After three weeks of voting dominating all social media platforms the regional top 10s for the CBC Searchlight competition have been announced. If you're unfamiliar with CBC Searchlight it is basically a huge national competition to promote Canadian music. There are 23 regions making 230 finalists. From April 25th to April 29th the judges are picking one finalist from each region to go to the next level and the two bands with the highest votes nationally will also jump the cue to form the 25 (this result is announced on May 3rd). For more information on this check out the CBC Searchlight website.
But what Searchlight does for us right now is highlight some local talent that you may or may not be aware of. The below list features some of our favourite lower mainland musicians, but also introduces us to some new or unfamiliar names. So, today we're checking out the top ten finalists form Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Area.
Cornshed (popular vote)
'Cornshed is a four piece folk rock band based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. The project started off as a solo guitar performance at local open mic nights, where the positive reaction from crowds quickly inspired an expansion to the foot stomping, mandolin twanging, whiskey guzzling, forget-about-your-next-day-of-work, clusterfolk experience you hear today.'
David Morin 'With his debut album, Every Colour, out on Bombay Records, David Morin plays gigs around the world accompanied by a live band. Yet the humble neosoul singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist still chooses to busk regularly on street corners in his hometown of Vancouver. That’s where this 32-year old Metis Native American, honed his craft and his social message. Like the man himself, David Morin's music is pure, authentic and from the heart. Self taught and passionately committed to being a true artist, he's blessed with the ability to turn strangers into fans.'
'ELIZABETH are a 4-piece, post punk band from Vancouver. Their kinetic sound and take no prisoners live show put them onstage alongside TheCribs w/Johnny Marr, ArcticMonkeys, TheLibertines, FranzFerdinand, Metric, TVonTheRadio, HotHotHeat and DeathFromAbove1979. Their debut album, First Excommunications, gave the first glimpse of Elizabeth's unabashed songwriting, generating praise from Exclaim!, ChartAttack, and UK magazine, NME. UK success led to a tour, BBC Radio interview/in-studio performance and Club NME show. The 2011 sophomore album, Hazards, Horrors and Liabilities, showcased the band’s breadth of sound. Elizabeth is finishing their third album, recorded at the Warehouse Studio.'
'Lydia Hol’s music leaves you with the taste of the sea on your lips. Her time spent living in Ireland flavors her performances with a storyteller’s honesty and charm, and her studies in English literature informs her lyrics. Since the release of her debut EP, Boats, in 2012, Lydia Hol has toured the country from coast to coast, filling rooms with her songs and stories, and sharing the stage with folk legends like Dar Williams and Sylvia Tyson. Her new record Heading North, recorded with Frazey Ford’s producer John Raham, captures a delicate, elegant take on folk.'
'Sadie Campbell can certainly hold her own - from gospel to gritty rock n’ roll to swampy Southern blues and back again, the songstress's sound blends traditional standards with a modern edge, letting loose a creative force that can't be suppressed.'
The Wild Romantics
'Armed with energetic rock n’ roll hooks, haunting lyrics and harmonies, their music has drawn comparisons to the playful, intimate country/folk of Johnny Cash and June Carter and the energetic, southern driven rock n’ roll in the spirit of The White Stripes. The Wild Romantics put immense value on being able to share their stories of love, life, loss and learning by taking their own experiences and creating stories that audiences relate to and can take home with them. Their debut EP 'She Could Tell' is available now.'
'Youngblood is the creative, dream-pop brainchild of Alexis Young. Inspired by the likes of French electronic duo Air, the fiery Grace Jones, and a little bit of sultry Nancy Sinatra, Youngblood manages to mix dreamy, marshmallow sounds laced with dark, pulsating grooves, crafting a unique blend of artistic pop. Youngblood’s 5-piece band features members of Gay Nineties and Fake Shark. Their live show is a sensory rapture. Youngblood’s forthcoming EP has Alexis writing with the multi-disciplinary Parker Bossley (of Gay Nineties/Mounties/Fur Trade) and produced/engineered by Juno nominated DJ and producer Sleepy Tom.'
'Coco Jafro brings together the schools of Funk, Soul, Jazz, and Afrobeat, creating a unique mashup that transports you to a place that liberates your soul, evokes your primal spirit and ignites an electricity that lingers within your body. "Coco Jafro's dynamic combination of sounds, energy and performance are intoxicating. With incredibly talented musicians, this band delivers a sound that never falters, commands the entire venue with a positive energetic vibe, people all ages were moving to the infectious beat. They finished the event with the crowd energized and wanting more 'ArtsVancouver.org''
John Mutter 'John Mutter is a Vancouver-based artist and composer and the leader of experimental alternative ensemble 'we just stole a car' and solo alt-pop project 'JOHN MUTTER WAS RAISED BY WOLVES'. He studied composition under Benoit Delbecq, Giorgio Magnanensi and Jon Siddall and performed at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival and the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad with Anthony Braxton's Sonic Genome Project. "Come On And Give Us A Shot", the distorted single from his new solo alt-pop project, challenges the pop music convention and hides references to Maurice Ravel's "Pavane" in its choruses and bridge.'
