2016 in Review: Team GDW Select Our Favorites

Ludovic Alarie - L'appartement Julie Aube - Joie de vivre Beyries - Landing Quinn Bachand's Brishen - Blue Verdun Rose Cousins - Natural Conclusion Rodney DeCroo - Old Tenement Man Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer - Apocalipstick Kacy & Clayton - The Siren's Song Karpinka Brothers - Talk Is Cheap Jan Lisiecki - Chopin: Works for Piano and Orchestra David Myles - Real Love Declan O'Donovan - Broken Sky Oh Susanna - A Girl in Teen City Over the Moon - Moondancer Diana Panton - solstice/equinox Joel/Bill Plaskett - Solidarity The Sadies - Northern Passages Leif Vollebekk - Twin Solitude Wailin Jennys - Fifteen Winona Wilde - Wasted Time

Both halves of Team GDW selected lists of favorites from 2016 – as you’ll see, we took quite different approaches.  We hope that if you have not yet heard some of these projects, you’ll give them a try, and hopefully find some new artists to enjoy.  That, after all, is our goal – to highlight great music.

We have provided Spotify or Bandcamp links where available; as always, we encourage you to buy the music you like and support these artists (and perhaps independent record stores too!) in their livelihood of creating terrific music.

~ M’s List

Faced with the daunting task of choosing my favorite albums released during 2016, it proved difficult to simply compile a list and place them in a “Top 20” type format.  Let’s face it, 2016 saw many of our favorite artists release new material, as did a whole new generation of bands that have worked their way into our musical listening pleasure.  And could I focus solely on Canadian music, when several non-Canadian acts have released gems too?  The answer was a firm “No.”  So, rather than simply list (and attempt to organize based on merit) 20 albums, I decided to create four separate lists in order to give all contenders fair and equal treatment.

I determined the criteria for each list based on the following:

  1. My top five albums from the ‘well-established’ Canadian artists.
  2. Five albums from ‘recently established’ or ‘up-and-coming’ Canadian artists.
  3. Five albums from any Canadian artist that are simply ‘out there’ or ‘cutting edge.’
  4. Five non-Canadian albums, because they are truly amazing and deserve such credit.

The downside: some of those that should be on the list did not make the cut due to being restricted to five per list (so apologies for being omitted to The Tragically Hip, The Sam Roberts Band, Jane’s Party, and Kaleo).  So here are the lists:

Established Canadian Artists:

  1. Justin Rutledge, “East”
  2. Royal Wood, “Ghost Light”
  3. Blue Rodeo, “1000 Arms”
  4. Arkells, “Morning Report”
  5. Wintersleep, “The Great Detachment”

Recently Established & Up-and-coming Canadian Artists:

  1. Bros, “Vol 1”
  2. The Darcys, “Centerfold”
  3. Hannah Georgas, “For Evelyn”
  4. Andy Shauf, “The Party”
  5. Basia Bulat, “Good Advice”

Cutting Edge Canadian Artists:

  1. Wildlife, “Age of Everything”
  2. Groenland, “A Wider Space”
  3. TUNS, “Tuns”
  4. Lisa LeBlanc, “Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen?”
  5. Gord Downie, “Secret Path”


  1. Charles Bradley, “Changes”
  2. BANNERS, “Banners”
  3. The Lumineers, “Cleopatra”
  4. The Head and the Heart, “Signs of Light”
  5. Mandolin Orange, “Blindfaller”


One of these 20 albums has whittled its way to the top of my list, but as we are not about favoritism here at Team GDW, I shall keep that verdict to myself.  What I can say is that the said album is absolutely fantastic and I cannot wait for more.

~ L’s list

Not being as methodical as my better half, my list is not organized into categories, nor is it hierarchical in any way except alphabetically.  At the outset, let me say that I agree with every single choice M made.  My list differs primarily because I’ve listened to a somewhat different set of music this year (which is how it should be), and because I deliberately chose to limit it to Canadian releases.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I have great difficulty with finite lists and I could easily have assembled a list of 25, 50, or even 100 albums.  The richness and depth of music releases this year has been amazing, and those of us who are fans have been really fortunate.

100 Mile House, “Hiraeth”
Daniel Bélanger, “Paloma”
Blue Rodeo, “1000 Arms”
Brasstronaut, “Brasstronaut”
Bros, “Vol 1”
The Darcys, “Centerfold”
Groenland, “A Wider Space”
The Jerry Cans, “Inuusiq/Life”
Lowlands, “Erie”
Zachary Lucky, “Everywhere A Man Can Be”
Emily Millard, “By Heron and By Season”
Yann Perreau, “Le fantastique des astres”
Plants and Animals, “Waltzed In From the Rumbling”
Royal Canoe, “Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit”
Justin Rutledge, “East”
Andy Shauf, “The Party”
The Tourist Company, “Apollo”
Wildlife, “Age of Everything”
B.D. Willoughby, “The Qu’Appelle Valley”
Ken Yates, “Huntsville”

Picture credit: By Michael Vesia (own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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