Sunday, December 20, 2015

Beautiful Sounding Echoes

Folk-Pop duo, The Echos, create a hauntingly beautiful musical experience when you see them live. They have a well arranged, very current sound full of memorable harmonies, full band instrumentation, and lots of energy. It's very easy to become static on stage, especially when tied to a mic stand for the whole set. However, this duo, Nicole Broughton and Jess Cichos, (+ backing musicians), did an exceptional job of keeping people on their toes - in some cases, literally! Although the dance floor wasn't full (the event was hosted at the Roxy after all... Infamously known for packing in the crowds after the local talent plays), they had every patron in the place's eyes on them, head's bobbing and feet tapping during their set. Put this group in any slot; opening, middle, headlining or during a festival, they'll be sure to entertain!

Some of the most memorable moments of the night, for me, were when songs, "Blue" and "All is Quiet", were played. Having listened to both songs on their Soundcloud previously, I knew I was in for something Vancouver hasn't heard a lot of - well thought out, folk-pop inspired, vocal harmonies and instrumentation. I was most intrigued to hear what they would sound like with a full band behind them. Needless to say, the live interpretations of these songs far surpass the audio recordings. The quality and technical ability seem to have heightened tremendously while being performed live and accompanied by an additional drummer, keyboardist, guitarist and bassist. Another memorable moment was when the Christmas cover came out. Within seconds, every member of the band was decked in bells, hats, reindeer horns, and even a full costume switch into a santa suit on their drummer! The guitarist, throughout the set, took a few chosen opportunities to descend from the stage and rock in the crowd with those who braved the front lines of the dance floor.

All in all, it was a memorable performance. One I look forward to seeing again in the future as this band continues to grow and blossom into an even more well-oiled machine. Give them a year or two at this pace and they'll be headlining every show on the strip. For now, they were a perfect pairing to place between the other two acts of the night, Andre Chrys, and scene veteran, Taylor Skelton with his new band line-up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

These Roads

Jake Touzel is primed and ready to drop this beast of an album. A little bit blues, a little bit country but a whole lot of bad ass! You can't help but nod your head to the pounding drums. Jake's voice just sits in your ears like a fine whiskey that your just sipping and enjoying on a cold winter night. Be sure to grab the whole album "Bad Faith" on his CD release show on December 26th at Studio Records.

Check out his Facebook page HERE. Find the event page HERE.

Cries Of Your Sins

Check out their Facebook page HERE.

Support Torrefy's New Album!

Torrefy has left the studio after having completed the recording of their second album "The Infinity Complex". In order to help us cover the cost of the mastering process and the printing of the physical albums, we have put together this Kickstarter campaign. This gives you, the Torrefans, a chance to support us directly by helping fund the post production process. In return you will be one of the first people to thrash out to your own physical copy of "The Infinity Complex", set to be released early 2016.
Your 10 dollar contribution will be equal to the cost of the finished product that you will receive hot off the press and exclusive to you. 
Playing music is our passion but it doesn't pay the bills. So, we are turning to you, our loyal friends and fans, and asking for your support.   

December Rez Blues

Our final REZ BLUEZ of the year will be on Friday, December 11th, back at the Fairview Pub.

Opening our DECEMBER REZ BLUEZ is the always fabulous DALANNAH GAIL BOWEN and OWEN OWEN OWEN, who were finalists in the 2015 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee. This dynamic duo get to the core and soul of the blues as soon as they hit the stage.

THE MURRAY PORTER BAND will close out the night with their foot stompin', hip shakin' blues. The always entertaining HELENE DUGUAY will be on bass, and singing a few memorable songs as well. We also have RICK BOULTER on wailin' guitar, with our drummer TBA.

As the Holiday Season is difficult for a lot of Young Families, Youth & Children, we be accepting donations for the Broadway Youth Resource Centre, which they will distribute to their clients. Please bring a donation of:
- Warm Clothing - sweaters, socks, etc.
- Toys for Younger Children up to age 12
- Non-perishable food items
**PLEASE NOTE: Donations can also be dropped off at SALMON N' BANNOCK on 1128 West Broadway...the best in Indigenous Cuisine!

Doors open: 8:00 pm
Music from: 9:30 pm - 1:00 am
All tickets: $15 at the door

898 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC

Hammer Records Relaunch - January 8th @ Studio Records

Check out the event page HERE.
Buy tickets in advance HERE and save $5!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Force To Be Reckoned With!

