ūüéľ #GuelphMusicClub: Best of 2016

imback2017

Yep, it’s true. Phoenix from the ashes and all that good stuff…depending on your opinion of this blog, I suppose. Either way, I’M BACK.

But,¬†yeah, I’m dreadfully late this year with my best of 2016 recap but I don’t feel too bad about it this go around. In fact, does it bother anyone else that most major music publications and review sites/blogs tend to have their year-end lists published¬†near¬†the top of December? That means that albums released at the very end of the calendar year aren’t even available to be considered if their roundtable discussions are taking place throughout October/November. And I always thought it was dumb to see year-end lists incorporating items from the year previous – DUMB.

Guess that’s just the reality of the world these days. There is a heavier emphasis placed upon being FIRST than there is to produce thoughtful and considered reviews. I mean, I know I’m just talking about critical opinions¬†here (which have always been worthless, mine included) but the age we live in has allowed¬†for poseurs like Anthony Fantano to proliferate and position themselves as musical authorities – LOL!¬†My apologies to¬†his corny azz followers…¬†ūüôĄ

In regards to my own recap, this year, I chose to go with¬†the same format employed as last year, only this time, I thought I’d throw¬†a few extra categories into the mix.

Nowadays, the¬†#GuelphMusicClub¬†seems to have transformed into more of an annual tweet-up at best but I would encourage you to click the link above to peruse some of the other contributions if you’ve yet to do so. Those of you who have kept up with THE CLUB over the years are surely aware of the diverse and eclectic array of tastes weaving throughout its contingency. Definitely worth the perusal! I have no doubt you’ll be introduced to a ton of great stuff!

2016 was also a tough year for the #GuelphMusicClub in the sense that it marked the end of Sound in My Memory. If I’m not mistaken, Rob was one of the originators of THE CLUB (alongside Aaron Dale?¬†ūü§Ē) and his candor will certainly be missed.

In fact, a lot of the blogs have fallen off, mine included. This year, several individuals from THE CLUB decided¬†to primarily share their best-of¬†picks through Twitter. With that being the case, I sincerely hope I’m able to retain your attention throughout this post…

.. ’cause it’s been a minute¬†since I’ve been here and I’m about to go OFF! (no Skintastic)

youready

LET’S DO THIS!!!

FYI: Everything ‚Äúranked‚Ä̬†alphabetically

Go to the next page for the TOP ALBUMS of 2016

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#GuelphMusicClub: Best of 2015

itsbeenawhile

Hey all.

Hope everyone is having a nice start to the new year and was able to enjoy their holidays. Speaking of the holidays, it was something of a surprise to see the revival of the #GuelphMusicClub at the end of last year. The decision to resurrect THE CLUB was made in order to discuss our respective favourites of 2015 and I really enjoyed reading through all of the entries. Times passes so quickly nowadays that I had nearly forgotten how eclectic and varied the tastes of the group actually are.

I also appreciate its return because it gives¬†me the¬†opportunity to resurrect this dead ol’ thing and CHAT SHIT (GET BANGED?) about my favourite musical items¬†from¬†2015. Given that we’re getting towards the end of January now, I’ve already slacked so hard that I’m¬†just going to dive¬†right into it.

Bear with me as I indulge myself..

FYI: Everything “ranked”¬†alphabetically

TOP ALBUMS OF 2015

Drake – If You’re Reading this it’s too Late

drakeIYRTITL

I can’t lie – I listened to the shit out of this. Also, I realize that it’s not technically an album but the line between album and mixtape has become so blurred that I’m not sure the distinction even matters anymore.¬†No real radio singles on this one – just a lot of great beats from a primarily hometown / in-house cast, including¬†Noah “40” Shebib (@OVO40), Boi-1da (@Boi1da), and¬†PARTYNEXTDOOR (@PARTYOMO) –¬†19-year-old Mississauga native WondaGurl (@WondaGurlBeats) even¬†grabs a few production credits.¬†ūüá®ūüᶬ†ūüćĀ

It was an eventful year for Drake (@Drake) considering¬†his beef with Meek Mill (@MeekMill), the¬†Quentin Miller (@Quentin__Miller)¬†ghostwriting accusations, and his surprise collaboration tape with Future (@1future), but beyond it all, I won’t¬†deny it – I dug this tape big time and have no shame about openly being¬†a fan of da¬†6 God.

 

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Failure – the Heart is a Monster

failureTHIAM

Given that Failure (@Failure) had, in hindsight, become critical and indie darlings¬†since disbanding¬†in ’97,¬†it was a bit of a shock to see¬†the Heart is a Monster¬†absent from so many year-end lists. Having¬†been name-checked by everyone from A Perfect Circle (@aperfectcircle) to Paramore (@paramore) over¬†the years, their space-rock influence has since been felt throughout¬†a variety of genres.

