The YYC Music Awards: Opening Ears to the City Scene

The YYC Music Awards go down once again on Sept. 24 at Grey Eagle Event Centre, and I always love this event as it showcases some of Calgary’s finest talent, and even lets someone such as myself discover new acts. This month we’re gonna talk about the five acts up for X92.9’s Alternative Recording of The Year.


As I mentioned earlier, there are even acts I discover with the YYC Music Awards and this band is one of them. They’re arguably one of the scene’s most unique offerings with their experimental, self-described emo/math-rock. The new single, Quanzor, hits an emotional punch without saying a single word. Keep an ear out for this act on Sept. 24 and beyond.


The gents in NIKU are not only some of the nicest guys out there, but they make killer rock tunes, too. Over the last couple years of NIKU’s life it feels like they have been going non-stop with constant gigs — including snagging the opening spot for The Beaches at X92.9’s One Weekend Only — and a consistent onslaught of banger tracks including their debut self-titled record with standouts such as Follow, Spinning Out, and the album opener, Waking Up. NIKU have proven with their relentless hard work, and stellar live show, they are ones to watch.


Kue Varo and The Only Hopes seem to be one of the most buzzed-about acts recently in the Calgary scene. Not only do they have a distinct sound, but they even got featured in Exclaim which granted them some national exposure. There is a ton of hype for their upcoming record Cowboy Witchcraft, which is set to drop on Oct. 11. It will be the first album in three years from Kue Varo and the first with the full addition of The Only Hopes. With all the chatter about this act it would be far from an upset to see them take home Alternative Recording of The Year.


Of all the acts out there who try to blend the early emo sounds of the 2000s with modern indie-rock sensibilities, JVNO The Bard feels like one who truly channels that feeling. His nominated single, Castaway, could easily be a trip back to high school for this 34-year-old man, but instead feels very now. JVNO The Bard seems to take influence from his predecessors, and makes a sound all his own. If you want to relive your youth with an act making cool tunes in 2023 then put on JVNO The Bard — especially as we try to cherish these fleeting days of summer.


This act snagged the Alternative Recording of The Year in 2022 so could they go for a two-fer? Quite possibly as The Royal Foundry are one of Alberta’s most talked-about acts. The Royal Foundry formed in Edmonton, but recently came down to Calgary, and got a place in High River. There must be something in the water as The Royal Foundry have been hitting another gear recently from their energetic and engaging live shows, to their songs on the radio which are constant fan favourites on X92.9. The band is currently working on the follow-up to their huge album Wake Up Wake Up and I have no doubt these wonderfully kind, and ridiculously talented artists can once again put Calgary on the map as a true music city.