It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2016 quickly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been a crazy year of highs and lows it’s the releases that have pulled a lot of people through the year. Now in it’s 6th year, Circuit Sweet will be hosting takeovers from the featured artists/musicians/labels and promoters of the site with their personal top 5 releases of the year.
Our annual end of year tradition is where we let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists, their favourite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
Our next take over comes from the wonderful guys in Signal Hill. A band we’ve admired for a long time and one that have released one of our favourite albums of the year! This has been an incredibly productive and rewarding year for the band following the release of their record ‘ Alturas’- a standout effort on their part. We hand over to the quartet to find out more about their year in music.
Steve Adamyk Band – Graceland
Pop-punk at it’s finest. This new album came out of no where and was easily the anthem of the summer for me, while I was about to hit the road touring up the west coast. The album beginning to end is nostalgic and is just a reminder of my punk roots as a musician.
Blowout! – No Beer, No Dad
Just as Graceland was the album at the start of the summer tour in my other band Blowout’s release was just firing on all cylinders for me throughout. Lakan’s vocals are harmonic yet the words are raw and it all just works well with the complex melodies the band plays. Their first EP is something else totally under rated too.
Dowsing – Okay
This is easily the heaviest of their releases but the opening track alone is enough for this album to be number one. Great band to see and play with live.
Owen – The King of Whys
With every release by Owen, it always takes time for the album to grow on me before I realize i’m enjoying it, but once I’m hooked I just realized how well thought out every track is and as a solo artist you have to appreciate the complex production in every song. This is right up there but this album is darker and moody than you can imagine.
Great Apes – California Heart
Great bunch of guys and I was fortunate enough to hear these songs live while on tour before this album came out. This album is so melodic with hints of hardcore sing-alongs that instantly transports you to positive times spent with friends.
Dead to Me – I Wanna Die in Los Angeles
This is an EP from one of the funnest bands to see perform that recently came out so yeah it had to make the list. i’td only 3 tracks but it fun and quick enough that it leaves you wishing it was a full length.
No Grave Like the Sea – Estelle
nothing like finally hearing music you’ve been waiting for from your friends. This record’s moods are incredible.
Syd Arthur – A Monstrous Amorphous Remix
This has become a desert island record for me. Every track is rich and lush with such hidden detail you can listen over and over and still find something new. And his vocals are simply sublime.
Gong – Rejoice! I’m Dead!
Sometimes a record takes you be surprise with it’s freshness, even if it’s super ancient, haha.
Ray Lamontagne – A Changing Man-
I really like this as an album than evolves and morphs in a super congruous way. I am jealous of the soft distortion tones he gets in the title track.
Brokeback – Brokeback and the Black Rock –
Looping this album early this year while running along the beach gave me a calm and peace of mind that I really needed. It’s got amazing guitar tones and moods and a great back story to boot.
Not Blood Paint – Believing is Believing-
I am a too late to see them live, sadly, but they have a fresh energy like no band I have heard in ages. Lots of left field song parts which fuels my creativity something fierce.
Dave: (No particular order)
Tim Hecker – Love Streams –
I’ve spent more time listening to tim hecker the last few years than any other artist. So much beauty locked in with so much noise and dissonance.
Loscil – Monument Builders
A dark, emotive, and cinematic experience. Loscil, once again delivers an amazing record.
Library Tapes – Escapism
A sad and beautiful record from what I understand to be mostly sketches of songs. An engaging listen from start to finish.
Tapes and Topographies- Soft Decibels.
I heard about this through a friend who puts together a variety of playlists by genre capturing a ton of music. This album caught my attention right away. A gorgeous and restrained album. If you like ambient music this is a must get for the year.
Nothing- Tired of Tomorrow –
I liked their previous record, but I really really like this one. The production really works, and the band crafted some excellent songs. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t end up on a lot of top albums lists this year.
Nothing – “Tired of Tomorrow” –
I’m speechless. Words can’t describe how much I’ve enjoyed this album throughout this year. And this band over the past few years. “Tired of Tomorrow” is such a visceral experience. It cuts very deep emotionally. It brings such heavy energy, balanced with moments of cloudlike beauty. Production on this album is solid and not overdone. Guitar and vocal verb is perfect. And drums are spot on. Truly a masterpiece.
Bibio – “A Mineral Love”-
I’ve been a fan of Bibio for years now. And I’ve enjoyed literally everything he has released. Which is difficult to say these days. He is a musical genius. He has this ability to crossover many different genres. This album alone has bits of funk, jazz, electronic and ambient. It’s like listening to an awesome radio mix.