Post-Failure, each member went on to partake in a multitude of projects: Ken Andrews (@andrewsken) became a sought-after producer and pursued a solo career while also playing in the likes of ON, Year of the Rabbit, and Digital Noise Academy; Greg Edwards primarily became known for his work in Autolux (@autolux) but was also involved in the short-lived supergroup, Lusk; Kellii Scott (@kelliiscott) played with Blinker the Star and Veruca Salt (@verucasalt), among others; and, of course, Troy van Leeuwen (@troyvanleeuwen) is well-known for his involvement with Queens of the Stone Age (@qotsa) and the aforementioned A Perfect Circle.

Most reunions are shit and almost all reunion albums are even worse but this one turned out to be¬†a wonderful exception to the rule. Nearly 20 years after the fact, it picks up right where Fantastic Planet left off and that point is only reinforced by¬†an intro track entitled,¬†“Segue 4” (Fantastic Planet had three “Segue” tracks of its own).

I was weary of this one due to how beloved FP is but it easily became one of my favourite and most listened-to albums of 2015.

 

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Ghost – Meliora

ghostMELIORA

This album really blew my away because I have been talking copious amounts of shit about Ghost¬†(@thebandGHOST) for quite some time now. I felt their music was so over-the-top in its cheesiness and their costume gimmick made them look like some lame Slipknot¬†(@slipknot) for grown-ups type thing…but this¬†latest album is pretty undeniable.

I’ve seen a number of¬†publications denoting¬†“Cirice” as one of the songs of the year but the one¬†that really changed my opinion on them was “He Is“. I see now that while the band are certainly cheesy, they are self-aware in doing¬†so and happen to write songs with¬†incredible pop sensibilities. It’s especially¬†impressive seeing as they are, at their core, a metal band.

I still have yet to go back and revisit their previous two records. I’m curious to see if my negative opinions of Opus Eponymous¬†and Infestissumam¬†(which I particularly loathed), will have changed since falling¬†so hard for Meliora…but I’m not ready to return and investigate just yet. Until I am prepared to do so, I’ll continue to enjoy¬†the melodic sermons of Papa Emeritus III.

 

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Seinabo Sey – Pretend

seinaboPRETEND

I became familiar with¬†Seinabo Sey (@SeinaboSey) through the FIFA 16 soundtrack.¬†For those who don’t know, the FIFA series (@EASPORTSFIFA) compiles incredible soundtracks for their games year after year.

The album’s title track, “Pretend“, is featured in the game and it quickly grabbed me with its poppy, electro-soul grooves. I spun it enough that her then-upcoming¬†debut album would become¬†one of my most anticipated. This track also inspired me to look into some of her previously released singles such as “Poetic“, “Hard Time“, and “Younger” – all of which were eventually included on Pretend.

Seinabo Sey, a native Swede ūüáłūüá™ ¬†of part-Gambian ūüá¨ūüá≤ ¬†descent, incorporates a wide array of influences and has an absolutely outstanding voice! She’s one of my favourite new artists and I feel she’s one to keep an eye on going forward.

 

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Tuxedo – Tuxedo

tuxedo

Man, I fucking loved this album.

I have never been a big fan of Mayer Hawthorne‘s (@MayerHawthorne) solo output but I have always loved Jake One‘s (@JakeUno) beats and this collaboration between the two just does¬†it for me.

Tuxedo (@Tuxedo) tastefully blend the perfect combination of disco and funk with a sprinkling of 80s sensibility. These guys have produced an album of unbelievably catchy, feel-good, danceable tunes. They had been teasing the project as far back as 2013 and the full length turned out better than could have been expected. A purely addictive record.

Top 3 songs (in alphabetical order):

  1. Do It
  2. the Right Time
  3. Roll Along

P.S. “Do It” was one of the songs – and videos – of 2015.

 

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TOP EPs OF 2015

Big Grams – Big Grams

biggrams

Phantogram (@Phantogram) and Big Boi (@BigBoi) had already displayed¬†their chemistry on the latter’s most recent solo album, 2012’s Vicious Lies¬†& Dangerous¬†Rumors, and after also having connected¬†on a personal level, decided to team up for a collaborative self-titled EP.

A tight and concise listen that wraps¬†in less than¬†30 minutes, Big Grams (@BigGrams) are clearly having fun crossing over into each other’s worlds. The EP includes a couple of great features from Run the Jewels (@runjewels) and 9th Wonder (@9thwonder) and one not-so-great pairing with Skrillex (@Skrillex) to close the record out.

Aside from the underwhelming outro, every other track on here hits and the overall replay value remains high.

