He is one of popular music’s most deeply revered figures, the main creative force behind some of the most cherished recordings in rock history. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to call Brian Wilson one of the most influential composers of the last century. Wilson’s remarkable journey began in a modest Hawthorne, California home that was filled with music. His mom and dad both played piano, and as a young “boy soprano,” Brian’s vocal gift was immediately evident. He had also started singing harmonies…literally “in their room”…with his two younger brothers (Dennis and Carl). As a teen in the 1950s, he became obsessed with the harmonic blend of groups like the Four Freshmen, and then, in the early 1960s, inspired to combine multi-part vocal harmony with the rock rhythms of Chuck Berry, Brian found his place in the musical sun. He was barely out of his teens when he began to create some of the most beloved records ever… nine consecutive “gold” albums that featured such classics as “Surfer Girl,” “In My Room,” “I Get Around,” “Don’t Worry Baby,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Help Me Rhonda” and “California Girls”…just to name a handful of the more than two dozen Top 40 hits Brian co-wrote, arranged, produced and performed on with his family band, the Beach Boys.
This is the short version of the Social Distortion bio — the long version could be a 10-part mini-series. But over the past 30 years, the punk godfathers in the band have all but trademarked their sound, a brand of hard rockabilly/punk that’s cut with the melodic, road-tested lyrics of frontman Mike Ness. Their searing guitars and a locomotive rhythm section sound as alive today as they did in ’82, as do Ness’ hard-luck tales of love, loss and lessons learned. “The most common thing I hear is, ‘Man, your music got me through some hard times,'” Ness says. “And I just say, ‘Me too.'”
X Ambassadors’ debut album VHS reflects on the events that shaped lead vocalist and lyricist Sam Harris and his older brother, keyboardist Casey Harris’ life growing up in Ithaca, NY. “It was us looking back on everything that made us who we are,” says Sam. The gold-certified album, which Rolling Stone called “bombastic rock that’s as stomping as it is diaristic, leavened by big-tent pop hooks and a hint of hip-hop swagger,” debuted at No. 7 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart and spawned the platinum-selling “Renegades,” which spent 12 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Alternative chart, and the double-platinum “Unsteady,” which went Top 10 at Alternative, Hot AC, and Top 40 radio. The success of VHS sent X Ambassadors on a nearly two-year touring odyssey that found them winning over fans around the world and performing at the Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Life is Beautiful, and Shaky Knees festivals, among others, and establishing themselves as a world-class rock band.
“I wasn’t feeling too inspired in 2016. I’d been in a seemingly unbroken cycle of recording and touring for 6 years. I know, you’re saying to yourself “that’s so cliché, all musicians complain about being tired…” But wait, there’s more! Not knowing exactly what type of album to make, I was feeling pretty low. But at that very moment, my long-time manager and confidante Robbie Lackritz called and said “dude, you should make an album with D’angelo’s rhythm section.” And just like that, the juices were flowing and the songs started coming.
I wrote songs about having success, having kids, and having depression. I wrote songs about going on tour, going back in time and going in circles. I wrote songs about my otherworldly wife, my jerk dad and my garbage relationship with my brother. Crazy right?!
JULIETTE & THE LICKSFRIDAY
To those who made your wonderful Licks websites and shirts and all the incredible creative things you contributed through out the years I can only say thank you, thank you so so much!!!! You have no idea how much it all means and meant to me!!!!! And I can only give that back to you in new music and new songs. And a new rebel fever. Cause after all I am a soul of defiance and never giving up. To go against the odds I try, try and try again. Its just my nature. And I try to extend that to you in the only ways I know how.
For a new album that The Sheepdogs didn’t initially set out to make, Changing Colours is a stunning achievement. Proud purveyors of guitar-driven modern-day retro rock, the triple Juno Award-winning Saskatoon-based quintet has expanded its sound on Changing Colours to encompass more styles and hues to enhance the Sheepdogs’ trademark beef-and-boogie twin-axe riffs, hooks, shuffles and long-haired aesthetic.
