So we’ve come to that all important time of the year. The end of the year chart … brought to you courtesy of the wonderful GIGsoup writers.
We’ve counted on fingers and toes to bring you the top 13 chart containing, what we consider to be, the standout albums from 2016. Again, the chart shows an eclectic mix of releases and is testament to the broad range of writers we have on board. While there are some obvious entries on the chart there are also a couple of real corkers that we’ve covered and other writers seem to have taken to their heart.
Sit back, grab a coffee (or something stronger – it is Christmas after all) and immerse yourself in this years crème de la crème of releases …
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13. St Leonard’s Horses ‘Good Luck Everybody’
Its subject matter is fantastically diverse: misunderstood muses; Bob Dylan’s cigarettes; a Los Angeles break up, even pole dancing in Hull. Dreams, visions, lost loves and quasi-religious moments pepper this seemingly autobiographical record, making it an astounding piece of work, as good as anything else released this year
Throughout the 10 songs Bon Iver combine minimalist sounds and heavy instrumentation in a way that works harmoniously. He brings sounds together so uniquely and beautifully. It showcases both sides of Bon Iver we’ve come to know and love – the individual and honest artist and the sonic wizard of sound
11. Frightened Rabbit ‘Painting Of A Panic Attack’
‘Painting Of A Panic Attack’ is the band’s most complete work to date; reinventing and reworking themselves while maintaining the soul and quality of the band – a feat rarely pulled off by any artist. Frightened Rabbit have gone from strength to strength over the last decade. Expect them to keep growing for another 10 years to come.
It’s nice to hear a modern act rejecting the use of received pronunciation and exaggerating their accents, even if they sometimes reach Britpop levels of self-parodic absurdity. The loutish ‘Rich Man’ could be ripped straight from Blur’s ‘The Great Escape’, it’s ‘Charmless Man’-aping lyrics exhibiting an everyman quality that’s become a rarity in British rock in recent years.
Returning more heavily here to his most familiar instrument, the piano, ‘Skeleton Tree’ falls in with past albums such as ‘No More Shall We Part’ and ‘Nocturama’ but with a soul bearing intensity to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
Despite Lukens and Ewalds attacking different themes in each side of the record, it somehow comes together as a whole and becomes a musical biography for the band since the release of ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’. Each personal touch on this record dispels the theory that something must be generic to be relatable and will, without a doubt, grow Modern Baseball’s already substantial following
On previous efforts ‘XXX’ and ‘Old’, Brown demonstrated his considerable talents; with ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ he has created an album of weird, twisted hip hop to match his idiosyncratic style. By steering away from many of the conventions of contemporary rap and hip hop, Brown hasn’t just made one of the best albums of the year, but one of the most exhilaratingly original hip hop albums in recent memory.
‘Teens of Denial’captures teenage mood swings better than many albums before it. Through changes of pace and intelligent, introspective lyrics, Car Seat Headrest have created a work of raw depth and beauty. ‘Teens of Denial’ is not without its flaws but you can’t help but give it room in your heart.
The Colour In Anything is a very long album, and could easily have been truncated. A little more discipline with the tracklisting would have made for a better finish. That said, the album’s subtleties gives the songs plenty of breathing space and lets the listener get through good chunks of the album without losing its impact.
This isn’t just an album about sexuality. It’s not even just an album about Frank Ocean. It’s a deeply personal breakup album. It’s a mastery of mixing and production. It’s an album about moving on. It’s an album about looking back. It’s the type of rare record that will mean a multitude of things to different people. The only thing certain is that ‘Blonde’ is something special.
3. David Bowie ‘Blackstar’
David Bowie is popular music’s own Lazarus. Much like the biblical character’s return from the tomb, Bowie has put his multiple selves to rest over the past half-century, only to rise again with a different manifestation. Resurrection alone is a hard thing to follow, and Bowie has greatly succeeded.
As much as ‘Blackstar’ challenges our idea of what a David Bowie record sounds like, its blend of jazz, drama and estrangement create a new type of futurism in his sound.
The albums main focus points leads to Anderson being his own therapist in sorts. Finding motivation mixed with a resolute resolve, no matter the conquest if it be from his past or present life. The records outro ‘The Dreamer’ personifies this “Who cares ya daddy couldn’t be here momma always kept the cable on I’m a product of the tube and the free lunch.” Riding the wave of success is something Anderson has took in his stride. Giving a detailed synopsis of how it all happened using past pains and current glories, intertwined with lyrics and music always makes for a strong outcome
Radiohead’s best songs reach their peak long after they’ve first been heard, revealing themselves when they’ve latched onto your own experiences. It’s the reason why an early review can feel detached or incomplete when posted hours after the songs have been sat with. The true successes of ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ will be known in retrospect, but what’s immediately apparent is that it’s just as worth diving into as the band’s most celebrated material.