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,


They Arrived Quickly As Did The Crowd Fall In Love With Them; The Fast Romantics

Fine Times

The first thing I noticed at this show was the amazing acoustics in Fortune Sound Club. It was an intimate setting and had a great stage space. The band started off right into the fun, happy go lucky music and got the crowd tapping their feet and bobbing their heads within the first beats.

The lyrics and tempo felt comforting, like reconnecting with an old friend. The music had a very hopeful tune to it making it something everyone needs to listen to at this point in history. No matter the stressors you felt prior to coming to the show whether it be your job, the lack of money you have or the things you haven't done yet, listening to Fine Times had a certain air of "everything is going to be alright"; the name of the band is in my opinion 100% accurate for the felt you get from them.

Even when singing about how we're all going to die one day, the sound still made you want to dance. It reminded me almost of pumped up kicks. Catchy and upbeat as hell, even if the content is dark. This band is certainly one to keep your eye on. 5 out of 5 hammers.

Fast Romantics

The band upon meeting them seemed humble, something hard to come by in this industry and it was apparent in the way they spoke to the crowd and thanked them for coming to the intimate early show. The caliber of music they put out was beyond high quality. I have to say the drummer has one of the better sounds I've heard in a while for this genre of music. He hit the drums hard and propelled the band further. The vocal collaboration was sweet and truthful and the content of the songs was something more real than I've heard on the air waves in a bit.

The keyboardist/guitarist wailed on the keyboards and not only that, but also rocked a mean tambourine. In fact a few members played multiple parts in the composition of the songs. The collective group jived well with each other and had a unique sound that ignited happiness and depth within the crowd which seemed to receive them well,  as almost no one was using a phone and gave the band their full attention.

The lead singer had great connection with the audience when talking between songs and not only was I one Julia to introduce myself, but there were many others shouting out their names to them. Sadly this disappointed me. The band tested out some songs on us for their new album and ANIMAL sounds like another top charter in my opinion. This band definitely knows how to write a catchy tune for the masses. It was no surprise when they played their single JULIA  (which has been all over Vancouver’s station 102.7 the peak (which I'm also a fan girl)), that the crowd went wild and all the Julia's in the land started shaking their money makers. I have no doubt these guys and lady will make it big and I'll be saying I remember when I got to photograph them before their explosion into the music industry. I can't wait to see what's next from this team. Five out of five golden hammers for the Fast Romantics! Julia out.

Check out more photos from the bands HERE.

Submit Your Music Now!

Calling all Vancouver musicians!

Hammer Records invites YOU to become part of Hammer Radio. By submitting your song to us you'll be entered for a chance at Hammer Radio play on our all new podcast for the Vancouver music scene.

Submit a $10.00 artist fee for guaranteed play on the NEXT podcast AND be entered for a chance to be FEATURED as a best of an our Hammer Records compilation album at the end of the year. Help us help you, get your band on the air waves and receive massive exposure not just in Vancouver but in our many countries that recognize us! We look forward to hearing your stuff!

Rules Of Submission:
-High Quality Audio
-Radio Length (2-5 minutes)
-Unsigned artists
-Non profit agreement

-Must submit a description of the band, song and album.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Best In Vancouver: Mistral Storm

Art Rock band, Mistral Storm, is putting their best foot forward for the Best In Vancouver competition. I had a short chat with lead singer, Monica about the upcoming performance.

James: How did you find out about "Best In Vancouver"?
Mistral StormI found out about Best in Vancouver while looking for places to play in Vancouver.
I sent in a sample and our web address ... and viola! We are seriously jazzed!

James: What sets you apart from other bands?
Mistral StormWe are a different band with a unique style of music we call art rock. We strive to
be as creative as possible. We are all about making unique and killer soulful music. Our ultimate goal is to make the room stop because people are captivated by the sound. When that happens, we know we've done our job. Hopefully that happens with BIV.

James: Do you have anything special for your show planned?
Mistral Storm The only thing special in our live show is our music. We hope that's special enough. We don't do gimmicks. We don't wear KISS style makeup. We are pretty regular folk. We hope the music stands one its own. We've musicians not actors.

James: What do you think about battle of the bands competitions and how they influence the scene?
Mistral Storm I think Battle of the Band competitions are a cool way for bands to show their stuff. Sometimes competitions give people more buzz and that influences their careers for sure. The other thing that influences the scene is the
connection you make with other bands. It's kind of a unique community. We all know how hard it is and how much work goes into honing your craft. It's fantastic to play for anyone who enjoys the music you create. That is the best part of doing what we do. It's also cool when you run into musicians who get what you are trying to do musically and that is pretty sweet.
Check out more about Mistral Storm HERE.
Check out more about the Best In Vancouver competition HERE.

