Monday, July 4, 2016

The Best Albums of 2016 (So Far)

1. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity 
Nonagon Infinity is a sort of never ending circle of frantic percussion (they have two drummers), demented lyrics that could only be written by a stoned Aussie, fuzz soaked guitars and a cheesy but fun Hammer horror style aesthetic. This is Psych rock on steroids, it puts a huge smile on my face and you can bet it'll be number one when the full list is out  in December.
Key Track: Gamma Knife

2. Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
Whitney make the sort of music that will be handed down on Vinyl from concerned parents to heartbroken teenage sons for decades to come. Light Upon The Lake is a break up album, but alongside the gentle balladry are some fantastic upbeat tunes. This album is unashamedly retro but  heartfelt and beautiful. Key Track: No Woman

3. Skepta - Konnichiwa
This had to be good. With the longest gap in Skepta's discography and some of the best singles Grime has ever produced, Konnichiwa had to be good. Despite featuring American stars such as Pharrell, A$AP Nast and Young Lord. Koninichiwa is distinctly British yet also hugely diverse. From Boy in Da Corner style futurism (lyrics), Dirty south style gangsta rap (It Aint Safe), and trippy cloud rap (Ladies Hit Squad). Skepta has pulled off the unique trick of taking Grime global without compromising his integrity in the slightest. Key Track: Shutdown

4. David Bowie - Blackstar
I personally feel that it does David Bowie a disservice, to remember him as simply Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane. Blackstar is the sound of a legend at the top of his game. Contemplating his mortality while taking bold new steps into Drum & Bass and Hip-Hop. Bowie left us with one of the best albums of his career. Key Track: Girl Loves Me

5. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression
Most of Post Pop Depression sounds exactly how you'd expect a band that's part Iggy Pop, part Queens Of The Stone Age and part Arctic Monkeys to sound. PPD, is a strange but compelling record that in places sounds like rougher version of Arctic Monkey's AM, and features both lush orchestras and stripped back acoustic tracks. PPD is hugely varied in style but compelling throughout. Iggy Pop sounds more passionate and angry than he has in years, singing about sex, capitalism and death, on his search for 'American Valhalla'. Key Track: American Valhalla

6. Amber Arcades - Fading Lines
A lovely record of sun-baked psychedelic indie rock. The slacker vocals and hazy production hide some fantastic songs. Some of the tunes such as 'Come with me' are full of big melodies and memorable hooks. While 'Turning light' is the band at their most psychedelic. Amber Arcades were a highlight of Lunar 2016 and have sound-tracked my return to normal life since then.
Key track: Turning Light

7. Kendrick Lamar - Untitled Unmastered
In which 'Cornrow Kenny' proves that his demo's are better than most MC's hit singles. Many of the songs are more cryptic than 2015's Masterpiece 'To Pimp A Butterfly'. This is a plus that makes Untitled Unmastered a much more relaxed and fun listen. Much of the jazz influence from TPAB is still there, such as on darker cuts, 01 and 02, while 07 features Kendrick half slurring over some infectiously trippy beats. 07 also features a demo of 04, which out stays it's welcome but does give a glimpse into Kendrick's working process. Key Track: Untitled 07

8. Chance The Rapper - Colouring Book
It's not quite the masterpiece some have claimed it to be. I don't think the high profile guests suit Chance's style and the production is at times garish. However Colouring Book is redeemed by Chance's likeability and some great tunes. While 'Acid Rap' mixed Gospel, funk and soul, with a conscious take on gangsta rap, Colouring Book pulls off the same trick but it's about Chance's love for god and his family. A lot of it has a Bon Iver, type auto-tuned sound,while ballads like 'Same Drugs' and 'Summertime Friends' are surprisingly, bitter-sweet tunes about the trials of growing up.
Key Track: All Night

9. Levelz - LVL11
Levelz are a collective of Manchester MC's who are totally independent, producing all their own songs in the studio they own. Think of them as the Happy Mondays, to Bugzy Malone's Stone Roses. LVL11 is hugely varied, from Ska to Garage to Funk, but every song is a massive banger. Every MC in the collective has mastered his craft, and the fast bars and thick Mancunian accents hide a political anger and dry northern humour. In short LVL11 is one of the best albums/mixtapes to come out of Grime in a long time. Key Track: Rowdy Badd

10. Parquet Courts - Human Performance
Human Performance, is the album I've wanted Parquet Courts to make since I fell in love with 'Light Up Gold'. They've finally found a sound that is uniquely theirs. the lo-fi racket of earlier recordings has given way to a more mature sound. Little keyboard melodies make the songs stanhd iut more melodically, while Austin Savage's lyrics on the human condition are as strange as the artwork he drew to accompany them.
Key Track: Berlin Got Blurry

11. Metronomy - Summer 08
While I was sad that Metronomy are no longer touring, Summer 08 does a good job of making up for that. This album has all the eccentricities that made me love Metronomy in the first place. Such as got Joe Mount doing his own female vocals, cowbell, DJ scratches, dark synths and loads of cowbell.  Summer 08 isn't Metronomy's best album, but it's their most fun to listen too. Key Track: Old Skool

12. Fat White Family - Songs For Our Mothers
If proof was needed that Fat White Family hate their own mothers here it is. This album is the sound of evil. Parts of it are un-listenable. 'Deuce' is the sort of demonic chant that could summon demons to your bedroom, and 'When Shipman Decides' is genuinely disturbing. Songs For Our Mothers is on the list because it is fantastic in places. It's ambitious and fiercely political. In our PC age Fat White Family write the sort of songs no one else would dare. It's a middle finger in the air to fascism, conservatism and simultaneously a peek into the minds of a band that is tearing itself apart. Key Track: Tinfoil Deathstar

13. Denzel Curry - Imperial
While the style currently in vogue in Hip Hop is slurred half rhymes over trippy ethereal beats, Imperial mixes the trap production style with Denzel's fast bars and insightful lyrics about his lifestyle and what makes him the man he is. Imperial is a hard kitting mix fast bars and huge beats and it marks Denzel Curry out as one of Americas best MC's.
Key Track: ULT

14. Allan Kingdom - Northern Lights
Even Drake must feel jealous of Allan Kingdom's knack for mixing catchy hooks with fresh production. Northern Lights is jam packed full of Hip Hop bangers. Every single tune on this tape could be a hit single. Key Track: Monkey See

15. Riz MC - Englistan
It's not exactly a fun listen but I believe that everyone in England needs to download this mixtape. Riz tackles racism and islamophobia, while rapping about the struggles muslim's face on a daily basis, whether that be with cultural identity, depression or honour killings on the heartbreaking true story 'Benaz'. Riz deserves credit for the forward thinking production, and for his sense of humour, but Englistan is important because of its message. Key Track: Englistan

OK so there is a tonne of cool records still due to come out this year. There are a lot that I've wanted to hear but haven't got around to, (e.g. Savages, Car Seat Headrest.......) and there are some I've just ignored (Beyonce, Kanye West).
This is by no means a complete list but what the fuck right?

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