is Shindig; there are fewer open mics (mostly put on by Ian Is) and fewer bands coming out. This list will have repeats from previous years; the musical groups that are still recording, touring and getting Vancouver music out there. There are a lot of genres in the list as well, among them Reggae, Ska, punk, hard rock and lots of fun and popular bands. We left out some cool party bands just because they had less activity in 2016 but surely to come back in 2017. Be sure to listen to bands like Carcas the Band, The Boom Booms, Brehdren, Fond of Tigers, Good For Grapes or Santa Lucia. Also be sure to check out some of the heavy weights of the rest of the province that are active right now, like Yukon Blonde from Kelowna, Hot Hot Heat and their new album, Sweet Leaf and LOVECoast from Victoria, Dope Soda from Nanaimo among others. The indie “experimental” and pop scene in Vancouver is still giving us bands like Jay Arner, Douse, The Prettys, and Supermoon among I am sure we are missing out some bands and musicians, if you think so please send us their info so we can promote and follow them through 2017. Happy new year and enjoy the first part of the Best Vancouver bands according to VanMusic. Bands are in ALPHABETICAL order.
Adrian Teacher and the Sub
Adrian Teacher is a Vancouver based songwriter and performer best known for his work with Apollo Ghosts, COOL TV and as a back-up musician for several independent bands. He has been self-releasing music for over ten years. His album Mount Benson was nominated for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize and he was the Sappyfest “songwriter in residence” in 2011. The SUBS feature Amanda P. on the kit, Robbie N. on the bass and a variety of other talented musical contributors.
The Ballantynes are a 60s inspired, six piece, garage/soul/rock and roll band based in East Vancouver, BC. Even though they didn’t release an album this year, they are one of the best acts in the scene and loved all over British Columbia.
The Ballantynes have opened for soul and garage heavyweights like Lee Fields & The Expressions, Reigning Sound, The Oblivians, King Dude, and Roky Erickson. Frequently referred as dance hall fillers and party starters. Follow them at https://ballantynesband.com/bio/
Bear Mountain’s electro/dance style blends syncopated bass lines and synth chords with live instrumentation and soaring vocals to produce a style that is unmistakeably fresh and powerfully captivating. The band released their album BADU in 2016, their second or third if you count their EP Hopeful. Their live shows include trippy images. If you haven’t seen them yet, you are in for a treat.
Blending live instrumentation with fully immersive visual projections and lighting components, Bear Mountain (who take their name from Jack Kerouac’s 1958 novel The Dharma Bums) far surpass the parameters of a traditional indie band. While their highly rhythmic, vocally driven sound draws heavily upon a shared appreciation of house music and always keeps an ear to the dance floor, their atypical live show has been likened to performance art that seeks to awaken the senses and push the boundaries of the live experience indefinitely. Buy their stuff on Last Gang Records here.
The Black Halos
The Black Halos are a Vancouver, BC based punk rock band founded in 1993 by lead singer Billy Hopeless who also is known as Billy Bonito singer of the Bonitos and guitarist Rich Jones who now plays guitar with Michael Monroe. The Black Halos are a Vancouver punk legend with the attitude just comparable to the Stooges or the Sex Pistols. This year they went to Spain where they are heroes for the Back From the Grave Spanish Tour playing more than 10 dates. Needless to say they were a sensation. This is not the first band that is bigger in Europe than in Vancouver, which is sad because we have so many unappreciated bands here. The Black Halos don’t have that problem, a true Vancouver product for more than 20 years.
Listen to their 2 brand-new songs, the first new Black Halos music in 8 years and the first collaborations from founding members Rich Jones & Billy Hopeless in 15 years! Completing the line up are glam punk majesty Star Mafia Boy on guitar, Sue Gere on bass (Rockzilla, Warrior Soul) and Johnny Biscuit (Nancy Hole) on drums.
