2016 Wasn’t So Bad: Debrief & Fav Albums

Hey friends,

In obvious news, 2016 has finally come to a close. I feel like the media Buzzfeed would have you think it was a shitty year, but I’ve heard a lot of people say it was an amazing year for them. I was no exception. My 2016 was full of great experiences, personal growth and refining myself.

When 2016 started:

  • I was awaiting surgery to repair a hernia I had suffered

  • severly allergic to all nuts

  • I lived in a dive of an apartment by myself

Now all of those things have changed:

  • I underwent successful surgery in March

  • I can now eat pistachios, pecans and cashews

  • I moved into a sweet new apartment in nice part of town

And on top of those highlight accomplishments, I bought my very first car; saw Radiohead (and more) at Osheaga in Montreal; expanded my knowledge of music and writing, met quality people and friends. The only thing missing from 2016 was me finishing some music and releasing it. When evaluating my year, that’s the only negative point I gave myself. But all is not lost: I started some really exciting projects with other musicians – and did release Montreal, a song from the forthcoming unnamed 2017 album. The rest of the year was spent grinding out new ideas, practicing old ones and trying to define the sound and feelings of my next album. I’m getting there and mark my words, it’ll be released sometime in 2017. It is number one on my list of things to do. It’s about half written and I’ve almost figured out the flow and the feelings of it. You’re going to love it.

I thought I might also give a countdown of my top 16 albums of 2016 to finish this blog. I’ve attached a link to each album on the list for you to check out for yourself.

16. The Great Detachment – Wintersleep

15. Cloak – Jordan Rakei

14. low kii savage – kiiara

13. Junk – M83
Along with seeing Radiohead at Osheaga, I saw M83, an amazing French group. They had so much energy and an unreal array of ear candy. It really inspired me in my own productions and I’ve listened to this album so many times since seeing them. It’s truly a work of art.

12. Conscious – Broods

11. Skin – Flume

10. Once The Lights Are On – CHINAH
I really love CHINAH. This EP is actually chalked full of cool sounds, great arrangements and catchy vocals. Youtube only had this song, but I highly recommend checking out the full EP.

9. Cleopatra – The Lumineers
Another fantastic band I witnessed at Osheaga. I liked this album before I went but there was something about seeing them live that made me appreciate them much more profoundly.

8. Woman – Justice
This album has so much going for it. Catchy vocals, sweet retro synths, flashy electric guitars, fancy arrangements. What’s not to love?

7. Congrats – Holy Fuck
These guys were my first ever bar show. I was 18 in Montreal and saw them at Club Soda for the JazzFest. It was incredible then and it was even cooler seeing them this past Fall for HPX. It’s so cool to see an electronic band NOT have a laptop on stage. Every sound you heard is created right in front of your eyes and that’s a really powerful thing.

6. Full Circle – Haelos
A lovely band. Well composed, well executed, but unfortunately couldn’t see them at Osheaga because Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing at the same time 🙁 Maybe another time. Until then, I’m left with endlessly consuming this KEXP Youtube video.

5. Phase – Jack Garratt
Jack Garratt is easily my favourite discovery in 2016. I heard his song Worry a few months before he was the first performer I saw at Osheaga where I turned full out fanboy. He combines real instrumentation with electronic sounds and does it so well. It’s a huge inspiration for me to draw from. He has so much energy on stage even though it’s just him. I can’t say enough good things about this guy.

4. W:/2016ALBUM/ – Deadmau5
There’s not much about this guy that I haven’t already said on this ol’ soapbox. I love this album, even though it’s not my favourite of his works. This is his song Cat Thruster which has a super groovy vibe with really great sounding (artificial) bass guitar. It sounds like it could be the track used for the series finale of Stranger Things.

3. Starboy – The Weeknd
I’ve been internally talking about the Weeknd overtaking Kanye as my favourite hip hop artist for the last year or so. I loved the last Weeknd album so much and Starboy is even better. Almost every track from this album has a heart beside it in my iTunes. I really do think it’s incredible. There’s not many albums where even the interlude track is awesome (see: Stargirl feat. Lana Del Ray). The whole album is sexy and groovy and fun and authentic – AND features Daft Punk on the two best tracks. I linked his short film called MANIA he used to promote this album, which reminded me so much of Kanye’s film Runaway he used to promote My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasies. Kanye had full ownership over my hip hop heart but now the Weeknd is an equal partner.

2. The Life of Pablo – Kanye West
Kanye’s The Life of Pablo just narrowly beat Starboy this year. I went back and forth on their rankings a few times but overall, TLOP is better. Kanye just has a certain property about him. His diversity, production and ability to consistently jump over the status quo are what make him so amazing. I do feel like he’s peaked, but he had such a head start on the competition, he still is on top for now. Also, this album is almost exclusively what I jam at the gym.

1. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
And here we have my number one favourite album from 2016. I’m sure you could’ve guessed this. Radiohead is a very special group to me and this album furthered that policy. Seeing them live in the Summer was an experience I will never forget. It’s seemingly impossible to accurately describe how it made me feel. It was pure euphoria mixed with tears of joy. This album is so emotional and honest and narrative and luscious. There isn’t anything I don’t like about it – okay, fine, maybe the title. Anyway, every cut from this album is perfect in it’s own way. It was great to see them close on a revamped version of an old Radiohead classic in True Love Waits. But I think my highlight of the album though is Present Tense of which I’ve linked a version.

A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016

 

I’m going to miss 2016 (and Harambe), but here’s to making 2017 as great and memorable as possible.

Talk soon,
Ryan