TOP 10 SINGLES OF 2016
By Morgan Berna
1. The Lumineers - Ophelia
2. D.R.A.M. - Cash Machine
3. Kanye West - Ultralight Beam
4. St. Paul and the Broken Bones - Is It Me
5. Young Thug - Kanye West (feat. Wyclef Jean)
6. Run the Jewels - Down (feat. Joi)
7. Father John Misty - Real Love Baby
8. Gallant - Weight In Gold
9. The Lion The Bear The Fox - Hold My Love
10. The Avalanches - Bad Day (feat. Freddie Gibbs)
TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2016
By Morgan Berna, Founder
1. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book
2. Noname - Telefone
3. HIGHS - Dazzle Camouflage
4. Kaleo - A/B
5. The Head and the Heart - Signs of Light
6. St. Paul and the Broken Bones - Sea of Noise
7. Coleman Hell - Summerland
8. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
9. The Avalanches - Wildflower
10. The Strumbellas - Hope
TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2016
By Larry Chen, Writer
1. James Blake - The Colour in Anything
James Blake’s sound has changed and evolved over time but has never ceased to amaze his listeners with the auditory stimulation that they expect from this British pop artist. His voice transcends the boundaries set by the genre and begins to explore different depths of his range, both in emotional and vocal ability. The instrumentation on this album has leapt from its predecessor as well, showing a great shift from indie-pop/alternative to experimental and non-genre music. Blake manages to bring vulnerability to big explosive tracks and also finds the perfect places for different lyrics and lines to fit in this album that is, sonically, one of the best this year.
2. Regina Spektor - Remember Us to Life
Regina Spektor first charmed her listeners in 2001 with her witty and funny lyrics that also delve into deeper and more intense topics. Now, nearly 15 years following her debut album, Spektor has managed to ignite that spark that seemed to have been lost in her previous few albums. Impeccable writing paired with daring and bold choices in instrumentation make this album a journey to listen to. Sugarcoating topics like heartbreak and loss of innocence with fruity and “bubble-gummy” melodic lines, Spektor pulls off one of the best albums of the year.
3. Beyoncé - Lemonade
Partially for its sonic capacities, partially for its subject matter and partially because it’s Beyoncé, Lemonade has become one of the most iconic albums of this year. Pulling another surprise album out of her pocket, Lemonade is one of Beyonce’s most experimental and political albums yet, with songs directly pulling from the Black Lives Matter movement and some that showcase her vocal ability. In all, this album has one of 2016’s most influential track lists and has drawn accolades across the board, including an Emmy nomination. Raw and visceral emotions of betrayal, the yearning for forgiveness and more make this album heartbreaking but also an anthem for listeners.
4. Jeremy Zucker - Motions
A spin on modern teen pop, Jeremy Zucker’s almost “needy” voice meshes perfectly together with interesting lyrical lines and thin string development on many tracks off this new album. Standouts like Sinking show off Zucker’s prowess at writing pieces that express what many of us are thinking of in the back of our brain but can't turn into words. Zucker is an indie artist who could definitely cross into mainstream pop soon. Motions is a demonstration of what he is capable of in the near future.
5. Laurel - Park
British indie pop artist Laurel crossed over from her mainstream sound on her first few singles to a new dream-pop genre many artists are exploring of late. Park is the newly-minted EP from this young artist and shows off her intriguing vocal timbre. Laurel pulls off a subdued performance with a rather fully developed instrumental of bass and syncopation. A new discovery for many and a great listen for those who have been following her from her debut.