I've seen Dragonforce a few times before, but nothing like at the Vogue. From start to finish it was a show. No drunken antics, No sour notes, no falling over. I was even surprised because there was no super fancy lights, just their amps, and good old fashioned power metal! It was so bare bones compared to previous times I had seen them. I think it suited them well as they put on a killer high energy performance! They ended their set with Ring Of Fire and just KILLED IT. Such a great cover and just the perfect way to end their time in Vancouver. 

#VancouverMusicians Ep.12 - Modern Day Poets

#VancouverMusicians Ep.11 - Dark Stone

Check out our interview with Dark Stone!

Quite Poetic

Modern Day Poets’ up beat high energy riffs, champion musicianship, and hearty stage presence make them strong dynamic performers to watch for within Vancouver’s thriving live music scene. The Roxy’s very own live sound engineer Cole, who was manning the helm presented a balanced and pleasing overall house mix, distinctly characterizing MDP’s Quiet/ Loud/ Quiet song formula. A strategy that is working very much in favour for this four piece modern day rock band. 

Make It With You by beloved Queens of The Stone Age was the only song they covered throughout their entire nine song set. Jina’s vocals opened up with robust personality on the third chorus, thanks to a healthy vocal accompaniment from bassist Ryan Z. 
With co-founder Billy McAloney on drums, this tight rhythm section dialled into what works and locked it down throughout the show. Offering brother and co-founder Bobby McAloney a perfect canvas to layer his sweeping guitar leads over one sweet lick at a time. 

Newest member and front-woman Jina Anika personally engages with the crowd, highlighting a fun and authentic stage persona. Her comfort zone seems to live within improvising and ad-libbing. Her go-go dancing background feeds this organic free-flowing body movement and is liberating to watch. The song Going got a few more people onto their feet and into the party mood. She awarded free drink tickets to the best dancers who braved the seated onlookers. This only encouraged those firmly planted to sharing in laughter and applause right where they sat. Jina then jumped off-stage during an instrumental section to dance and mingle with those who got the hint to get off their butts and join in. Not a break went by without exuding her love and gratitude for those who showed up. Thanking the humble fan-base between songs and plugging the band’s latest single This City, which is currently being supported by their first official video found on youtube. 

It was during their final song Bomb that we heard a glimpse into the raw potential of Jina’s voice. If they keep progressing at this pace, then it is only a matter of time before her vocal tone is soaring open and free with the eagles. 

What was a bit surprising however, was how they wrapped their set up on a somewhat serious, yet inspiring spoken word message, “…In this world full of hate… Change your mind. Change your self. Change your fate.”

A post performance meet and greet was a brilliant promotional opportunity to hook fans up with wrist bands containing a free download code off for said single. There is much to be said for the sheer chops and business savvy of this relatively young band. Less than a year old MDP is still in their early days. With so much more to come, we’ll be watching out for this band for sure.

-Mark Writes

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ellice Blackout @ Studio Records

Danha puts the ROX in ROXY!

Danha is made up of talented, professional, passionate musicians. They always put on an incredible performance. I popped into the Roxy and it was the best I've ever heard the band. The vocals were so crisp and clear, they soared over everything. The bass was so rich and thick that you could feel it in your body. The guitar was so larger than life, I swear John Pettrucci or Steve Vai were playing. The drums were crisp that could hear every little detail in the beats. Hearing the drum solo almost made me march across to Tom Lee and buy myself a drum kit!

Check out more photos HERE. and Check out Danha's Facebook page HERE.

#VancouverMusicians is back! First up, Bridges To Royal

We wanted to start doing more interviews with bands. So we put out the invitation and had a bunch of responses! Thanks to everyone who is sharing the videos. Check out this video with Bridges To Royal!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Light Within The Blackness

This is the second year in a row Switch To Black has competed in the Best In Vancouver competition.  This year though they made it to the finals. Upon hearing the band's debut EP, I was impressed with their sound. The big question always remains, does their live performance do their album justice? When we witnessed their show at Studio Records, our fears were put to rest as they just BLEW away the show. 

Opening bands always face the huge problem of having to perform early which means a lot of their fans don't make it out to the venue in time to catch their set. Switch To Black didn't have this problem at all. Studio Records was busy front to back from the time they started their set, by the time they finished their set it was PACKED. Their enormous sound filled the venue from the first note. Their ferocity up on that stage drew everyones eyes front and centre. There entire set was full of dynamics, punch, and a sense of fun that a lot of bands just can't bring to the stage. From a producers perspective you can tell that Switch To Black knows their music to the point where its just second nature. Which really allows them to put their entire brain towards performance. 

