Sun Wizard
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Sun Wizard

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock

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Mar
21
Sun Wizard @ Hard Luck Bar

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Mar
19
Sun Wizard @ Barfly

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Mar
16
Sun Wizard @ Cheer Up Charlie's

Austin, Texas, USA

Austin, Texas, USA

Music

Press


http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/podcasts/CBC-Radio-3-Track-of-the-Day/Sun-Wizard---Golden-Girl - CBC Radio 3


http://radio3.cbc.ca/#/podcasts/CBC-Radio-3-Track-of-the-Day/Sun-Wizard---Worlds-Got-A-Handle - CBC Radio 3


One of the more interesting albums this year comes from Vancouver’s Sun Wizard. Positively 4th Avenue skitters along with a super-diverse vibe that proves these dudes have listened well to their parents’ record collections. Not that these four are retro arrivistes. By straining their influences through their own obvious talents and recording with producers Dave Ogilvie (David Bowie, Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails) and Colin Stewart (Cave Singers, Black Mountain, Ladyhawk), the 10-tracker they came up with crackles with energy and eclecticism, offering everything from arena rock-sized ballads (Sour Note) to T. Rex-like acousta-boogie hits (Too Much On Your Mind). Whether they can keep up this sweet momentum is anybody’s crapshoot. For now, this one stays in the player. - Uptown Magazine


Sun Wizard pray to a different set of gods than cross-town rivals Black Mountain, but the cadence of their prayers is similar. The talented Vancouver, BC revivalists have capitalized on an electric live presence with their debut record, Positively 4th Avenue. It's an LP with a clear question in mind: is it still homage if they're doing it better? Not shying away from arena-fillers and a type of rock the world has reacting to for the past 30 or so years, Sun Wizard make the current crop of radio pop rock stars sound old and busted. "Sour Note" is the first Bryan Adams/Bon Jovi celebration in a decade and "Golden Girl" packs the kind of honesty and guitar confidence that made this stuff fun in the first place. Opener "World's Got A Handle" dips a toe into the '80s before closer "Buildings" talks about throwing "our money in the embers" while Bon Jovi sulks in a corner somewhere over being bested at his own game. It all makes Positively 4th Avenue a marquee Vancouver export and takes Sun Wizard from stellar opener to true headlining act. - Exclaim.ca


WHO
Vancouver retro-rockers.

DISCOGRAPHY
Maybe They Were Right (Self-released, 2009)
Positively 4th Avenue (Light Organ, 2011)

IN A NUTSHELL
Positively 4th Avenue may sound like it comes from the past, but it shows that Sun Wizard should have a future worth watching.

THE STORY
Positively 4th Avenue, the debut full-length from Sun Wizard, borrows pretty heavily from the past. This isn't a surprise. After all, their debut EP, Maybe They Were Right, sounded like a record from decades ago, so it only stands to reason that they'd look backwards for inspiration for their first LP as well.

What is a surprise, however, is that rather than revisiting '70s-style power-pop (a la Yukon Blonde and Zeus) -- which they did to excellent effect, I should add -- Sun Wizard opted for a different historical era this time around. Specifically, Positively 4th Avenue finds the band inhabiting a space that's much more narrowly defined: mid- to late '80s Minneapolis, and the likes of Soul Asylum and Paul Westerberg/The Replacements.

It's a little surprising that they'd change their sound so drastically; Maybe They Were Right showed that the band was incredibly good at sounding like they stepped out of the '70s, what with their jangly guitars and vocal harmonies. It would've been easy -- understandable, even -- for them to simply do more of the same this time around.

Instead the band seems to have rebuilt their sound from the ground up. Gone are the sunny harmonies, replaced by scratchy, throaty howls. Out (for the most part) are the big, arena-ready anthems, in are the straight-up, dive bar-oriented rockers.

It's a change, but it's one that Sun Wizard have no problem pulling off. Songs like "Safe and Sound" and "Sick of Waiting" crackle with a kind of dissolute, sleazy energy, while even the quieter tracks -- say, the twangy "Too Much On Your Mind" -- sound like they should be howled in a hungover daze.

