Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The best albums of 2016

1.      The Avalanches – Wildflower 
      Few bands have ever chosen an album title as fitting as ‘Since I Left You..’ considering that it took them 16 years to release the follow up. While their classic début resembled an Avalanche by starting small before building into something bigger and faster with each track. Wildflower resembles a road trip, taking detours into hip hop, soul and disco. In fact Wilflower resembles the psychedelic feel of The Zombies than any other DJ’s you could mention. While the Avalanches use all their usual sampling tricks. They have expanded on their sound by playing instruments and collaborating with other musicians such as Kevin Parker and Jonathon Donahue. The end result is the soundtrack to a dream summer that you'd never want to end. Key Track – Colours
2.      Crywank - Don't piss on me, I'm already dead
 Crywank's name is oddly fitting. JC sings about his life and emotions in a way that is painfully honest, both self-mocking and pitying at the same time. Crywank have a knack for balancing their self pity with dark humour. Their finger picked guitar playing is stunning throughout and the pleasing lo-fi sound of their early recordings is still present. Yet they take big steps into sounding like a proper band, mixing elements of punk rock into their sad funk stew. While they may doubt their talent, this is an album that Crywank can be proud of. Key Track – Love 

3.      Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
Remember the episode of King of the Hill where Bobby Hill is heartbroken? He’s listening to country music and Hank Hill remarks that at least his music taste has improved? You probably don’t. The point is that Light upon the Lake is an album of beautifully wistful balladry. While it harks back to the likes of Neil Young and Paul Simon, Light upon the lake is no mere throwback. It’s an album of heartfelt country songs, which will be handed down to heartbroken sons for generations to come. Which even Bobby Hill would take some comfort in.
Key Track – Light Upon The Lake.

4.      Show Me The Body - Body War
I have a theory about NYC. While many bands hail from there, only a select few truly represent the sound of the city. I also believe that for every 1000 punk bands, only a few are willing to take the genre forward and create their own blueprint for it. In that sense Show Me that Body are one of the best and most exciting punk bands in a generation. They have a sound, style and attitude that is totally their own, and ‘Body War’ is a thrilling manifesto.

5.      David Bowie – Blackstar
When I first heard of David Bowie’s passing, I was upset because having heard this album, I was convinced he was about to enter another golden phase of his career. In hindsight it was obvious that Blackstar was intended to be his final album. Yet he took such bold steps into jazz, Drum and bass and even Hip-Hop, that even with death looming on the lyrics of each song he sounded more energetic and experimental than he had in years. Blackstar is an enigma wrapped in a riddle and also one of David Bowie's best ever albums.  Key Track – Girl loves me 
6.      Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial
To the Fans who discovered CSH through their treasure chest of Bandcamp albums, Will Toledo’s breakout album may sound a bit normal. Yet thanks to a decent production job Will’s talent for funny, and bitterly honest observations about his own mental health can now be heard much clearer. Such as on the brilliantly ironic ballad ‘Drugs with Friends’. His refusal to limit his own songs is present as well. While the grungey rock, on TOD, might resemble early Foo Fighters/Weezer, there is an intelligence and musical ability far beyond either of those bands. CSH stretch their songs to the absolute limit, and wear their nerdiness with pride. 'Teens of denial'  is proof that Will Toledo is one of the best songwriters of his generation. Key Track - Destroyed by Hippie Powers 
7.      King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity
Nonagon Infinity never ends or begins. It’s a constant loop of mental psychedelic noise. Led by the possible genius of Stu Mackenzie, and backed by the frantic noise of two drummers. Nonagon Infinity is the sort of brilliant nonsense that could only be written by a group of stoned aussies.  Next year they will release 5 albums. I can't wait. Key Track – Gamma Knife

8.      Clipping - Splendor and Misery
The short description of Splendor and Misery is ‘Roots in Space’. The long description is that it is a Sci-Fi-Hip-Hop concept album that tells the story of a rogue slave who takes control of the star-ship that was transporting him. Only to find himself alone travelling through space, rapping over the industrial noise of the ships electronics to keep himself sane. Broadway star Daveed Diggs narrates the story over a barrage of forward thinking production. Clipping manage to strip hip hop to it's very core, while experimenting with industrial noise and gospel music. Alongside the white-noise of  songs such as 'Baby Don't Sleep', 'True Believer' and 'A better place' find hope in the most harrowing of situations.  Key track – True Believer

