So, New Years' Eve is just around the corner, which means that UMFM Station Manager Jared McKetiak and I will once again be counting down our Top 20 Songs and Albums of the year (pretty sure this is the 13th [!] year, though I'm losing count). I am still finalizing my album list and whittling it down from over 120 entries so I'm going to start sharing some of the records I thought were great but didn't make the cut. In no particular order, here's the first batch.
History of the Highways - Petals of a Rose [Independent]
Technically released in 2015 (December 31st) it was way too late for last year, so I considered it for 2016.
Karl Blau - Introducing Karl Blau [Bella Union]
I wrote about this one shortly after it dropped. Usually I rule out any albums that are covers, best-of's or live, but Blau nearly swayed me to abandon that practice.
JD and the Sunshine Band - Soaking Up The Rays [Transistor 66]
Sunshine House is near and dear to my family. My wife works with the organization providing on-site healthcare and my friendship with JD dates back to his days in Ultra Mega. Soaking Up The Rays is the sophomore record from Ormond and a great group of street-involved folks and as the title implies, it's a batch of warm songs.
Zaum - Eidolon [I Hate]
2014's Oracles is where I first discovered Moncton doom-metal act Zaum. Their follow-up halves the number of tracks from 4 to 2, but the album is just as long and just as trippy.
Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band - 55 [Big Crown]
This won't be the last time you see Big Crown Records. The new label started by Leon Michels & Danny Akalepse in 2016 came out with both guns blazing and released several records I loved. I have a big thing for steel drums so this one didn't need more than a few minutes to win me over.
Flamingosis - Great Hair [UNKNOWY]
Been following Flamingosis on Soundcloud for ages now and they're always dropping tasty one-offs, but Great Hair is front-to-back goodness. If you like carefully crafted beats, this one's for you.
Kratos Himself - Stay True [Independent]
Here's another great electronic producer - Stay True just dropped a week ago so I really haven't had more than a couple passes through it, but it deserves mention as they've certainly been enjoyable listens.
CHOCOLAT - Rencontrer Looloo [Dare To Care]
Shout out to the Quebec contingent of Polaris jurors who brought this one to my attention. La Belle Province has a long history of prog-rock goodness and Rencontrer Looloo definitely continues that tradition.
3PEAT - 3PEAT [Independent]
As the group name suggests, this is a trio - Dill The Giant, Egg & Steve - and they're a group of young dudes who rep my hometown of Winnipeg and continue on a great tradition of rap in this city.
Bateau Noir - Bateau Noir [Independent]
Instrumental post-punk from Montreal? OUI.
Katie Dey - Flood Network [Joy Void]
I came across Dey's asdfasdf and was particularly taken with "you gotta get up to get up." Flood Network continues on in that vein.
Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter [Third Man]
I'm still kicking myself for having to miss Price's performance at Interstellar Rodeo. Kids, man.
White Lung - Paradise [Domino]
Vocalise Mish Barber-Way had one of my favourite quotes of the year: “There’s this stupid attitude that only punks have where it’s uncool to become a better song writer... I have no interest in staying in kindergarten"
Kvelertak - Nattesferd [Roadrunner]
Unfortunately, all the Soundcloud clips from this epic record are set to preview mode, so you're only going to get about 30 seconds of any track, but that should be enough time to convince you to seek out this Norwegian metal act's full-length.
Warpaint - Heads Up [Rough Trade]
Here's another one set to preview mode. But if you liked their self-titled LP, I can guarantee you'll dig Heads Up just as much if not more.
Helen Money - Become Zero [Thrill Jockey]
Cellist Alison Chesley first crossed my radar with the first album recorded under the name Helen Money and the gorgeous track "Birds." Since then she's landed on the inestimable label Thrill Jockey and Become Zero is an emotional piece of work.