Best Albums of 2016: Honourable Mentions

By Demo, Feature Photo via Digital Spy

Narrowing down the albums of the year to ten was a truly difficult task, so here are some of the many albums we unfortunately eliminated (but still love dearly).


Blood Orange – Freetown Sound [Domino Records]



Blood Orange, whether or not he disappoints, leaves his past art in his past effortlessly making way for a new project. Freetown Sound is the perfect follow-up to Cupid Deluxe evolving his 80s R&B with politically charged messaging. “Black can get you over, black can sit you down,” rings from a sample that closes “With Him” a power example of the themes throughout the album of ostracization, anger, and confusion. Love makes its way through as well, in a personal favourite “Best of You.” Freetown Sound combines so many fundamental aspects of Dev Hynes and Dev Hynes as an artist under the moniker Blood Orange. As I write this, I realize more that Freetown Sound has so much more to say beyond its 17 songs. Ayla Shiblaq


Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree [Bad Seed Ltd.]



“Skeleton Tree is musically sparse, almost New Age-y in its arrangement, and propelled by fuzzy synth lines which juxtapose the heaviness of the lyrics with Cave’s subdued delivery. Through the meandering drum drifts, throbbing organ chords, and squealing violins, Cave’s voice comes through with all the broken sincerity of an old drunk on an empty street corner in the middle of the night. The first image he depicts—“you fell from the sky, crash-landed in a field near the River Adur”—would be troubling on its own, but the lyric takes on a heart-wrenching significance when put in context. On July 14, 2015, Cave’s fifteen-year-old son Arthur fell to his death from a cliff close to their home in Brighton, England. Although half the album had been conceptualized before Arthur’s death, the loss shadows the album — it is very much an examination of intense grief, and the shape one’s life takes around it.” Excerpt from a review by Emma Kelly


Kaytranada – 99.9%  [XL Recordings]



Montreal based DJ Kaytranada has really evolved since I’ve last seen him at 2014’s TIME Festival. Diversifying his sound, encompassing multiple genres, and upping his features, Kaytranada has evolved into an artist that truly deserves his spot on our list. His debut album 99.9% is further representation of his impressive feats (aside from this 2016 Polaris Prize win, no big deal). Diversely encompassing his Haitan roots and true to his Hip-Hop and electronic influences, Kaytranada has crafted a sound that’s impressively well -defined and assertive – rare in a debut album. Ayla Shiblaq


Nicolas Jaar – Sirens [Other People]



Nicolas Jaar is hands-down one of my ride or die artists. Okay fine, I find him incredibly attractive, but that doesn’t distract from the fact the man has talent. Modestly six tracks (pairing with his 2015 release, Nymphs), Sirens is an unconventional electronic album that cannot be met with a “sounds like this or sounds like that.” Sirens is deep house, electronic album that is sexy, sultry, and spicy that is as smooth as Jaar’s hypnotic voice. With hints of Jaar’s Chilean roots, layers of instrumental and electronic ensembles intertwined with an aforementioned sultriness, Sirens is Jaar’s most unique release. Though unique, Sirens is neither polarizing nor overtly pretentious reminding me why my love affair has endured for so long, and will probably last forever. Ayla Shiblaq

Rihanna – ANTI [Westbury Road Entertainment]



Rihanna is probably one of the few artists who I’ve liked since I was a kid. Good girl RiRi had Ayla at age 11 rocking to “S.O.S.” evolving into Bad Gal RiRi with songs that would eventually empower me. ANTI initially fell flat for me. I listened to it once, and felt nothing. A couple of months later, a spontaneous re-listen turned into 30 more and I inexplicably was hypnotized by RiRi. I’m glad I re-listened, otherwise, I would be missing out on Rihanna’s most powerful work yet. Embodying herself and her artistic experimentation, ANTI is perfect “fuck you” album. At 21, I’m singing (more like yelling) along to “Needed Me” and “Consideration,” asserting my power as a woman. Ayla Shiblaq



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