Jesse Roper approaches his profession the same way he would make a mixtape. With barriers down and volume up. “For two weeks I’ll play hardcore blues, and then another two weeks in a row I’ll play classical, and then another two weeks all I want to do is play reggae,” Roper said, a mischievous smile crossing his face. “I’ll try anything.”
That philosophy is apparent on Access to Infinity, his upcoming third full-length due January 12th, 2018 on Blue Heron Music. Roper describes the anticipated album as “an evolved sound,” one that brings to a boil a disparate set of influences. Recorded at Vancouver’s infamous Warehouse studios with UK producer Ian Davenport. Davenport, who has produced records by Band of Skulls, Supergrass, July Talk, and Radiohead’s Phil Selway, wound up being a calming presence, assuring Roper that something special was afoot on the 11-song Access to Infinity.
If there’s one constant in life, it’s this: nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable, for better or for worse—it’s the sinister shadow lurking behind the sunniest day, the silver lining that offsets every cloud. That mutability is something with which the members of Dear Rouge are intimately familiar. Since putting out their debut EP in 2012, Drew and Danielle McTaggart have been on a somewhat breathtaking upward trajectory. That independent release led to another one, and the accolades began to flood in: a B.C.–based radio award, songwriting prizes, a sweet record deal, charting singles, and a 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year followed in short order.
Along with immersing himself in a songwriting approach that involved unflinching examination of “some very dark and negative moments in my life,” Stone shaped the sound and feel of Radius by pushing himself to “get past the boundaries of what I felt comfortable with, so that I could progress into a whole new level of creativity.” Despite that sometimes-daunting process, Radius wholly reveals Stone’s easy grace in blending everything from edgy soul-pop and earthy folk-rock to throwback R&B and Parliament-inspired funk.
Toronto, Ontario’s Bedouin Soundclash have been active since 2001, forging a sound that’s equal parts ska and reggae, mixed with alternative rock. The band’s discography spans four full length albums; Root Fire (2001), Sounding a Mosaic (2004), Street Gospels (2007) and Light The Horizon (2010). The release of their single “Clock Work” last year marked the band’s first new material in seven years. Catch these Canadian ambassadors of third wave ska live in action, hopefully with some new material to share for the Rock The Shores massive!
Felix Cartal is a Canadian electronic producer who creates melodic, energetic tracks aimed squarely at the dancefloor, but he also has a sentimental side, as evidenced by many melodramatic songs he’s recorded with female vocalists. Cartal fuses his songwriting and production roots with his love for club culture, enlisting a wide range of guest vocalists and creating a singular take on indie dance music. Hailing from Vancouver, British Columbia, he initially established himself when Steve Aoki signed him to Dim Mak Records.
Cartal made his full-length album debut in 2010 with Popular Music. Meanwhile, he increasingly established himself as a DJ, touring the North American club and festival scenes, with performances at EDC, Ultra, and Tomorrowland, all while releasing freely downloadable mixes on the Internet. Cartal continued to release a stream of singles and EPs, until his second full-length album Different Faces appeared in 2012, which included the singles “Tonight,” featuring Maja Ivarsson of Swedish band The Sounds and “Don’t Turn Out the Lights,” featuring Polina — the latter earning him his first Juno nomination.
Fusing two fresh-off-the-mountain electronic music addicts, Tim and Dave together create 12 feet and 350 pounds of turbo-funk-boosted, snowsuit-donning man flesh. Hailing from the world famous ski town of Whistler, this dynamic duo loves shredding fresh power almost as much as they love smashing out hit-records in the studio.
Producing & performing together for over 6 years, they are like savage yetis feeding off of each other during their high energy live shows (which often feature snow machines & loud retro ski gear) while they blast through genres playing everything funky from bassline house to black-diamond twerk.
The root of all soul music is freedom-sheer abandon. It’s about luxuriating in the emotions that make us all human. No wonder singer Frazey Ford placed her ear to the earth and tapped into that lush tradition to give voice to her own stories on her newest release, Indian Ocean, an album about pain and dealing with tough truths but also about trust, love contrition and being bold. Ford’s self-possession and passion puts flesh to the musical bones, and you hear a record hit the essence of Aretha’s notion of R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
There’s always been something soulful teeming underneath the honey-dipped tremulous restraint in Ford’s vocals on her Be Good Tanyas records, as well as her solo debut Obadiah(2010). It’s just that this time around, the familiar old-timey rustic harmonies have bloomed, transported into a full-throated ebullience that takes us down to where the rivers run deep.
