VANCOUVER RELEASES OF 2013

11. Shawn Mrazek Lives! – Thought He Was Dead (Are You Mad At Me? Records/Lost Sound Tapes)

Thought He Was Dead traces songwriter Shawn Mrazek’s journey from darkness to light. These scorching indie rock songs were inspired by pain, with lyrics that address substance abuse, self-doubt and depression. But Shawn Mrazek Lives! finds joy in this harrowing subject matter; there’s the promise of a new life when the singer declares “There is another world inside of this one” on the surging “Another World,” and he overcomes alienation during the climactic “Love Is Bursting Through the Walls.” Full of clanging electric guitars, euphoric energy, and healthy appreciation for proto-punk icons like Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, this eight-song album is a reminder that no matter how shitty your gets, there’s always salvation in love and music. (AH)

22. The Courtneys – The Courtneys (Hockey Dad Records)

Powered by Sonic Youth and their love for Keanu, this trio made serious waves with their breakout 12″ and pack a lot of punch with these eight reverb-drenched tracks. (GA)

33. Weed – Deserve (Couple Skate Records)

It has been a long time coming, but the Vancouver slacker-gaze rockers have delivered their debut LP and the wait was worth it. Packed with swirling guitars, beautiful melodies and tortured vocals, Deserve is a true highlight of 2013. (JE)

44. Gold & Youth – Beyond Wilderness (Arts & Crafts Records)

Formerly known as Racoons, Gold & Youth emerged from the forest with an incredibly charged collection of dark and ethereal synth pop that stands out as one of this year’s finest. (GA)

55. Tough Age – Tough Age (Mint Records)

Contrary to what you may have read in VICE, no one in this band works in IT and we are in love with this “piece-of-trash ensemble.” Frontman Jarrett K is so damn huggable, he’s basically all we want for Christmas. (HI VICE)

66. Shad – Flying Colours (Black Box Music)

The Ontario-bred, Vancouver-based rapper expands his stylistic breadth on Flying Colours, concocting his most ambitious tracks without losing any of his good-natured charm. (AH)

77. Ladyfrnd – Ladyfrnd (Hybridity Music)

Try not to get tangled in the rapture of love that fuelled this now defunct but passionate project from Yuki Holland and Peter Ricq (Humans). Sparse instrumentation over minimalist beats and Holland’s hauntingly beautiful voice; this album should not be overlooked. (GA)

88. Baptists – Bushcraft (Southern Lord Records)

Brutally heavy and bursting at the seems with an unrelentingly vicious passion, Bushcraft is an phenomenal debut LP by all standards. The album moves at a breakneck pace and doesn’t let up for a second from start to finish. (JE)

99. Said The Whale – hawaiii (Hidden Pony Records)

This is Said The Whale’s fourth album, and the band’s experience is clearly paying off in the form of intricate arrangements and ultra-catchy pop hooks. (AH)

1010. Anciients – Heart of Oak (Season of Mist)

This is one burly mammoth of an album. Chocked full of muscly riffs, technical prowess and six-minute-plus songs, Heart of Oak is a maze of enjoyment. (JE)

1111. Gal Gracen – Blue Hearts in Exile (Green Burrito Records)

Songwriter Patrick Geraghty sets a sexy mood with sprawling guitar jams and swaths of reverb. Who knew background mood music could be so gripping? (AH)

1212. Tobeatic – All to Hell (independent)

Another vessel touches down upon Earth, offering up one hefty brew of sludge and classics. R’N’R heavier than lifting that ball busting Hammond up on stage? Almost, matched only with an enormous rhythm section and mountain of guitar cabs. (TL)

1313. Dead Soft – Teen Fiction (independent)

Remember that feeling of listening to Weezer’s Pinkerton for the first time? Dead Soft will make you feel like that all over again. Maddeningly catchy and completely irresistible. (JE)

1414. Louise Burns – The Midnight Mass (Light Organ Records)

Do you like the Cure’s Disintegration? Louise Burns clearly does, since the gorgeous soundscapes of The Midnight Mass capture a similarly dramatic sense of starry-eyed romance. (AH)

1515. The Rock Band Called Time – The Rock Band Called Time

A band whose time has come. A set of tapes, once dormant, now see the light of dance floor. These three R’N’R bastards lay down some quality with a nod to all that is good from Thin Lizzy’s legacy to the seeds planted in the Motor City. (TL)

1616. Three Wolf Moon – Three Wolf Moon (Neptoon Records)

Psychedelic rock is a hard thing to do right, but this Vancouver quintet does it with ease. Soaring guitars, bruised vocals, and entrancing grooves define this release. (JE)

1717. La Chinga – La Chinga (independent)

Drop that tab, what’s that tab? Don’t be afraid, it was just thunder underfoot. The mystic connection of this power trio debuts a hybrid distilling from only the finest outer reaches of hard and heavy rock for rockers by rockers. (TL)

1818. Nicholas Krgovich – Who Cares? (Jaz Records)

Who cares? We care! The new solo album from the P:ano/No Kids frontman uses an acoustic guitar and little else with strikingly intimate results. (AH)

1919. War Baby – Jesus Horse (self-released)

The power trio is an incredibly powerful symbol in rock ‘n’ roll, and War Baby are here to contribute to the mythology. This record is heavy, sludgy, and will have your head banging. (JE)

2020. The Belle Game – Ritual Tradition Habit (Boompa Records)

The Belle Game’s catchy indie rock songs are bright and punchy, but the atmospheric production gives Ritual Tradition Habit an undercurrent or immersive darkness. (AH)

2121. The Abramson Singers – Late Riser (independent)

Leah Abramson has one of the city’s most beautiful voices, and her silky singing shines on Late Riser’s beautiful folk tunes. (AH)

2222. Koban – null (The Broadway to Boundary Records)

There’s a very real and menacing aura to Koban’s latest release. Sam Buss and Brittany Westgarth sing over their noisy compositions from a loud speaker in the corner of the office, as if to say, “Attention: report to your supervisor for a sullen moment of reflection.” (MY)

2323. Jay Arner – Jay Arner (Mint Records)

Jay Arner’s Mint debut must have manifested itself into the label’s new release calendar because of its unbelievable pop production. Each of these twelve songs sound like a craft-beer-drinking, vinyl-collecting, power-pop-loving indie fan’s dream. (MY)

2424. Bishops Green – Bishops Green (Longshot Music/Rebellion Records)

Seems an oxymoron, but these local purveyors of street punk have achieved bonafide “punk” lord status across the pond. One listen to their infectious and sold out debut will explain why their glass raising live sing-a-long shows and second pressing have become such a sought-after ticket. (TL)

2525. White Poppy – White Poppy (No Not Fun Records)

All of White Poppy’s releases to date have been doused in a head-swimming haze of echo, reverb and distortion, and this excellent full-length is no different. This is, of course, a good thing. (AH)

By Alex Hudson, Glenn Alderson, Joshua Erickson, tiina liimu, Mathieu Youdan and HI VICE

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