Okay, so 2016’s over and you’ve poured over all the best of lists, only to find they’re all basically the same: the same albums, the same big-tent artists and the same kind of music, everywhere. Which is why, as our last Best of 2016 post, Bearded Gentlemen Music is presenting it’s Hidden Gems of 2016. The best albums which flew under the radar, were under appreciated or were just too good to leave off a year-end list.

While each of the contributors here at B.G.M. submitted small blurbs on albums deserving note, the albums here aren’t presented in any kind of an order. There wasn’t a group ranking, nor are we suggesting some are better than others. Rather, it’s simply albums we dug and think you will, too.


B.G.M.’s Guide to the Hidden Gems of 2016

 

Buddy Holliday – Victoria Street

I am so bummed that this didn’t make our main Best Albums of 2016 list. Buddy Holliday’s Victoria Street  was pretty much all I listend to this past summer and is easly one of my favorite albums of 2016. These jams are short, chill, and super slacker and I seriously cannot get enough. Victoria Street is one of those albums that can just play over and over and over. Don’t miss out on this trio from Australia. I may fly out there just so I can see them live. – Jon


 

The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It


This British group’s breakout album was a compelling mix of 80s influences, pop hooks, and sneering charm. On “Love Me,” they recycle a INXS guitar riff as Matthew Healy lurches back and forth, mixing a dry wit with pop cliches: “I’m just with my friends online,” he sings, taking a short pause to emphasize “friends.” Meanwhile in the video, he staggers around with a bottle and poses next to cutouts of people like Elvis while his guitar jingles and jangles, suspended in the air by itself. – M Milner


All The Roses – ROSES EP


Brooklyn guitarist and composer Austin Mendenhall may be recognizable as lead guitarist in indie psych pop band Snowmine, but he will be known for his work in instrumental composition – such as his first solo release under All The Roses. Blurring the lines of jazz, classical, rock and more, Mendenhall has created a mesmerizing music video to accompany an entrancing sonic journey counted in 4 songs and 18 minutes. No words needed. – Kelsey Simpkins


 

The Monkees – Good Times!



Celebrating the 50th anniversary of their conception, The Monkees are no longer concerned with proving their more than a TV band. Instead they’ve teamed up with a plethora of modern power pop songwriters such as Rivers Cuomo, Noel Gallagher, and Ben Gibbard (to name a few) to deliver one of the year’s funnest pop records. Good Times! not only celebrates the fun of the original TV series, but it also reminds us just how powerful a good pop hook can be. It encourages us to forget the politics of revolutions and just throw a record on the turn table and have a good time! We need it. – Aaron Cooper

Full Review Here


Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues


Nine albums in and you would think that Jimmy Eat World would be going through the motions by now. You couldn’t be more wrong. While 2013’s Damage was a slightly underwhelming affair, Integrity Blues is what I would consider the band back at their best. “You With Me” is trademark Jim Adkins ‘how to write a great pop hook 101’ and “Sure And Certain” throws back to 2004’s masterpiece Futures. “Get Right” brings the riffs that we have missed so much. Truth be told I can’t pick a bad track on this record at all. Integrity Blues is a solid release and deserves to be regarded just as highly as any other Jimmy Eat World record released in their peak. – David Dring


Pity Sex – White Hot Moon


The latest Pity Sex album sounds like new love to me. All butterflies, discovery, wonder, and bliss. I’ve always been vaguely aware of Pity Sex, but I’ve never really spent time with any of their albums. White Hot Moon is basically indie fuzz perfection. Brennan Greaves and Britty Drakes male / female vocals interchange beautifully and the drumming by Sean St. Charles hits hard in all the right places. Now I need to dive into the band’s previous releases. – Jon


Royal Canoe – Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit


These Canadian indie rockers have gone and explored the depths of space within themselves and come back to tell the tale. With their second full length release, Winnipeg’s Royal Canoe gets funky, playful, electronic, and soulful on top of a solid indie rock base for an album worthy of repeat listens long past 2016. And while their recordings are full of life and movement, if you have the chance to see them live, do not miss it. I’m at four shows and counting. – Kelsey Simpkins