Rising Appalachia brings to the stage a collection of sounds, stories, and songs steeped in tradition and a devotion to world culture. Intertwining a deep reverence for folk music and a passion for justice, they have made it their life’s work to sing songs that speak to something ancient yet surging with relevance. Whether playing at Red Rocks or in rail cars, at Italian street fairs or to Bulgarian herbalists, this fiercely independent band has blazed a unique and colourful path across the globe. 11 years into their movement, Rising Appalachia believes that the roots of all these old songs are vital to our ever evolving soundscape.
Chuck Ragan’s bracing new release Till Midnight once again confirms what the iconoclastic singer-songwriter’s fans have known all along: that he’s a deeply compelling songwriter and an effortlessly charismatic performer, as well as a true believer in music’s ability to illuminate and inspire.
Till Midnight‘s ten typically impassioned new Ragan compositions embody the artist’s trademark mix of eloquent lyrical insight and catchy, forceful songcraft. The album’s formidable blend of head and heart is reflected on such new tunes as “Something May Catch Fire,” “Vagabond,” “Non Typical,” “Bedroll Lullaby” and “Wake With You,” on which Ragan applies his distinctively raspy voice and sharp melodic sensibility to vividly expressive tunes that reflect both his early grounding in traditional American music and his deep affinity for rock n’ roll.
AARON LEE TASJANSATURDAY
East Nashville-based musician Aaron Lee Tasjan has always considered himself a songwriter first and foremost, writing his own off-kilter folk-inflected songs since he picked up his first acoustic as a teen guitar prodigy. “A lot of the stuff I did previously was never the main focal point,” Tasjan explains. “It’s all just been pieces along the way.” His soon to be released Silver Tears (New West Records – Oct. 2016) will offer a glimpse through the eyes of one gifted songwriter and versatile musician. Whether playing guitar in the late incarnation of riotous glam-rock innovators the New York Dolls, the gender-bending, envelope-pushing sleaze n’ tease arena rock band Semi Precious Weapons, the Neil Young-signed alt-country act Everest, British roots rock band Alberta Cross, Southern rock stalwarts Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ or even as frontman of the devilishly cleverly-named Heartbreakers meets Replacements rockers Madison Square Gardeners, offer a glimpse through the eyes of one gifted songwriter and versatile musician.
Surrounded by a myriad of instruments, Chersea uses her loop-stations to create ethereal walls of frequencies; all driven by her powerful voice and poetic lyrics, she’s able to conjure a sound like no other. With an album release just around the corner and growing production and collaborating team, Chersea is setting her sights for a mind-bending approach to songwriting and storytelling. Her soliloquy of personal hardship melts into an experiential production that allows you to connect with yourself and your neighbours in emotional ways you’ve never imagined. Welcome to Chersea’s story. Welcome to your own.
The Elwins – singer/guitarist Matt Sweeney, drummer Travis Stokl, guitarist/keyboardist Feurd, and bassist Francesco Figliomeni—came together in 2006 near Newmarket, about an hour north of Toronto. After touring extensively behind 2012’s And I Thank You and 2015’s Play for Keeps, the band developed a natural chemistry, which continues to propel (and challenge) their collaborative spirit on Beauty Community.
The Elwins had never entered the studio with so many songs before, each member coming in with strong material. An unspoken desire for more introspective ballads seemed to pervade each songwriter’s creative impulse, weirdly putting some pressure on the band to figure out what this record was all about.
