2016 Year in Review Staff Picks- Mike Gallagher

Everyday we will be posting a year end survey submitted by team members, they appear unedited with contributors told to interpret questions how ever they see fit. -Dakota, Music Editor

How long have you been with Live in Limbo and what do you do for the site?

5.5 years. I write about an old man’s observations at various gigs.

What was the most underrated album of 2016?

Steve Mason, Meet The Humans

What was your favourite Canadian album of 2016?

Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker

What were your three favourite songs of 2016?

  1. Savages “Adore”
  2. James Blake “Modern Soul”
  3. Beyonce “Hold Up”

How many concerts and/or festivals did you go to in 2016?


What were your three favourite concerts of the year?

  1. Sigur Ros @ Massey Hall, October 3
  2. Pet Shop Boys @ Sony Centre, November 6
  3. Tame Impala @ Bestival, June 10
  4. Foals @ Osheaga, July 31
  5. The Go-Go’s @ Massey Hall, August 16

What was your favourite festival you attended of the year?

Osheaga Festival, Montreal

What festival had the best lineup (regardless if you attended or not)?

Primavera Sound, Barcelona

What/who was the biggest musical disappointment (live or album) for you?

Musical disappointment is not in my vocabulary. I don’t got that kind of time.

In your opinion, what was the biggest music story?

The death of so many musicians this year with David Bowie and Prince being particularly gutting for myself.

What band did you see live for the first time that really impressed you?


What was your favourite new musical discovery of 2016?

Anderson .Paak

Who were you disappointed to miss seeing live this year?

Charles Bradley @ the Danforth Music Hall

What was your favourite review or photo set you did for LiL this year?

Heart & Joan Jett and the Blackhearts @ Sony Centre

My Top Albums for 2016

2016 was a dark year for myself. I lost a lot of people I was close with and those I was close with also lost loved ones. It’s no surprise that my top albums of the year were ones that soothed, made me think or just made me forget about the bad and focus on the good, namely those still around me. While the year sucked hard, it produced a LOT of great music and for the first time in years, not all the albums I thought should be on this list made the list.

I listen to a lot of music but I only hear a tiny fraction of the music produced all over the world. I welcome any recommendations I may have missed, mind you if it ain’t on CD I won’t give it much bother, unless you are Chance the Rapper.

  1. Iggy Pop, Post Punk Depression (Loma Vista)

The punk Godfather teams up with Josh Homme and sounds the hungriest he’s been in years.

  1. Roisin Murphy, Take Her Up To Monto (Play It Again Sam)

Irish singer embraces her inner freak for a compelling collection of introspective dance.

  1. Animal Collective, Painting With (Domino)

Baltimore freaks seem to have lost some of their commercial momentum, but this trippy collection should not be dismissed.

  1. Like Pacific, Distant Like You Asked (Pure Noise)

Toronto punks’ debut is chock full of catchy anthems for the disenfranchised.

  1. Agnes Obel, Citizen Of Glass (Play It Again Sam)

Danish singer-songwriter’s third album is a platter of beauty and continues her winning streak since her debut.

  1. Laura Mvula, The Dreaming Room (RCA)

The sophomore album from this British singer/songwriter is where I first got on the Mvula bus and will likely keep me on said bus for awhile.

  1. Underworld, Barbara Barbara We Face A Shining Future (Caroline)

While they have quietly been pumping out solid albums, this is their best since the 90s.

  1. Mogwai, Atomic (Rock Action)

Sure it’s a soundtrack, but I don’t even need to see the movie to know I already love it thanks to this.

  1. PJ Harvey, The Hope Six Demolition Project (Vagrant)

The closest PJ Harvey has been to being the BBC News, but somehow her poppiest in years.

  1. Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine (Warner)

Mac has obviously fallen in love and it suits his music well.

  1. Digitalism, Mirage (Play It Again Sam)

Completely under the radar this year, even I only picked this up because I saw it and got curious, but this album is chock full of what should have been hits.

  1. Tanya Tagaq, Retribution (Six Shooter)

Tagaq’s fourth album is riveting and her Nirvana cover chilling

  1. YG, Still Brazy (Def Jam)

The g-funk here brought me in and his message kept me along for the funky ride.

  1. Brigid Mae Power, Brigid Mae Power (Tompkins Square)

The Irish folk singer-songwriter’s debut is an intoxicating listen.

  1. Maxwell, BlackSUMMERS’night (Columbia)

The second part of a trilogy continues the neo-soul crooner’s winning streak of chilled soul.

  1. A Tribe Called Red, We Are The Halluci Nation (Radicalized)

The third album from the Ottawa electronic group is a gripping listen that also a dancefloor stormer.

  1. Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered (Aftermath)

It is testament to the talent of this man that this untitled and unmastered album makes the list, especially this year.

  1. Junior Boys, Big Black Coat (City Slang)

I’ve found the Hamilton duo’s albums a bit frosty but this randy collection finally won me over.

  1. BJ The Chicago Kid, In My Mind (Motown/Universal)

Bryan James Sledge’s major label debut is a glorious ride of varied r&b.

  1. Explosions In The Sky, The Wilderness (Temporary Residence)

The 7th album from the Austin post-rock group doesn’t mess with their template too much, but what a template they’ve laid down.

  1. Car Seat Headrest, Teens Of Denial (Matador)

Young Virginia indie-rockers offer up a nice mix of extended rock jams that recall all the titans of early 90s alternative rock.

