The Canyon Rays
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The Canyon Rays

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Pop




"Premiere: The Canyon Rays release holiday EP 'Christmas in California'"

The Canyon Rays meld ’60s California pop with modern indie themes for this year’s four-track holiday EP. The four-piece group, led by songwriter/producer and San Francisco native Luke Hamel, shuttles between San Francisco and Los Angeles to release the EP just in time for Christmas.

Hamel’s vocals, accompanied by William Vitale on guitar, Trey Macias on percussion, and Casey Baird on drums, match laid-back beach sounds with hooky pop motifs for a warming tribute to the holidays on both sides of California. Stream Christmas in California below, released exclusively to The Bay Bridged for Christmas. - The Bay Bridged

"WATCH | The Canyon Rays - Teenage Bliss"

California's pop enthusiasts The Canyon Rays are pleased to share the video for their latest single "Teenage Bliss". Directed by neo psychedelic filmmaker Yoshi Sodeoka, the video harks back to an 80's aesthetic with a kaleidoscope of images and sounds. The track will appear on their upcoming West Coast Babes LP later this year. Luke Hamel, the creative force behind The Canyon Rays, explains;

"The track is about following a girl into the future, when the singularity has arrived and everyone has reverted to a paganistic sun-god worship."

California dream-pop instrumentalist Luke Hamel is no stranger to the sunshine pop of Southern California. The Canyon Rays founded their name as a tribute to the legendary Laurel Canyon, where, in addition to Echo Park, Hamel wrote and recorded the band's forthcoming LP, a love song to the Golden State. It's classic power pop at it's best with a mix of nostalgia and soft-psychedelic revival.

In 2013, The Canyon Rays released the holiday EP "Christmas in California." The San Francisco music blog, The Bay Bridged, debuted the EP, celebrating its "laid-back beach sounds with hooky pop motifs - a warming tribute to the holidays on both sides of California." - Alt Sounds

"The Canyon Rays “Teenage Bliss” Video"

Framed by the television box, “Teenage Bliss” is much more interested in playing with retro computer graphics and colour definition than distinguishing the faces that make up L.A.’s the Canyon Rays.

Fronted by Luke Hamel, the five-piece psychedelic pop band has in “Teenage Bliss” a short, feel-good song that is certainly a sign of things to come off their debut LP, West Coast Babes, set for release this fall.

West Coast Babes is themed around “a love letter to the golden state along with the girls that make it the most heartbreaking place to live,” according to the band’s Facebook bio.

Directed by filmmaker Yoshi Sodeoka, “Teenage Bliss” is a good place to start things off with. - Vancouver Weekly

"Ears Wide Open: The Canyon Rays"

As long as there is California, songwriters will be penning paeans to the West Coast dream. And so it goes with the Canyon Rays, named as an homage to Laurel Canyon and sounding every bit as sunny as a beach. The band is the work of songwriter Luke Hamel, who debuted last December with a Christmas EP. One of EP’s four songs, “Like a Sunburn,” will appear in the forthcoming short film “Mandroid,” directed by Victoria Rose and executive produced by James Franco. Hamel, meanwhile, is at work on the Canyon Rays’ full-length, “West Coast Babes.” The synth-propelled first single “Teenage Bliss” would have been right at home in the early New Wave, and the song gets a trippy video treatment from director Yoshi Sodeoka. Top down, sunglasses on, radio up. - See more at: - BuzzBands LA

"West Coast Babes in Impose Magazine's "Pop Week in Review""

LA’s The Canyon Rays provided us with an exclusive listen to the September 2 slated album West Coast Babes, featuring the sunny California pop visions of Luke Hamel. With a name inspired by the music from Laurel Canyon, Luke pens pop to keep the summer season raging year round and the Cali pop canon up to date.

On “I Love You Still”, Luke sings out a steadfast, unwavering, and unconditional attachment against all the odds, as “The Sunshine Growers” plants seeds of harmonizing vibrations and astrological alignment, where every living organism reaches upward to the burning rock in the galaxy. Desire to take back time abound on the slow-sunny groove of “American Girlhood”, while “To Live And Die In Tivoli, NY” marries the past and present with quirky East Coast meets West Coast dreamers on the lyrics, “disco songs from the 70s, when Lou Reed passed we took ecstasy.” The power pop and three part harmonies that Hamel favors are elevated to the electric post synth-pop ages in singularity survival on “Teenage Bliss”, bringing that summer-sappy feeling still flying through the fall harvest season on radio chair rocker, “October Trees”.

Busting out some of the vintage drum machines to use like a metronome, “Turn Off The Wave Machine” takes an inspirational pop turn with the super hippy motivational chakra alignment of “soon you will be free, drifting with the stars caught in the moonless vast skies.” And then the trip thickens as “Karmic Dream Sequence #2″ creates an ambiance that rises from the smoggy Los Angeles air and seeks the nearby canyon basins and Westward shores. “Karmic Dream” shows off the more psych side of The Canyon Rays, where the sustains and controlled discord finds a melody mode of their own accord. Closing it out, “Love Disease” stays true to Luke’s sentimental side of song composition that weighs out the bonds of love and a sweeping choral ode to freedom. West Coast Babes is one of those LA pop dream albums that could only have been made in the city of angels to acquire its pop wings. Luke joins us for an interview following this premiere album stream advance:
Taking inspiration from Laurel Canyon, what is about your love for the Golden State that inspired you to begin The Canyon Rays?

Whether driving north on the 101 across the Golden Gate bridge or on the PCH by Big Sur, California sounds best to me when set to the soundtrack of bright guitars, lush vocal harmonies and tambourines. In the same way that the Strokes’ Is This It sounds like New York, with the first Canyon Rays album I wanted to make a record that was evocative of the place I live. As synthesized music becomes more and more ubiquitous, I still find the ecstatic guitar jangles of a song like “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” by the LA bred band the Byrds intoxicating!

