Top 10 albums of 2016

Other music and recommendations.

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AdvertBreak
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Top 10 albums of 2016

Post by AdvertBreak » 21 Dec 2016, 20:11

My top 10 albums of 2016. This is a post I wrote for Facebook but I decided to share it here too. Post your own top 10 rankings too.

10. Weezer - The White Album

Despite some good songs, Weezer were stuck in a rut throughout the 2000s, mostly releasing poor, poor albums. 2013's Everything was a conscious return to the band's 1990s masterpieces, but 2016's White Album was the first convincing one. No, its not as good as Blue or Pinkerton, but the less silly, largely classic Weezer sound here is nonetheless their best album since those records.

9. Wire - Nocturnal Koreans

A mini album it may be, but trust the ever-giving Wire to deliver an album so good that almost every album they've ever released is in my top 10 for those respective years. Nocturnal Koreans was a turn around from last year's self-titled record, and delivered a warmful sound that kept me playing it throughout the year.

8. The Avalanches - Wildflower

It took a while for it to grow on me, but ultimately I came to love Wildflower. Since I Left You it was never going to be, but nor did it need to be. This is a record streamlined with colour and eclectic endeavours, a record that practically defines "the more you play it the more you hear". Bypasses that never turn into cul de sacs, sounds that surface but enough for them to make all the difference.

7. The Sea Nymphs - On the Dry Land

The first time we heard we were going to get new, unreleased music from Tim Smith, me and my friends were very much thrilled and excited. An archived Cardiacs album it wasn't, but just as delightfully, the Sea Nymphs' unreleased On the Dry Land turned out to be the ticket. Like their 1992 debut, it spins in brevity and chamber-pop delight. Something so intimate and relaxing. For the first piece of music released since Tim's heart attack in 2008, we could have had anything and been happy, but there is no denying that this was still a sheer delight.

6. Swans - The Glowing Man

To Be Kind is my favourite non-2016 album of this decade, with its forever developing, aggressive punches of noise and rhythm. Although The Glowing Man isn't quite as good, its still a magnificent album, showing the band tone down their noise approach a bit and if anything become a little bit more intricate.

5. Underworld - Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future

It's got to be said that whilst I'm a fan of Underworld's 21st century albums, it's fair to say that they weren't as good as the band's 1990s peak. Which is perhaps why Barbara Barbara was such a surprise, a fully formed fantastic Underworld album that harks back to the likes of Dubnobass and Second Toughest in the Infants. Their best album in 20 years? Yes

4. Suede - Night Thoughts

Although 2013's comeback record Bloodsports was pretty good, honestly I thought it could have been a little bit better. Although a solid record it still fell short of the band's 1990s heyday. Night Thoughts on the other hand was a surprisingly lovely album, arty and sophisticated. The delicate "Pale Snow", released before the album, felt like such an unusual track for the band and it really did point the way to the new record, through its baroque statements of "When You Were Young" until its conclusion "The Fur and the Feathers". Is it as good as the first two albums? No, but its not far.

3. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

The long pause in the band's activity that followed 2011's pulsating King of Limbs was, needless to say, one filled with cries of "new album when". And just as prominent were conversations about what it would sound like, after the more rhythmic predecessor. When A Moon Shaped Pool finally arrived, however, the band seemed to have often inverted the King of Limbs. For the most part, the syncopation was gone and in its place was lushous orchestral parts, haunting piano motifs and subtle electronic parts, components which have defined much of the band's best work.

It'd be hard to refer to its more ethereal sound without mention of what must clearly be one of the album's main influences, Thom's split with his girlfriend of the previous 23 years (who sadly died a couple of days ago.) What was once ambiguous in the Radiohead discography (Thom's more love-inspired lyrics) now had a poignant meaning. The whole record unifies into a cohesive trawl, through icy strings and krautrock rhythms, delivering one of this decade's finest records.

2. David Bowie - Blackstar

On 8 January, I finished college a bit early, awaiting a lift home at the Bath multistorey car park. There was something I needed to do first once my mum brought me my christmas money, which was to quickly run to HMV and buy a copy of Blackstar. Examining the album's mysterious packaging on my way home, I played it upon returning, multiple times in a row, and vividly discussed the album with my friend who had also had the album arrive. As you can see, this album was very much an event. The album that promised to be Bowie's most "bonkers" outing to date, a promise that excited me like mad.