I strongly believe in a few years, this will be one of Vancouver strongest bands if they continue down the path they are crafting right now. We managed to capture a segment of their performance above. Be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for new material from Switch To Black. Check out their Facebook page HERE.

I give them 4/5 hammers. Keep rocking guys!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dust Off Those Cards, Bring Out The Aces!

There are those certain genres that sometimes you forget about. The ones that don't hit the airwaves as much as they should. Jazz, Black Metal, Disco, and even Ska are genres that don't see the light of day enough. Then there is Rockabilly. There was a time it was the most popular music out there. There are whole venues, festivals, and societies dedicated to the Rockabilly lifestyle. The greats such as Elvis, Johnny Cash, Bill Haley and Jerry Lee Lewis were all influenced and popularized Rockabilly music. It is one of the funniest genres to listen and to dance to!

The Dusty Aces are bringing Rockabilly back to Vancouver. You can see a lot of the "older" bands play in random bars across the city, but these boys are taking it to a whole new level. The look is fantastic, their suit and tie really shows that they are taking this seriously as well as playing in the genre. Their fast paced tunes catch your ear right away. The singer's quirky smile just warms your heart as his guitar lines shred their way into your soul. Speaking of shredding, the guitar solos are just  out of this world! The thick bouncing bass lines allowed for the music to have the classic Rockabilly feel but also pushed the songs forward with a great driving force. The drums kept things ever changing as new beats and layers were constantly introduced. When the band went full blast, their sound was huge!

At times they seemed to fall out of sync with each other, maybe it was the mix in the monitors, but at times their stops and starts just didn't line up. The whole set was pretty loose and raw, so with some tightening up they will not only have the speed but the precision to take their set to the next level. They had some great covers in their repertoire which filled out their set. 

Be sure to check these guys out at one of their upcoming gigs. These guys have the sound that can fill a small bar, but also a huge casino or festival stage. Their Facebook link is HERE.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Who Is The Best In Vancouver?

Rednyne Productions and The Live Agency are proud to present the 2015 Best In Vancouver Finals november 21st at Studio Records. 

Your top 4 bands are: Kaslo, Carousel Scene, Switch To Black & On The Run.

Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. 19+ to enter.
Doors at 7:30PM, 8:00PM show.

Molson Canadian Draft and Bottles are only $5.25 for all of The Best In Vancouver concert dates.

Top Prize Fully recorded and produced single at The Beat Lab, produced by Tommy Mac of the band Hedley. Professional Image consultation, also a promo and media shoot by Branston Photography. Full consultation and development with LCE Music. Optional 5 show agency deal with The Live Agency.

Second prize: A Song Recorded, Mixed and Mastered at Nimbus School Of Recording & Media. Optional 5 show agency deal with The Live Agency.

Third Prize: Fully produced song with Danny Craig Productions. full Website by Artropolis Media. Optional 5 Show Agency deal with The Live Agency.

We would like to thank our partners:

Nimbus School of Recording and Media:

The Beat Lab Studio`s:

LCE Music:

Branston Photography:

Artropolis Media:

Studio Records

Danny Craig Productions

The Live Agency

Hammer Records interviewed all the bands, as well as Kevin the creator of the Best In Vancouver competition. Check out the interviews for the bands as follow:

Kevin (Rednyne/The Live Agency/Studio Records): Best In Vancouver: Top 4 Announced!

Best In Vancouver Top 4: On The Run

On The Run made the top 4 in the Best In Vancouver competition. An awesome feat for a relatively new band. Had a chat with Dan about the bands strategies for the upcoming show!

James: How did it feel to make top 4?
On The Run: We are stoked to be apart of the competition let alone make the finals.Studio has a great feel to it!

James: How are you going to make the finals different from your last show?
On The Run: We are switching up our set a little bit but I won't say to much. You gotta come out to see!

James: What was your favourite moment during your show in the Best In Vancouver competition?
On The Run: Seeing our friends and family dance to your music.

James: What is your favourite aspect about winning the Best In Vancouver competition?
On The Run: The chance to get into the studio and record some new tracks!

Check them out on Nov 21st at Studio Records. Details HERE.

