BeatRouteBC’s “best of Vancouver” releases list prompted me to spend some time digging through 2016 releases from British Columbia. It seems only fair, since I dug into Saskatchewan’s list last week. I started with BeatRouteBC’s list, but certainly did not limit myself. I’m certain 1) that I’m missing a number of great releases from BC artists, and 2) that I will have omission regret after I posted this (since, as I’ve stated publicly, finite lists are hard for me). That, however, is a good problem: that means that British Columbia has a deep, vibrant music scene that will continue to surprise and delight. (Note: If you think we missed something, tweet it to us @greatdkwonder – we want to know about it!)
(Note: As with anything else we post here, if you like the music, please consider purchasing their albums if possible so they can continue to create terrific art.)
Angus Maude – Little Evenings, Long Nights
This is one of those wonderful albums that’s difficult to categorize – a bit alternative, a bit folk, somewhat electronic, somewhat acoustic… and that’s what makes it wonderful. I found this quite by accident on Bandcamp and am so glad I did. This is melodic songwriting with great singing; hopefully more people discover Angus’ music.
Black Mountain – IV
This album has been showing up on a number of end-of-year lists and after a good listen, I now understand why. By turns it reminds me of 1980s pop (“Florian Saucer Attack,” which has received quite a bit of airplay on SiriusXM’s The Verge) and 1970s Floydian prog rock (“Defector,” “Line Them All Up”). This will definitely become part of my car listening, without a doubt.
Brasstronaut – Brasstronaut
I stumbled across this one day when trolling through Bandcamp looking for new, interesting things. Brasstronaut’s self-titled album is both new and interesting in spades, and it’s been a frequent companion on my commute for the last month. Catchy tunes, great bass lines, and horns (this will be a constant theme in my picks, fair warning) – what’s not to like?
Gal Gracen – The Hard Part Begins
Thoughtful electronica with great singing and playing, this project’s only fault is its length – namely, its lack thereof. It was over way before I was ready. I could groove to “Turquoise Rings” all day (and, with the freezing rain today, I have ample opportunity). “Who Is Standing Behind the Door” is a delightful surprise with its 1950s flair.
James Green – Never Ready
This collection of folk rock songs with personal, self-deprecating lyrics is a great listen. (And with a spouse taking bass lessons, I’m more alert to great bass lines, and this album has a great bass sound.) A little blues, a little country, this album strikes me as an ideal companion for a quiet, snowy evening with a warming whiskey close to hand.
The Kwerks – Lights
Although this lovely little project (four songs) is billed as a holiday album, to my Scrooge ear the lyrics are not obviously holiday-focused. I’m always a sucker for folk music with prominent mandolin and awesome harmonies and this album delivers both, and beautifully. I dare you not to dance (even if it’s chair-dancing) to “Carry Me,” the project’s opening track.
Petunia and the Vipers – Dead Bird on the Highway
More horns! This project captures the listener’s ear right away with a bluesy, New Orleans-tinged sound that’s infectious. “Asaw Fofor” and “Chained” start off with tremendous blues riffs and don’t let go, while “My Heart Cries Out for You” has a definite 1950s feel (retro for all decades really seems to be ‘in’ this year).
The Prettys – Soiree
The cover of this album definitely takes me back to my 1970s childhood (it also reminds me a bit of the cover of Damien Robitaille’s “Homme autonome” project), and the sound also has that retro feel to it. “Friendship,” the project’s opening track, is truly catchy, and “Nothing’s Wrong (with me)” reminds me strongly of Charles Bradley and similar soul acts. This is a fun listen, without a doubt.
Supermoon – Playland
Another infectious set of tunes from Canada’s Left Coast. The group’s Twitter feed describes their sound as “moody fuzz pop” but this album does not seem at all moody to me – many of the songs are upbeat (to the point of getting stuck in my head, which is no bad thing). I will confess that I can’t stop listening to “Witching Hour” in particular, but this album will definitely get played again. A lot.
The Tourist Company – Apollo
I first heard this album via a prerelease stream and resolved to purchase it within two tracks (at most). Terrific string instrumentation, rhythms that are both danceable and complex (in meter, I mean), and beautiful singing characterize this project. You may have heard “Pedestals” on CBC Radio 2 or Verge; that’s a great, strong track but all the others are at least as good.