Sounds of 2016

CN&R music writers share their favorite music experiences of the year

SCOUT delivering a memorable performance at 1078 Gallery.

SCOUT delivering a memorable performance at 1078 Gallery.

Photo by Jason Cassidy

We lost a lot of musical greats in 2016, many who lived long lives and gave us more music than we deserved (Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, Ralph Stanley, Guy Clark), and some who left us too early and undoubtedly had much more to share (Prince, Phife Dog, Sharon Jones). But music never dies. The songs of those who’ve passed will be with us forever, and for those open to exploration, there’s more music being made in the world than ever. Here are the albums, songs, videos and whatever else from 2016 that resonated with three CN&R music writers:

1. Weaves, debut from Toronto noise-pop quartet

2. Chico’s SCOUT, live at 1078 Gallery, Nov. 10

3. The Wilderness, Explosions in the Sky

4. That time I teared up listening to “Know That I Love You,” by Team Spider. The most powerful wedding march turns out to be a song that hardly anyone has ever heard. Released in 2003 by the New York band, the song features the late Mr. Zak, the octogenarian who sometimes fronted the band of young punks with his tersely delivered and evocative poetry (“It matters that love’s epic is true”). The scene of Kate the bride making her way to her groom, Ken, to the sweet/solemn spoken refrain, “Know that I love you,” repeated over and over, was powerfully romantic and will stay with me forever.

5. Both of the insane lead videos—“Banana Brain” and “Fat Faded Fuck”—from Die Antwoord’s new album, Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid

6. The return of Experimental Dental School. (Chico, you don’t even know.)

7. “We the People,” A Tribe Called Quest

8. Pile, A Giant Dog

9. “Ultralight Beam,” Kanye West

10. “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Justin Timberlake

-Jason Cassidy

1. Solange Knowles’ performance of “Cranes in the Sky” on Saturday Night Live (Nov. 5)

2. Case/Lang/Veirs’ performance on NPR’s First Listen Live

3. If You See Me, Say Yes, Flock of Dimes

4. José González at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, March 7

5. Light Upon the Lake, Whitney

6. Singing Saw, Kevin Morby

7. The Odd Tape, Oddisee: This mixtape caught my ear completely by chance, one of those rare musical surprises you hope for. From start to finish there’s a fluency that doesn’t bend; sultry soul layering smooth jazz layering clean, compact percussion. There’s something so palpably refined here, likely coming from the fact that Oddisee (aka Amir Mohamed el Khalifa) has been producing and rapping for more than a decade. Start with “No Sugar No Cream” and just try to resist when the song magically flips two-thirds of the way through.

8. “The Magician,” Andy Shauf

9. Absolute Loser, Fruit Bats

10. “Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker,” by David Remnick, The New Yorker, Oct. 17

-Robin Bacior

1. Ace Frehley at Electric Lady Studios, New York City, March 24: Not only did I get to fly to New York to interview the Space Ace (thanks to a fundraising gift from my tremendous friends), I managed to weasel my way into continuing the interview in the back of a Suburban on our way to Electric Lady Studios. There, I got to watch the filming of an episode of the Web series Guitar Moves (with Matt Sweeney of Chavez!), and hear Frehley play riffs from “Deuce” and “Shock Me” as well as some of his famous licks, like “chicken pickin’” and “dinosaur bends.”

2. VHÖL at Pickathon festival, Portland, Aug. 6

3. Värähtelijä, Oranssi Pazuzu

4. “Atlas, Rise!” Metallica

5. Nattesferd, Kvelertak

6. Whatever Forever, Oozing Wound

7. Blackstar, David Bowie

8. Terminal Redux, Vektor

9. Iron Maiden at the Tacoma Dome, Washington, April 11

10. Talking KISS with Abbath Doom Occulta of Norwegian black metal crews Immortal and ABBATH

-Mark Lore