‘Best of’ posts are tricky to write because it is almost impossible to include everything, and tastes are so subjective. None of these picks are ranked in any way. The top 4 albums are all equally good for different reasons, as are the the other tracks and albums mentioned. This list is eclectic and is all over the place in terms of genre and style, as well as geography. The local artists included on here are mixed in with everything else because that is the way we consume music. It’s a good representation of what Cut From Steel is all about.
Cut From Steel was on hiatus for much of 2016 while the website got re-designed, and the original purpose behind this blog was re-evaluated and passions were re-ignited. Thank you for sticking with me and for reading.
There were were a few albums that came out in 2016 that reminded me of how special it is listening to an album as cohesive unit. These were the three albums that I’ve had on repeat at home, at work, in transit, every minute of the day when I wasn’t listening to something to review. I will most likely be listening to these well past 2016.
Rihanna – ANTI
Every single track on this album is gold. ANTI made me really nostalgic for the glory days of R’N’B and albums that were amazing without having a lot of bangers. Rihanna has an amazing voice and pretty much everything that she’s released has been good. What I like about ANTI is that Rihanna seems to have stopped giving any fucks about playing the pop game and she put out a record that is weird, sexy, and kind of slow. Some of the tracks on there work as interludes while some of them make me feel like I’m listening to circa 90’s En Vouge. She’s like the anti-pop star and with ANTI it seems like we’ve finally gotten the real Rihanna. ANTI is amazing. I’ve spent more hours in 2016 listening to ANTI than I have anything else.
A Tribe Called Red – Hallucination
The importance of having a band like this making this music and sharing these stories and perspectives can’t be overstated. In the year 2016 where everything seems to be going to shit it is great to have an album like this that doesn’t shy away from tragedy and injustice, they don’t sugarcoat anything, and yet at the same time their music is full of hope and beauty. All that aside, Hallucination is a banger of an album. It is full of amazing collaborations, gorgeous videos, and one perfect song after another. Everything they’ve done until now has been great but Hallucination is on a whole other level. This is probably the most important Canadian album in a really long time.
James Blake – The Colour in Anything
Every autumn when the weather gets dark and dreary my thoughts turn to James Blake. He’s been a long favourite and “The Colour in Anything” is nothing short of a masterpiece. While past releases may have been too weird / too short / too nerdy for some people – this one is juuust right. James Blake understands song structure, he understands melancholy and introspection, and he understands music. Listening to ‘The Color in Anything” is like listening to a hundred albums that came before it. It is a masterclass in song writing and emotion and it is not to be missed.
WTCHS – She Walks, She Creeps
WTCHS released ‘She Walks, She Creeps’ in late October and it became an instant favourite not only over here, but with many other music blogs. The atmosphere on this album is unreal, it fills you with a sense of looming dread and pent up aggression as the relentless waves of music and chant-like-lyrics wash over you. The song arrangements and use of instruments (is that a horn I’m hearing?) are wonderful. There is really nothing out there quite like this at the moment and in a sea of (mostly good) punk bands that all reference similar things, WTCHS stands apart in their own weirdly dark way. Get some WTCHS in your life.
There was a lot of other music that I really liked in 2016. Here’s some of it:
Billy Moon – Roads
L CON – My Aquatic Uncle
Mother Tareka & The Rebel Funktion – Riot Break
PUP – If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will
A Tribe Called Quest – We The People
Wintersleep – Amerika
Vince Staples – Loco
Dan Edmonds – Love Can Be A Tunnel
BANKS – Fuck With Myself
Arkells – Private School
ANOHNI – Drone Bomb Me
Terra Lightfoot – All Alone
The Diry Nil – Friends in the Sky
Holy Fuck – Neon Dad
YG & Nipsey Hussle – FDT
Chance the Rapper – No Problem
Nicolas Jaar – Against All Logic
Death Grips – Giving Bad People Good Ideas
Rich Chigga – Dat Stick (Remix)
Hannah Georgas – Evelyn
Danny Brown – When it Rain
Liv – Wings of Love