Best In Vancouver Top 4: Carousel Scene

Carousel Scene is quickly making a scene! Making their name known and establishing themselves in the Vancouver music scene. Be sure to check out the video above to hear them rocking out in a Van! We had a few words about their feelings of being in the top 4.
James: How did it feel to make top 4? Carousel Scene: Humbling. It is an amazing feeling to know that the judges rated our music and performance high enough to beat the other 27 bands, but most importantly, because of the amount of support we've been getting from friends from the very start and new fans alike!
James: How are you going to make the finals different from your last show? C.S: We will put our previous BIV performance to shame with our finals appearance; we will be showcasing a bit of our new direction and we plan on making ourselves a very difficult act to follow (if we don't luck out with the draw).
James: What was your favourite moment during your show in the Best In Vancouver competition? C.S: You know that exact moment where you realize that the whole venue is locked in and paying 100% attention to your band on stage? That one.
James: What is your favourite aspect about winning the Best In Vancouver? C.S We've hardly won anything yet, but for us in the band who basically breathe, eat and sh*t music, the recognition from fans, friends and colleagues alike is an amazing feeling.
Don't miss the finals on Nov 21st at Studio Records. Details HERE.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Heavy Metal At The JUNOs.

Hammer had a great chat with JP Wood about the new category in the JUNOs. This opens up so many possibilities and opportunities to many artists.

1) Can you explain the new category?

Starting back at the beginning, the Juno awards were founded in 1970.  Finally in 1991, with the introduction of a category called ‘Hard Rock/Metal’, both styles were recognized as legitimate genres of music by the Juno Awards.  In 1992, after one year, the term ‘Metal’ was unfortunately dropped from the award and from 1992-1996 and various nominees included Neil Young, The Odds, I Mother Earth and Alanis Morisette.  The category of ‘Hard Rock Album of the Year’ was cancelled in 1997.

Then we entered the dark times (1997-2011) where Canada’s national awards program did not recognize Metal.  Sadly, we were one of the only nations in the civilized world without a Metal category in their national music award program.  Frankly it was embarrassing.   While Metal bands like Watain are winning their national awards in Sweden (The Grammi) or Dimmu Borgir in Norway (The Spelleman) or Slayer in America (The Grammy) or Scorpions in Germany (the Echo) Canada isn’t even running a Metal category! 

Back in 2000, I personally petitioned (unsuccessfully) to reintroduce the award but to their credit, CARAS they did entertain my proposal for which I am grateful!  Flash-forward to 2011 and current Chair of the Metal committee, my friend Sean Palmerston, successfully worked with CARAS and the Junos to reintroduce a category called ‘Metal/Hard Music’.   There was much rejoicing.   Even though Metal was still mixed with various lighter music genres it was a start.   Thanks to Sean, Metal was back in the game! 

2) How did this change come to pass, why now?

It was a combination of timing and effort by a number of hard working dedicated people from across the country.  From my own involvement I was asked to be a judge for the award for the first year and by 2012 I was invited to sit on the Metal Committee. I had always pushed for a clarification of the definition of the category, which was so broad and inclusive you might have well said,  ‘If you have an electric guitar in your band you can go in this new category’.   Between 2012 and 2015 there was some controversy and dissension in the Metal community about the type of award, quality of bands, and genres of bands participating and being nominated.  I had always been fairly vocal about giving Metal it’s own category apart from genres like punk, grunge, alternative, hard rock and rock.  You would not believe some of the bands we had submitting to the Metal/Hard Music category…even a hip-hop band!   The category was so broad that the committee really had to screen out many bands that just were not appropriate for the category. We needed to tighten it up. 

Last year the committee petitioned CARAS to redefine the category to strictly Metal. Spearheaded by myself, the committee wrote and edited a long, long letter to CARAS explaining why we felt that Metal is a unique and distinct genre and should not be mixed in with those other genres, ‘just because’ they are vaguely heavy compared to other types of music. That is like saying folk and music and country music are the same because they might both have a fiddle in the band.

CARAS read the proposal and said, ‘We need more information before we make a decision’.  We sent some more info, refined the category definition and waited…and waited.   It was nail-biting but then the good news came.  I remember it clearly. It was around lunch-time on September 29th, 2015 (a Tuesday) and I was at work.  I checked my messages and when I read the good news I nearly jumped out of my seat.  A couple of my co-workers looked at me funny when I was doing my victory ‘fist-pumps’ in the lunchroom!    For the first time in 45 years (since 1970) Canada now has a strictly and exclusively Metal category called ‘Heavy Metal Album Of The Year’.  It was the culmination of several years of work, victory was ours! 

I just want summarize all this above background by saying I do not want to paint a picture CARAS or the Juno’s as adversarial or non-co-operative.  Quite the opposite!  Everyone in Toronto was supportive and encouraging.  However, as the national music industry association they have a responsibility to ensure that the Metal Committee had good accurate information and that the award was viable and sustainable. They had to make sure that we were not ‘just’ a bunch of over-enthusiastic head-bangers with no industry experience or credibility.  We could not have done it without CARAS. It is also interesting to note that last year the US split their Hard Rock/Metal category for the Grammy Award into distinct categories as well. 

