At Least the Music Was Amazing: BeatRoute AB Editors’ Best Picks of 2016

Thursday 08th, December 2016 / 14:10
By Team BeatRoute


Julijana Capone – Letters from Winnipeg Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

99.9% – Kaytranada

Crack Cloud – Crack Cloud

Forgiver – Yes We Mystic

Top three shows of 2016:

Peaches at Flames Central
Mixing her sex-positive synth music with dancing female anatomy and general pussy worship, Peaches knows how to have good raunchy fun.

Fountain at Sled Island
I caught the Victoria band’s splintering post-punk twice in two days. I just couldn’t get enough, apparently. Special mention goes out to their ridiculously great drummer Laura Jeffery, who I also stumbled upon playing with French weirdo Zad Kokar—another very strange yet mesmerizing standout that week.

Crack Cloud at The Palomino
My favourite Calgary funk punks of the moment. I found $20 on the ground that night and spent it all on multiple copies of their debut cassette.

Sum up the year in one sentence: We learned that Bowie and Prince were mortals.

Courtney Faulkner – Book of (Leth)Bridge Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

A Seat at the Table – Solange

Epoch – Tycho

Retribution – Tanya Tagaq

Top three shows of 2016:

Nomadic Massive
A “multi-lingual, multi-cultural, supergroup” blew my mind with their powerful hip-hop/R&B/soul performance that spoke to heavy social issues, noting that we were on stolen land in Treaty 7 Blackfoot Territory, the Saturday night of South Country Fair. Be aware, still have fun.

Opera For a Small Room
The audio-visual art installation Opera For a Small Room by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery was a completely immersive experience, building an entire narrative with only light, sound and movement.

FOONYAP, et al.
FOONYAP, along with Hermitess, Unbroken Circle and Fox Eyes, was an intimate, beautiful night with my favourite people. Sitting on the floor, listening to violin on loop is my dream come true.

Sum up the year in one sentence: Collectively, we were asked to wake up this year, and it’s a painful process, but it’s happening.

Colin Gallant – Music Editor

Left to right: Jamie McNamara, Willow Grier and Colin Gallant

Top three releases of 2016:

The Life of Pablo – Kanye West

Venus on Edge – Hooded Fang

Crack Cloud – Crack Cloud

Top three shows of 2016:

Kanye West, Saint Pablo Tour
You may not want to hear this, but the Saint Pablo Tour was every bit as good as the hypebeasts would tell you. The moving stage made it feel like everyone in the audience was getting a personal show rather than being asked to worship Kanye… We still did, though.

Thee Oh Sees at Pickathon
So good I moshed (in sandals) until a toe broke AND lost my camera.

Opening Night of Sled Island
The sneak peek Tuesday night of Sled blew my mind with stop-start art punk from Crack Cloud, the Death Grips-adjacent spastics of Technical Kidman, the Electric Circus meets Suicide vibes of BLANKA and terrifying dad punk of Bog Bodies just tore me apart.
Sum up the year in one sentence: It started with the mind-melting A/V synaesthesia of Convergence in Banff and ended in a real-life supervillain taking over the world – hopefully 2016 gets made into a movie.

Willow Grier – Calgary Beat Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

The Impossible Kid – Aesop Rock

Malibu – Anderson .Paak

A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

Top three shows of 2016:

Explosions in The Sky at the Commodore
A show I’ve been waiting on since I was very young. I went to the show solo while I was visiting family on the coast and had the most powerful experience with some of the most meaningful music that has touched my life. Those are the moments I live for.

Tiger Army at Marquee
Another one that was a long time coming. This band has such style. This show had throwbacks to their punk roots, with their bassy, rockabilly present, and an unassailable flair for days.

(All of) Sled Island
Not only was the music incredible, varied, powerful, perfect… but the overall vibe just could not be beat. Sled Island consistently delivers and I can’t wait till next year.

Sum up the year in one sentence: Mostly this year was a giant heaping pile of dung, but some incredible musical performances and releases somehow got us through.

Sarah Kitteringham – Shrapnel Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

The Armor of Ire – Eternal Champion

Distance | Collapsed – Inverloch

Summerlands – Summerlands

Top three shows of 2016:

Cirith Ungol at Frost and Fire
Seeing the reunion of American proto metal band Cirith Ungol at the second annual Frost and Fire metal festival in California was absolutely incredible. Tim Baker’s ungodly screech hasn’t aged a day!

Calgary Metal Fest
Locally, Nate and Nancy’s top notch rendition of Calgary Metal Fest brought a historic line-up of Exciter, Piledriver, Sacrifice, Razor, and Annihilator to Calgary for three nights of utter mayhem.

Saint Vitus
Finally, seeing Saint Vitus with the indomitable Scott Reagers at the helm in Boston was more than worth the flight.
Sum up the year in one sentence: I think I speak for everyone when I say that music aside, 2016 has been a dumpster fire.