The Radio Dept. – “Running out of Love” –
I’ve been waiting for this album for a long time. I fell in love with this band back in 2010 with “Clinging to a Scheme”. They changed it up a bit on this record. A bit more electronic than the last. But just as emotional and nostalgic. Politically driven themes throughout make it highly relevant. A definite gem for your indie pop collection.
TTNG – “Disappointment Island” –
These boys are at it again. Full-time riffs, absolutely solid beats, and some of the most emo-est lyrics you’ve ever checked. The breakdown in “Whatever, Whenever” still makes my eyes water.
American Football – LP2 –
The title pretty much speaks for itself.
Best Show Played
Brian- Bar Matchless in Brooklyn. This was a tough pick because the week prior we played our first LA show in over 4 years and so many familiar and new faces came out to see us. Both shows were packed, but for some reason Brooklyn I felt more relaxed on stage even though I was an anxious mess before we played our first song because I didn’t have all my pedals. None the less as a band we on par with little error and although I was exhausted from playing two coasts, two weekends in a row, I was already amped for the next show, which will hopefully come together soon.
Tim – Silverlake Lounge – Los Angeles, 11/4/2016 Being in LA with so many friends and family from far and wide who came to support us as well as our friends’ bands that opened/closed for us – it was a great environment to share the music and love with.
Dave – Silverlake Lounge, Los Angeles, CA (Nov 2016) w/ arms of tripoli, the littlest viking, and tad piecka. It was just so good catching up with friends whom we hadn’t seen in a long time. Plus just being together as a band for the first time in over a year, playing in LA for the first time in ages, just all in all, super fun!
Rishi- Silverlake Lounge – Los Angeles, 11/4/2016 – The first Signal Hill show on the west coast (and in our original hometown) since 2010. Such a great reunion of family and old friends.
Favorite Gig Seen
Brian: This is a tough one, but I’m gonna maybe say Julien Baker at the El Rey in Los Angeles, the acoustics were perfect and she can really belt out the vocals that just filled the room. I think I even saw a few people tearing up that’s how emo it was (note that I was not crying).
Tim : This has been the best year of my life for seeing live music, by a mile. I would guess Desert Trip, seeing so many legendary acts all over a few days and jamming with each other. It was truly magical. Neil Young opening his set with Harvest Moon as a full moon rose dead center over him behind the stage was something that must have been planned for ages.
Dave– Morrissey @ King’s Theatre Brooklyn, NY. In contrast to Tim, this goes down as the least amount of live music I saw in a single year ever. As a new dad, I didn’t get out much haha. One of my best pals got us tickets to see Morrissey and it was awesome. Moz sounded excellent with some brutal visuals.
Rishi – Nothing @ Moth Club, London 5/13/2016 – So much energy. Felt like a kid again, rocking out at this show. Plus, they covered “Creep” by Radiohead which was pure awesomeness. Especially since this show was in London.
Highlights of your year
Brian: Touring up the west coast with my other band Last Good Sleep, being in the rehearsal room for the first time with each member of Signal Hill in over a year since we recorded Alturas, seeing so many old familiar faces at our LA and NY gig, meeting fans who travelled far and wide to see us live.
Tim: This year was the best year of my life musically, speaking. Putting out three records with great friends, playing a few amazing shows for great friends and fans and seeing a lifetime of great live music all in this one year.
Dave: Finishing and releasing Alturas, Collaborating with good friends on the remix version of Alturas, Starting AM 800 Sound.
Rishi: Got engaged, Released Alturas & Played 1st show in LA since forever
Artist/Band to watch for 2016
Brian: Our friends in North End are coming out with something sweet in early 2017
Rishi: Laura Groves
Dave: High Plains, North End, Vasudeva
Plans for New Year
Brian: When we announced our LA and NY shows, the idea was to play our home cities and that puts London on the upcoming tour schedule. We’re trying to blanket that with some other festival or shows that we can maybe play, but fingers crossed we can make it happen soon.
Tim: Finishing the new Azure Vault record tops the list musically, while writing the next Signal Hill album is right there with it. I’ll also continue with developing my own solo project, Nightengale, which is always evolving to find itself before anything serious gets recorded.
Dave: Get working on more music. Hopefully a show or two with signal hill. Some solo stuff maybe?
Rishi: Make more visual art. Make more Signal Chill.
A huge thank you Signal Hill- wishing you all the best for 2017!