 

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Kaleida – Think

kaleidaTHINK

John Wick is¬†a silly movie starring¬†Keanu Reeves¬†as a guy who gets¬†revenge on some bad dudes¬†for killing his dog or some shit. However, the portion of the flick that really stood out for¬†me was the violent club shootout scene¬†juxtaposed against¬†Kaleida‘s (@KALEIDAMUSIK) calm and serene “Think“.

After re-watching the scene about four or five more times, I immediately began to look into the band, of whom there was very little information available¬†online at the time. Shortly¬†thereafter, it would be¬†announced that Lex Records (@LexRecords) – who I’ve been a big supporter of throughout the years – had signed Kaleida to a deal. The female duo play a very minimalistic style of synthpop that incorporates a¬†uniquely¬†haunting vocal style. They have dropped a couple of¬†other fantastic songs prior to and since the release of the Think EP (“Picture You“, “Detune“).

Definitely one of my “ones to watch” for¬†2016.

 

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RATKING – 700-FILL

ratking700FILL

Quietly impressing with their 2014 debut, So it Goes, RATKING (@RatKing) are turning heads on the NY underground, having already attracted some impressive co-signs Рjust ask their engineer, Jay Z affiliate, Young Guru (@Young_Guru). They have a somewhat jarring, off-kilter style, incorporating a punk aesthetic that has much in common with alternative hip-hop acts like Dälek (@daleknwk), for example.

Saying that, Wiki (@wikset) is flat-out one of the more interesting MCs to pop up in the last few years and plays well off of Hak‘s monotone, sing-songy style, and SPORTINGLIFE‘s experimental beats.

So it Goes is a bit more streamlined than its predecessor and I imagine that makes it a little easier for the first-time listener to digest. They won’t connect with everyone but I consider them to be one of the most refreshing rap groups currently on the come-up.

 

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Will Haven – Open the Mind to Discomfort

willhavenOTMTD

Lots of nostalgia involved with¬†this pick. As great as this EP is, a big part of the reason why I included it is because it inspired me to go back and revisit Will Haven‘s (@willhavenband) amazing back catalogue. This is the kind of ‘metal’ band I like – simple, droney, doomy, and heavy. I think one of the reasons I became so disinterested in metal in general was because it started reverting back to an overemphasis on speed and technicality – the hallmarks of the cheesy 80s. WHVN are still doing the one-note riffing with odd time signatures, and to me, it sounds as good as ever.

I won’t say¬†that Will Haven were ever known for their superior production values but the recording quality of Open the Mind to Discomfort¬†does leave something to be desired.¬†That is a very minor complaint, however – the EP should be a¬†visceral¬†experience and the raw production certainly helps to emphasize¬†this.¬†A nice surprise from a record I really had no actual¬†expectations of.

 

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Your Old Droog – the Nicest

YODnicest

Even though it’s been a while since I’ve written a new entry, I’ve spent a lot of time discussing Your Old Droog (@YourOldDroog) in the past here so I’ll keep it¬†brief. This EP demonstrates how much Droog is beginning to come into his own. A punchline master with an obvious¬†love for 90s hip-hop, his wordplay is improving¬†and¬†shares much more in common with Big L than the likes of a¬†Big Sean (@BigSean).

Droog dropped another EP in the first half of 2015 by the name of¬†Kinison,¬†which was also great, but wasn’t quite as sharp as the Nicest, in my opinion. For those of you with a love for the golden age who are still sleeping on this dude, ūüĒī STOP ALREADY¬†ūüĒī!

 

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TOP SONGS OF 2015

the Chemical Brothers ‚Äď “Go” (feat. Q-Tip)
from the album, BORN IN THE ECHOES 

I’ve never considered myself to be a massive fan of the Chemical Brothers (@ChemBros) but this collab with Q-Tip (@QtipTheAbstract) was hard to ignore. It isn’t the first time these two have worked together but it is certainly the best time! Great song and video.

 

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the Game ‚Äď “100” (feat. Drake)
from the album, THE DOCUMENTARY 2 

Cold¬†beat + hot¬†flows from the Game (@thegame) and Drake¬†= addictive track. Really not much more to say about this one. Lyrics are a little funny but it’s not really about that here. Get into it.

 

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Kendrick Lamar ‚Äď “Alright”
from the album, TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY 

I know Kendrick Lamar‘s (@kendricklamar) new album was somewhat polarizing, despite its near-record number of Grammy nominations. The only reason I chose not to include To Pimp a Butterfly on my best-of list of albums is because I find it’s not an album you just throw on at any given time; in my opinion, it’s more of a record that you have to be in a particular¬†mood for in order to sit down and absorb it.