Of course, there are still hints of the band's old sound. Listen closely to tracks like "10 Buildings" and "World's Got A Handle", and you'll still hear the band aiming for the rafters even as they sound like they're mucking around in the gutters. Every so often, they'll bust out some chiming guitars or harmonized vocals, and you can hear echoes of how what they were on their debut EP.

For the most part, though, Positively 4th Avenue is a record that sounds like it emerged from some dirty Minneapolis bar in the '80s, rather than a sun-bleached California arena the decade before. The one constant, I guess, is that Sun Wizard were awesome on their debut, and they're just as awesome now. - i(heart)music


4th Avenue is not a hip neighborhood in Vancouver. It's the antithesis of hip actually; overgrown with yuppies, expensive baby shops and yoga boutiques. It is, however, right by two of the city's post popular beaches, which seem to have an equal draw of Lulu Lemon MILFS and dudes with fake tans and shitty tribal tattoos (their natural predators). It's interesting then that a contingency of musicians can sustain themselves there in the decidedly un-chill environs, as if eking it out on a small island of creativity that's wholly sustained by fumes from the local record shop. Somehow that's where Sun Wizard has managed to thrive. With earthy grooves and a strong sense for their sound, they're a band that exists at the flashpoint between rootsy soulfulness and a compressed but unconfined energy.

With Positively 4th Avenue, the foursome coalesce these traits into a debut album that's full of as many folksy charms as it is big riffs. The album swims with ease and confidence. Many tracks sit well back in the groove, basking in the sun like summertime jams, summoning Garcia goodness and a well-traveled wholesomeness that seems not entirely innocent.

The album is evenly divided between straightforward driving tunes, like "Sick of Waiting," that feel raucous and Springsteen-infused with a healthy dose of sunshine, and deliberate honky-tonk tunes like "Too Much on Your Mind." Sun Wizard tastefully balances these sounds with harmonies and sparkling guitars that are cleverly placed but never too obvious.

All of these elements are equally apparent on "Middle of My Heart," which is undoubtedly one of the best songs I've heard this summer, irresistible with its syncopated breaks and subtle variations on the chorus. On it, and other tracks like "Little Less in Control", guitarists/singers Malcolm Jack and James Younger have a quality of restraint to their vocal attacks that push their parts to just the right pitch before subsiding.

Overall, Positively 4th Avenue is pretty well paced, and Sun Wizard pays close attention to how it flows from song to song. Despite this, some of the more straight-ahead rockers rely a bit too much on the strength of a chorus, and the dynamic between these tracks and the more down-tempo folksy tunes can be very obvious at times. The band tries to manage this by changing gears in sequence between strong and soft, but unfortunately, as a result the in-between songs like "Golden Girl" can get a bit lost in the mix.

With all of its mountainous topography, Sun Wizard ends the album with a whisper. The closing song "Buildings" floats along well enough on its own, though the breakdown is one of the best moments on 4th Avenue. Picking itself back up, Jack and Younger trade the refrain "Where do you go/ Where do you go at night, honey?," shifting beautifully into a final buildup that reaches just the right peak before grooving off into the sweet, ocean-kissed air.

Positively 4th Avenue drives as much as it drifts, and the album always keeps a sense of peaceful recollection of a great day spent adventuring the beaches in the part of town where the babes and bros keep a delicate body-hairless ecosystem. Sun Wizard is as much a response to its environment as its by-product, squeezing out the area's authentic charms by keeping true to its sense of untroubled optimism.

by Jordan Ardanaz

Key Tracks: Middle of My Heart, World's Got a Handle, Too Much on Your Mind - Spectrumculture.com


In Vancouver, the words "4th Avenue" have certain connotations. The street is best known for its Kitsilano shopping district, which is home to fashionable sushi restaurants, yuppie clothing boutiques and any number of spas and salons. Its music scene is hardly thriving, as it has none of the pubs or art spaces that line the sidewalks on Main Street or East Hastings. In other words, it's the last place you'd expect an up-and-coming indie rock band to want to associate with.

