BeatRoute’s Best Vancouver Releases of 2016

Thursday 08th, December 2016 / 13:33
By Heather Adamson, Glenn Alderson, David Cutting, Joshua Erickson, Alex Hudson, Erin Jardine, Jennie Orton and Vanessa Tam


1 – Gal Gracen – The Hard Part Begins (DISNY Records)

The Hard Part Begins is seductive and sensual with gauzy guitars and gentle drum machines that are strewn with lo-fi synth and plinky MIDI piano. Forays into toe-tapping dream pop, theatrical balladry and twangy spaghetti western are nestled within a cloud of hazy reverb. At the centre of this New Age daydream is singer Patrick Geraghty, whose trembling baritone simultaneously evokes cheeky schmaltz and aching melancholy. Sadness has never sounded sexier. (AH)

2 – Evy Jane – Breaking (King Deluxe)

Releasing this debut LP seemingly out of the blue, the title track opens with Evy Jane’s hauntingly beautiful voice floating in over orchestral instrumentals produced by collaborator Jeremiah Klein. Having been waiting since 2012 for new music from the pair, they have pleasantly delivered on all fronts. (VT)

3 – Spectres – Utopia (Deranged)

Moody and atmospheric, Spectres have delivered another timeless post punk offering. Just the right amount of goth undertones with a nod to Christian Death, Utopia is the sound of a band we’ve come to know and love, a band who continue to hide in the shadows of Vancouver like extras on the set of Lost Boys. (GA)

4 – Black Mountain – IV (Jagjaguwar)

IV is a vast album, boldly coming at you with an eight-minute opening track and basically keeping the drama at that level the whole time. IV is the soundtrack to your desert fever dream — crunchy, synthy, expansive and relentless. Not for the faint of heart. (JO)

5 – Daniel Terrence Robertson – Death (Heavy Lark)

Finding grace in the comfort of song, Daniel Terrence Robertson’s stark debut is a beautiful exploration of life, love, mortality and religion. These eight heart-wrenching and haunting piano-driven ballads will definitely make you feel some type of way. (GA)

6 – Anciients – Voice of the Void (Season Of Mist)

Anciients build tension within their instrumentals very effectively throughout this sophomore opus. Tons of riffage within a solid structure of songs, with the right amount of raw emotion, felt more in the guitar lines than the vocals. They travelled a darker road this time around, drawing in new attention that this band deserves. (EJ)

7 – Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION Side B (Interscope/School Boy)

2016 was kinda meh for pop music, but in an eager reprise Carly Rae Jepsen stepped forward and gently reminded us how it’s done right. Again. On Side B she endeavors to revitalize that fuzzy ’80s feeling of romance and illusory vibes.  This homegrown talent is the queen of pop and queen of our hearts. (DC)

8 – So Loki – V (Owake Records)

Matching their carefully distributed debut EP, V, with equally specific ways to physically experience the record within the city, So Loki is looking to make an impact on Vancouver with their progressive hip-hop lyrics and production style. And without any exaggeration, they’ve totally succeeded. (VT)

9 – White Lung – Paradise (Domino)

White Lung are as fierce as ever, but things sound different on their fourth LP, Paradise. With the risk of alienating their core fan base, Mish Barber-Way trades in her raw growling vocals for a more polished singing style and the risk pays off. White Lung have always sounded sharp, but Paradise just cuts deeper. (JE)

10 – Art D’ecco – Day Fevers (Your Face)

This album is eyebrow-raisingly good; a self-reflective journey, a heroes wandering through a glammy abyss. A lot like what would happen if T-Rex did a duet with Orbison in Venus’s best-kept-secret underground Euro pop club. (JO)

11 – The Evaporators – Ogopogo Punk (Mint)

Everyone’s favourite Human Serviette is back with his band of merrymakers, The Evaporators. After suffering a stroke earlier in the year, Nardwuar has returned in fine form. With track titles like “I Can’t Be Shaved” and “Mohawks & Dreadlocks,” The Evaporators’ wit is still intact, their hooks are hooky and they’re just as goofy. (JE)

12 – Cheap High – Subterranean Suburbia (Dipstick)