This psychedelic rock band have trascended our borders and almost achieved superstardom. Well, at least in Vancouver they can sell out the biggest venue with no problem. This year in April 2016, they released their fourth album aptly titled IV. The band is composed of Stephen McBean, Amber Webber, Matt Camirand, Jeremy Schmidt and Joshua Wells. Since forming in 2004, Black Mountain has released four LPs, Black Mountain (2005), In the Future (2008), Wilderness Heart (2010), and IV (2016), two EPs and a number of singles, mostly on the Jagjaguwar label.
The rock canon has many anti-heroes, Black Mountain being the latest. In the past…, Can’s ‘Tago Mago’ established that the only rule in rock and roll is that there are no rules. Delinquent proto-metallers Black Sabbath demonstrated that you can make a lot from not that much. Now Black Mountain teach us that you don’t have to be afraid of the past to move bravely into the future.
They were touring Europe and North America at the end of 2016 and they released in February the LP New Waste. Listen to it here. Pure energy.
Heavily motivated by Vancouver’s thick, heavy scene full of bands like Bison and 3 Inches of Blood ruling at the time, “The Wiz” was born. Having always followed a true DIY aesthetic, Black Wizard independently released two full-length LPs and a 7” single, selling over five thousand copies worldwide. Following their European tour 2015, they released their third LP titled “New Waste” on French label Listenable Records. An homage to their roots in New Westminster.
The Bone Daddies are a fixture of the Vancouver Ska scene, which really it is the scene with the best parties n the city. Bone Daddies is one of the de luxe members with their ska punk or in their other incarnation, the band called The Still Spirits.
Taking influences from a wide variety of musical genre’s including ska, reggae, swing, jazz, rockabilly and punk. The band has… created a sound that is familiar and yet distinctively unique. The Bone Daddies present a musical momentum that is hard not to get swept up in..
The Bone Daddies are believers of unity. Believers of a unified scene. Believers of breaking down genre barriers & creating music for all to embrace and enjoy. Our dancefloor is always your home.
Great videos with great concerts. Brass Action is part of the Ska scene in Vancouver that has produced many talented musicians. The Brass Action is a 6-piece independent band, a high-energy horn-driven punk at its finest! A wide variety of influences… and styles to the stage. Be prepared to dance, skank, mosh, sweat, and find out why they’re called The Brass Action. Listen to all their music here.
It took the sextet 4 years to release a new album since Mean Sun back in 2012. Brasstonaut is one of the finest bands in the city, blending jazz, rock pop and electronic music.
Their new album is out now and it is very likely that every time they release an album they will be included in the best of…… Vancouver.
Edo Van Breemen – vocals, keyboards
John Walsh – bass, guitar…
Brennan Saul – percussion
Tariq Hussain – lap steel, guitar
Sam Davidson – EWI, clarinet
Vocalist/keyboardist Edo Van Breemen said about their newest single Ravenshadow: How does one cope with earthly responsibilities in a world where his boss is a master of rave. Diving in and out of dungeons with subwoofers, laden thick with clouds of cigarette smoke, watching the sunrise to an orchestra of seagulls at the bottom of Clark Street near the Port of Vancouver. And then working on sci-fi movies for elusive suited men somewhere in this profession, but carrying on listlessly and loyally under the shroud of a rave shadow.
Cawama raised like boiling foam this year with their surf, punk pop garage music. The 4 piece is half Mexican and half Canadian and they are of course based in Vancouver. They were formed in 2013 by the Miron brothers who used to play for The Maneuver. They moved into forming CAWAMA. Vancouver now is taking a look at them.
Cawama can be translated as BIG beer of 1 litre. A caguama in Mexico is a one litre beer named like that because of its size, like a big turtle, the Caguama turtle. Maybe that is the reason YucaStereo and Radio Alicia have adopted the band playing their songs almost every show in 2016.