Sun Wizard isn't your average indie rock band, mind you. This week, the Vancouver four-piece dropped its debut full-length, the Bob Dylan-alluding Positively 4th Avenue. It's a title that's bound to leave a few local scenesters scratching their heads. After all, this is a group that has spent the past few years playing every dive bar and hipster hangout the city has to offer.

But these four dudes are clearly unconcerned with preserving their indie cred. In practically every interview they've done, they speak in glowing terms about radio rock bands like Bryan Adams, Oasis and Coldplay, making no secret of the fact that they hope to score mainstream popularity.

As you'd expect from a band with this list of influences, the 10 tracks on Sun Wizard's LP brim with fist-pumping grooves and catchy singalong choruses. Lead single "World's Got a Handle" kicks off the album with a Fleetwood Mac-style gallop, while the crunchy guitar tone and rasping vocals give it a dose of bar rock grit. The harmonica-assisted "Middle of My Heart" is similarly immediate, evoking Tom Petty with its sunny chord progression and cheery promise, "I'll meet you in the middle of my heart." Elsewhere on the album, the band flirts with folksy acoustic blues ("Too Much on Your Mind") and shaggy southern rock guitar jams ("Sour Note").
LISTEN TO THIS:

Sun Wizard - "World’s Got a Handle"

In other words, be prepared to check your snobbery at the door, since this is an album for indie kids and minivan-driving dads alike. Fittingly, the band released Positively 4th Avenue through Light Organ Records -- a subsidiary of 604 Records which was co-founded by the alt-rock boogieman himself, Nickelback's Chad Kroeger.

So if you happen to wander into one of the chichi shops on West 4th Avenue, don't be surprised if you hear Sun Wizard playing over the sound system. [Tyee] - TheTyee.ca



Vancouver used to suffer from a small town complex. For a city of its size, it always felt kind of insular, isolated, even low key. You’d see the same people every day, there’d be little or no hustle and bustle downtown, the night life was always shitty and the music scene was so underground and cliquey it almost
seemed covert.

With the arrival of the Olympics however, Vancouver has finally begun to shake off its personality disorder. The doors to the city are well and truly open and now more than ever, local as well as international culture is being embraced on a citywide level. There are more people on the streets, there are live performances during the day and more and more people are turning out to see bands play. Leading the musical renaissance is a mostly Vancouver-born foursome with their sights set well beyond the British Columbia frontier. “We don’t want to be big in Vancouver,” declares James Younger, guitarist and part-singer of Sun Wizard. “We want to be big in New York…England…Everywhere!” interjects chief vocalist Malcolm Jack.

James, Malcolm, Ben and Franky are Vancouver’s shining promise of gold. Since first becoming serious as a band eight months ago, the 20-something four-piece have seen their stock positively soar. And it looks set to continue doing so, too—Sun Wizard built their empire out of the most reliable building blocks possible—hard hitting hooks.

“I never really thought about being in a band that wasn’t trying to be a pop band, driven by choruses,” explains Manchester born James. “All bands in the UK want to do is get in the charts–why would you want to do anything else? In the UK it’s much more of an acceptable thing to do, but over here it’s kind of frowned upon… We want to get rid of that.”



By combining the stadium-sized choruses of favourites Oasis, with the more personal, heartfelt dynamic of singer/songwriter experts like Neil Young, Sun Wizard go some way to doing just that. While few bands are able to locate and apply their own blend of hedonistic rock and introspective songwriting, Sun Wizard do so with ease, finding their own brilliant space between the smart, the literate and the downright catchy. The key to the band’s formula is their unpretentious approach to music. Amongst other stadium-filling icons, the band confesses a love of Bryan Adams and openly admits that BBC’s pop radio station Radio 1 “is on it.” And their debut offering, last year’s Maybe They Were Right EP, is as honest and shamelessly pop-filled as they come.

