2016 was a killer year for new media. Movies were exciting, video games were fun, and Netflix was chill.
Music was no exception to 2016’s good media grace.
Here are some of our favourite albums of the year, among many others.
Ana: “MEGA – Blank Banshee”
MEGA was a long time coming. Vancouver vaporwave artist Blank Banshee’s previous album, Blank Banshee 1, was released in 2013. After three years without music, people started to get impatient. After a series of false alarms about the release date, the people who hadn’t given up on Blank had the expectation that the album be stellar.
It was. Centred around the story of a colourful meteor hurdling toward the Earth (and three people’s attempts to stop it), MEGA hit a lovely balance between the technological and the cosmic. “My Machine” is a nostalgic-futuristic thrash, and yet it is in such a way that the transition into the soothing “Frozen Flame” isn’t jarring.
The album makes some pretty bold socio-political statements, too – “Gunshots” discusses post-war (either literal or figurative) trauma, and “Web Ring” is, according to Blank’s interview with Bandcamp Daily, his reaction to the death of Alan Kurdi ((it) was obviously really tragic,” Blank told the site). Themes like that speak to me.
Overall, MEGA is an extraordinary album. When Blank gets around to the tour he mentioned in the Bandcamp Daily interview, I sure hope he swings by Edmonton.
Parvin: “Cleopatra — Lumineers”
2016 was a letdown year in terms of music for me. Although a few of my favourite artists had new releases, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. A beacon of hope in this bleak year, however, was The Lumineers’ Cleopatra.
With tracks bleeding of nostalgia (Cleopatra and Long Way Home) and others celebrating the spontaneity of love (Sleep On The Floor), Cleopatra was the perfect album for the hectic, chaotic mess that is being a young adult finding their way through the mass of confusion that is life.
Gems like “Gale Song” and “My Eyes” spoke to a profound sadness, too, maintaining the emotional balance of the album perfectly.
Lydia: “Brave Enough – Lindsey Stirling”
Brave Enough by Lindsey Stirling is my favourite album of 2016, and definitely my favourite album she has put out so far. Stirling mixes EDM beats with her violin, and often has guest performers sing or rap with her. Brave Enough features artists like Christina Perri, Rivers Cuomo, Lecrae, and Andrew McMahon, among others.
Her album somehow manages to feel both polished and raw, blending a classical sound with electronic background, with each song being completely individual from the last. Brave Enough has been one of my top choices this year, whether I’m in a vehicle, working out, or writing at home, and I highly recommend it.
Thai: “Views — Drake”
When I was in Japan this summer, Drake’s “One Dance” came on the radio in a restaurant and I couldn’t help but feel immense pride and happiness; partly because that song is pretty much perfect and partly because that song came from Canada.
While Drake’s last album was just as good or better than Views, I was super impressed with how much of a home run this album is. Every song is catchy and has classic Drake lyrics, singing, and rapping, which exactly is what you want from the boy.
Sure, the album isn’t a very experimental one, but he has some new styles that he executes nicely, like in his Caribbean-ish song “Controlla.” The album is a perfect sequel to the last that will surely last.
Another reason Views resonated with me so much is due to the way he represents the hometown hero brand so well, but on a country-wide scale. I was blessed all the way up to be able to see him live at Rogers Place this year, so that undoubtedly boosted my fanboy feelings, especially when he ended the concert with our national anthem. I can already tell the album will be a Canadian classic. Also, I can’t stop singing his songs in the shower.
The Life of Pablo — Kanye West
Malibu — Anderson Paak
Coloring Book — Chance the Rapper
Good Times Ahead — GTA
Northern Lights — Zeds Dead
Generationwhy — ZHU
A/B – Kaleo
We got it from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest
Cover photo by Tal Atlas / CC BY-SA