As all good music journalists know, the end of the year means that it’s time to make a list of what was important that happened in music this year. So about 25 of us at Discorder got our heads together and hammered out what we thought the hottest local bands of the year were. After all the votes were cast and the lists were made, this is what we came up with. You may disagree. That is OK, lists are like that. (You can have your own say about what music was important by taking Discorder’s 2010 Reader Poll.)
1. Adrian Teacher, Amanda Panda and Jay Oliver’s band have been on the tip of everyone in Vancouver’s tongue all year. Their stellar 2010 album, Mount Benson, contained a combo of heartwarming songs that balance a punk d.i.y. attitude with beautiful pop songwriting and masterful rock showmanship. They are master performers and the only complaint I’ve ever heard about one of their shows is that it was too short.
2. Unfamiliar Records’ genre-spanning band, Brasstronaut, put Mt. Chimaera out this year, and it rightly garnered a lot of praise in the Canadian music press. The band’s genre is hard to pin down, but there’s no denying their talent shines through.
3. Before their album Public Domain was even officially named, their fans were fervently swapping around demos of the songs that would become this album. You could see that this band hit a nerve when they’d play to an audience who knew the words so well that lead singer Megan McDonald would just hand her mic to someone in the audience and sip her chardonnay while whoever was holding the mic allowed as many people as possible to sing along.
4. The immensely talented songwriter Mac DeMarco’s band is one of the best in town. The songs he writes and performs, seemingly effortlessly, are little lo-fi gems and well worth the listen. They are excellent and can’t get enough credit.
5. It’s good to know that people in Vancouver still like to dance and Humans proves it with every show and recording they release. Their music draws on electronica, reggae, pop and dub, and consistently gets their audiences moving.
6. Probably the most established band on this list, their place here is to show that you don’t need to be new to be one of the most talked about and interesting bands in Vancouver. Check out their latest, Wilderness Heart, if you don’t believe us.
7. Cam Reed, a.k.a. Babe Rainbow, seems to open for every band since he released his EP Shaved. The dark dubby album that brought him international acclaim has also drawn attention to Reed’s musical abilities, which have often been overshadowed by his ability to organize music festivals, like Music Waste.
8. Grimey dirt rockers Ladyhawk, a staple of Vancouver’s live scene, haven’t put out a new album since 2008, nevertheless, the fact that so many of our contributors voted for them indicates that you don’t need an album to be talked about and recognized as one of the best bands of the year, you just need a stupendous live show.
9. We think Dan Mangan’s importance can be summed up by what Nathaniel Bryce said when he put him on his list. “Come on, he’s sold out the Vogue four times this year and pretty much everywhere else as well.” How many local bands can sell out the Vogue four times in one year? We can’t think of any others.
10. Finally, after five years of playing in the city, Olivia Fetherstonhaugh (more commonly known as Fanshaw) released Dark Eyes on Mint Records. The songstress has garnered praise across Canada. You should pick up her album.
11. The proud Vancouverite band has been making TV appearances and dropping excellent singles this year. They are a big influence at home and the next generation has even started playing covers of their music.
12. If you like metal than you already know why Bison B.C. is on this list. They are the best metal band Vancouver has to offer and their music gets all our metal writers’ ears to perk up. Their latest album Dark Ages came out this year and was definitely one of the best releases.
13. If there’s one flaw with Vancouver’s noise scene, it’s that it’s hard to listen to the music outside of live performances, but Ahna has made an excellent effort to fix that by putting out their debut self-titled album, an intense dark and crushing release.
14. When will these guys release something for people to put into their music playing machines? The duo makes excellent dance/punk/noise music and plays lots of shows. If you haven’t seen them then you have not yet acknowledged that your father probably wanted to fuck Isabella Rossellini.
15. We wish these guys would move to Vancouver so we could all see them play more often, but the Victoria natives play here enough to build a following for their bluesy garage rock. One of the funnest bands this side of the Rockies.
B-Lines, Basketball, Bend Sinister, Boogie Monster, Caving, Cosmetics, Defektors, Chris Derksen, Dreamboat, Fake Shark-Real Zombie, Fan Death, Flash Palace, Jon-Rae Fletcher, Koban, Left Spine Down, Longwalkshortdock, My Friend Wallis, Myths, Nü Sensae, Parlour Steps, Scatterheart, the Shilohs, Shi Yi, Spring Break, Thee Ahs, the Tranzmitors, Walter TV, Womankind, You Say Party!