Every year around early November I think to myself, “Shit, I better get my year end list started. December is going to sneak up fast.” Even though I did get a jump on things a little early, it seemed like before I knew it the end of 2016 was staring me right in the face. Sure, I don’t really have to do a year end list and it’s not like there are tons of people waiting anxiously to read this, but it’s something I enjoy and it would bug the hell out of me if a year passed by and I didn’t do one. So as the holidays quickly approached, I found myself under the gun once again working towards a self-imposed deadline.
I generally try to ignore the other year end lists when putting this together. This year I did that even more so to try and keep things as pure as possible. Plus, if I didn’t have a chance to listen to something before starting this, or didn’t have time to fully digest what I had been listening to, those albums were off the table. So what you see here consists of only music that I spent a great deal of time enjoying in 2016. So when I say this is what I consider the best of the last 12 months, I genuinely mean it.
Be sure to check back in the coming days for part 2 of our year end feature from Bruce Fraser. I’m confident that, as always, he will have a ton of great music featured and lots of stuff you won’t find on this list. See you in 2017.
01. Goes Cube – Shadows Swallowed the Flood
It happens less these days. But every so often I hear a song that hits me like a jolt, makes the hairs on my neck stand up and reminds me why I’ve devoted decades of my life listening to music, going to shows, buying records, reading books/magazines/blogs and meeting likeminded people. On my first proper listen to Shadows Swallowed the Flood, the latest and unfortunately final album from Goes Cube, that jolt hit me. More specifically it hit me midway through “Crohn’s Attack”. When it happened, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. With every Goes Cube album there are moments like this. Lots of them.
Many bands carve out sound for themselves by pulling in influences from a number of genres and Goes Cube is no different. But what makes listening to them so engaging is the balance they strike between the contrasting influences that make up their sound. The most consistent elements being their blistering take on post-metal, sludge and hardcore. But what really made me take notice of the band after hearing their first full length, was how they added well placed layers of texture and dynamics to their sound, allowing the songs to ebb and flow throughout their albums. Listening to a Goes Cube album is far from a blur of riffs, distortion and pummeling drums. From beginning to end, they take you on a journey sonically that begins with a burst of sound that builds over each song until an arch is reached (see the above mentioned “Crohn’s Attack”) and the listener is slowly pulled back down until it all ends with squealing feedback.
I had intended on writing a review of Shadows Swallowed the Flood, but personally I find reviews really hard to write. How many ways can you say an album is great without sounding like a broken record? Likewise, trying to describe how a band sounds can be equally as challenging. However, I knew this was an album people need to know about and I had to write something about it. So as I procrastinated finishing what I started to write, I knew there wasn’t a need for a review when it was time to start my year end list. I listened to lots of great music this year. But it was clear that Goes Cube easily made the best album I’ve heard all year and somehow even managed to exceed my ridiculously high expectations. Cheers guys!
02. The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem
33 years into their existence, the Tragically Hip give us ten perfect songs and I’m thankful that I was paying attention this time. Here’s hoping there’s more to come.
03. True Widow – Avvogere
I like to pretend I can play drums and always thought the goal was to pummel them. But now all I want to do is play loose, slow grooves.
04. Electric Citizen – Higher Time
The solo on “Social Phobia” is worth the price of admission alone and I’m not even really into solos. That, “HUH!” right before it is also pretty sweet.
05. Whores. – Gold
Each year there’s one album that makes my eyes roll back into my skull and puts thoughts of trashing my office in my head. My boss will understand when I tell him Whores. made me do it, right?
06. Cobalt – Slow Forever
Slow Forever sounds as vicious, dark and poetic as anything in the Cobalt’s impressive back catalogue AND their new singer isn’t a horrible human being. Overall I’d say it’s been a good year for the band.
07. Tove Lo – Lady Wood
“Mom was listening to some horrible pop album in the car. It was terrible.” Don’t worry. It was the censored version. Extra points go to whoever managed to creatively work a vagina into Tove Lo’s name on the album cover.
08. Graves at Sea – The Curse That Is
09. Oranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
I don’t know how to pronounce the name of this album. If you say that you can, then I can only assume you are a member of Oranssi Pazuzu and you also in turn are into making some weird, yet truly innovative music.
10. Tombs – All Empires Fall
While not a full length, the dark, post-punk styles to come hinted at on these five songs is more than enough to secure a spot here.
11. Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me
Remember when Butch Vig travelled back in time to make an album with Joan Jett and the Ramones? No? That was actually the new Against Me! album? I guess that makes a little more sense.
12. Mondo Drag – The Occultation of Light
13. Deftones – Gore
I’m pretty sure the Deftones argue lots about what their music should sound like. Which is actually not a bad thing for us listeners. That push/pull of styles and ideas is what makes them so great. How much longer will they be willing to keep having those arguments is anyone’s guess. But so long as they do, I’ll be more than happy to keep listening.
14. Salem’s Pot – Pronounce This!
While not quite as heavy as some of their earlier material, Pronounce This! is still some next level, tripped out shit. Keep freaking out the squares you weirdos.
15. Horseback – Dead Ringers
16. Black Rainbows – Stellar Prophecy
Do you think the Black Rainbows got their name from a lyric in “Disposable Teens” by Marilyn Manson? I kind of hope so. But it’s more likely some obscure Hawkwind reference. Which is also pretty cool.
17. The Body – No One Deserves Happiness
The Body make ugly, ugly music. So I guess it only makes sense they have an album cover that’s equally as ugly to accompany it.
18. Nails – You Will Never be One of Us
I like to keep things pretty laid back and avoid conflict/turmoil in my life. I kind like it that way. I don’t think that Nails ringleader Todd Jones can say the same. After listening to You Will Never Be One of Us that should be very clear.
19. Comet Control – Center of the Maze
Just sit back, relax and set the controls for the center of the sun. Comet Control will be our soundtrack as the tiles start to peel and burn off our spacecraft. We won’t even notice when it all ends in a flash. Or you could just put on your headphones and work on some spreadsheets. Totally your call.
20. The Well – Pagan Science
Odds are the members of the Well haven’t survived the zombie apocalypse. Which sucks for Darrel Dixon seeing as he (or rather Norman Reedus) is their number one fan. But luck for him, as well as all of us, that is fiction and this is reality. And in reality the Well is still throwing down the riffs.