Music Peer Review The Best of 2016

Peer Review: The Best Music Of 2016

With the ashes of 2016 now relegated to the annals of all time greatest dumpster fires, we might peruse with somber clarity what we’ve just endured (good luck 2017!). Not all of it was bad though, and sifting through that wreckage we’ve found that we’ve been left with a hefty collection of musical gems. So we’ve asked the experts what they thought, and according to them this is the best the year gave us.

Iron Chic – Some Dads

Nick Cobham (that moustached guy from Fredericton that makes every band he is in remarkably better) has finally created a place for his weirdo rock brainchildren to play. I picked ‘Iron Chic’ because of the one song format that this article required but any one of the three tracks on this year’s ‘Come Hither’ EP perfectly showcases Cobham’s ability to fill abstract and fragmented songs with relentlessly catchy melodies. With Bob Deveau, Tayce McAvity and Stephen Dunn (the Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods of their respective instruments) on his team, he may have Fredericton’s all time greatest band on his hands. Dear 2017, who’s your Daddy? Some Dads are. (Tim Walker, Grand Theft Bus)

Smooth Ops – Heaven For Real

‘Smooth Ops’ arrives via perhaps my favourite east coast band of the year Heaven For Real. For starters “Smooth Ops” is maybe the cheekiest song titles I’ve heard in a while. The two-minute and forty-six second song is filled with tonnes of subtle swagger, ridiculously wonderful hooks and gutsy, worthwhile production choices. I’ve always quietly enjoyed the way these four folks arrange their songs. Always toying with the idea of arriving at a standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure but never really getting there. On the LP “KIll Your Memory” and on “Smooth Ops” in particular I distinctly feel like they’ve mastered their craft, whatever it might be.  (Cedric Noel, LAPS)

The Waking Night – Bad Anatomy

The Waking Night is like….. drone-alt-country-rock. Not really a genre people are used to hearing, but Bad Anatomy is worth putting the work in for. It showcases Matt Legere’s nearly deranged vocal approach, and although it’s heavy hitting, there’s some really tense, vulnerable moments. This album is not hip or on-trend, which I can really appreciate in the era of jingle-post-psych-post-punk-post-pop everything (see buzz words: angular guitars, posi vibes). It’s not trying to fit in or put on a fancy coat, it’s no polished up turd. Bad Anatomy seems to look inward, and what’s found is a bit unnerving.

I’ve always seen The Waking Night as an under-appreciated band in Canadian music, for their ability to blend country story-telling with raw, raunchy rock riffs in a way that’s got true depth and weight. I don’t know when their breakout will be; even if that moment never comes, Bad Anatomy is one of those records we’ll be showing our grandkids and talking about the good ol’ days when a singer could really tell a tale, ya know? (Penelope Stevens, Motherhood)


Boom Boom – Young Satan In Love

Boom Boom is not just a pop masterpiece, it’s also a lifestyle. Few bands are able to take you to such unexpected places without sacrificing hooks, melodies and general pop sensibilities. Boom Boom is basically the musical equivalent of seeing Jacques Demers lift the Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1993. (JE Sheehy, Saint-Jack)

Since I Caught You – Century Egg

I saw Century Egg open for Mauno at the Seahorse in the Spring. This song immediately caught my attention. It was such a simple, pretty, catchy melody and a really sweet sentiment to match. I immediately went home and looked up their Bandcamp and found the song. Paul McCartney knew that there was always room for another “Silly Love Song” and I’m really happy that Century Egg agree and wrote the best one I’ve heard this year. (Darryl Smith, Beauts)

I don’t know anything about this band other than that they’re friends-of-friends-of-friends, but I bought their EP Mountain God released earlier this year—my first ever download-only purchase (does this mean I’m with it now?) — and I’ve been listening to it pretty much constantly. I love the swirling, unpredictable melodies that still manage to be infectiously hooky. I don’t understand the Mandarin lyrics on a couple of their other tunes, but I can only assume they’re as wistful and wonderful as their English ones. The sum of the parts is a beautiful and exciting new addition to Atlantic Canadian music and I hope they put out more music soon before I wear out these newfangled mp3s I got here. That happens, right? (Mathias Kom, The Burning Hell)

Sons of America – The Mike Bochoff Band

Pretty as hell, haven’t heard anything like it on the East Coast, and powerful lyrics to juxtapose what you’d expect in a ballad like that. (The Town Heroes)

Vena Cava- The Waking Night

Vena Cava is a brave tune with lots of chances taken with the vocal melodie that just work so well. It’s dark and groovy and reminds me of All the Witches and that’s never a bad thing. Wounded Animal is just the .  (Greg Webber, Kill Chicago)

Better Off Alone – Senior Citizen

At a maudlin three minutes long, Better Off Alone is gripping from the get-go–a full sixty seconds before Andrew Sisk’s voice coos through the weighty uncertainty of its tense, wordless opening. Airy digital strings sweep in and swoop, filling out the bleeps and bloops, as tenor guitar and rich background vocals cement this track as a certified Right On. Better Off Alone was an instant summer standout that has not strayed from my speakers since July. (Brendan MaGee, Brookside Mall)

I Never Asked – Hello Delaware

This was waaaay harder than we thought! Runner ups were The Brood, Jessie Brown, and Devarrow, but in the end we chose “I Never Asked” by Hello Delaware. Dana Beeler’s voice is melodic and beautiful, and the band’s gritty yet catchy riffs are great for a good bought of headbanging. In a music scene all too dominated by men it’s always fucking awesome to see badass women making great music. We also had the privilage of playing with these folks a while back and they are absolute gems! (The Barrowdowns)

Dukes – Repartee

Our favourite East Coast album this year is Repartee’s ‘All Lit Up’. In particular, the single off that album, ‘Dukes’. It’s well produced, but not too produced. The songs are great and really catchy. And the woman power coming from Megan Warren (the lead singer) is just deadly. I highly recommend seeing them live if you get a chance. ‘Dukes’ is such a jam! We often play it in the van when we’re on tour. (Hillsburn)

Running Like Hell – Tomato/Tomato

Tomato/Tomato’s new album, ‘I Go Where You Go’, is full of great songs, but ‘Running Like Hell’ gets the most plays in our house. It’s a fun song, great story, catchy melody and chorus. My children love it. We put it on, sing along and dance…really really fast! (Jessica Rhaye)

Salesman – Museum Pieces

Tyler Messick appears as a wizard of sorts, through not only the songwriting in pure poetic form on this album, but the overall diversity of melodies and sonic ideas that never cease to fade in quality. There is masterful skill, experience and depth in his songwriting diary, and a feeling of gathering and collecting from a lifetime in the listening experience you get to have, beyond folk and pop but perfectly sounding like both are one.  (Corey J. Isenor)