BEST STAGE STYLE
By Kendra Cooper, Writer
5. Iron Maiden
Metal style is dependable and afraid of change. It makes a pretty good best friend. It is kind of funny how Iron Maiden concert shirts are mainstream high school style now. PHOTO
6. Vince Staples
The man tucks his t-shirt into belted jeans. Need I say more? Also, I’ll buy all of his graphic shirts. PHOTO
I know she is an obvious choice. Bask in all her glory and political statements. PHOTO
Future of fashion? Probably. He does look cooler than you. PHOTO
9. Animal Collective
Graphic tees are the new gig posters. PHOTO
10. Pearl Jam
Some of us want it to be head-to-toe 1993 again, OK? PHOTO
These girls kill it in fashion. Why? Because they don’t care. Style is all D.I.Y., so dress by your own rules. PHOTO
2. Mac DeMarco
I find comfort in that thrift-shop style in the same way I find comfort in Mac’s easygoing sound. He is all of us on the days we get up and grab whatever is on the floor. Also, smelling a shirt is a perfectly good way to judge if it’s clean. PHOTO
3. Bruce Springsteen
Springsteen inspires my entire collection of jean jackets because, like them, he will never give up on me. I feel proud in head-to-toe denim even while everyone says I really shouldn’t be. Can we take a moment to really get a look at that scarf he’s rocking? I’m sure you have your own opinion. PHOTO
4. Justin Bieber
It was a different look this year, and I’m 100% here for it. His neo-acid-wash-1992 style had my heart. I’m not holiday drunk, I mean what I say. PHOTO
TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2016
By Brendan Tuytel, Writer
1) Bon Iver - 22, A Million
While admittedly not the best album of 2016 in terms of musical quality, it’s hard for me to distinguish any other album as my favourite when I’ve spent so much time obsessing and pouring over every detail of 22, A Million. Justin Vernon’s lyrics still flow with a lingering viscosity, drawling into ears and settling before pulling out an emotional climax. On 715 - CR∑∑KS, he mourns the loss of love stating “Oh, then how we gonna cry ‘cause it once might not mean something” before begging his partner to stay (“Goddamn, turn around now you’re my A-Team”). On 29 #Strafford Apts, his voice cracks and breaks into a final fatalistic chorus. These moments are all backed by innovative production, a canvas on which Vernon projects vibrant images with a ubiquitous theme of anxiety and self-realization tying them together. It’s oxymoronic, equal parts grandiosity and relatability making for an unmatched product of captivation.
2) Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
The release was an absolute fucking mess. The lead up was absolute absurdity with split sides of apologists and anger. But it’s hard to dispute the finished product, you know, the one that came out months after the initial release. Some of the best Kanye tracks of all time finally met their potential with choral choruses contrasting stereotypically quotable verses indulging in sex, familial conflict, love, hate, and all that falls between.
However, the reason this album made this list is the implication of digital release. There are people out there who may have never heard the completed album because they first heard it in February. The fascination following the release led to a nearly democratic reproduction highlighted by the oft-quoted “imma fix wolves” tweet brought on by the gaping absence of Vic Mensa and Sia. This could either be a great revolution for music or bring about sloppy releases fixed down the line. It’s hard to imagine the album as something dynamic, but this is the implication that the Life of Pablo ultimately leads to. While it worked out in the end, the frustration bred an uncertainty that made the album an event, for better and for worse.
3) Pinegrove - Cardinal
Brevity is the soul of wit. For the New Jersey rock band, 30 minutes across 8 songs packs enough poignant punches to induce cringes, nostalgic longing, and moments of realism and realization to be one of the most personable releases of the year. Front man Evan Stephens Hall writes as an embellishment of himself and his insecurities producing the most uninhibited admissions of guilt, gross characterizations that are sure to bring attention to the disappointments within while also providing a reflective redemption. This is an album about friendships, speaking one’s mind, and the rise and fall of relationships. While rudimentary in production quality, it’s endearing and the subtle cracks makes it feel like an emotional breakdown on a pedestal. Cardinal is an instant chemistry; it’s a stranger that immediately connects on large issues and one of the best albums of 2016 lyrically.