Recorded during an irresistible Vancouver summer, the accomplished six-tracker is a breezy ode to the wonders of life around the BC countryside. “Sunlight’s golden, rivers run free/ Stop taking life so seriously,” harks the lead title “Glorious.” “We wrote all our songs in the summer when we were doing all we could to not go to bars in town and stuff like that,” explains Malcolm. “At that time of year,” continues James, “there really is nowhere more beautiful in the world. You can spend a day swimming in a lake before hopping in a hot tub, then just walking home. We’re always looking to get out of the city.” For an EP brewed within a city environment, Maybe They Were Right rings with an authentic folk aesthetic. The small-town nature of Vancouver may have had its side-effects, but the fact that the great outdoors have always been so immediately accessible is an incredible thing—and an idea that really helped shape Sun Wizard’s EP.

Unfortunately though, an arsenal of folk-tinted brilliance still isn’t all you need to make it these days. Indeed Sun Wizard must encounter the same problem that faces every band from Vancouver—somehow getting noticed outside the city. “It’s definitely really hard to break free of Vancouver,” bemoans James, “Its like Twin Peaks a bit—you kind of get stuck here. You might find that—you come to the city and you get stuck here.”



Just as most bands touring the US have traditionally avoided the short trip over the border from Seattle, Vancouver is likewise hardly a thriving hunting ground for talent scouts. “There’s a big bridge between Seattle and Vancouver,” James continues, “You’ll go down there and see someone like Stephen Malkmus is playing and you’ll be like, why isn’t he playing here? A lot of it is because of visa restrictions and liquor licenses.”

Nevertheless, James and Sun Wizard are confident in their ascent into wide popularity, “As a city, Vancouver is getting bigger, musically. Anyway, if you’re worried about getting noticed then you’re probably not good enough,” he offers flatly, “I’m optimistic about music. I think if you have it, if you’re good enough, they’ll come to you.”

This is an idea the boys are trying to put into practice. With the waves only just being felt on the back of their first EP release, Sun Wizard have already been back in the studio recording new material, eager to press forward, try new things and better themselves. “We’ve been playing the same stuff - ION magazine


At the Biltmore Cabaret on Saturday, February 13
It was business as usual for the Biltmore on Saturday night. Apart from some minor noise restrictions and the lack of fog billowing from the club’s smoke machine—concessions made to appease the guests packed into the adjoining Howard Johnson hotel—there was little to indicate that our fair town is in the midst of the Olympic onslaught.
The night known as Glory Days might have an awkward format—bands are sandwiched between dance-floor bangers typically reserved for the glitzy clubs lining the Granville strip—but the weekly event seems to hit home with fans of live music and Le Château–clad weekend warriors alike. Still, as the DJ’s swinging reggae-tinged beats gave way to Makeout Videotape’s fuzzy, garage-tinged pop, it was hard not to liken the experience to one of those incoherent dreams you have after polishing off a batch of funky chow mein. You know, the type of night terror that has you battling Jean-Claude Van Damme one second and doing the hustle with Céline Dion in a steamy Montreal disco the next. Thankfully, the disorientating sensation subsided once the local duo launched into its minimalist cock-eyed pop.
With frontman and guitarist Mac DeMarco taking the lead, Jenn Clement—who fills in when resident stickman Alex Calder is unable to make a gig—pounded away on her simple floor-tom-and-snare setup, her gaze never drifting too far from her fresh-faced bandmate. From the woozy stoner waltz “Eating Like a Kid” to the blissed-out lo-fi lullaby “Bye, Bye, Bye”, the pair entranced a crowd that only minutes earlier had been gyrating to red-hot club remixes. Standing behind her two-piece kit, Clement did her part to hold down the beat, but it was DeMarco who really kept things rolling with his Jonathan Richman meets No Age routine, more than proving that Unfamiliar Records was onto something by signing the outfit.
When it came time for Sun Wizard to take the stage, singer-guitarist James Younger couldn’t help but make light of the preceding electro chargers, dead-panning to the Biltmore’s tech: “Can we get more smoke, more lasers, more gunshots, and more Lil Jon?” Who’s to say if those taking refuge in the back even noticed Younger’s tongue-in-cheek request as they hammered down vodka Red Bulls; the enthralled Main Street regulars clustered around the stage sure seemed amused, though.
As for the local quartet’s performance, it was nothing but polished and on point. Regaling the crowd with pristine gems off of its debut EP, Maybe They Were Right, Sun Wizard whipped through the rollicking “You Had the Answer” and passionate blue-collar romp “Day In Day Out” before unleashing the new “Into the Night”, a lazy country-tinged number that surely garnered the guys a few more admirers.
Only moments after Sun Wizard unplugged its gear, a soul-drenched Bob Marley jam piped through the sound system, calling the frisky clubbers back to the dance floor. And 30 seconds later, it was as if the rock ’n’ roll component of Glory Days had never even happened.
- The Georgia Strait


