Best Music of 2016: Intro

Interstellar Rodeo 2016, Winnipeg, MB. Photo Credit:

It seems that year-end retrospective lists begin earlier and earlier each year, so this time I’ve decided to try and keep up. Well, sort of. I’ll be presenting my annual top ten albums list in a different way. Rather than publishing all ten in one massive blog post in late December, I’m going to split each album up into a separate post. This format is less overwhelming for readers, and allows me to say a little more about each album.

Of course, the danger is that there will be an eleventh hour release that will demand entry into my top ten. But hey, that happens every year anyway. Personally, I’m still anticipating Jim James’ second solo outing, Eternally Even, and Ryan Adams’ as-yet-unnamed next LP, both dropping this Friday, November 4th. The following weeks will see another archive release from Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, and Beck’s delayed energetic follow-up to the placid Morning Phase. I also haven’t yet heard Starflyer 59’s Slow, Car Seat Headrest’s Teens of Denial, Conor Oberst’s Ruminations, Sam Roberts Band’s Terraform, and Phil Cook’s instrumental EP. 

I must also add my annual caveat: this isn’t really a comprehensive list, and it always reflects my own narrow musical tastes. It’s really more of a “personal favourites” list that functions as a way for me to highlight overlooked albums, help people find new music, and dispel the myth — stubbornly prevalent in rockist circles — that truly great music isn’t made anymore.

What can be said of 2016 in music? It could, perhaps, be labelled the Year of Americana, because a surprising amount of music in this vein was released this year (and not all of it hailed from the United States). There were also a lot of huge tours, which makes sense, because a lot of big artists released albums in the second half of 2015, then took these albums on the road in 2016.

This year Pitchfork began reviewing classic albums on Sundays, which I quite enjoy reading. Pair with a good beer or coffee for some great Sunday reading.As streaming continues is ascendancy, we seem to be over questioning the ethics of payment models, though these questions aren’t gone, especially for artists, and demand sustained critical attention even after streaming’s widespread adoption. What is certain is that younger music critics now must reckon not only with new albums and artists, but with the particular delivery methods that consumers choose in order to get those new tunes. Who ever said the industry was dead? It’s just changing.

Looking ahead to 2017, we’ll be treated to new music from two Canadian indie giants: Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. I’m hoping Feist finally follows up Metals this year too. LCD Soundsystem may even make a comeback after reuniting for the festival circuit this past summer. As always, there’s lots to look forward to. But I’m getting ahead of myself. On to the top ten albums of 2016!

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