4) Kaytranada - 99.9%
Kaytranada spent over 4 years discovering his sound and then another 2 stripping it down and rebuilding before ultimately falling on the musical equivalent of a VHS revival with modern adaptations. There are elements of R&B, soul, and hip hop with influences abroad and infused with his Haitian heritage producing an up-tempo medley of head bobbers and bangers featuring prominent figures across genres. Vocals lent by the likes of Vic Mensa, Syd tha Kid, Anderson .Paak, and Craig David bring convention to new pop melodies meddling with the past in a hot hybrid bridging eras. Deserving of its Polaris Prize win and demanding of attention internationally, it’s an album equally appealing to parties looking for something new or looking for an evolution of the same. Enjoy it as it plays with basic principles to make something truly special.
5) White Lung - Paradise
2016 was a year of uncertainty, displeasure, anger, and resentment. Naturally, this entailed a golden year for punk music. For their fourth album, White Lung managed to add to an already impressive repertoire of hot licks, revved riffs, and unparalleled enthusiasm in their own work. There’s pride in the negativity coursing through the lyrics as vocalist Mish Way-Barber spits verses like “I will give birth in a trailer/Huffing the gas in the air/Baby is born in molasses/Like I would even care” with vitriol. While the subject matter touches on the superficial fleeting falsehood of beauty, degradation of pride, and objectification of women, there’s an underlying optimism. Unrequited emotion is still very real and it’s the one thing we as people can hold onto in these bleak times. So hit play, get angry, then calm down because the chances are if you feel anything towards anyone, you have something worth putting up with all of it for.
TOP 5 ALBUMS of 2016
By Chloe Sjuberg, Writer Coordinator
1. The Fruit Bats - Absolute Loser
This was a late-breaking favourite for me, but I've been listening to it nonstop. Its cold, jangly, woodsy feel is the perfect, strange companion for my winter walks. Each song is distinct and musically intriguing, yet the album feels really crisp and cohesive.
Standout track: Humbug Mountain Song
2. John K. Samson - Winter Wheat
Winter Wheat is everything I missed about Samson's The Weakerthans, but it feels fresh and present. Samson's lyrics are, as always, brilliant and complex, bringing to life strange characters, emotional stories and a deep sense of Canadian identity. Recurring Weakerthans characters Virtute the cat and her troubled owner make a cathartic return.
Standout track: 17th Street Treatment Centre
3. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
The Life of Pablo was the first album I became really engrossed in this year, and I also have a soft spot for it as the first album my partner and I discovered together. It'll always make me think of the time we spent discussing our favourite parts of the dense collage of sounds and analyzing the endlessly self-referential lyrics. Also, Chance the Rapper's verse on Ultralight Beam. Need I say more?
Standout track: Ultralight Beam
4. Liz Stringer - All the Bridges
This is the second year in a row I’ve fallen for an Australian singer-songwriter with intensely personal and relatable lyrics. Last year it was Courtney Barnett, and this year it was Liz Stringer. This was definitely one of those albums that gave me a "jackpot!" feeling when I discovered it. Stringer's deep, cold, clear voice and driving folky rhythms make me feel a lot of things.
Standout track: Feel It Now
5. Twin River - Passing Shade
Twin River is one of my favourite local music discoveries — their fall 2015 show at the Fox in Vancouver was one of my favourite reviews to write. I was thrilled when they released their second album this year, especially when I realized Brooklyn Bowl was that song I really loved at the show and had been low-key thinking about ever since. Their dreamy garage pop is cool and rich and surrounding.
Standout track: Brooklyn Bowl
Honourable mentions: Noname - Telefone; Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book; Escondido - Walking with a Stranger
Thank you to everyone who interacted with Geyser Music in 2016! Below are some of your picks for the best albums of 2016.
1. Kaleo - A/B
2. The Lumineers - Cleopatra
3. Arkells - Morning Report
4. Flume - Skin
5. Coleman Hell - Summerland
1. A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
2. Anderson .Paak - Malibu
3. J Dilla - The Diary
4. Aesop Rock - The Impossible Kid
5. Atmosphere - Fishing Blues
Lake Street Dive - Side Pony