Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Top 20 Albums of 2016

As far as music goes I’m a pretty bias sort. I have my preferences and the music I listen to often is contained within those preferences. I like alternative rock with a lot of guitar, sometimes I try the new releases of artists I like (Typically critically acclaimed artists) but I am very dependent on publication’s tastes, and I do follow several reviewers who I know share my tastes.

This sometimes means I don’t listen to some of the more obvious albums of a year so that’s why I’m doing this, to rectify my issue and listen to what could be considered representative of 2016’s sound.

So I decided to look at 20 sources of the best album of the year, add them all up, do a little aggregate, and churn out a top 20. Then I want to listen to those 20 albums, give them my personal opinions while laying them out in a fashion that makes them easy for the reader/listener to access.

Iggy Pop's best album since The Idiot just missed out on the top 20.

The lists I chose were from various nations and genres, hence why several Australian acts did very well despite only appearing on one list, however thanks to using 20 sources it means that you have to appear several times to appear at all in the list.

However there are several acts who appeared who I was surprised to see, and there have been some albums which I haven’t enjoyed listening to, but at the very least it’s a no holds bared, no bias list, and I can confirm I didn’t use bias when choosing the lists because the 21st place album was Post Pop Depression by Iggy Pop an album I loved, but still didn’t manipulate the maths to give it a place.

So while I’m certain some of the albums will make you retch here are the top 20 albums of 2016.

20 - Midwest Farmer's Daughter - Margo Price 

Released by Jack White’s Third Man Records Margo Price’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter is probably the best classic country record released in the 21st century. The Nashville singer-songwriter perfectly sings 11 great country songs in 43 minutes on her debut album, with themes ranging from alcoholism to heartbreak.

The winner of the BBC sound of 2012 award has matured considerably since his 2012 record Home Again, no longer does he sound like Ritchie Havens instead he now sounds more like a unique artist no longer derivative of a sound dead before he was born.

Read the rest of my review here.

18 - Atrocity Exhibition - Danny Brown

My knowledge of Danny Brown before listening to this record was that he’s name dropped Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Joy Division in interviews before, I’ve been interested in him since reading about that, and to be honest Atrocity Exhibition is completely unique in that it sounds like a Post Punk Hip Hop classic, which are two genres I never thought of putting together.

17 - Malibu - Anderson Paak

Anderson Paak is somebody who I only knew because of one song I heard in the middle of summer, that song, The Bird, was a beautiful song and at the time I was complacent to not explore Paak’s recent album but due to my reviews I’ve ended up listening to it, and I’m unsure whether I like it or don’t care for it.

Rihanna, the Barbadian singer, is not somebody who I thought held particular acclaim with critics, so to discover she had placed an album highly in a lot of top 10/20 best albums of 2016 was interesting; it was almost enough to make me happy to listen to the album, almost.

Read the rest of my review here. 

15 - Hopelessness - Anohni 

Antony and the Johnsons was a band I didn’t like. I get it Hope There’s Someone is a pretty good song, but I have to be frank their lead singer’s Anohni’s voice just put me off. It wasn’t bad necessarily but to me it overwhelmed all other aspects of the band, and it simply didn’t appeal to me.

Read the rest of my review here.

14 - Puberty 2 - Mitski

What do you get when you mix The Pixies, Weezer and St Vincent? Mitski’s Puberty 2 of course. In a fit of art pop and Noise Pop, Mitski has released one of the finest Indie albums of recent years.

13 - You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen

Throughout 2016 Leonard Cohen was a constant person mentioned as “The next to die.” We heard it early in the year as the person who’ll follow Bowie, we heard it when his muse Marianne died, and we heard it when he told the press he was willing to die.

The award for 'best album pretty much anyone could have made' goes to Car Seat Headrest this year. Teens of Denial isn’t a technically brilliant album, it doesn’t have solos Hendrix would struggle with and the songs, while almost experimental, never quite delve from Car Seat Headrest’s song formula.

Skinny Love made Bon Iver famous, Bon Iver, Bon Iver confirmed their critical acclaim and 22, A Million has ripped apart the reputation Bon Iver built as a indie folk icon.

Angel Olsen entered 2016 with an image of a well-respected indie folk artist, she leaves the year with the album, My Woman, and a neurotic art pop sound.

Skelton Tree is an odd album. It isn’t dissimilar to much of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ discography, yet at the same time it just feels hollow, and not in a bad way, just in a atmospheric one.

It’s become incredibly popular to attack Kanye West at the moment, he’s been ridiculed for saying he’ll run for president, he did an insane rant against Jay-Z and Beyonce on stage and he’s become friends with the president elect.

Read the rest of my review here.

7 - We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service - A Tribe Called Quest

From 1990 to 1993 A Tribe Called Quest was the greatest active Hip Hop group, and perhaps the greatest artist of the time. They innovated the genre with People’s Instinctive Travels and pushed the genre further than ever before with Midnight Marauders, and then they released two okay albums and called it a day in 1998.

Solange is probably best known for being the sister of Beyonce, Solange is popular, talented and cool but let’s be honest she’s still best known as Beyoncé’s sister. While she doesn’t particularly stray from the musical content of a Beyoncé record Solange has managed to create a rare, yet good, political pop album.

Coloring Book is the album whose acclaim confuses me the most. It isn’t infectious, it isn’t experimental and it doesn’t make me feel enriched by listening to it. So why is it so well regarded?

Read the rest of my review here. 

4 - A Moon Shaped Pool - Radiohead 

If A Moon Shaped Pool were a part of the discography of most bands it’d be the highlight of their discography and it’d likely overshadow anything else they released. For Radiohead however it’s a album greater than their worst, but not greater than their best.

In contemporary R&B there’s no one who creates records with the same emotional depth as Frank Ocean, and his follow up to Channel Orange further pushes the notion that Ocean is one of the most interesting and enigmatic artists currently recording.

2 - Lemonade - Beyonce

2016 was the year of Beyoncé more than any other music artist. It was the year where she became political, the year she got critical acclaim and the year she redefined the concept of a surprise album and the music video.

Read the rest of my review here. 

1 - Blackstar - David Bowie

If any event has come to dominate 2016 it might have been the death of David Bowie. It was emotionally impacting for millions and it set the tone to that on-going meme of “Fuck 2016.”

Have a good new year, at least better than 2016 hopefully.

The 20 sites whose top 20s I used in my aggregate. 
  • Stereogum
  • NME
  • Rolling Stone
  • Paste
  • Consequence of Sound
  • Esqurire
  • Mojo
  • The Guardian
  • Quietus 
  • Noisey
  • Slant Magazine
  • Faster Louder
  • Fuse
  • Double J
  • Vulture
  • For The Win
  • RYM 
  • Album of the Year
  • Rough Trade
  • American Songwriter