Sure—on the surface, the Vancouver music scene looks like it’s in a bit of a bind. Seminal venues like the Railway Club have closed, edgy art spaces are constantly challenged by government permits, and various rehearsal spots are experiencing financial difficulties.
Resourceful as we West Coasters are, however, that hasn’t stopped the city from incubating a whole roster of top artists.
The home of names like Black Mountain, Japandroids, and D.O.A., Vancouver might be an intimidating place for fledgling bands to carve a niche—but, as these five up-and-coming groups prove, there’s still plenty of fish in the talent pool. Putting out some of the most exciting and innovative music in the past 12 months (and not just by local standards), each of these artists are ready to make their mark on Vancouver in 2017.
Punk up-and-comers Sore Points’s self-titled demo might have been recorded in just four days, but don’t let that fool you. Laying down eight blistering tracks—seven of which clock in at under two minutes—Sore Points’s furious and relentless strumming is tighter than a fifth-grader’s ginch. Displaying a raw authenticity that harks back to punk’s London inception in the late 1970s, Sore Points’s playing might be aggressive, but the group’s tracks boast a complexity and variation that belies the genre’s three-chord reputation. With the trio planning to press a new 45 RPM in the spring and organize a slew of shows for the coming months, expectations are suitably high.
Masters of the atmospheric soundscape, Evy Jane—comprised of singer Evelyn Jane Mason and producer Jeremiah Klein—has come a long way since its self-titled 2012 debut. Gathering momentum with 2014’s LP Closer and inking an arrangement with King Deluxe for last year’s Breaking, the duo has made sure its rich sound continues to reach bigger audiences. Merging Klein’s deep keyboard swells with Mason’s breathy vocals, Evy Jane’s latest music is a beautiful tangle of patterns and textures, sitting on the cutting edge of contemporary R&B. With a history of playing alternative art shows in Vancouver, the pair boast live performances that often feature an interplay of vocals and instrumentals, and new dates could include a virtual reality video. Because—and you might have to take our word for this—VR can actually be used for things other than porn.
Adrian Teacher and the Subs
After self-releasing music for over a decade, Adrian Teacher might not know much about managing an eighth-grade classroom, but he does know a fair bit about writing a good indie track. And, if his latest album Terminal City is anything to go by, it’s all about catchy hooks, breezy guitar riffs, and hyper-local lyrics. A witty satirist and true Vancouverite, Teacher’s verses explore everything from Emily Carr punks, Hastings Street’s Victory Square, and the Salish Sea. No stranger to success—the musician’s album Mount Benson was nominated for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize—Teacher’s latest venture with bandmates the Subs, a three-track cassette featuring the vibrant track “Flowers in my Eyes”, proves the group is ready for a bigger stage. Or a new union deal.
Formed of members from Open Letters, GSTS!, Oh No! Yoko, Little Wild, and Casinos—bands that have previously supported Juno Award-winning artists Said the Whale and KEN mode—Blessed is as close to as Vancouver gets to an underground supergroup.
Recently wrapping a three month, 65-date tour that crossed the entirety of North America, the four-piece not only has a first-class booking agent, but a sound to back it up. Releasing its self-titled debut album in May last year, Blessed’s tight, heavy, and unpredictable guitar riffs breathe new life into post-punk by juxtaposing the genre’s angular melodies with sharp shifts in dynamics. Blending elements of atonality and experimental noise with complex lyrics, Blessed has a mature command of songwriting—and, most importantly, an unrivalled work ethic. Because it takes real commitment to spend 90 days in a van with three other sweaty humans.
Despite finding success composing in an alt-folk singer-songwriter style, Alea Rae Clark has spent the last two years moving into new territory. After recruiting a permanent drummer and bassist to help remodel her sound, the New West native is now capturing fresh fans under the name Douse. Crafting a rich, mournful indie, the trio recently launched their first album The Light in You Has Left to much acclaim. Perfectly marrying dark vocals with arpeggiated guitar riffs, powerful melodic basslines, and emotive soundscapes, Douse somehow makes heartbreak sound catchy.
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