Spotlight | Holy Smokes Staff Picks 2016


Happy Holidays Smokers! It has been an exciting year for music in Victoria and we thought we'd share our gratitude in the form of a local review. Here are our staff picks of 2016. Enjoy and thank you for an amazing year!



Jons - At Work on Several Things

Arguably the most anticipated local release of 2016, Jons’ At Work on Several Things is a densely populated album of smirking riffs, tascam tape production and the shimmering, natural chorus of dual guitar harmonies. As a follow up to 2014’s Serf’s of Today, At Work on Several Things offers more ambitious production, songwriting and arrangement without abandoning the shoegaze trill that Jons established with Serfs. It’s a dream phaser set on sway, or someone with the remote surfing channels through the back of your mind. It’s post-punk personified, falling asleep in the back seat of your car, Sean Flynn muttering in the stereo. You take a new exit, and remind yourself to get out of the house more often.

- Joseph Leroux


Hansmole - Endless Abundance EP 

Endless Abundance EP by Hansmole provided us with a comforting fall treat. With songs written from different mental perspectives than her previous releases, the songs are lighter and happier in content. Hansmole’s signature spooky synth sound is prevalent throughout, with an overlay of guitar and ukelele. Expect great things from her in the future as she continues to make Victoria proud. Check out Hansmole’s review/interview here.

- Curtis Lockhart



New kids on the block Grotto Mall put forth a solid debut with their self titled, self produced EP. Short and sweet, frontman Charles Appleton’s unaffected vocals take us through three lovelorn jangly pop tunes about a lady named Jean.  Expect more good things from this newly formed four-piece in the future.  

- Serena Sousa


Croatia - I Wish I Could Be Holy

I Wish I Could Be Holy will be the last release from Croatia as far as we know, as frontwoman Tash has left us for Montreal, where she will undoubtedly do great things. Nonetheless, this record matches a fully realized electronic, synth-pop vision with incredibly tight production and dreamy vocals. Just check it out already!

- Colin Crawford

Wept - I Shaved My Head EP

I Shaved My Head EP marked the beginning of a new frontier for Victoria emo boys Wept, fka ACAB Rocky. This is their first release under the new moniker, which features two covers and the title track. The music is soft and heartfelt but has energetic peaks throughout. Emo-indie covers of Drake’s Hold On, We’re Going Home and Snowing’s Pump Fake show Wept’s pop-influenced side. All in all, this can be seen as a gift to fans, thanking them for their support over the years as they continue on in their careers under their new name.

- Curtis Lockhart


Z!K - Shoplifting at American Apparel

If you’ve followed Z!K over the years you’ll know that this EP has been long anticipated, and as it turns out, it was well worth the wait.  Produced and mixed entirely by the band, Shoplifting At American Peril takes you on a proto-punk journey through time.  Borrowing elements from surf, rockabilly, british invasion and of course punk rock, Z!K has made a record that fits right in with the likes of The Kinks and Iggy Pop.  You should show this album to your dad, he’d probably freak out!

- Owen Hooper


Schoolgirl - Mesmer

The brutal, improvised carnage of Mesmer did not grow up playing nice. SCHOOLGIRL’s latest release (available digitally and on cassette via Gary Cassettes & Discontinuous Innovations) is a bruise of early Swans, harsh free jazz and cathartic noise that “has no plan of being the bigger man in this situation”. Fans of Death Grips or Scott Walker’s collaborations with Sunn 0))) might be able to get down. Otherwise, this yard bully will reave you and leave you. Try not to hurt yourself.

- Joseph Leroux

Loving - Self-Titled

If we could choose the soundtrack to our dreams, Loving’s self-titled album would be our first choice.  In those dreams, everyone is stoned, on a beach and passively in love. Their debut album comes in a daze of synthesized waves and soft instrumentals that emphasize brassy handpicking. It’s fair to say that we are loving this album.

- Elyse Mathes 


Kye Plant - Thank You For Mental Illness

Thank You For Mental Illness is the second EP we were lucky enough to get from Kye Plant in 2016. Shifting from the guitar-centric Sober and Alone EP to a softer, slower, synthier groove, this artist shares some raw, emotional slow jams about addiction and mental health. We are thankful for the space Kye creates for conversation and catharsis through their music. Catch their next show on December 30th at the Copper Owl!

- Colin Crawford


Death Kart - Bedroom Sessions Vol.1

We fucking love this band for so many reasons.  Just listen to the tunes, try to see them live if you can and get ready for their next record. Don’t be an Idiot, follow Death Kart on Facebook.  If you like cool music you’ll like these guys. Come on, what else do we need to say?  We’ll pay you to like this band if we have to. Just fucking do it.

- Owen Hooper


Painted Fruit // Smoke Eaters - Split 7"

When we heard that Painted Fruit and Smoke Eaters would be doing a split 7" this past summer, we were overjoyed. Clocking in at 5:44's, Painted Fruit's Judgement is a rickety roller coaster of fun, lead by Noah Varley's deep psychedelic vocals. Flipping the record over, Smoke Eaters lay down two solid tracks in Bonnie and Teacher. While both tracks are insanely catchy, they do a wonderful job of giving you two completely separate pop experiences. We're excited to see whats in store for these two bands in 2017. 

- Colby Carruthers


Bodies - Self-Titled

Releasing their debut self-titled record on the cusp of summer, the boys in Bodies captured the essence of nostalgia. Sprinkled with reverb soaked guitar riffs, punchy bass lines and voracious drum fills, they embodied the bedroom rock soundscape. Tracks such as This Means Nothing and 33 are personal favourites, there placement on the record alongside Tyler Paterson's emotionally charged vocals are just the best. Be sure to catch these bad boys do their thing live sometime soon.

- Colby Carruthers



Naked Chillen - Born To Be Hustler

From the outset, Naked Chillen grabs your attention with the down-tempo jazz intro Nothing Wrong. From here we are launched into a loungey, ‘80s lo-fi dreamscape. This release leaves you hanging on every pitch-bend, flute solo and string arrangement. Start the new year off right with an elusive live performance from Naked Chillen January 6 at Logans.

- Colin Crawford


Germany Germany - Summer Mixtape

Germany Germany’s Summer Mixtape is a collection of select songs originally released between  2010-2016 by producer/instrumentalist Drew Harris. It acts as a self-released best-of, aimed at showcasing listeners the breadth of Harris’ Distorted Disco Records, as well as a fundraising device for this Ugandan charity. There’s an element of nostalgia in this release that might not have been present when the tracks were first dropped. The chorus of Tall Trees from his collaboration with Stefaloo is reminiscent of the backing vocals on The Postal Service’s The District Sleeps Alone Tonight. Natural ft. Donne, taken from 2011’s Adventures reveals an earlier stage of Harris’ production style, still full of the elements he would hone in the future. These elements (introspective vocal features, warm melodies and layered percussion) weave a thread of consistency throughout this selective re-release.

- joseph Leroux


Mouth Breather - Shrug

Ancient mystics live all around us... but do they live above us?  We all seem to accept that there are people up top calling the shots, but are the people in the driver’s seat slowly inching us over the double yellow line?  And if so, is there going to be anything worth seeing over there?

- Anonymous