  1. Common, Black America Again (DefJam)

Common hasn’t released an album I haven’t liked, but his previous album and this one show him at his rawest and hungriest.

  1. Kaytranada, 99.9% (XL)

If a Canadian made his presence known globally, it was Kaytranada, and rightfully so as he released one of the most engaging hip shakers this year.

  1. Bob Mould, Patch The Sky (Merge)

My favourite bear hasn’t released a bum note since he started making music and his latest sounds as vital as he ever has.

  1. Michael Kiwanuka, Love & Hate (Polydor)

Kiwanuka’s sophmore album turns the lens from his heart to what’s going on in the world and improves on what was an impressive debut.

  1. Jagwar Ma, Every Now & Then (Mom )

Australian dance-rockers release a hook filled album reminiscent of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica and Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind.

  1. Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)

The British veterans come back with their most accessible album in years and some of the tracks stand with the best in their vast catalogue.

  1. Danny Brown, Atrocity Exhibition (Warp)

It is hard to sit and listen to this album as it is such a frantic and manic blast that demands to be banging in a club.

  1. Drive-By Truckers, American Band (ATO)

I’ve never really given these guys much notice but this address to the nation was a riveting surprise for me.

  1. Blood Orange, Freetown Sound (Domino)

This has been a grower for me. Initially I shrugged at it but repeated listens have found it burrowing into my consciousness.

  1. Rihanna, Anti (Def Jam)

Rihanna has never really done anything for me and I found most of her early singles annoying, but this album wasn’t full of obvious hits yet was her most engaging and rewarding album yet.

  1. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth (Atlantic)

I love Sturgill’s voice and his records don’t do it justice but I love his country for going his own psychedelic route.

  1. Savages, Adore Life (Matador)

Their debut didn’t blow me away but their sophmore effort not only dispells the sophmore slump, it stomps it out with the fury and intensity of some great songs. Most improved!

  1. Angel Olsen, My Woman (Jagjaguwar)

My first foray into this St Louis singer/songwriter’s latest album has me baffled as to how she’s alluded my attention until now, although this is one compelling way to get attention.

  1. Frightened Rabbit, Painting Of A Panic Attack (Atlantic)

Immediate and engaging, the Scottish rocker’s latest looks inward and doesn’t really like what it sees but what beautiful tunes it makes.

  1. Charles Bradley, Changes (Daptone)

This feels like Bradley’s classic, that not only showcases his all-out vocals, but backed by the best soundtrack to accompany him yet.

  1. Anderson .Paak, Malibu (OBE)

I bought this on a whim and what a reward that it turned out to be. Word has it his shows are off the charts and with the energy that comes off the high energy funk songs on here. Diverse and masterful at all steps.

  1. Bon Iver, 22, A Million (Jagjaguwar)

Not at all what I was expecting and I was a little surprised at its brashness initially, but this is another that has burrowed into me with repeated listens.

  1. Chance The Rapper, Coloring Book (self-released)

Chance the Rapper’s positive vibe was a shining light this year and this was his offer to take us to church. I’m a believer.

  1. James Blake, The Colour In Anything (Polydor)

Perfect with headphones in darkness, there are so many beautiful hooks carrying that voice. Modern Soul is my favourite Blake track yet.

  1. Bat For Lashes, The Bride (Echo)

I bought this disc in Belfast and was the first album I listened to when I got home so it reminds me of my 2016 highlight which was that trip to see family I hadn’t seen in too long, so this album lovingly reminds me of some people I love. Some of Natasha Khan’s most beautiful songs.

  1. Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker (Columbia)

Short and starkingly sweet, Cohen’s final opus caps off a legendary career with what I might argue in some time is his finest of all.

  1. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed)

The death of Cave’s son looms over this album, although it is more hauntingly beautiful than dreary.

  1. Anohni, Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian)

This album should be in school curriculums. A pointed, urgent and very direct statement about the state of the world and how we treat the planet and each other, this is the most important dance album released in some time

  1. Frank Ocean, Blond (Boys Don’t Cry)

On first listen only a few tracks really stood out on this follow up to the massive Channel Orange album, but this has grown on me so shockingly quick. Now I find it a vast improvement on what was already impressive Orange.

  1. Solange, A Seat At The Table (Columbia)

Solange, much like everyone else has had to stake out her own territory in the shadow of her sister, and her recorded output up until this point has been worthy of more attention, but this testament of now really has her casting her own shadows now.

  1. David Bowie, Blackstar (ISO)

What can you say about Bowie going out like this? I can’t say anything. May he rest in peace and thank you for this engrossing album.

  1. Steve Mason, Meet The Humans (Domino)

The former frontman of The Beta Band released the third album with his name to little fanfare, but Mason has been my favourite vocalist since I first heard “Dry The Rain”. This got the most play this year as it brought me out of my sadness countless times this year. Criminally underrated.

  1. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here..Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic)

Honestly I was skeptical about this, but this blew away my expectations completely. This does not sound forced in any way and was the most fun and real hour of hip-hop this year.

  1. Beyonce, Lemonade (Columbia)

It wasn’t until the CD came out, almost a month after the initial launch, that I heard Queen Bey’s much discussed Lemonade so I thought a lot of the praise was just initial joy at having a new Beyonce album, but this was so much more and I couldn’t help but feel every damn emotion this woman went through over an hour. Easily my get up and attack album of the year.



About author

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.