We asked our friend in music for his opinion on the best music he heard/saw live/ bought in the past year. Here is his reflections on the music of 2016.
Jake Lehman, singer/guitarist/writer of Tonemirror:
Best Concert – Nothing at Lee’s Palace
Nothing playing Lee’s Palace was nothing short of sensational. Concerts are something of a subjective experience (often they are what you make of them) but I can say that my personal experience was one of pure joy and wonder. The band, road worn as they seemed to be, gave it their absolute all. The crowd fed off that energy and gave back. The mosh was incredible, the sound just perfect. As a musician, it was a learning experience; I aspire to have the stage presence and energy Nothing gave that night, every night.
Best Release – Nothing – “Tired Of Tomorrow”
Nothing have had a banner year in 2016. The build-up to this album was immense. Following the hard-to-beat debut “Guilty Of Everything”, the release of Nothing’s sophomore record had more obstacles placed in front of it than any one band could foresee. Personal tragedies, near death experiences, and the scum of the earth stood in the way of it’s release. And yet, through it all “Tired Of Tomorrow” finally saw the light of day in May and lived up to the immeasurable hype. This album is the sound of a band truly honing their craft. It’s more streamlined than their previous efforts, showing a greater sense of maturity and musicianship for all involved. Beautiful melodies, expertly crafted songwriting, heavy drums & huge guitars, and often painfully emotional lyrics cement this record as an essential album of not only the year, but the decade. Nothing/Bandcamp
Best Festival – Bestival TO
I unfortunately only had the opportunity to attend one festival in 2016, and that was Bestival. And although it’s my de facto winner, it was not without its faults. The lineup was heavily swayed towards some genres over others. The stage placements were not the best. But can I tell you? Seeing the Cure made the entire weekend. Even having to sit through Grimes (sorry, not a fan) was worth getting just the right spot to see one of the greatest bands of all time, alternative or otherwise. And despite Robert Smith’s obvious frustration over sound leaking from the tent right next to the stage, he stayed the course and gave an incredible performance that by itself was worth the price of the weekend pass. Bestival.ca
Best New Band – Soft Wounds
2016 was a year of great musical discovery for me personally. I’ve found, seen, and even met some amazing new acts this year. However, one in particular sticks out in my mind. Toronto’s own Soft Wounds unleashed their equal parts fuzzy & dreamy brand of shoegaze into the limelight with their self-titled LP in January and what a splash they’ve made in the international shoegaze community! The praise is not without merit; their debut album doesn’t sound like a debut album. Soft Wounds possess the musical maturity and skill of a band that has been at it for much longer than they have. I for one expect great things from them in the future! Soft Wounds/Bandcamp
Best Returning Band – Radiohead
2016 saw the return of many alternative veterans from Dinosaur Jr. to Bob Mould. But Radiohead in particular deserve great praise this year. The band’s highly anticipated “A Moon Shaped Pool” was dropped unexpectedly after the release of 2 singles “Burn the Witch” & “Daydreaming” just days prior, as well as a strange series of events that saw the band’s social media (and in the case of their website, literally) slowly fade away. But Radiohead is one of the only bands in the world that can pull such stunts unquestioned, and for good reason; they have the musical chops to back it up and then some. The band demonstrates yet again that they are truly skilled musicians and songwriters, trying a more cinematic and score-influenced approach to the album and pulling it off with aplomb. This year, Radiohead have proved yet again that they are much less a band than they are a spectacle to behold within the music world.
Jake has contributed to our collaborative group article about Best Music of the Year (So Far) that we ran in June. Read that feature here.
Tonemirror have recently released their acclaimed EP Fever Dreams, a cocktail of noise, feedback and bliss, receiving airplay on DKFM, Primal Radio’s Radio Hootenanny & more. Tonemirror’s debut has been included on The Shoegaze Collective’s best of 2016. Find them and their music here: Facebook, Bandcamp