The year is less than half over, and already Vancouver’s music community has given us a wealth of memorable releases. Below are five top-notch albums — one for each month of 2016 so far — ranging from five-track debut EPs to 16-track dance marathons.
II, by Mu (Boompa Records)
Immediately from the album’s opening track, “Disarmed,” listeners are dropped back into the soundscape that duo Brittney Rand and Francesca Belcourt first constructed on their 2014 self-titled release.
While the exploration of relationships — both the welcoming and parasitic ones — remains a prominent theme throughout II, the sense of changing youth also rings true, from penultimate track “16 Years” to anthemic single “Debauchery.” As Rand and Belcourt serenade on the latter, “Debauchery ain’t what it used to be.” Thankfully, Mu prove they’ve not only maintained their charm, but they’re as potent and mysterious as ever.
Late Bloomer, by Devours (Locksley Tapes)
Full disclosure: I saw Jeff Cancade a.k.a. Devours open for another band back in February, and his set didn’t really stand out to me. There’s just something about Late Bloomer that commands attention, though. Maybe it’s Cancade’s haunting-yet-omnipresent vocals, or maybe it’s the undeniable catchiness of hilariously named tracks like “Freddy Krueger Honeymoon Suite,” but the synth-laden album makes for a hell of a first full-length for Devours.
Playland, by Supermoon (Mint Records)
A staple in Vancouver’s music scene since even before their debut album, Comet Lovejoy, four-piece Supermoon are back and more melodic than ever on their sophomore release Playland.
Distributed through long-standing Vancouver label Mint Records, Playland continues the band’s trend: pairing upbeat pop numbers with lyrics that take a second for you to register their intensity. More sullen tracks like “Witching Hour” and “Fast Fashion” provide a nice juxtaposition to songs like premiere single “Bottleships,” constructing an album that’s a cosmic treat for the ears.
Also, mark your celestial calendars, because Playland’s release party is happening on May 19 at the Astoria.
Beach Church, by Dumb (Independent)
Fantastic name aside, there are plenty of reasons to embrace the hype around the boys in Dumb. For one, they’re already three releases deep in a career that only started last year. Two, their cassette from earlier this year, Beach Church, while being a chaotic assortment of genres (notes of punk, shoegaze, grunge, and surf-rock, paired with unabashed vocals), somehow makes this medley work in a surprisingly listenable fashion. Add to the mix the accolade of having opened for grunge-rock golden boys Parquet Courts back in February, and you can see how Dumb has the potential to ride this wave of success all the way to shore.
1.6.16, by Mark Mills (Independent)
An import to Vancouver by way of Calgary, Alberta — where he’s already one of the sexier names in Canada’s dance-pop scene — Mills’ third full-length is his most ambitious yet, with 12 new tracks ready to quench your earbuds. Through a lens of “electro dance beats,” Mills explores themes you’d rarely find on a pop album, from pending personal mortality on “Dancing with Death” to Canada’s often glossed-over history of cultural genocide on “Colonial.” But moody lyrical overtones aside, 1.6.16 delivers a non-stop string of affectionately dubbed bangers, from the funky pop-onslaught “MRS.” to crown jewel “Bank Account.” There’s no dance party quite like a Mark Mills dance party.