Coming from Abbotsford, Cheap High are familiar with the hell that suburbia brings. The group boils down those experiences into a tense and seething beast of a record. Cheap High channel cues from bands such as Protomartyr, Joy Division and The Smiths, and are further proof of the well of talent the Fraser Valley holds. (JE)

13 – James Green – Never Ready (Independent)

Honest and pure, James Green’s Never Ready is an ode to the working class of sorts, but without ever coming off too somber to pick you up after a long day on the job. Somewhere between Bill Callahan and Tom Petty, Green has found his own voice and it’s accompanied by a perfect blend of country, folk and rock ‘n’ roll. (GA)

14 – Supermoon – Playland (Mint Records)

Uniquely formatted as a double 7”, Playland consists of eight short, snappy indie pop ditties. Fun and lovably off-kilter, the women of Supermoon spike their cotton-candy-sweet melodies with hints of dissonance and melancholy. (AH)

15 – Hot Hot Heat – Hot Hot Heat (Culvert)

A lighthearted ode to a journey towards closure, the songs on this farewell LP run the gamut of exploring the act of growing apart to the gentle prettiness that exists within the new; all presented as happy ditties that would be very at home pulsing out of a portable radio in the basket of a fixie on Third Beach. (JO)

16 – Adrian Teacher & the Subs – Terminal City (You’ve Changed Records)

Adrian Teacher may have disbanded Apollo Ghosts, but he’s still doing what he does best: writing concise indie rock ditties full of catchy hooks and local references. His latest is a playfully scathing commentary on gentrification. (AH)

17 – No Sinner – Old Habits Die Hard (Mascot Records)

Giving us the dose of feminine strength, resolve, empowerment and badass take-no-prisoners edge so many of us are yearning for in rock ‘n’ roll, this album simultaneously delivers a swift dagger to the heart while daring you to dance on the bar. (HA)

18 – Jay Arner – Jay II (Mint Records)

Having collaborated with countless Vancouver bands over the years, pop auteur Jay Arner keeps getting better. The outstanding Jay II is full of good-natured jokes, but the overwhelming mood is one of glum existentialism. Whistle along while contemplating the void. (AH)

19 – Black Wizard – New Waste (Listenable Records)

These New Westminster boys are growing up and exploring the potential within the soulful end of stoner rock to the point where some interludes could be described as a ballad. Not to be written off as soft though, New Waste brings forth some seriously sophisticated riffs. (EJ)

20 – Astrakhan – Reward in Purpose (War On Music / Sunmask)

Reward in Purpose commences with a slow build of tension with ten-minute song, “Omajod,” a nod to Astrakhan’s roots in doom and sludge. Powerful, clean harmonies pepper this album, polishing the sound as uniquely their own. (EJ)

21 – Petunia & the Vipers – Dead Bird On the Highway (Independent)

Gritty, soulful and strange, this album is an all-together riveting expression shrouded in relative darkness, including covers from generations of yesteryear while providing a spin on contemporary avant-country. (HA)

22 – Sex With Strangers – Discourse (Northern Light)

Dark and brooding electronic post rock to take you in to the night; Sex With Strangers found their groove a long time ago but continue down a path of synthesized submission. In a lot of ways Discourse is all over the map genre-wise, but who really wants to stay in once place when you’re doing it with randoms anyway? (GA)

23 – Eric Campbell & The Dirt – Western Violence & Brief Sensuality (Independent)

Dirty psych rock in all its glory. Spinning tales as old as time of life on the road, it’s all about digging the realness and forgetting about everything else. Just get lost in it, you can’t over-think this music or it loses its magic. (HA)

24 – Douse – The Light In You Has Left (Independent)

Easy-going art-rock band Douse are building on their folksy bones with their debut full length offering, The Light in You Has Left. Heavily filtered guitars and vocals float over synth chords and play with tension throughout the album making for a dynamic listen from beginning to end. (VT)

25 – The Prettys – Soiree (Independent)

When I hear “soirée,” I think of hors d’oeuvres and long-stemmed wine glasses. The Prettys’ rockin’ album Soiree, on the other hand, is the kind of party that’s characterized by raiding your parents’ liquor cabinet and barfing on the lawn. (AH)

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