Square Peg Round Hole | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2016 incredible. Today, percussion-driven Philly instrumental post-rockers Square Peg Round Hole shares their favorite drum songs of 2016.

“Spiritual Leader” ‐ Ian Chang 

If you want to know what the future of music and drumming is going to sound like, look no further than this video. Using electronic drum triggers on all of his drums, Ian is able to program electronic sounds to different zones of each drum, opening up the sound palette of his drum set to pretty much anything.

“Drumkit Quartet No. 1” ‐ Glenn Kotche, Sō Percussion 

Sō Percussion and Glenn Kotche ﴾Wilco﴿ have always been extremely important influences for us since the beginning, and the rhythmic interplay of this piece from their 2016 collaboration encapsulates the energy that we love about chamber percussion music.

“Kick Jump Twist” ‐ Sylvan Esso

We saw Sylvan Esso in DC in 2014 where they played pretty much every song from their awesome debut album. They did have one surprise though; it was a bleeping, glitching, crazy song that we had to wait two years to hear again. This is that song.

“Don’t Hurt Yourself” ‐ Beyoncé feat. Jack White

Unfortunately there are no shareable links of this song, but we couldn’t let that exclude it from our list. The drums in this song are unbelievably performed and mixed. Gritty and imperfect, yet powerful unfaltering. The compression and low‐fi recording quality only adds to the sheer power and solid foundation that the groove provides underneath Beyoncé’s passionate vocals.

“Rush” ‐ Jake Schlaerth

Just listen to this song and try to keep your heartbeat steady. If you like Aphex Twin and Venetian Snares, it’ll hit the spot.

“Mexican Chef” ‐ Xenia Rubinos

We have been fans of Xenia Rubinos ﴾and her drummer, Marco Buccelli﴿ for years. Needless to say, we were beyond stoked when she put out her second LP on Anti this year. We had pretty high expectations based on the previous album, Magic Trix, and were not a bit disappointed. Buccelli definitely flexed his creativity but without losing an ounce of grove and swagger. Not many drummers can lay down a beat and make it feel as good as he can. Plus his flawless tone and taste for fills just tickles all your rhythmic tastebuds.

“33 ‘GOD’” ‐ Bon Iver 

It is ridiculous how much of a pocket all of the upbeats create in this song, from another collective AOTY of ours.

“Bombay” ‐ Fluffer 

This whole album is a caricature of dance, rock, and trap music all at once, and the result is a blissful sensory overload. The drumming hits all the right spots from bombastic and downright wacky to well‐placed groves letting the equally ridiculous synths take the limelight. Their choice of drum sounds draws perfectly on current trap music, but they are placed in a context where they lose all modesty and instead evoke maximalist grandeur.

“Someday You Will Ache Like I Ache” ‐ Full Of Hell/The Body

This incredible collab album is just the right blend of noise and doom through the crucible of The Body’s electronic production. The overall sound palette is genuinely more demonic and striking than is likely possible with simply drums and guitars. The drumming throughout alternates between furious blasts and brutal minimalism, sometimes lead by the live drum sounds, sometimes by the electronic, and sometimes both in harmony.

“Let It Go” ‐ Polyenso

Flawless production, melding the smoothest groves with live drums and a sea of samples. And when you get nice and comfortable, they mix up the beat and get you up and moving all over again. If you can listen to the song “Let It Go” without moving some part of your body, you’re completely crazy.

FULL PLAYLIST ﴾excluding “Rush” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself”﴿