Vancouver’s musical history has been shaped by many of the same movements that occurred in its Pacific Northwest sisters Portland and Seattle. Grunge rock, indie folk and DIY record labels are also popular in Canada’s side of the Northwest. But Vancouver has also created its own distinct sound over the years as well. This playlist hopes to highlight the unique artists that make up Vancouver.
1. Where Does The Good Go – Tegan and Sara – 2004
Originally from Calgary, Alberta, twin sisters Tegan and Sara have since settled in the Vancouver area and divide their time between the city and Portland, Oregon. The duo released nine studio albums and were an indie favorite in the 2000’s. They received a Grammy nomination in 2012 and remain a popular collaborator with other artists.
2. Fool For Waiting – Dan Mangan – 2018
A two-time Juno Award winner, singer-songwriter Dan Mangan is also a contributing writer to both The Guardian and The Huffington Post Canada. His literary background comes to life in his songs, many of which draw upon the lyrical themes of past folk greats Nick Drake and Bob Dylan.
3. Run Away With Me – Carly Rae Jepsen – 2015
A global pop sensation from her 2012 hit Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen has since shown deeper pop chops with polished songwriting, energetic stage performances and impressive vocals. Although her most commercially successful albums have been saccharine pop, her album Emotion in 2015 won critical acclaim for its retro 80’s dance vibes and compositions.
4. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams – 1984
One of Canada’s most successful musicians, Bryan Adams rose to fame in the 80’s with hit singles like Summer of ’69, Heaven and Run to You. He’s received fifty-six Juno Award nominations as well as fifteen Grammy Award nominations. In 2006 he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
5. The Challengers – The New Pornographers – 2007
A musical collective made from singer-songwriters and musicians from multiple different projects, The New Pornographers have released eight studio albums and were an indie rock sensation for much of the 2000’s.
6. When She Loved Me – Sarah McLachlan – 1999
One of Canada’s best-selling artists, Sarah McLachlan was born in the Maritime provinces but made her first start in Vancouver. She has sold over forty million albums world-wide and has won two Grammy Awards as well as four Juno Awards.
7. Don’t Go – Hannah Georgas – 2016
One of Vancouver’s most beloved local talents, Georgas was nominated for both Best New Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year at the 2011 Juno Awards. She has released four studio albums and has toured widely in both North America and Europe.
8. That’s Progress – D.O.A – 1989
One of Canada’s founding hardcore punk bands, D.O.A are as known for their outspoken political opinions as they are for their music. Notable for their anti-racism, anti-globalism, and environmental stances, the band’s motto is “talk minus action equals zero”. This propels them to numerous benefit concerts as well as a history of contributing to political causes and social movements.
9. Seize The Day – Carolyn Arends – 1999
Canadian Christian musician Carolyn Arends began her career as a songwriter in Vancouver at Benson Music Publishing. In 1995 she began touring and releasing her own music. Since then she has released eleven albums and remains a fixture of Canadian Christian music.
10. We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time) – Trooper – 1977
A classic Canadian rock band, Trooper is one of Canada’s best-selling bands of all-time and continue to tour widely throughout the country and wider North America. They have released nine studio albums and multiple compilation albums.
11. I Wish I Was The Moon – Neko Case – 2002
Neko Case left her family home at age fifteen. By eighteen she was performing in bands as a drummer and soon after she was recording her own albums. In a career over four decades, Case has created music under multiple bands and record labels. Her music defies traditional genres and includes elements of country, folk and indie rock. Best known for her work with the New Pornographers and case/lang/veirs, Neko Case is one of the biggest stars in the orbit of Vancouver alternative music.
12. Angel – Theory of a Deadman – 2014
While they contain elements of other genres such as country and folk, Theory of a Deadman fits neatly into the hard rock post-grunge rock that developed in the early 2000’s. They had several top hits in the 2000’s and remain an active touring band.
13. Born Losers – Matthew Good – 2013
Founder and lead singer of the Matthew Good Band, Matthew Good has since established himself as both a solo singer-songwriter as well as political activist and mental health advocate. He has received twenty-one Juno Award nominations with four award wins.
14. She’s so High – Tal Bachman – 1999
A true one-hit wonder, She’s So High reached the number-one spot on the Billboard Adult Top 40 as well as number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100.
15. Home For a Rest – Spirit Of The West – 1990
Blending elements of Celtic folk, hard rock and British pop, Spirit of the West created a sound that was one of the most popular Canadian alternative acts of the 90’s. They released a dozen albums before their eventual demise in 2016.
16. Islands – Hey Ocean! – 2012
Indie pop sensation Hey Ocean! was nominated as a Breakthrough Group of the Year at the Juno Awards in 2013 and have released five studio albums. The band remained unsigned for years and managed their own record production and marketing before signing with Universal Music Canada in 2011.
17. I Love You – Said The Whale – 2013
Juno Award winning Said The Whale were founded in Vancouver in 2007. They have since released six studio albums and tour widely through Canada and the United States.
18. Every Soul’s a Sailor – Stephen Fearing – 2017
Folk and roots singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing has released more than a dozen studio albums and remains one of Canada’s most prolific folk singers. He also makes up part of the folk supergroup Blackie and the Rodeo Kings with Colin Linden and Tom Wilson.
19. Push – Moist – 1994
In line with Vancouver’s Pacific Northwest neighbors to the south, Moist was one of the region’s top grunge bands in the 90’s. The band received ten Juno Award nominations and is one of the top twenty best-selling bands in Canadian history.
20. Competitive Depression – Lightning Dust – 2019
With their minimalist instrumentation and gothic lyrics, Lightning Dust is one of Vancouver’s most interesting contemporary bands. The band started as a side project for members of the band Black Mountain.
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