La Chinga can be loosely translated from Mexican Spanish as The Fuck. Their sound reflect their name. La Chinga is a hard rock power trio with psychedelic powers sitting on the worlds edge in Vancouver. Peddling the finest in rock n’ roll, psychedelic, stoner, doom, blues, hard rock, fuzz, metal, sludge, vintage 70’s style rawk, etc, since 1995!!! True, honest music, made by real, honest people.
They can play big venues or small ones where few venture to go in like the Savoy where they broke the bar’s record of capacity. Zeppelin, Sabbath, Dukes of Hazzard, Blue Cheer, Purple, Motorhead, its all there and its all new. If you were a 70s rocker this is going to be your new favourite band.
The hard rock power trio are Carl Spackler: Bass, Vocals, Ben Yardley: Guitars, Vocals, Jason Solyom: Drums.
Listen to their brand new album called Freewheelin’ here:
Eric Campbell and the Dirt.
The Dirt is a band that spumes and kicks and is powerfully loose and loosely powerful. Glam, Psych, Vintage Punk, Dirty Blues. The Dirt is Campbell (vocals, guitar), Erik Mulder (bass and guitar), Colby Morgan (drums), and Emily Bach (violin) Emily Haine on bass.
Eric Campbell was part of Vancouver band No Sinner, but it is no secret he had problems with singer/composer Colleen Rennison, he was exhausted with touring and being just the guitar player in the band, he needed to create his own music. So he formed The Dirt. A psychedelic folk mantra with a Western touch and an eerie violin, everything that Vancouver loves.
“Western Violence & Brief Sensuality” is the 2nd proffering from primal rocknroll outfit Eric Campbell & The Dirt. The album was recorded in the old house adjacent the Penthouse Nightclub, where the nightclub founders, the Filippones, lived in the 1940’s. For two months The Dirt toiled in these quarters, recording every drop, resulting in 80 hours of music. The 8 songs on the album feature the most focused moments of the sessions, though still retaining the thickness and limbo of the experience. The Dirt becomes the dusty sonic landscape of an old movie score to Eric Campbell’s twisted and romantic personal ruminations.
The Furniture is Johnny Wildkat, the amazing bass player from Mongoose, who lends The Furniture some kickass guitar. Lana Ryma, the previous drummer from ten days late and the No No Spots is now rocking out in The Furniture. The Lovely and talented Aramis Starfish on bass guitar and vocals wrapping it all up with lyrical cynicism and experience.
The Furniture is aiming towards the future of pop music, representing themselves with undeniable style and Indie rock sensibility. The songs are fused with strong melodies that always rock sometimes heavy and sometimes light. The Furniture are a Whammy nominated, post-punk pop trio who deliver heavy riffs, sweet vocals and a solid beat. Recently recorded at Warehouse Studio by Eric Mosher, this vibrant band is excited to have released their debut LP “It’s People” in Aug. 2016. Reminiscent of The Pixies, Nirvana and The Breeders, The Furniture reinvent the 90’s scene while delivering a truly original sound. Check out their great tunes here.
The Funk Hunters
Borrowing inspiration from classic funk and hip hop, The Funk Hunters are putting the soul back into electronic dance music. Having honed their craft at over 450 performances in 16 countries, the DJ duo’s show is a brilliant technical display of creative collaboration between 4 turntables. But words can’t do justice to two friends whose passion is dance floor mastery – breathless audiences at global festivals including Wakarusa, Burning Man, Rhythm & Vines, Shambhala, Ottawa Bluesfest, and Envision are the ultimate testament.
The Funk Hunters’ reverence for the roots of dance has also lead them into unique live collaborations, sometimes drawing on a cast of supporting musicians to add dimension to their signature sound. Most recently they toured North America with iconic rapper Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, who has called them “the selectah’s of the century!”
Based in Vancouver BC, Nick Middleton and Duncan Smith elevate their signature bass heavy sound with their own stunning custom-curated visuals and animated stage presence. Spend an evening with this charismatic duo and you’ll see that their lifestyle is as relaxed as the west coast, but their sound is global and booming.