3) Who will be reviewing your music?

There is a large pool of judges, men and women of all ages from across the country.  We have radio people, people who work in record stores, journalists, promoters, agents, publicists, band members, record label owners and so on.   The Metal Committee submit a pool of names of people we feel would be good, knowledgeable judges.  Then a judge selection group invites the judges. We (the metal Committee) do not know who the voting judges are and we do not get to vote.  The judges sign a confidentiality agreement and their names are only revealed after Juno week.  A big accounting firm runs the process so it is a secret ballot audited by professionals.   So to answer your question…I am not allowed to know who the judges are but I do know that they are true Metal fans!  I can tell you past judges have been cool Metal people like author Martin Popoff (Toronto), Tim Henderson of Brave Words Magazine (Toronto), Terese Fleming of the Noctis Valkyries Festival (Calgary), Geoff Waye of (St. John’s), Adrien Begrand of Decibel Magazine (Saskatoon), and dozens more.  These people know Metal! 

4) Is this reachable for any artist?

Yes!!  Any Metal band independent to bands on a major label can submit. We strongly encourage independent bands to compete and it is important to note this category is NOT based on sales or labels it is strictly based on artistic merit. 

5) Do you think more abstract genres will gain their own award given time?

Maybe but probably not for a few technical reasons.  There are literally hundreds of sub-genres and sub-sub-genres in every form of music.    How many awards can we give out and how small can the pool of competition get?  Speaking strictly in terms of Metal we could, in theory, divide it into the dozen main sub-genres (Death Metal, Black Metal, Power Metal, Thrash Metal, Progressive Metal, Doom Metal, Folk Metal etc, etc, etc ) and then again into 5-10 sub-sub-genres within each of those!  At what point does it become irrelevant to say, “The Award for the best French-speaking, neo-classical, symphonic, progressive, Power Metal band’ goes to…” and the pool of contenders were about six bands?    Does everyone automatically get to make the playoffs?  I’m not convinced yet. 

In the future I could theoretically see the current category split into ‘Extreme Metal’ and ‘Mainstream Metal’, maybe split along the lines clean singing, vs. harsh vocals or something but we don’t want to open that can of worms, we want to savour this current victory and prove we can do it.

One last point, there are already over 40 categories of awards…already Juno week is (naturally) seven days AND the ceremonies Saturday (non-televised) and Sunday (televised) combined run about eight hours. Can you imagine how long it would take (not to mention logistics and money) to organize and run 80, 90 or even 100 little unique categories?  It is almost prohibitive because hypothetically in the year 2032 after Day 17 of the Juno Awards Month people would start to lose interest and the meaning and prestige of the award would loose validity.  

I am NOT speaking for the committee at this point but I think my next personal realistic goal is to create a Juno Metal live band /concert showcase perhaps consisting of nominees for each city during Juno week and after that maybe try to get the Metal award presented at the live ceremony on Sunday. 

Thanks for your support!!  The deadline to submit is Friday, November 13th, 2015 and you can go to  The more bands that submit the stronger our category becomes! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Peak Performance Project Top Three: Van Damsel

After witnessing Van Damsel at Imperial we weren't surprised to hear their named announced in the top 3 of the Peak Performance Project. Their stage presence, song writing, and overall musicianship is brilliant. We had a few words with them about the competition and their thoughts on being in the Top 3.

James: How has the competition been so far?
Van Damsel: Khatsalano was one of our favourite shows of the summer. Bootcamp was unforgettable. The challenges and final report have been a lot of work, but we’ve been steadily working on them for months now. Our showcase was a lot of fun (the sound at Fortune was fantastic as always).
But ya know, after being immersed in it for the last 5 months, it feels more like a community than a competition. We’ve made some great friendships over the course of the project that we wouldn’t otherwise had the chance to. Obviously we’re being pit against 12 other bands so there is a sense of competition, but it feels more like you’re competing against yourself since you gotta up your own game to succeed – like real life.
James: How does it feel to be announced as one of the top 3?
Van Damsel: They announced us last, again (like they did for the Top 12 announcement) and just like the first time our hearts were pounding, palms sweaty…those unique but all too familiar feelings. You can believe in yourself and all the work you’ve put in, but goddamn they took our emotions through the wringer waiting it out like that.
Relief, excitement, happiness.
James: What do you think of the idea of battle of the bands and their influence on the music scene?
Van Damsel: We’ve been in a few competitions over the years – we even won our local battle of the bands in Kamloops a few years back. It’s exciting and the exposure and prizes can help bands out immensely. It’s almost a rite of passage and can give bands the confidence to keep pushing further.
James: How does the peak performance project differ than other battle of the bands? Van Damsel: It’s a professional development program. Like a battle of the bands, it puts you on the radio and on big stages and there are judges at your showcase performance, but it also teaches you SO MUCH about the music industry. They help to develop your live show, your songs, your social media, your brand, and your business.