Usher – Hard II Love


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What if one of the most definitive voices of 1990s/2000s R&B released an album, but nobody showed up to buy it? As cliched as it may be to say that someone (or in this case, their talent) has aged like a fine wine, Usher Raymond certainly has. His first complete album in four years arrived with a whimper and left in the same way–which really is too bad because it was his best since the creative masterpiece that was 2004’s Confessions. Hard II Love is a defiant counterpunch to the parlous, pop-saturated state of modern souls music. It’s a surprisingly full-bodied and ingeniously crafted effort from an artist whose career–sadly–may be in its twilight. – Javier E. David


White Denim – Stiff


The juvenile humour keep on coming with this record: Stiff has a cactus sticking out of a pair of underwear on the cover while the videos have a guy playing air guitar against a greenscreen or a gay cowboy dancing his way through the big city. At the same time, the southern-fried boogie of this record sizzles; at times, it’s enough to remind you of Lowell George’s Little Feat – a group also remembered for their sense of humour almost as much as their grooves. – M Milner


PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project


This is art, travel, inventiveness and song all packed up in one rucksack, shaken about in the hold, thrown about by cantankerous baggage handlers, yesterday’s crumpled underwear turned inside-out and washed in a murky river along the way, and still somehow managing to glide through arrivals looking as fresh as a daisy. – Mary Long


Foxes – All I Need


A criminally underappreciated release from 2016, Foxes’ sophomore effort was a sleekly arranged, piano-centric record with a delightfully cinematic feel. Foxes (real name Louisa Rose Allen) has maintained a spot on the cusp of pop music sweetheart and cool fashionista, also garnering acclaim in the UK as well as America. All I Need has plenty of high points, from the hand on heart melodrama “Scar” to the bouncy “Amazing”. Foxes’ is an extremely accomplished and soulful vocalist and it is a blessing that the accompanying music really suits her style. – David Dring


Basia Bulat – Good Advice


When Basia Bulat hooked up with Jim Jones for this record, it seemed like a strange pairing: she’s been making driving folk for a while, but Jones isn’t much of a folkie. But here, she’s adeptly moved into more R&B territory: “La La Lie,” built around a propulsive organ riff and kicks off the record with a burst of energy. Although the record occasionally stops for breath (“Good Advice,” “Time”), at it’s best, it’s a driving set of music packed with keyboards and a compelling retro vibe. – M Milner


Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered


Wavy windchimes stir-fried in a giant stainless steel wok, industrial beats thrown into the mixer, and a hyper-real blend of otherworldly sound and words. This is shoe gaze at the next level, intergalactic-stargaze seems a more fitting description. Sumptuous sound waves crash over the whole album and have the power to unleash sensations from deep within. – Mary Long

Full Review Here


Roosevelt – Roosevelt


In his first full length album, Roosevelt combines the anticipation of the past few year’s singles into a 12 song dance party that will sustain ears in the good times and the bad. While Marius Lauber is based in Germany and signed to UK label Greco-Roman, American listeners have “no reason to hide” as he sings in “Night Moves.” Roosevelt’s self-titled release is one the whole world should have a chance to hear. – Kelsey Simpkins


Deerhoof – The Magic


Deerhoof are the best concoction of weird that has ever been made. Punky, thrashy, groovy, and with the soft female vocals. This band has been around forever and that may be the reason that their newest album flew under the radar a little bit. However, you cannot deny the amazingness of “Learingin to Apologize Effectively”. This album is so random and seriously has the best grooves. Great beats and super dope low end interaction. Open up and get crazy with Deerhoof. – Jon


 

Brian Fallon – Painkillers


Being a huge fan of The Gaslight Anthem, I have a lot of time for Brian Fallon. His first solo outing thankfully doesn’t omit any of the magic that makes that band so great. Fallon truly writes from the heart and his lyrical style is a throwback to eras gone by. “Honey Magnolia” shows Fallon’s extraordinary songwriting prowess, it is no mean feat for a man to convincingly write a song from a feminine POV. “Steve McQueen” is a gentle acoustic stroll backed by Fallon’s vocals at their most raw. It is difficult to separate Painkillers from any of The Gaslight Anthem’s studio releases but on the strength of this record it’s plain to see that with or without a band, Fallon is still a songwriting force to be reckoned with. – David Dring