9.      Skepta – Konnichiwa
Konnichiwa had to be good. With some of grimes best ever singles, a long wait and Skepta becoming a figurehead of the grime revival, Konnichiwa HAD to be good. Thankfully it’s every bit as good as it was hyped up to be. Skepta pulls the neat trick of collaborating with American MC’s and producers to embrace different sounds. Such as on the trippy ‘Ladies Hit Squad’ or the dirty south styled, 'It Aint Safe'. Yet Skepta remains uniquely British in character and true to grime’s roots. Put simply, Konnichiwa is full of bangers. It flows like a collection of grime’s greatest hits. A worthy Mercury winner.  Key Track - Shutdown 

10.  Levelz - LVL11
It’s a shame that the current Grime revival is so focussed on artists from London. Other than Bugzy Malone, the true stars of Manchester grime are LEVELZ. A collective of Mancunian MC’s and producers who are Grimes' answer to The Happy Mondays. Throughout their début mixtape LEVELZ dabble in many different styles, such as ska and garage. While they specialise in bangers. Songs such as ‘Drug Dealer’ proves that they can be clever as well as funny. There isn’t an MC in the collective who doesn’t have both a brilliant flow and thick Mancunian accent. For a freebie, it’s essential listening. Download at - https://levelzmcr.bandcamp.com/
11. Run The Jewels - RTJ3
12. Kendrick Lamar - Untitled Unmastered (k.dot releases album of demos, still awesome)
13. Blank Banshee – Mega ( https://blankbanshee.bandcamp.com/album/mega)
14. Danny Brown – The Atrocity Exhibition (A Hip-Hop Masterpiece)  
15. Michael Kiwanuka - Love and Hate (A masterpiece of modern soul)
16. The Pretenders – Alone (Chrissie Hynde finds pleasure in solitude)
17. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression (Iggy at his best)
18.  Bon Iver - 22, a Million (This is either a masterpiece or just a lot of dicking about) 
19. Metallica - Hardwired... To self destruct (80+ Minutes of Thrash)
20.  Preoccupations - Preoccupations (the post punk soundtrack to my 'Anxiety')
21.  Amber Arcades - Fading Lines (Gorgeous psychedelic tinged indie rock)
22.  Parquet Courts - Human Performance (the album I've always wanted them to make)
23.  Chance The Rapper - Colouring Book (http://www.datpiff.com/Chance-The-Rapper-Coloring-Book-mixtape.783240.html)
24.  Injury Reserve - FLOSS (http://floss.digital)
25.  Metronomy - Summer 08 
26.  Crystal Castles - Amnesty (not Ethan's best, but still pretty great)  
27.  Denzel Curry - Imperial (http://www.datpiff.com/Denzel-Curry-Imperial-mixtape.771698.html)
28.  Slaves - Take Control (P U N K AS F U C K)   
29.  Goat – Requiem
30.  Connor Oberst - Ruminations
31.  Josefin Orhn + The Liberacion – Mirage
32.  Savages - Adore life (they've cheered up a bit, and they sound better than ever).    
33.  Allan Kingdom - Northern Lights (http://www.datpiff.com/Allan-Kingdom-Northern-Lights-mixtape.758673.html)
34.  Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer (Guitar legend, makes political electronica)
35.  DJ Shadow - The Mountain will fall. (Trip-hop legend makes trap)
36.  Luke Rainsford - I'm nothing like my father turned out to be. (http://lukerainsford.bandcamp.com/)
37.  Death Grips- Bottomless Pit (if you know, you know)
38.  Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre (DMT, Gettit?)
39.  Field Harmonics - Corners (ace electro pop début)
40.  Flamingods - Majesty (T R I P P Y A S F U C K)
41.  Riz MC - Englistan (empowered political rap mixtape)
42.  Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
43.  Raised by Owls - The Great British Grind Off (https://raisedbyowls.bandcamp.com/)
44.  Bat For Lashes - The Bride (not Natasha's best, but still pretty good)
45.  Noname - Telefone (http://www.nonamehiding.com/)
46.  Young Thug -  No, my name is Jeffrey (Young Thug's best, actually good)
47.  Fat White Family - Songs For Our Mothers (a demoniacally evil wreck of an album)
48. Lust For Youth - Compassion
49. Marching Church - Telling it like it is.
50. John Carpenter - Lost Themes 2. 

Note: This will likely be changed a lot before the final draft in December. Many great albums are not included simply because I have not bothered to listen to them.

No comments:

Post a Comment