Catch their final performance at the Commodore Ballroom on November 19th!

Best In Vancouver Top 4: Switch To Black

When I heard the EP, watched their new music video, and had a quick chat with the band. I knew that this band meant business. They were young but serious about their craft. We were enthralled to hear that they made Top 4 in the Best in Vancouver competition. We had to chat with Curtis again about their advancement in the competition.

James: How did it feel to make top 4?
Curtis: Absolutely amazing! We haven’t felt this good since Grade 9 when we won our high school talent show.
Out of all the great acts participating in Best in Vancouver, we were very surprised and thankful to be chosen to continue to the finals.

James:How are you going to make the finals different from your last show?
Curtis: We’ll definitely change up our setlist to go out with a bang! Expect more hard-rocking, head-banging energy than ever before.

James: What was your favourite moment during your show in the Best In Vancouver competition?
Curtis: Probably jumping into the crowd during 'Who Am I Now’ and getting a hug from my big sister Alex, who came over from Victoria just for the show.

James: What is your favourite aspect about winning the Best In Vancouver?
Curtis: The opportunity to work with these amazing musicians and mentors, helping us to take our music to the next level and reach out to more fans.

Be sure to check out the finals at Studio Records on November 21st!

Best In Vancouver Top 4: Kaslo

We loved seeing Kaslo rock out on stage during the competition. When we heard that they had made Top 4 we weren't surprised. Their level on musicianship allowed their songs to really flow on stage. We had another chat about their experience in the competition so far!

James: How did it feel to make top 4? Kaslo: It was a huge honour. We made it out to a bunch of first round shows and heard lots of great bands; we know how stiff the competition was just to make it this far!
James:How are you going to make the finals different from your last show? Kaslo: We have a different setlist this time around: the live debut of a bad-ass new original, and maybe even one of our favourite covers.
James: What was your favourite moment during your show in the Best In Vancouver competition? Kaslo: We usually try to end our sets with something the audience can sing along with, and on that night they were loud as hell! We're lucky to have played to such a keen crowd, who weren't afraid to get involved.
James: What is your favourite aspect about winning the Best In Vancouver? Kaslo: More than anything, it's just nice to have a chance to be recognize. All our hearts, souls, and free time go into making our music as honest and memorable as possible. To be given an opportunity to showcase that feels like winning already.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Best In Vancouver: Top 4 Announced!

Big congrats to Kaslo, Carousel Scene, Switch To Black and On The Run for making the top four in the Best In Vancouver competition. I had a great few words with Kevin, Entertainment Director for Rednyne Productions / Live Agency / Studio Records about this year's competition and the future of Best In Vancouver.

James: First of all, congrats on the success of this years BIV competition. What did you find different about this year than the previous year? 
Kevin: Thank you very much, this was a great year. Attendance was over 175 people per show on average, so that shows that people really care about Rock bands. One of the biggest things I noticed that was different this year was the amount of young bands that entered. It was great seeing a new crop of up and coming Vancouver bands. I'm excited to see what they'll do in the next few years. The Judges were definitely looking long term when they chose the finalists. 

James: What do you think set the top 3 bands apart from the rest of the bands in the competition?Kevin: This year we actually had a top 4, because 3rd and 4th place tied. The difference that the top bands had this year was musicianship. The Judges were quite sensitive to bands that were out of time or out of key. 

James: What should the top 3 bands improve for their final performance coming up?Kevin: The bands that made it to the finals can all play very well. I believe it will be the song writing that will separate the bands in the end.

James: What is in store next year for the Best In Vancouver competition?
Kevin: I've already been planning next year's BIV. I'm hoping to add a radio sponsor and possibly send a winner out to CMW (Canadian Music Week) in Toronto, but it's all in the works. I'm also very excited that we have Nimbus School of Recording & Media as our newest sponsor, as well as LCE Music. It's these great company's along with our other sponsors that really help bands get to that next level in their recordings as well as the business side of being in a band. I want to give a quick shout out to our other sponsors The Beat Lab Studio's, Danny Craig Productions, Artropolis Media, Branston Photography and of course Studio Records. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Take You Home

Music is all about feelings. Sharing those feeling through lyrics, melody and chords. The Travis James Band just makes you feel good. Classic feel good music. James's smile itself just puts a smile on your face. His infectious good vibes just have you bopping your head from start to finish of each song. His performance at this year's Best In Vancouver was the perfect way to end that night. The pure musicianship of his band was enough to catch peoples attention. Each part fit perfectly into its place to all support James's singing. The songs were well written, but seemed to have a great feeling of depth to every track.

