Artists' Albums of 2016: The Burning Hell
Canadians are stereotypically lovely but The Burning Hell are lovely even against their nation’s high benchmark. 2016 saw the friendly Ontarians and their frontman Mathias Kom release their best yet collection of stories Public Library, a tome bookmarked in TMF’s Albums of 2016. Mathias really loves his words, and he’s great at using them, so over to him to introduce his favourite albums of the year:
Can I preface this by saying I hate having to choose favourites of anything when there's so much greatness in the world? I even feel weird and kind of guilty claiming green as a favourite colour. Do the other colours feel badly about not being picked? Orange, for example, probably doesn't get picked by many people. I feel sad for orange. It's a fantastic colour! And music, well... as much as 2016 has been remarkably shitty in so many ways, it has also provided a deluge of great records. So asking me to choose just five was mean. I did it anyway, though, because I like a challenge.
I love Freschard's songwriting so much, and all of her albums are great. But this one is extra special because it's all about friendship and the joys of hanging out with people you love; as much as we need politics back in music these days, we also need to remember each other, and this is one wonderful soundtrack for that.
Best track: ‘Me & The Boys’
This is my newest favourite thing. Sammus is a refreshing and totally unique voice in a hip-hop landscape which seems filled with refreshing voices these days. As a writer and rapper, she is at once smart, playful, biting, politically on-point, and unabashedly nerdy.
Best track: ‘Comments Disabled’
A whole album about gentrification that is also fun and filled with catchy hooks and fist-pumping sing-along anthems? Yes. Adrian Teacher does it again!
Best track: ‘Terminal City’
This is a great collection of songs from one of the best writers around. John K Samson has such a beautiful way with words, shaping little, specific observational vignettes into moments of empathy that allow the listener to step inside the song.
Best track: ‘Post Doc Blues’
Tanya Tagaq is one of the most interesting songwriters and performers on the planet, and this is another stellar example of her groundbreaking work. It isn't an easy or a comfortable listen, and that's a good thing: while Tagaq's anger here has targets specific to the Indigenous experience in Canada, I think that the rage of this terrifying album is also more broadly understandable for our current global wrestle with the (re)emergence of fascism everywhere.
Best track: entire album, played at high volume from start to finish, no pausing