Sun Wizard has no scenester pretensions
By Jenny Charlesworth

The rocking four-piece’s members don’t consider themselves too cool to enjoy the likes of Bryan Adams and Sam Roberts
Bryan Adams isn’t a name you hear all that often in the vicinity of Main Street. There’s always a chance hushed voices might be heard whispering about the famous expat in the back of some dimly lit Mount Pleasant bar, but for the most part, hipsters keep their love of the “Cuts Like a Knife” author close to their chest. Or at least that was the assumption before Sun Wizard released its debut EP, Maybe They Were Right.
“How can you refuse Reckless as the best record to come out of Vancouver in the last 30 years?” singer-guitarist James Younger exclaims, gulping back his super-sized root beer in the McDonald’s tucked away in the far corner of the Main Street bus terminal. “It’s radio-friendly rock that still has its integrity, and Bryan Adams wears that badge with pride—that’s something to strive for.”
With one member of Sun Wizard serving up drinks at the Biltmore and another about to move into a giant Winnebago parked behind the ever-popular Foundation Lounge, there’s no question that the year-old quartet—which also includes singer-guitarist Malcolm Jack, bassist-vocalist Frank Lyon, and drummer Ben Frey—has a stake in the Main Street scene. Yet somehow, the easygoing group has managed so far to escape the trappings of its too-cool-for-school peers.
“We actually really do love Bryan Adams, but you’re not meant to like guys like him,” Jack adds, seated next to his bandmate. “Take Sam Roberts, for instance. He’s totally a legit rock ’n’ roll guy who puts out tons of great albums, but you’re not supposed to like him—you have to like whatever garage band instead. I’m sure Sam Roberts is into Black Lips, but then Black Lips aren’t allowed to be into Sam Roberts. It’s frustrating.”
Be thankful that Sun Wizard doesn’t feel the need to keep up appearances, because if the band did, Maybe They Were Right could have ended up another pretentious clunker destined for the used bin at Zulu. Instead, the record stands as one of the most encouraging releases to come out of this city in ages.
Kicking off with a decidedly Strokes-y vibe before barrelling straight into the land of countrified pop, the opener “Glorious” wastes no time with timid introductions. Powered by blazing radio-rock bravado, Sun Wizard lays it on the line with mighty guitar riffs, tambourine accents, and chirpy hooks. While fans will delight in the freewheeling “You Had the Answer”—a barnburner boasting handclaps and gratuitous cowbell—the outfit soars just as high on more sentimental numbers like the heartstring tugger “Day in Day Out”.
But the real magic happens when you stop to admire the lyrical gold mine offered up by chief songwriters Younger and Jack. Tapping into a maturity and sophistication that would bring a twinkle to the eye of ol’ Adams himself, the dedicated duo show off some serious chops, as evidenced by the following line from the EP’s title track: “I don’t have a clue why I’m afraid of a world that was made to unite me and you.”
“The reason me and Malcolm met and got on is because we’re both songwriters,” Younger explains, his thick accent betraying his Manchester roots. “There is an emphasis on songwriting and lyrics in our lives. We both take our songwriting kind of like ‘That’s what we do,’ and we push each other into a creative zone.”
Although Younger and Jack recently bid adieu to the drop-in songwriting forum they’ve hosted for the past two years at Café Montmartre, neither of them intend to ease off on their writing schedule.
“Not to sound boastful, but we’re prolific songwriters,” Younger says. “We write like 20 songs a week. Maybe two of them work, but we work on them every day.”
Despite Sun Wizard’s emerging-act status, the band seems to be charting quite the course. And with so much passionate dedication propelling the crew along, it’s anyone’s guess where the talented quartet will end up.
“We’re just going to record as many good songs as we can until someone is like, ‘Okay, great, this is perfect,’ ” Jack says when asked about label prospects.
“And they will, in the end,” Younger pipes in. “I’m totally optimistic about that.”
In the meantime, the boys hope that Vancouverites—and Mount Pleasant hipsters in particular—will loosen up and admit to their more questionable sonic pleasures.
“I want to know when people are just going to ’fess up and say they like Foreigner—literally, not in an ironic sense,” Younger proclaims. “It always has to be this slightly postmodern and slightly ironic appreciation, but bands like these are great and deserve respect.”
- The Georgia Strait