Switching between acoustic and electric guitars flawlessly showed that he has worked on his stage show to allow the songs just to flow into each other. His lead guitarist was truly gifted in putting perfect leads to compliment each track. The bassist had this cool collected calm around him. Sometimes seeming like he was deep in a trance. The drums were crisp and amazingly dynamic. Perfectly keeping the whole band locked in this west coast groove. All of them truly skilled performers.

If you want a guaranteed good night of music to dance the night away with, go see the Travis James Band! I give them a solid 4/5 Hammers. Check out their Facebook page HERE.

Anything But Black And White

All girl bands are nothing new, but its exciting to see one that defies all stereotypes. The large stage at Studio Records seemed to swallow the band as they stood up there waiting for the thumbs up to start their set. The minute they started playing, the opposite happened. The whole venue was filed with this  dirty gritty rock and roll. Tight precision drumming meshed with rolling thick bass, covered by this larger than life guitar tone, and finished off with a vocal so engaging that you couldn't do anything BUT listen. Each element of this three piece band just complimented each other perfectly. Their personalities were apparent on stage with goofy smiles, corny jokes and even poking fun at each other. The crowd warmed up immediately as they just laid down punk inspired rock tunes.

Their stage presence was awesome. For being the second band of the night they had everyone clapping along with them. Even a small mosh pit developed at the suggestion of the lead singer. I can easily see them playing a year from now and having people singing along with their catchy tunes. The music was a great balance of dynamics, vocal hooks and great instrumentation. I could tell the lead singer wanted to rock out even more and not be tied down by the mic stand. I would love to see them grab a wireless headset microphone and so the two lead women can interact on stage more. This trio has awesome potential and I can't wait to see them around the scene more!

Check out their Facebook page HERE. I give them 5/5 Hammers!

See you next show! 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

What Month Is it? October!

To start things off I have to say this band well a pleasant supirse. 2nd band was a solid indie rock band by the name of The Octobers. A very melodic and dynamic band where every song really creates a story for you. With a solid sound and a well put together setlist they put on a solid show. Every song seemed to flow seemlessly into the next  making their whole show seem as one complete story.
They played their instruments effortlessly as they rocked song after song. They filled the venue with very groovy guitar melodies and pounding drums. It created a very dynamic sound that you couldn't help but get hooked on. I found myself singing to every song, and anxious for the next one to start.
From the top of their set they involved the crowd. By their third song the whole band was in sync, really letting the songs come to life. Though I have to say the first half of their setlist I found myself really getting into their music but not really the show. For how hard they were giving it on their instruments they weren't really showing it on the stage. So even though I was getting drawn into the songs I wasn't getting so much into the band.

About halfway in their set The Octobers played a cover by The Killers. It was during that cover the band really seemed to come to life, and it fitted perfectly into the song arrangment. Their cover of Mr. Brightside seemed to really get the band playing perfectly together. Once that happened the stage presence really picked up and they kicked it into second gear. 
The last half they owned. They really picked up and put on a solid ending to their show. I went from singing their songs by myself to being captived by the band. Once relaxed they really drew a crowd in and had everyone grooving along with. 

  So to summarize;
-Very catchy music
-Groovy melodies
-Songs that flow into each other seemlessly
-Once the band really syncs in, it really does become one hell   of a show
So to end it off, I really started digging this band. I will definetly be keeping a eye out for this band and can't wait to see what they will put out next. I strongly suggest people to do the same.
So my hammer rating for The Octobers is going to be broken down into 2 ratings;

3/5 Hammers for the first half of the set and 4/5 Hammers by the end of their set!

I Know What Your Mom Did Last Night.

Where to even begin with this band? Right from the start of their set to the end, they played a flawless show. In my opinion their show was the standard that bands to strive for; captivating and with such stage presence it demanded your attention. From the opening chords to the last notes your ears would be filled with such a full sound you would swear you were listening to more than a three piece band. They not only started strong but ended even stronger.
At the start you could easily pick out that this band had a unique sound. One thing that immediately sticks out is there attitude to the way they write songs. Very carefree with, a lack for a better referance, "Screw you, we are going to do what we want". An attitude that most bands can never pull off but My Mother the Carjacker does it in spades. If I didn't have to do a review I would have been downing beers and headbanging with all the people in the front.

