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

The Last 12 Months

The humidity is dropping, the leaves changing colour and football is back. September is upon us. Even though I’ve been out of school for years now, I still think of September as a new chapter of sorts, and a fitting time to look at the last twelve months while  simultaneously look ahead at the next twelve months.

Here's me a few days after the surgery when I was able to walk a little bit

Here I am about a week after the surgery when I was about to have the tube taken out and finally get to go home. 

Exactly one year ago today, I was in the hospital with my second pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and awaiting surgery. I had to be put to sleep for the first time and that was a little scary. Although once the IV was in, I was a happy groggy camper. Using video cameras in me, the surgeon basically stitched and stapled my right lung shut with titanium. I have three scars now from that day. One for the video camera they interred into me; one for the instruments; one for the chest tube I’d become quite familiar with in 2012 and would spend another week with after this surgery.

September 21, 2014 was quite probably my weakest point. And it’s quite uplifting to have moved on from that experience and be where I am now. I’m writing a lot of music, I’m learning lots about music and music theory, I’m collaborating with a lot of great musicians and about to start online classes at Berklee to learn even more about writing and producing. When I look back twelve months and look at all the little baby steps I’ve taken since then as an artist in that time, I’m elated. I’ve released my long-awaited debut EP, PGEP; completed two different collaborations with my friend Karver; worked really hard on a TWRP remix; but honestly more importantly, as I discussed a few weeks ago, I’ve truly developed a love for writing.

I can’t wait to see where I am in another twelve months. I know I’ll at least have another EP out and will have played a few live shows. I’ve plenty more exciting plans than that but you’ll have to be patient and see.

thanks as always,

Ryan

Out of Sight

Jeez, there are just some songs that get me. A former colleague and good friend, Cameron Hawes released an EP in May 2014 shortly after we met. The whole album, titled The Holy Grail EP, is fantastic. But there is one song that stuck out to me and my electronic music side was tickled pink. The song is called Out of Sight and I suggest everyone take a moment and listen. I’ll wait here.

Yeah! Monstrous jam, right! I jam this song all the time. It’s just so uplifting and well-constructed. Here’s Cameron’s debrief of what Out of Sight means to him:

Out Of Sight is a song about life and death. It’s about what we really want in life vs. what we get from it. In major events such as 911 or any of my more personal experiences involving death I’ve noticed something quite profound – everybody comes together and wants to be close. As soon as death comes to mind we are quickly reminded that our days are numbered too. If only we could remember our desire to be open and close to the ones we love in everyday life – maybe we would be living a little bit closer to the truth and in line with our true values; the experience of experiencing each other. “

Cameron was aware of how much I loved this song so when he needed someone to accompany him in a music video made for this, I like to think I was a solid option. It was a really fun experience to be a part of this video and jam to one of my favourite tunes with one of my favourite dudes. Anyway, the video:

I hope you enjoyed the song (and my dance moves).

Talk to you soon.