I know, it’s already January 2017 – but better late than never…
Having spent a large chunk of 2016 pretty much immobile, I haven’t managed to pay my favourite record stores the usual regular visits over the last eight months or so – which means I have been very grateful to the good friends (they know who they are) who have helped out by providing my fix of new music, especially during the latter part of the year. None of them will be surprised that a high proportion of their selections appear on this list!
As usual, this is a very personal and fairly eclectic list, and consists solely of the albums I enjoyed the most in 2016 – I tend to ignore media end of year lists, and focus instead on the music I actually like instead of the bands and albums the music press tell me I should be into. Inevitably, they occasionally get it right and there is some crossover with my list, but compiling these choices is all so subjective anyway…
I haven’t got the brain cells or the willpower to sort these out into any kind of descending (or ascending) order of merit, so, here they are, arranged alphabetically:
THE AVALANCHES – WILDFLOWER:
The long-awaited and welcome return of the quirky Australian sampling magpies.
BANKS & STEELZ – ANYTHING BUT WORDS:
A surprisingly enjoyable collaboration between Interpol frontman Paul Banks and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.
CAVERN OF ANTI-MATTER – VOID BEATS/INVOCATION TREX:
Excellent Krautrock-inspired electronica from ex-Stereolab types Tim Gane and Joe Dilworth.
COBALT – SLOW FOREVER:
One of the most astonishing and ear-bleedingly ferocious metal albums I have heard in many a year.
LNZNDRF – LNZNDRF:
Semi-improvised and recorded over a mere two and a half days, this gorgeous album is new-generation 4AD.
STEVE MASON – MEET THE HUMANS:
A completely irresistible set of songs by ex-Beta Band vocalist Mason – it was love at first listen for me.
MONEY – SUICIDE SONGS:
Superbly bleak and beautiful Manchester band signed to ex-Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union label.
BOB MOULD – PATCH THE SKY:
The third in a fine, fine run of wonderful late-career solo albums by the legendary ex-Hüsker Dü/Sugar frontman.
OATHBREAKER – RHEIA:
Absorbing and intensely textured female fronted post-metal/black metal from Belgium, of all places.
RUN THE JEWELS – RUN THE JEWELS 3:
Only dropped on Christmas Eve, this taut, fierce collection is arguably the best of this hip-hop duo’s three albums so far.
SAVAGES – ADORE LIFE:
Brilliant and inspiring post-punk with a darkly arty feel from this fantastic all-woman Anglo-French four piece.
UNDERWORLD – BARBARA BARBARA, WE FACE A SHINING FUTURE:
Their first album in six years and easily one of their best for a long time, this is a strong return to form from the Essex boys.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – CHRIS SULLIVAN PRESENTS THE WAG:
Four discs of delicious funk, soul and other goodies from the archives of this infamous London nightclub.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – SAY YES! A TRIBUTE TO ELLIOTT SMITH:
Featuring the likes of Tanya Donelly, J Mascis and Lou Barlow, this is a sweet tribute to Smith’s much-missed talent.
BONUS! Here’s a playlist of my favourite tracks of 2016…