Full Review Here


Phonte – Tigalerro


The guy who helped put North Carolina rap group Little Brother on the map has managed to write an unlikely second act for himself as a singer, and it’s not nearly as disastrous as one might expect. Phonte, whose day job is front man for the alternative rap group The Foreign Exchange, turns in a nuanced and mature (whoops, there’s that word again) effort with his second solo effort. It’s light but soulful and definitely infectious. Tigalerro deserves way more love than it got last year. – Javier E. David


Reverends – Derealization Blues


Thanks to the recent psychedelic revival, there’s no shortage of reverb soaked garage rock. What sets Reverend’s debut album apart from the rest is the element of unpredictability. One minute “You Don’t Want To Know” is the soundtrack to a group of joy riding vampires robbing a liquor store, then the title track is a delicate acoustic love song. Derealization Blues keeps you guessing which direction it will take with each track. From shoegaze to goth rock, Reverends cover all psychedelic bases and prove they’re a band to keep your bloodshot eyes on. – Aaron Cooper

Full Review Here


Badbadnotgood – IV


And you thought jazz was dead. Except this isn’t jazz, really. On their fourth record, the Toronto-based quartet makes music that’s alternately jazzy, experimental or hip-hop influenced. Songs like “Chompy’s Paradise” wouldn’t have sounded out of place in an early 70s club, while “Lavender” wouldn’t sound out of place in today’s clubs. But when they push the boundaries things get interesting: Colin Stetson shows up on “Confessions Pt. II” and plays his trademark dissonant sax while the band works up a groove behind him, pushing him forward. –  M Milner


Radiation City – Synesthetica


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These Portland people get groovy on their fourth release, melting texture, color and spirit together for a joyous palette. Bouncing between male and female vocals, mixing strong acoustic and electronic elements, and riding tempos like a wave, Radiation City finds a fresh, and shall we say, “Juicy,” bit of sonic success with Synesthetica. A new staple of the Pacific Northwest, this group is quickly growing in its pursuit of passion and popularity. – Kelsey Simpkins


 

Rachel Haden – July 6


 

Being an essential part of That Dog and The Rentals, one would think the debut solo album of Rachel Haden would be quick listen of quirky power pop. Instead July 6 is a sentimental journey of dreamlike atmosphere, swirling guitar and mid-tempo soundscapes. Without getting shuffled behind superficial hooks of other artists, Haden stands on her own both lyrically and vocally with songs about loss, pain, and hope. She’s been alt rock’s best kept secret for nearly 20 years and it’s about time she gets to center stage where she belongs. – Aaron Cooper


Mothers – When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired


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Enter through the acoustic “Too Small For Eyes,” but try not to get distracted. When this Athens, GA. based group kicks into gear, they do it with a steady rhythm section, crashing guitars and Kristine Leschper’s soaring vocals, which are fragile and sound like they’re on the verge of breaking apart. An interesting debut; let’s hope there’s more where this comes from. – M Milner


 

Oh Jeremiah – The Other End Of Passing Time


The husband and wife duo of Oh Jeremiah utilize the chemistry of their marriage to craft an album that’s the musical equivalent of a hug. The Other End of Passing Time is a collection of songs that jump around from country, to pop, to Americana without hanging long enough to be a single genre. There’s moments with angelic harmonies and acoustic guitar carry the listener from the comfort of the front porch on a spring evening, all the way to a local church bbq, while other songs are heartfelt and sentimental like a conversation between lovers in their most intimate moments. – Aaron Cooper

Freelance writer and music fan, whose writing has appeared on The Good Point, The Toronto Review of Books, and CTV.ca, among other places. Favorite albums: Dig Me Out, Live-Evil, Decade.