And the record we got was splashing with inventiveness. Though never quite as over the top as I thought it could of been, it didn't matter. For it to have become one of my favourite Bowie albums pretty much instantly was no mean task. From the title track's multi-passage wonders through "Tis' a Pity She Was a Whore"'s pounding drums, "Girl Loves Me"'s quotable hiccups and "I Can't Give Everything Away"'s classicist electronic stylings, this was very much a success, ambiguous and brooding, cryptic and commanding, to dissect and discuss, which is what we all did with each other from 8-10 January.

And then, waking up on 11 January, the Blackstar shone black and revealed its true light. His cries of "never seeing the English evergreens" became tragic, the album's technicolor finale became the transcendence from life, and "Lazarus", with those resigned closing lyrics of "Oh I'll be free, ain't that just like me" now left the biggest mark they possible could. The whole record encroached on bare ears. But Blackstar's pantheon and genius was now solid and widespread. For an album to wear its scars is a brave thing indeed, and yet to hide them in plain sight is another altogether. Bowie's last surprise was nothing short of a major career highlight, and as is already becoming the case, it shall be canonised as one.

1. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

For me, this record really did fall "from the sky and crash land in a field near the River Adur". I wasn't particularly anticipating it but I still gave it a spin once I saw the mass acclaim it received. One listen was all I needed for my interest to be permanent. Nick Cave's entire discography is full of records that deal directly with death and trauma, but for Nick's 15 year old son Arthur to tragically die, the mood of his next record, already partly recorded, was now coated with fragile resignation and tragic sadness.

Although Arthur's death is never held with both hands, it lingers heavily throughout this record, the elephant in the room that you know could at any moment bring Nick to tears, as it pretty much does in his delivery of "I Need You". Nick described his death as a "premonition" that haunts the album, as a majority of the album was composed before his death, and saw Nick working unusually for the first time in an approach where his characters aren't full stories. Everyone spoken of in this album is intricate and complex, even if they are only mentioned in passing (ala "Jesus Alone.") It lends the album a very heavy, hard hitting feel. Nick sings passionately and in some cases sporadically, sometimes running at a different pace to the music.

And speaking of the music, the ethereal, haunting atmosphere gives Nick's blistering words the necessary accompaniment. An edge of your seat ambience, gorgeous ambient drones and examples of how slight drum hits can feel like punches to the sad listener. A sea aboard with atonality and dissonance. The whole package first made me think of Scott Walker, but this could have been nobody's work but Nick's, despite its stark difference to his previous material. Simply put, everything about this album is perfect. Every last sound or word fits perfectly. It's like an album that was always meant to be, whether Arthur had died or not.

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Re: Top 10 albums of 2016

Post by mr_spenalzo » 22 Dec 2016, 22:15

All of your top 4 is in my top 10... will try to post mine next week. But well done! :P

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Re: Top 10 albums of 2016

Post by tom_cas1 » 23 Dec 2016, 18:46

Nice thread AdvertBreak, I started putting together an article on my website earlier today with my favourite albums of the year. Six albums so far. Not the best year for new music in my opinion. Blackstar by Bowie is by far the album of the year though. I'll share my article when it's done. :)
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Re: Top 10 albums of 2016

Post by mr_spenalzo » 26 Dec 2016, 19:15

01 - Suede - Night Thoughts
02 - Warpaint - Heads Up
03 - David Bowie - Blackstar
04 - Julia Jacklin - Don't Let The Kids Win
05 - Nick Cave - Skeleton Tree
06 - Heron Oblivion - Heron Oblivion
07 - Marissa Nadler - Strangers
08 - Shura - Nothing's Real
09 - Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
10 - Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

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Re: Top 10 albums of 2016

Post by AdvertBreak » 27 Dec 2016, 02:23

Thanks guys, also nice list Mr Spenalzo and I look forward to your article Tom.

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Re: Top 10 albums of 2016

Post by Consigliere_11 » 31 Dec 2016, 15:35

I wanted to do my write-up before the year ends, but managed to write only about 2,5 albums. So, I'll publish my list here in January (and hopefully will be overall back on the forum, because oh there are many topics to discuss!)
RIP Mr. Okay (April 2015 - March 2016)

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Re: Top 10 albums of 2016

Post by tom_cas1 » 31 Dec 2016, 15:53

Here's my list. Couldn't do a top 10 but these are my favourite 6 of the year: https://tomcaswell.net/2016/12/30/opini ... s-of-2016/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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