Discography

Sun Wizard’s debut EP “Maybe They Were Right was released in November 2009

Sun Wizard released “Quit Acting Cold” digitally and on 7” vinyl on December 21st, 2010

Sun Wizard’s full-length debut album “Positively 4th Ave” Released on March 29th, 2011

Photos

Bio

General Manager
info@simkinartistmanagement.com

Website
http://sunwizard.bandcamp.com/
http://www.lightorganrecords.com

Press Contact
darryl@stagefrightpublicity.com

Booking Agent
zaedmaqbool@theagencygroup.com

For licensing enquiries please contact:
Terrorbird Media in the US and Rest of World Lauren Ross E: lauren@terrorbird.com

Light Organ Records in Canada Katy Horsley E: katy@lightorganrecords.com

Sun Wizard first united back in 2008, when a couple of days on Vancouver Island turned into an impromptu acoustic gig gone right for bassist Francesco Lyon and songwriter-guitarists Malcolm Jack and James Younger. The lineup solidified the next spring, when drummer Ben Frey joined the fold and the four rockers began gigging regularly in the clubs and dive bars of their home city.

The Vancouver four piece didn't waste any time in hitting the studio, recording the EP Maybe They Were Right in summer 2009 and self-releasing it later that year. Meanwhile, they continued to hone their live chops, becoming local favourites and sharing the stage with the likes of Smith Westerns, Vetiver, Girls and the Cave Singers.

The band's back-to-basics rock style and blue-collar work ethic earned the attention of newly-minted Vancouver label Light Organ Records, who issued a seven-inch, Quit Acting Cold, in summer 2010. This was followed in March 2011 by the band's full-length debut, Positively 4th Avenue. Recorded to tape at the iconic Mushroom Studios by Colin Stewart and Dave Ogilvie, this ten-track collection showcases the band's no-bullshit formula of catchy choruses and fist-pumping energy. The band's timeless rock 'n' roll sound traces its lineage from the Kinks through to classic acts like Fleetwood Mac and Tom Petty, as well as recent revivalists like Oasis and the Strokes.

After touring Canada throughout the summer of 2011, in support of Positively 4th Avenue, the band went straight back into the studio, this time around with Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat), and began working on their Sophomore Album, due to be released in the spring of 2012.

Look for the rockers to hit the road soon and deliver their tunes in the only way they know how: fast, loud, and uncompromisingly honest.

PRESS:

"Sun Wizard make the current crop of radio pop rock stars sound old and busted." -Exclaim!

"Positively 4th Avenue has the potential to become the rock ’n’ roll soundtrack to your summer" -The Vancouver Sun

"The real magic happens when you stop to admire the lyrical gold mine offered up by chief songwriters Younger and Jack" -The Georgia Straight