I love how they went from song to song without ever taking a break. Really it's what aided with maintaining and building up the energy. It was through that energy that you felt like you were just getting hit with an onslaught of well articulated and composed riffs. Bar after bar, measure after measure, you were hit with interchanging parts that really kept you on your toes. Like I said, you would never guess that you were hearing a three piece band live.
There wasnt a break in songs till after 3 or 4 songs had been played. Even then the break was short before the band went even harder then they were before. It wasnt till half way through their set that they slowed it down. The song they chose to slow down with was perfect. They had really put thought into their setlist. One thing i've noticed when slowing a show halfway in such a high energy, post-punk, grunge setlist, is that it can really kill a promising show. So many bands lose tempo or the crowd afterwards, where as My Mother someone managed to build up the energy even more. Which frankly impressed the hell out of me.

So im going to summarize and put the show bluntly;
-Textbook show, crowd involvment with very strong stage presence.
-Captivated the crowd and had people headbanging.
-Great musicians and well composed songs.
-Kept moving the whole time and rarely had to look at their intruments.
-The attitude, I loved it, they really do have a very edgy sound.
My only wish for this show was that . Cause their show motivated me to have a couple drinks, grab some friends and just have a great time. Ill definetly be looking and following the band more. If your ever looking to go to a show go to see My Mother The Carjacker, I strongly recommend going and seeing this band. 

All in all this band gets a solid 5/5 hammers.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

One Hot Night!

Last night was a disappointing turnout for Hot Flash Heat Wave and its line-up–though not a surprise, given the last-minute change of venue, from 333’s all-ages, punker paradise, to the Astoria’s 19+ wasteland.

Trash Bait is the all-girls, brat-punk group that started the night off with a handful of simple-chorded hate songs. Their sound was of a harsh, angry nature, and a quality that one might assume that these songs had been thrown together just prior to the show. Their presence wasn’t much better; the most effort made to engage was during a long period of dead-air, when the drummer asked, “How does it sound? Are we good?” I felt compelled to scream, “No!” Despite changing vocalists throughout the performance, their yelling and screaming stayed pretty one-dimensional, and even with two guitarists, their sound remained thin and scratchy.  All in all, Trash Bait delivered a less-than mediocre start, and as you might expect, most of the crowd stayed seated.

The Woolen Men followed up with a completely different vibe; one that entailed much happier progressions and upbeat tempos. The indie-pop rock trio got people up and moving with both singer and bassist jumping to the beat and attacking every next chord with absolute confidence. These guys were committed to their sound, and as a performer, myself, I appreciate it when another artist owns their shit up there in the spotlight; there’s nothing that turns off an audience more than the half-ass scream or awkward off-beat notation, as was the case with Trash Bait. Overall, The Woolen Men’s music was of a softer, indie-punk sound that I’d heard before, but I was charmed by the quick, catchy riffs and simple melodies that brought the mood up a few notches.

By the time Hot Flash Heat Wave hit the stage, I was coming down off my Red-Bull kick, pleasantly mellowed by the sweet major-tone strums of their infectious beachy-boy single, “Gutter Girl.” The San Francisco surf-rockers rolled into the Astoria wearing a questionable array of costume-ish attire. The two singer-guitarists stuck out the most, one rocking Macklemore’s signature “Thrift Shop” style fur jacket, and the other in an oversized mechanic’s jump-suit and chunky gold bling. But any contempt I had toward these guys was quickly washed away by the wicked, smooth blend of honey-sweet vocal melodies and on-point backing rhythms by the rest of the band.

The inconsistence and poor responsiveness of the sound guy had not only the bands frustrated, but the crowd too. One thing I don’t agree with these days is live-sound management made portable on your ‘iProducts.’ It risks too much error of what could be a great live jam, and in one swift accidental stroke of the hand, destroy the bands’ sound–unfortunately this was the case throughout the night. My suggestion: leave the sound board in one spot, and for god’s sake, don’t shove it in you f***in’ pocket and sit on it.

I left the show shaking my head, thinking, how can these bands be playing such a shit venue? And, Why? I’m new to Vancouver’s music scene, but I feel like Woolen Men and Hot Flash Heat Wave have done themselves an injustice, lowballing for a spot in the downtown east side’s gunge-pits. To see those bands, ten bucks was a fair price, but a better location would’ve brought in the crowds.
It was worth sticking it out to see Hot Flash Heat Wave, and I’ll be first in line to see them when they’re back in town.
I bid you good night,