Levi Manchak – Edmonton Extra Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service – A Tribe Called Quest

Songs for Our Mothers – Fat White Family

Puberty 2 – Mitski

Wait, were there any Hot Snakes re-issues this year?

Top three shows of 2016:

Purity Ring at Winspear
Sometimes the English language has too many words when all you really need to describe a show is: Fucking Epic.

Peaches at Flames Central
As an average height, front-row photographer I’ve had more than a few crotches in my face during performances. Peaches’ (and her giant vagina costumed dancers) were by far the most mesmerizing to date.

Altameda at Have Mercy
This is a deep cut from the catalog of shows I’d been to in 2016, but Altameda’s energy and musicianship proved that the size of the room you’re playing to has very little to do with how good a performance can be.

Sum up the year in one sentence:
The prequel to 2017 featured too many legends cashing in their chips, departing from the game, signalling to those that remain that it’s time for us to stand up and flip the table over before the dealer has a chance to collect.

Jamie McNamara – Reviews Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

Malibu – Anderson .Paak

The Life of Pablo – Kanye West

A Weird Exits – Thee Oh Sees

Top three shows of 2016:

Thee Oh Sees at Pickathon
Experiencing John Dwyer’s magnetic performance made me believe in the therapeutic powers of cut-off jorts.

Kanye West, Saint Pablo Tour
When people compare average concert experiences to that of a religious epiphany, there’s usually implied hyperbole. The floor of Kanye’s Edmonton show made sure you would make sure that implication was put to rest. In three words: angelic, transformative, iconic.

Deafheaven at Sled Island
For a band that doesn’t make even make ‘real metal,’ Deafheaven sure know how to get a pit going. Rarely do I have a communal air drumming sesh with a fellow concert-goer and walk away feeling confident about it.

Sum up the year in one sentence: Instead of making a grand political statement, I would like to take a page from the Schoolboy Q book of Political Discourse and Philosophical Apathy: “I’m jus Here for da memes r wateva dem sHits called.”

Liam Prost – Roots Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

Winter Wheat – John K. Samson

Good Advice – Basia Bulat

Light Upon the Lake – Whitney

Top three shows of 2016:

Sufjan Stevens at Sasquatch
After last year’s sad-core favourite Carrie and Lowell, one can imagine Sufjan was probably tired of playing bummer songs night after night. My first indication that his Sasquatch set might not be such a downer was the pitch-perfect ‘Sufjan Fever’ T-shirts at the merch tent, but what I witnessed was even more electrifying than I could have imagined. It contained the requisite folky moments, but also costume changes, balloons, stilts, props, the smashing of a banjo, and the full 25-minute Age of Adz cut “Impossible Soul.” I’m still not sure I didn’t dream it.

Jeff Tweedy at Pickathon
If you love Wilco, a good chunk of the appeal is Jeff Tweedy’s emotive songwriting. With country origins and an ear for wit, there’s a lot to wade into. At Pickathon this year I got to see Jeff Tweedy lay some Wilco favorites bare in a forest on a stage made seemingly of twigs. With just Tweedy and a guitar on stage, he felt like my best friend, cracking wise, telling stories, and nearly bringing me to tears with songs I’ve been waiting a decade to hear and never thought I would experience this intimately. Best part? He played twice at that festival.

Jose Gonzales at Calgary Folk Music Festival
I’ve never seen people dance to music so quiet. The percussion on Jose Gonzales’ music can be as quiet as a click or a clap, but it electrified the Calgary Folk Fest Mainstage and the several thousand tarpees hanging about. Gonzales was a way more intricate and interesting live act than I ever would have predicted, but the best part of the set was the magnetic feeling of quiet dancing at twilight, surrounded by wonderful people.

Sum up the year in one sentence: The world in 2016 may have found itself peeling apart like a rotting onion, but the soundtrack was beyond compare; think Michael Bay’s Transformers 9 as scored by Phillip Glass.

Paul Rodgers – Jucy Editor

Top three releases of 2016:

Human Energy – Machinedrum

Hello Clouds – Justin Martin

Who Is Richie Brains – Richie Brains

Top three shows of 2016:

Sled Island Block Party
Incredible sets all around, including OAKK, HUMANS and Sinistarr, the debut of Chuurch, and a rain-free day. Asking Chris Lorenzo to play the nastiest jump up D’n’B after his set of house and him doing it was also pretty great.

Galactic Funk 1-9
Seeing an old friend try something new and having it take off is just wonderful.

Full Cycle with MC Dynamite, DJ Krust and Roni Size. Drum and bass paradise.

Sum up the year in one sentence: With a resounding and righteous “FUCK YOU” towards this past year, it is important to remember that life is fragile and unpredictable and while 2017 is rife with dread and uncertainty, it’s important now to focus on rising to meet it head on.



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