Best In Vancouver: Ampletude

Bringing their brand of psych rock to Studio Records, Ampetude is ready to turn things up! I had a short talk with the band about their upcoming show.

James: How did you find out about "Best In Vancouver"?
Ampletude: Through our promoter Kevin

James: What sets you apart from other bands?
AmpletudeWe're a trio, two of us have red hair, and two of us picked up new instruments to form the band.

James: Do you have anything special for your show planned?
Ampletude: We're going to play some new songs

James: What do you think about battle of the bands competitions and how they influence the scene?

AmpletudeThe battling of bands is great because competition breeds innovation and influences the scene by giving the bands something to strive for which can help bands to move through any stagnant waters.

Check out more from Ampletude HERE.
Check out more about the Best In Vancouver competition HERE.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Best In Vancouver

We conducted a number of interviews with as many of the bands for this year's Best In Vancouver competition as we could get a hold of! Below are the show dates with which bands are playing that night. We have linked all the bands with interviews so you can click and see what they had to say!

October 2nd:
Redford Drive Best In Vancouver: Rexford Drive
Kownterpoint Best In Vancouver: Kownterpoint
Rocket To Venus
The Fall Of Day Best In Vancouver: The Fall Of Day

October 3rd:
Carousel Scene Best In Vancouver: Carousel Scene
Rune Best In Vancouver: Rune

October 9th:
My Mother The Carjacker Best In Vancouver: My Mother The Carjacker
Octobers Best In Vancouver: Octobers
Whiplash Escalade Best In Vancouver: Whiplash Escalade
Kristina Lao Best In Vancouver: Kristina Lao

October 10th:
Kaslo Best In Vancouver: Kaslo
Travis James Best In Vancouver: Travis James Band
The Echos Best In Vancouver: The Echos
She Dreams In Colour Best In Vancouver: She Dreams In Colour

October 16th:
Modern Day Poets Best In Vancouver: Modern Day Poets
Michael Averill Best In Vancouver: Michael Averill
Flub The Duck

October 17th:
Chilled Clarity Best In Vancouver: Chilled Clarity
The Dramatic Finish Best In Vancouver: The Dramatic Finish
Downtown Riot
Caustic Sodapop

October 23rd:
Bone State Rebellion Best In Vancouver: Bone State Rebellion
Gabe & The Oh Yeah's Best In Vancouver: Gabe & The Oh Yeah's
Julien Amar Best In Vancouver: Julien Amar
On The Run

October 24th:
Nine O'Clock Gun Best In Vancouver: Nine O'Clock Gun
Mistral Storm
Switched To Black Best In Vancouver: Switch To Black
One Left Alive

Check out more about Studio Records click HERE.
To find out more about the competition go HERE.

Best In Vancouver: Carousel Scene

Rising from the ashes of Shadow, Carousel Scene spreads its music around and around! I had a great chat with Khalvin about the bands upcoming performance for the Best In Vancouver competition.

James: How did you find out about "Best In Vancouver"?
Carousel SceneI found out about BIV through my best mates from Gigaheartz. The GHZ boys won the contest last year, so we're looking to do the same.

James: What sets you apart from other bands?
CSWe have a singer that is virtually unbeatable in a game of soccer and a drummer whose shirt is virtually nonexistent when playing. Additionally, we really like our semi-hollow guitars and Vox amps.

James: Do you have anything special for your show planned?
CSWe may or may not be debuting our new bass player that night, you'll have to come out and see for yourself! Originally, we wanted to do GWAR-inspired stage theatrics, but I don't think Kevin would approve of that.

James: What do you think about battle of the bands competitions and how they influence the scene?

CS: It definitely varies - I think most of the artists here generally share the same opinion. There are plenty of pay to play competitions that promise bands that there will be "important industry people" to showcase their talents to, when in reality, their focus is on making a quick buck through the artists' ticket sales and nothing pans out in the end.
With Rednyne and Live Agency, they have Best In Vancouver, where the bands actually meet with the judges even before the competition! These judges also happen to be important contributors to the local scene and the entire Canadian music scene as a whole. It is more focused on actually helping the local scene and developing the artists that go through the competition.

Check out more from Carousel Scene HERE.
Check out more about the Best In Vancouver competition HERE.