It’s that time of year again, where we get to sit back and let you know what our favourite albums were in 2016. As I do every year, I will declare that this is not a best of list. Music is much too subjective, and for anyone to sit and explain why one album is better than another is complete nonsense. Instead of going with the “best of” tag line, the following 9 albums were the ones that caught my ear.
Adam Baldwin – No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five)
With his first full-length release, this Dartmouth NS native has crafted one of the most authentic rock albums from the past year. Ranging in topics that discuss politics (the first single “Daylight”), mental health (the song written for Rehtaeh Parsons, “Rehtaeh”), and the consequences of falling in love (the beautiful “Sparrow Song”), Baldwin proves that he has the experience and ability to tackle subjects others may stray away from. With his impressive debut out of the way and a blazing touring schedule these past few months, there is little question which way Baldwin’s stardom is heading.
Repartee – All Lit Up
In 2015 Carly Rae Jepsen released what was deemed as a throwback-type album. Paying tribute to the great pop acts from the ’80s and ’90s, her album Emotion could be found on countless best of lists come years end. Jump ahead one year later and it can be argued that Repartee’s latest release All Lit Up should find itself in that same position. Diving deep into the synth-fused world of dance music, Meg Warren and co have constructed, what should be considered, the pop album of the year.
Top picks on the album – “All Lit Up”, “Electric Everyday” and “Fall Apart”
Hello Delaware – My Mistake
In 2016 local musician Dana Beeler made a decision to step away from the twang and heartache that comes with being a country musician, and re-branded herself as a bona fide up-and-coming rocker. With her latest release My Mistake, Beeler holds nothing back, while she explores the world of relationships and where you might find yourself when they don’t necessarily play out. Make no mistake in thinking that this album is one looking for pity. It’s a compilation filled with confidence, hope and the kind of annoyance that only comes with breaking hearts.
Top picks on the album – “I Never Asked“, “We Were The Ocean” and “Black Cherries”
The Darcys – Centerfold
In embracing the full-on ’80s synth attack that we’ve been under these past 12 months, The Darcys have mashed together one hell of a dance album. From start to finish this album is exactly what it was intended to be. Never straying its course, Centerfold is an album that is best described as a good time. Where all too often musicians try to deny the truth of the music in front of them, The Darcys embrace what was laid out before them and never look back.
Bros – Vol 1
Known for their work with Canadian rock group The Sheepdogs, brothers Ewan and Shamus Currie have taken a small step to the side to explore the more relaxed side of ’70s rock with their first album titled “Vol 1”. Dabbling within the pages of a book composed by other ’70s greats Santana, The Doobie Brothers and Michael MacDonald, the Currie brothers have constructed an album littered with that smooth, soulful, glossy sound that all yacht rockers love. If this album was one single day in the year, it would be the one where you kick back on your hammock and laze around in the sun.
Top picks of the album – “Sometimes You Got To Be Sad”, “Watch Who You’re Talking To” and “Scooby Doobie”
Sturghill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
To this day, this is the one album that I still can’t explain. It’s a contemporary, country, jazzy and slightly rocky boat with the reincarnation of Waylon Jennings at the helm. The nine tracks that make up A Sailor’s Guide To Earth explore the human emotion as if a ship were battling the high seas; and, at the end of the day, if this album doesn’t strike an emotional chord of some sort, then the only explanation is that you are either an android or Vulcan.
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
In keeping with the idea that you’re never quite sure what to expect with a new Radiohead album, the band’s latest album A Moon Shaped Pool plays like a blurry, smoke filled dream. Although well aware that you are involved in the experience, it’s never truly shown which way the venture is going to lead you. Brimming with soaring string arrangements and Yorke’s always haunting vocals, Radiohead have created one of their most hypnotizing and complex albums since they released Kid A back in 2000.
Kyle Craft – Dolls of Highland
Another debut album to find its way into my 2016 musical heart, Craft’s album Dolls of Highland is one of the more ambitious debuts of this past year. Vocally, Craft has the kind of howl and rasp one would expect to find fronting the next big punk act as opposed to the carnival-ian, Americana sound that is found on Dolls of Highland. Small on hooks and big on theatrics, Craft relies heavily on his ability as a songwriter to help the listener along, which, by today’s standards, is a rare thing.
The Barrowdowns – EP
Even though it’s only a three song EP, Haligonians The Barrowdowns have laid down the foundation of what should prove to be a successful 2017. As talented a group as any currently performing, this quintet write songs which best highlight their soaring, five-part harmonies and stunning musicianship. Coming off a year where the group found themselves performing as regulars within the festival scene, there is no question that they are poised for a breakout year.
Top picks of the album – It’s a three song EP. They all make the list!