2016 was a great year for Indie and live music for us. We covered a lot of live gigs, as many singles and albums released that our contributors could handle, and were in a constant mode of discovery via music being sent to us by emerging bands & indie labels as well as word of mouth news from the underground and, occasionally, established artists. We traveled to festivals in the U.K. and Canada and took thousands of photos and wrote untold words to try to capture it all.

So our year end coverage, somewhat delayed as it is, is uniquely ours. We saw a lot of publications closing their books and minds with silly lists beginning in October- as if creation, releases and music news were just like Christmas that could be unpacked and packed up at will. We made a conscious decision to wait until the year was over- especially as we found some great music in November and December. We also struggled, as a newer magazine wanting to do things our own way and with freshness, with the arbitrariness of the whole idea of year-end lists, and it’s something we’ll probably move away from in the future for its limited nature. Most of the big magazine’s lists we read at the end of the year were decidedly lacking, cribbed off one another, and pandered to the popular, often touting genres of music they had traditionally ignored. A lot of head-scratching ensued and a good deal of click bait content was to be found. Music and media continues to be in a strange stage of flux and shadowy agendas.

So we looked at a few things in our own authentic roundup: we gathered titles of the songs we thought were standouts of the year. We included full album reviews that we had already published for artists that were cropping up in our year end discussions (noting that our team is very small and the review section of the magazine reflects that limitation). We included lists from guest contributors who share music in their own circles and in different cities in the U.K. who are resources for us and often point us to new music. And because we editors were mostly busy with live gigs & travelling for a big part of 2016, we included a list of those standout shows as well, with some original photography. We’ve previously featured a list from Jake who was way more organized than we were and had this ready to go, so that went online prior to this part of the project. Please see Jake’s list here. And please let us know about new music you think should be included for review in 2017 at editors@disarmmagazine.com

Contributors to this feature: Editors – Dave & Jacquie; Album reviewers – Luke Williams, Phil Locke, Jake Lehman, Dustin Ragucos, Jacqueline Howell; Best Album lists – Adam Hammond, Yogi Shoegazer Duncan. With thanks to all of the writers who wrote reviews for the site in the past year.

The Standout Songs of 2016 according to the Editors (in no particular order)

  1. Nothing – “The Dead Are Dumb”
  2. Tonemirror – “Supermoon”
  3. The Foreign Resort – “Colleen” (2016 Vinyl Remaster)
  4. In Letter Form – “Reflecting The Rain” (not a 2016 release, but that’s when we discovered it)
  5. The Raveonettes – “Fast Food”
  6. Living Hour – “Seagull”
  7. The Black Jackals – “Demons”
  8. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Amputation”
  9. The Churchhill Garden feat. Krissy Vanderwoude – “All Beauty Must Die”
  10. Billy Bragg and Joe Henry – “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore”
  11. Whimsical – “Dagger” (Slowdive Cover)
  12. Lavender Blush – “My Pal K”
  13. Soft Lashes – “Lancer”


Full album reviews by our contributors of 2016’s Best (previously published):
Hayden Calnin – Cut Love Part II – (Luke Williams)
Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow – (Phil Locke)
Dinosaur Jr. – Give Me a Glimpse of What Yer Not – (Jake Lehman)
Savages – Adore Life (Dustin Ragucos)
Logan Lynn – Adieu. (Jacqueline Howell)
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (Jake Lehman)
Suede – Night Thoughts (Phil Locke)
50 Foot Wave – Bath White (Phil Locke)
Jaguar – II (Phil Locke)
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry – Shine A Light: Field Recordings From the Great American Railroad (Jacqueline Howell)
Hayden Calnin – Cut Love Part I (Luke Williams)


The Best New Albums of 2016 according to Adam Hammond (on Twitter @adthedoor & Isolation Records)

1. The Pop Group – Honeymoon on Mars
2. Ghost Outfit – No Sleep For Lovers
3. The Battles of Winter – At Once With Tattered Sails
4. Money – Suicide Songs
5. Eagulls – Ullages
6. Suede – Night Thoughts
7. Kristin Hersh – Wyatt at the Coyote Palace
8. Swans – The Glowing Man
9. Thought Forms – Songs About Drowning
10. Radiohead – Moon Shaped Pool
11. Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
12. Preoccupations – Preoccupations
13. Wire – Nocturnal Koreans
14. Let’s Eat Grandma – I, Gemini
15. Velcro Hooks – Velcro Hooks
16. Car Seat Headrest – Teens Of Denial
17. Membranes – Inner Space/Outer Space
18. Savages – Adore Life
19. Skinny Girl Diet – Heavy Flow
20. Death Pedals – Meat House
21. Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered
The Best Albums of 2016 according to Yogi “Shoegazer” Duncan (Yogi is a DJ and total music head who keeps Aberdeen, Scotland moving their fee whenever he’s on the decks.) 
  1. Flyying Colours – Mindfulness
  2. Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
  3. Presents for Sally/93MillionMilesFromTheSun – Split EP
  4. Minor Victories – Self-Titled
  5. Matt Bartram – Moments Before
  6. Ulrich Schnauss – No Further Ahead Than Today
  7. Salt Rush with Mark Peters – Self-Title
  8. Daniel Land – In Love With a Ghost
  9. Is Bliss – Velvet Dreams EP Code Ascending – What I Choose to Forget EP

Yogi’s Top remixes

  1. Mark Peters and Elliot Ireland – Oar (Ulrich Schnauss mix)
  2. Pia Fraus – Autumn Winds (Picnic remix)


The Best Concerts we saw in 2016 according to the Editors (not ranked)

    1. Beliefs at The Garrison
    2. Billy Bragg and Joe Henry at The Danforth Music Hall
    3. Cud at Shiiine On Weekender
    4. Echo and The Bunnymen at Shiiine On Weekender
    5. Explosions In The Sky at Toronto Urban Roots Festival
    6. Lee “Scratch” Perry at The Danforth Music Hall
    7. Living Hour at The Drake Underground
    8. Lush at Toronto Urban Roots Festival
    9. Nite at Nocturne
    10. Peter Hook & The Light at The Danforth Music Hall
    11. Primal Scream at The Danforth Music Hall
    12. The Cure at Bestival Toronto
    13. The Farm at Shiiine On Weekender
    14. The Foreign Resort at Nocturne
    15. The Hives at Toronto Urban Roots Festival
    16. The Mekons at Toronto Urban Roots Festival
    17. The Specials at The Danforth Music Hall
    18. Thousand Yard Stare at Shiiine On Weekender
    19. Toots & The Maytals at The Danforth Music Hall
    20. The Twilight Sad at Bestival Toronto
    21. Wolfmother at The Danforth Music Hall

In July 2016, we also compiled a list of the best music so far, at the midway point of the year, with contributions from our writers, and edited by Phil Locke. Read that feature here.

For more a comprehensive look and analysis at various key best-of- year end lists, we recommend you visit Adam Hammond’s excellent, comprehensive piece over at Isolation Records. There, Adam looks at the state of music media as a whole in 2016 as well as the quality of music released in the past few years.

Thank you to all our writers and reviewers who contributed your thoughtful reviews and great recommendations over the past year!