2016 was a year of musical grazing. I seemed to have a limited attention span this year, and as a result very few albums got the requisite rotation for me to feel like they were really ‘mine’. As a result, this list is a bit of a hodgepodge, the ‘Honorable Mentions’ list is longer than I’d like, and my favourite discovery / most listened-to album (A Hundred Years A Day by The St Pierre Snake Invasion) isn’t even eligible, as it came out in 2015.
As usual, these are in no particular order, and links are all to Apple Music.
Each new Teenage Fanclub album makes me love them more, but this one struck a (shimmering, jangly) chord. It was also The Wife’s introduction to this marvellous band, which was a great excuse to dig out the back catalogue (Bandwagonesque stands up). Highlights for me are always the Norman Blake tracks and here ‘The Darkest Part of the Night’ is the standout.
Daptone do garage psych-rock. A dirty, squalling shriek of a record; The Make-Up without the archness. My most-played album this year, by a slim margin, and vital on vinyl.
Awful band name, but if you can get past that this is a noise-pop gem. Switches gears between crushing hardcore and gorgeous slacker-pop melodies effortlessly.
A post-metal Jimi Hendrix Experience. There are clearly some serious jazz chops here, but in the main they’re kept in service of some serious grinding riffage.
The Wedding Present’s ninth studio album kicks off with four tracks of predominantly instrumental post-rock (betraying the album’s other life as a film soundtrack). It’s slightly unexpected, but given this album is longer than a lot of hip-hop records, there’s room for a bit of experimentation before we crack on with business as usual. And crack on we do - Gedge’s ear for a deceptively catchy melody, a self-deprecating lyric and a wry rhyme are as sharp as ever.
Kickball Katy Goodman done went and growed up on me. After two albums of beautiful whimsicalia, and one terminally flawed by its inability to live up to the promise of its perfect lead single, this is the one where La Sera come together. Produced by Ryan Adams, and with Goodman now sharing songwriting and vocals with her guitarist husband Todd Wisenbaker, this has a distinctly different sonic makeup: more Smiths than Shirelles, with a healthy dose of Zeppelin in there for good measure.
Early in the year I asked Rob to recommend me music that would make me feel like I was in Bladerunner when I listened to it on the Tube. He gave me a number of recommendations, of which this is my favourite.
Nope, nope, nope. Pithy, one paragraph write-up of Cohen’s final album? Not going to happen in a way that does it any justice at all. I was 15 the first time I heard that voice, during the opening credits of Pump Up The Volume, and it left a mark. A beautiful, heartbreaking listen.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree
Daughter: Not To Disappear
Marissa Nadler: Stranger
Minor Victories: Minor Victories
The Peep Tempel: Joy
Kuedo: Slow Knife
Let’s have yours in the comments, please!