Music to get through 2016 to

Back once again with my random sampling of music that came out in 2016. I bought most of this from emusic.com, and probably at least once directly from the artist via Bandcamp, so clearly it skews indie. I used the same evaluation technique as last year: listen to the albums from start to finish (at least twice) and listen to individual tracks in random order on my phone.

Sad13 - Slugger

I only just bought this, but I've listened several times, and I think it's my favourite of the year. Sad13 is Sadie (get it?) Dupuis, leader of Speedy Ortiz, and this is her first full solo release. Slugger is Sadie's great lyrics over different beats, from trip-hop to punk. It picks up where Speedy's "Raising the Skate" left off, with a strong current of feminism and just plain independent thinking. Keep your eye on this woman! Highlights: "<2"; "Get a Yes"; "Devil in U"; "Line Up" (so Lennon-esque, and not just because of the "Birthday" melodic quote); "Tell U What"; "Krampus (In Love)"; "Hype."

The Pack a.d. - Positive Thinking

After coming through some unspecified difficulties, the Pack have returned with yet another great album that deserves way more notice and respect than it will probably get. The band reaches back to their blues origins and incorporates the psychedelia of the past couple of records as well as going for bold new sounds. Highlights: "So What"; "Yes, I Know"; "Anyway"; "Los Angeles"; "Skin Me."

White Lung - Paradise

A breakthrough album for White Lung, or at least it should be. The playing is furious from Kenneth Williams on guitar and Anne-Marie Vassiliou on drums (she should be on "top drummers" lists). Mish Barber-Way is no less ferocious on vocals, as always. But the songs are among the best that the band have recorded and add melody to the mix in a way that White Lung have not done before. Highlights: "Below" and "Hungry" are huge in a whole new way; "Kiss Me When I Bleed," "I Beg You," and "Paradise" are very good. Really, 27 great minutes.

The Julie Ruin - Hit Reset

I liked Run Fast, the previous record from Kathleen Hanna's electronic punk band the Julie Ruin. I really like this record. Great songs, band sounding strong. What feels like genuine punk edge injected into the melodies. Highlights: "Hit Reset"; "I Decide"; "Mr. So and So"; "Record Breaker"; "I'm Done"; "Calverton," a sad song. I danced a lot to this record, as I did when I saw the band live this past year.

Garbage - Strange Little Birds

I've never followed Garbage beyond appreciating their singles. I always thought of them as better than the usual radio fare but not really that alternative. But maybe I'll have to work backwards through their catalogue, because this is a strong, engaging, and refreshingly dark album. Highlights: "Empty"; "Night Drive Loneliness"; "Even Though Our Love Is Doomed"; "Magnetized"; "So We Can Stay Alive."

Tacocat - Lost Time

I loved NVM. This album is growing on me and shows the band growing as well. Highlights: "Dana Katherine Scully" (try not to sing along with the chorus); "FDP"; "I Love Seattle"; "I Hate the Weekend"; and the surprisingly different "Horse Grrls." "Talk" is another interesting track that's different for Tacocat. Bummed I haven't see this band live yet (almost did but they had border problems).

Honeyblood - Babes Never Die

I learned about Honeyblood from one of my favourite bands, PINS. Enjoyable indie pop from a Scottish duo. Big, shiny production, much less "lo fi" than their previous record. They write killer chorus hooks! Highlights: "Babes Never Die"; "Ready for the Magic"; "Sea Hearts"; "Walking at Midnight"; "Sister Wolf"; "Hey, Stellar."

Beverly - The Blue Swell

Drew Clinton and Frankie Rose apparently had creative differences, and Rose left. But Clinton is back with a strong album of indie dream pop. Highlights: "Crooked Cop"; "Victoria"; "South Collins"; "Contact."

That's only eight, but there's nothing magic about 10.

Well, maybe nine. I'm not sure. I've listened to Tanya Tagaq's Retribution a couple of times. It's challenging for sure. It's more a soundscape with music than a musical work. "Cold" stood out for me on first listen. It's interesting in the context of other songs in the random mix. I want to listen more.

I had not listened to Bob Mould in a few albums, but I decided to try his new release Patch the Sky. Some sounds like his earlier solo work. Some sounds like Hüsker Dü. It sounds fine, but it's not the sound of a musician growing.

Head Carrier from the Pixies is certainly better than Indie Cindy. New-ish bass player and vocalist Paz Lenchantin seems to have integrated well. The playing is strong. But it's a bit like Season 3 Star Trek (TOS)—new episodes, which was better than none, but no longer the glory days.

Instead of indie 1960s pop, Bleached have moved to the 1970s with Welcome the Worms. Very Joan Jett. Sometimes it's so much like 70s hard rock that it feels like a parody. The songs are hooky, and they do this stuff well, but it's not thrilling me.

Skeleton Tree is the first Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album I have ever bought. As an indie snob, I'm supposed to be into Nick Cave. I guess you either like that kind of half-spoken, marginally melodic baritone or you don't. I like the feel of this album. It's dark, slow, and moody, with songs mostly written before Cave's son died but changed because of that in the recording process. But I'm still not a Nick Cave fan.

La Sera bummed me out with Music for Listening to Music To. What started as Katy Goodman's post-Vivian Girls solo project is now more a collaboration between Goodman and her husband and guitarist Todd Wisenbaker. They teamed up with Ryan Adams and created a country-flavoured indie pop album. It's fine. It doesn't get me off.

Given that I haven't even bought the latest PJ Harvey album, clearly I need to do some non-emusic shopping.