The Velveteins are a rock n’ roll band from Edmonton, Canada. Their style of heavy guitar
pop has translated into energetic live shows across Canada, America, and the UK opening
for acts like July Talk, Elephant Stone, Michael Rault, and Milo Greene. Their last release “A
Hot Second With The Velveteins” has been described as “rollicking garage, moody surf
[…and] pop classicism with a rough edge” (EXCLAIM!) Signed to Fierce Panda Canada, the
group is set to release new music produced by Colin Stewart (Dan Mangan, Black
Vancouver’s fast-rising Youngblood is a case study in the power of contrasts. What started as the creative release of Alexis Young, the music of Youngblood is dreamy but insistent, a feather-soft pillow of lush sound anchored by electronic grooves. The siren-like voice at the centre of it all is fierce and sultry in equal measure—a bit Grace Jones, perhaps a trace of Nancy Sinatra, but always pure Youngblood.
Heavily inspired by the French electronic retro-futurist duo Air, Young has described her music as “what the ’60s thought the future would sound like”, and that’s as apt a description as any of songs that fuse timeless melodies with an aesthetic rooted firmly in the here and now. This is dream-pop to be sure, but a close listen reveals that Young is singing songs of obsession, self-destruction, and romantic catastrophe.
Having been trained as a classical violinist from the age of four, there is no doubt Kytami has mastered her skills on the instrument. Known for creating a musical symbiosis between her performance and her audience, Kytami has dipped her violin’s bow into numerous genres during her widespread musical career. She has appeared in festivals worldwide, was invited to speak and perform at TedX Victoria and received the 2013 Western Canadian Music Award for Electronic/Dance Album of the Year. 2017 kicked off with a bang with the release of the long-anticipated “Renegade” album on East Van Digital and a WCMA nomination for Electronic/Dance Album of the Year.
Fortune Killers strikes you with their dynamic synth-scapes and high-voltage performances. With exotic vocals, soaring lead lines, and heart-thumping grooves, the band weaves a musical web that pulls your hips into a sultry sway. The lovechild of Lana Del Ray and Metric, Fortune Killers make glitter and grit collide.
Jade Jackson is a young singer-songwriter from a small town in central California with a talent for conveying an emotional intensity well beyond her years. With parents who abstained from the modern distractions of computers and television, and a local downtown boasting less than a block of stores, Jackson’s childhood fascination focused solely on her father’s record collection. Inspired by the music of Johnny Cash, George Jones and Hank Williams, she picked up a guitar and began writing songs at 13. By the time she was 14 Jackson was already performing live. While in her teens, she found influence in the evocative sounds of The Cure, The Gun Club, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths. The otherwise cheerful teenager was soon attracting a local fan-base with a sad and immensely beautiful sound.
Ethereal harmonies floating amidst cinematic soundscapes, Fox Glove falls somewhere in the realm of inky alt folk with hints of dream rock. Hailing from Victoria, BC, this collective are known for their diverse voices and range in sound, and offer everything from sensuous melancholic ballads to spellbindingly strident anthems. A crowd-favourite in the BC music scene, Fox Glove recently headlined the famed Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria, selling out the 800 seat theatre. With performances at the Juno Host Committee’s “Let’s Hear it Live” Festival in March, an Ontario and Quebec tour in May, and a much anticipated full length album set for release, 2018 is guaranteed to be a catalyst year for this charming group. Often drawing comparisons to Joseph and The Staves, Fox Glove delivers passion, potency, and an immersive live performance that will leave you forever changed.
Inspired by the red rocks of Sedona, Dirty Mountain is a female-fronted rock band coloured in tones of painted sunsets on cold, desert nights. Pulsing beats, gritty lyrics, and fuzzy guitars dipped in honey and reverb. Originated in Victoria, B.C. Canada 2016.
LO WAIGHT + THE RATTLESNAKESSATURDAY
Lo Waight and the Rattlesnakes is a four piece Folk-Rock band from Victoria BC. First brought together for their love of funk and soul music, the members of the Rattlesnakes began to build a dynamic and interesting sound around Waight’s original folk tunes. Lo Waight and the Rattlesnakes have been gaining momentum playing around town from venues such as Darcy’s Westshore, Upstairs and most recently the Duke Saloon for Rifflandia 2017. The members of the band consist of Dave Lawson on keys, Dan Erikson on bass and backup vocals, newest member to the group Lucas Johnson on drums and finally, singer/songwriter and acoustic guitar Lo Waight.