Of all the different year-end lists compiled annually, some of the most interesting ones are those listing albums that have been ignored or have fallen through the cracks.
We all know about worthy Best of 2016 albums from such artists as David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Beyoncé, but being pointed in the direction of releases from lesser known acts is worthwhile. That’s what we hope anyway.
At FYI, this scribe regularly showcases a Track of the Day from a Canadian artist. Sorting through those we have reviewed in 2016 reminds us of just how many fine albums released over the past 12 months did not get the attention we feel they merited.
With that in mind, here are 16 from 2016 for you to investigate.
1- Skydiggers– Here Without You – The Songs of Gene Clark (Latent): The much-loved Toronto roots-rock veterans pay eloquent tribute to the work of The Byrds legend on this lovely collection. "Eight Miles High" is a real highlight, though there are no duds here.
2- Ron Hawkins: Spit Sputter and Sparkle (Pheromone)
The prolific leader of the much-loved The Lowest Of The Low continues to put out high-quality work, both solo and with his band The Do-Good Assassins. This album is full of well-crafted gems worthy of greater exposure.
3- Reversing Falls – Reversing Falls 2 (Independent): High-energy infectious riffing from this indie rock band from Montréal.
4- Erin Costelo – Down Below, The Status Quo (Venue Records): The Halifax singer/songwriter mixed gospel, blues and soul strains on this compelling album. FYI’s David Farrell termed her voice “captivating... and full of raw beauty.”
5- Weaves - Weaves (Buzz Records). There was definitely plenty of buzz in advance of this full-length debut from the Toronto post-punk combo, but it never quite had the impact that was expected or deserved. Their sound is abrasive and angular, but quite mesmerizing.
6- Radio Radio Light The Sky (Bonsound): Back in 2010, this Montréal-based Acadian duo made the Polaris shortlist. This fifth album is a refreshing blend of synth-fueled electro and hip-hop.
7 -Charlotte Cornfield: Future Snowbird (Consonant Records): The Toronto-based folk singer/songwriter received critical acclaim for this well-crafted album, but her poetic songs merited more airplay.
8- No Sinner- Old Habits Die Hard (Provogue/Mascot Label Group): It’s a real mystery why this BC bluesy rock band hasn’t broken through here yet. They’ve attracted a following in the UK and Europe and lead singer Colleen Rennison is a charismatic performer with a powerful voice.
9- Woodpigeon – T R O U B L E (Boompa): A sparser record than earlier work by the Calgary indie-folk act, it features interesting arrangements and seductive atmospheres and fine production from Sandro Perri.
10- Adam Baldwin- No Telling When (Precisely Nineteen Eighty-Five) (Sonic Records): The Dartmouth-based musician/songwriter is a valued member of Matt Mays’ band. This debut full-length and touring did get his name out there, but the incisive lyrics and Springsteenesque sound deserved to take him further.
11-The Damn Truth- Devilish Folk ( Fineline Records): This Montréal band has a retro-sounding blues-rock style, led by the Joplinesque fervor of singer Lee-la Baum. One to watch.
12- Ken Yates - Huntsville (Independent): The second album from the Huntsville, ON, songsmith is a mellow and understated roots music gem. Jim Bryson contributes typically accomplished production.
13- Will Butler - Friday Night (Merge): A member of Arcade Fire and brother of mainman Win, he delivers playful, quirky and melodic rock ‘n roll that we actually prefer over his main band. This is an entertaining live album.
14- Justin Rutledge - EAST (Outside Music). He is definitely one of our most poetic songsmiths, with FYI’s Jason Schneider noting: “He has certainly never had a problem straddling the line between music and literature.” He stretches sonically on this lovely, if rather ignored, collection.
15- Thomas Wade- Blue Country Soul (Independent): Back in the late ‘90s, Wade and his band Wayward enjoyed major success on Canadian country radio, racking up an impressive number of airplay hits. Something of a comeback album, this features his soulful voice accompanied by countrypolitan style strings. Sweet stuff.
Monomyth – Happy Pop Family (Mint Records): This jangle pop combo from Halifax delivered this writer's favourite Canadian rock record of the year. Those into Teenage Fanclub and Big Star have to check this one out.