You could make the case¬†that “Alright” isn’t even the best song on the album and I may even¬†be inclined to agree with you. However, I feel it’s the only track that stands on its own outside of the context of the rest of the record – it works as a single. And I believe that’s a big part of the reason why many were¬†disappointed by the album. That is, it didn’t have those big radio singles on it the way¬†good kid, m.A.A.d. city did.

Overall, I do feel To Pimp a Butterfly was (by far)¬†one of the year’s best albums and I wore this track out in a big way.

 

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Raury ‚Äď “Mama”
from the album, ALL WE NEED 

Just an incredibly sweet song. I really feel this is up there with the all-time “mom” tribute songs out there. Raury (@Raury) is an interesting cat and weaves in and out of several genres with the greatest of¬†ease. I didn’t really buy into the hype after he dropped Indigo Child last year but I have gotten¬†fully on board with All We Need.

He still has some rough edges that need to be smoothed out but this kid looks poised for big things in the future. By far, one of my favourite songs of the year.

 

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Tennis ‚Äď “Mean Streets”
from the album, RITUAL IN REPEAT

Tennis (@TennisMusic), the husband-and-wife duo from Colorado, released their most recent full-length¬†album, Ritual in Repeat, back in 2014. However, it was re-released as a deluxe version in 2015 and “Mean Streets” was included as one of the bonus tracks.

I’m not sure how you’d classify this group¬†– they’re sort of like the¬†modern incarnation of a surf band. This particular song is fun and catchy as hell with the video being¬†just as awesome. Great album in its entirety, too!

 

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BEST NON-2015 STUFF OF 2015

** I wanted to add one last section to this blog entry – the best stuff I listened to in 2015 that wasn’t released in 2015! **

COCTEAU TWINS

Discovering Cocteau Twins in 2015 has been life-changing. As far as I’m concerned, they’re right up there with all the greatest shoegaze acts. I listened to these guys like crazy and have fallen in love with every entry¬†into their discography. My only regret is having not discovered them sooner. In particular, Heaven or Las Vegas is a masterpiece. Highly recommended for those who aren’t¬†already aware.

 

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CODE ORANGE

Similar to what I’ve already stated¬†in regards to why I enjoy¬†groups like¬†Will Haven, Code Orange (@codeorangekids) just know how to¬†keep things¬†simple. Heavy, straightforward metal/hardcore doubling as a nod to what was going on during the 90s and early 2000s can be a lot of fun. Which isn’t to say they sound outdated! These guys are all in the early 20s and I guess I get an unusually big kick out of the fact that they wear Nine Inch Nails¬†(@nineinchnails) and Fear Factory (@FearFactory) shirts.

The thing that really¬†got me into this band was through watching their live videos on YouTube – pretty insane stuff! I still haven’t investigated their albums outside of I Am King¬†(aside from what has been featured in their live performances) but I plan to get onto that soon.

Sidenote: these guys are produced by Kurt Ballou of Converge (@Convergecult).

 

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the DOPPELGANGAZ

Despite the fact that I was into each¬†of the Dopp Gang‘s (@TheDoppelgangaz) 2015 releases – Rhyme Over Beats, Parts Unknown, and Beats for Brothers, Vol. 3¬†– I found myself¬†mostly revisiting¬†their older output, particularly the Lone Sharks project.

These guys have got to be one of the most underrated groups in rap and have also managed to remain as one of the most consistent. GANGAZ!

 

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iamamiwhoami

iamamiwhoami‘s (@_iamamiwhoami_)¬†2014 audiovisual project, Blue, spent a ton of time in my rotation last year. It doubles as a great watch on YouTube as well with every song being¬†accompanied by a music video. Water is heavily incorporated into the theme which makes for a very soothing and ethereal listen/view.

I can’t say enough about this album and it turned me into a major fan of this excellent singer/producer duo.

 

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JEMINI the GIFTED ONE

I’m not sure what it was that brought Jemini back into my rotation¬†but I found myself listening to a lot of his shit¬†again for whatever reason. His collab with Danger Mouse¬†(@dangermouseHQ) was dope – 2003’s Ghetto Pop Life¬†(oh look, there’s Lex Records popping up again!) – but it’s the Scars & Pain EP from 1995 that I’ve been giving the most burn to.

What ever happened to this guy‚ĀČ

 

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Thanks to all who managed to get all the way through this entry. I may have been overcompensating due to the year+ of inactivity on this blog. White Catholic guilt, etc.

Hope everyone enjoyed the read! Any thoughts? Share your best-of 2015 in the comments – I’d love to hear them! And don’t forget to check out all of the other great #GuelphMusicClub¬†year-end lists!

kittywave

Bye for now!