When were you first struck by the West Coast magic of sun-kissed power pop?

When I first started illegally downloading music at age 12 or so, I was irrationally worried about the feds bursting down my bedroom door and arresting me. This was during Metallica’s highly publicized Napster witch hunt. One of the only songs I risked illegally downloading on LimeWire was “Good Vibrations”, by the Beach Boys. Being amongst the few songs I had on the computer I listened to it over and over and over—I had never heard anything so wild and colorful! I guess I’ve never really gotten over that feeling.

Beyond the overstated Beach Boys/Wilson legacies and whatnot, what do you feel is the true legacy and attraction that so many creative people have with the land that lies near the Pacific waters?

While I’m of the opinion that it’s difficult to overstate the importance of the Beach Boys’ legacy, I do get what you’re asking. I think at the most basic level: whether it’s the foggy hills of SF or the sun drenched boulevards of LA, there’s something simply inspiring about California’s environment. When it gets in your blood it’s impossible to get it out!

Between your Christmas in California EP to the West Coast Babes album; what have you discovered about your self as a musician, a songwriter, etc?

I cannot be talked out of ideas like having my new band’s first release be a Christmas EP, despite my friends and loved ones’ most strident efforts.

I feel like West Coast Babes straddles this line between vintage and new wave Cali pop, like “Teenage Bliss” takes the California dream to modern places with classic pop structures. How do you rectify the tropes of new and old workings in your sound?

While it may be a somewhat unpopular opinion, I find the best of modern Top 40 pop music to be the most forward thinking work out there at the moment. My biggest influences will always be the classic dudes like Big Star, The Millennium or My Bloody Valentine, but at the time I was recording West Coast Babes, I was almost exclusively listening to the album Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen and Take Me Home by One Direction. A good example how this plays out can be found in my song “I Love You Still”—while there is an obvious homage to Brian Wilson in the tune, the vocal melody was an attempt to emulate the sing-along simplicity of Dr. Luke’s songwriting.
What was the process of writing and recording West Coast Babes like for you?

Mostly agonizing. When you start learning to play music as a kid, the visceral joy of it really sucks you in. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found the pure fun of music replaced by an almost obsessive need to express myself that makes the process of writing and recording both excruciating and rewarding.

What LA and/or other California artists we should know about and listen to that are not getting the exposure they deserve?

I am very fond of Frankie’s debut single “Blackout”, which was released a few weeks back. Pure summer pop gold! Additionally, I really love the wacky psychedelic duo Francisco y Madero, which is the product of a collaboration between San Franciscan and Mexican writer/producers.

Will you write another Christmas release? Perhaps something for 2014? I think you should. It’s interesting how Christmas compositions and arrangements break out some of the best in many artists.

Yes! I am releasing six new holiday songs this winter (including one New Year’s tune!), which will combine with the first EP to make the full Christmas in California LP. As I’m currently writing the songs for it in the middle of summer, I’ve been listening to a ton of holiday music these days. Not that you asked, but I highly recommend The Ventures’ Christmas Album, which is way better than you think it would be. Hopefully after finishing this upcoming batch of songs I will be able to psychologically move on from this Christmas obsession.

The Canyon Rays’ new album, West Coast Babes will be available September 2. - Impose Magazine


Christmas In California (EP)

Released: December 2013
  1. Snow Falls in San Francisco
  2. Like a Sunburn
  3. All Holidays
  4. Christmas in LA

West Coast Babes

Released: September 2014
  1. So Long Elsa Maye
  2. I Love You Still
  3. The Sunshine Growers
  4. American Girlhood
  5. To Live and Die in Tivoli, NY
  6. Teenage Bliss
  7. October Trees
  8. Turn Off The Wave Machine
  9. Karmic Dream Sequence #2
  10. Love Disease



The Canyon Rays are a California pop band hailing from Los Angeles. Fronted by lead singer, songwriter and producer, Luke Hamel, the five piece aim to combine the classic songwriting elements of the Beach Boys with modern neo-psychedelic influences, filtered through a contemporary pop sound.  Their music has been described by Alt Sounds: “It’s classic power pop at its best with a mix of nostaligia and soft-psychedelic revival.” The Canyon Rays founded their name as a tribute to the legendary Laurel Canyon, where, in addition to Echo Park, Hamel wrote, recorded and produced the band's debut LP, "West Coast Babes”.  LA Deli Magazine wrote: “The Canyon Rays expel positive vibes to no end, combined with uplifting back up vocals and just the right amount of synth to add a tinge of dream-pop into the mix.” “West Coast Babes,” released in September 2014 on iTunes, Bandcamp and Spotify, is a love letter to the golden state along with the girls that make it the most heartbreaking place to live. In the fall of 2014, the Canyon Rays successfully toured the Northeast, playing in 12 different cities and finished their last gig by drawing a crowd of 50+ in New York City. They have regional touring experience in California are poised to begin an extensive touring and performing schedule on the West Coast in 2015.
In 2013, The Canyon Rays released the holiday EP “Christmas in California." The San Francisco music blog, The Bay Bridged, debuted the EP, celebrating its “laid-back beach sounds with hooky pop motifs - a warming tribute to the holidays on both sides of California.” A song from the EP entitled, "Like a Sunburn," will be featured in an upcoming short film entitled, "Mandroid," directed by Victoria Rose and executive produced by James Franco. Their music has been featured on The Bay Bridged, Culture Collide, Diffuser, Buzzbands LA, Impose Magazine, LA Deli Magazine, and on college radio.  The Huffington Post spotlighted the band for their A-Side Sessions, and The Canyon Rays made their television debut on Fox 5’s Good Day New York.