'Night Eyes is the debut album for Vancouver's SAVVIE, released on Tiny Kingdom records in February 2015. Savannah Leigh Wellman (previously of Redbird) is the unstoppable force behind SAVVIE, a seductive mix of sultry, brooding rock and infectious pop hooks. Produced by Matt Rogers (The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer), Night Eyes is a courageous, relentless debut that shines a spotlight on Wellman’s penchant for crafting sparkling, hip-swaying tunes. It’s sharp, sexy, and nuanced, with a laser-focus on irresistible melodies and big head-nodding choruses.'
Greater Vancouver Area
Nick Gee and the Sons of Granville (popular vote)
'Hailing from White Rock, Nick Gee is best known for silky vocals and laid-back charm. Born on Valentine's Day into a musical family, he ultimately fell in love with guitar during his high school years, releasing "What You Want is What You Need" in 2009 and "Hope in 2014. His music naturally lends itself to solo performance, but with renowned Vancouver instrumentalists Sons of Granville behind him, it takes on a whole new depth while staying true to his acoustic roots. Check out nickgeemusic.com and sonsofgranville.com'
'Golden Ears is an electronic duo based out of the Vancouver area. Combining ethereal elements with energetic synths and rhythm sections Jason Craig and Gabe Perello have carved a sound that stands on its own. Currently Golden Ears is working on an album and will be releasing their next single April 2016.'
'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 conjures a sound like no other. Chersea is a Peak Performance Project Finalist (2015), the Boss Loop Station National Championship Winner (2013), and LG. 104.3 VANcover's Winner for December (2014). Her new development as an artist is utilizing her approach to music therapy to write for those who don’t have a voice in “Vipera” (2016), a follow up to the self-explorative EP release “Grey Matter” (2014).'
'Cassandra Bangel is a captivating performer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and looper extraordinaire. Born into a musical family Cassandra began playing classical pieces on the piano at seven. A working musician, she mesmerizes audiences in venues and festivals 250+ days a year with her band or solo by delivering the appearance of one performer but the sound of many by way of her secret weapon the loop pedal. Cassandra does not use tracks but rather astonishingly produces all sounds live, pushing the loop pedal to innovative heights and possibilities. This creative dynamo continues to write and record, live and breathe music!!'
'Sandra-Mae has had a keen interest in music since early childhood. She started talking and singing at the same time! At the age of six, she started playing the piano, and at age of eleven she took up the saxophone. Her soulful voice is often compared to the likes of Etta James, Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse. She is also a talented saxophone player completing a degree in Music in Jazz Studies from Capilano University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Singing is the very essence of Sandra-Mae. Music is a reflection of who she is.'
The Tourist Company
'It's been a year of hard work and maturing for The Tourist Company. The four-piece has spent the majority of the last year either on the road touring nationally, or in the studio cultivating their sound and recordings. They are a unique blend of alternative rock and pop with influences from bands such as We Are the City, Son Lux, and Yukon Blonde. Their stunning new Mercury EP confidently shows off the band as one of Canada’s most prominent independent acts poised to make an impression in 2016.'
'From Vancouver, BC of Caribbean and Scottish Decent. I have been singing pretty much my entire life, Classicaly trained and self-taught on the guitar.'
'Exploring lush soundscapes and deep soulful grooves, Sophia Danai delivers honest and passionate lyrics over a sonic field that ranges from R&B to sultry Electro-Pop. Okayplayer dubbed Danai a mix of Billie Holiday and Portishead, adding she’s a “dynamic singer with an obvious foundation in soul,” For her new album Love Royale, Sophia empowered herself with creative control as an independent artist, spending the last two years since her debut honing her production skills and collaborating with a variety of producers such as Grammy Award winning, Jon Brown (Meghan Trainor, Pink) & Vancouver's Matt Brevner.'
'Straddling the genres of Canadiana and orchestral folk-rock, Greg Drummond employs the penetrating warmth of hollow-bodied guitars, horns and mandolins to carve out a sound that is uniquely his own. In his latest and largely self-produced sophomore record, “Drive” (2015), Drummond embarks on a compelling exploration through the themes of redemption, companionship, struggle and perseverance, with dynamic instrumentation that transports the audience through the majestic, ambient expanse of B.C.’s wilderness, to the thumping pulse of a wharf pub on the coast of Newfoundland.'
'Desirée loves language and writing therefore writes all her own music. She draws inspiration for her music from her love of reading people and their emotions, intrigued by the web that we are all interconnected in. When asked about what music means to her, Desirée says, “I love how a group of completely different people can be united by one song. Music has the power to stir up the deepest emotions, it is therapeutic and such an effective healer. For these reasons and so many more, music is my life."'