I listened to a lot of music in 2016, and I loved a hell of a lot of it. Here is a quick roundup of some albums that I seriously enjoyed this year, but not quite enough to crack my top 50.
If you haven’t checked out any of these records, please do when you have an opportunity- they’re certainly worth a shot!
A.B. Original – Reclaim Australia (Bad Apples / Golden Era)
Australian hip hop has had a significant year, but when all is said and done it will be this album that will remain in the conscious of the Australian people for the longest. This is a record of powerful, angry and thought-provoking hip hop that is rarely seen to this extremity in the Australian hip hop landscape. Matched with hilarious one-liners, witty political satire and booming beats reminiscent of West-Coast G-Funk, this is a seriously important and well-executed statement on race, politics and culture in modern Australia.
Highlights: January 26 (Feat. Dan Sultan), 2 Black 2 Strong, I C U (Feat. Thelma Plum)
Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book (Independent)
I desperately wanted a second off-the-wall Acid Rap, but instead I received a Gospel-inspired hip hop project, and I have to say I was cool with it. Coloring Book is upbeat, warm and colourful (as the title suggests) and is a project that proves that Chance is one of the most innovative and exciting prospects in modern hip hop.
Highlights: Angels, Blessings, All We Got
Dope Lemon – Honey Bones (EMI)
Angus Stone’s latest project is a stoner folk/rock album under the moniker of Dope Lemon. An alluring, hazy listen with some of the best Australian singles of the year, ‘Uptown Folks’ and ‘Marinade’.
Highlights: Uptown Folks, Marinade, Fuck Things Up
Eagulls – Ullages (Partisan Records)
The follow up to their self-titled 2014 effort, Ullages is a more mature, less aggressive album than its predecessor, but does not lack as a result, instead proving that the Leeds group are far from a one-trick Post-Punk pony.
Highlights: Heads or Tails, Velvet, Euphoria
Jagwar Ma – Every Now & Then (Mom + Pop Music)
The sophomore release from the Australian trip hop/ Psychedelic Dance trio takes the band down a dancier route than their debut, and although it does not quite reach the glorious heights it sometimes aims for, this is a solid dance release full of intricate moments that demand repeat listens.
Highlights: O B 1, Ordinary, Give Me A Reason
Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos (Lex)
One of the most unique and innovative artists working today, Tempest, a spoken-word poet and rapper uses this record to address some of the most pressing issues facing contemporary Britain, and broader society today. This is an album full of innovative beats and alarmingly intense vocal performances.
Highlights: Don’t Fall In, Europe Is Lost, Ketamine For Breakfast
L-Fresh the Lion – Become (Elefant Traks)
One of the many albums released over the past few years that is challenging what Australian hip hop can be, Become sees L-Fresh reflecting on his Sikh heritage, racism and his own place in contemporary Australia.
Highlights: 1 in 100 000, Panjab: An Introduction, Be Cool
Mitski – Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans)
An emotionally complex, nuanced and addictive record of love, identity, depression and alienation. There are elements of dream pop, pop punk, and indie rock all over this album, but all of these sonic palettes mix together beautifully when handled by Mitski Miyawaki’s sometimes distorted, but always engaging DIY approach.
Highlights: Your Best American Girl, Happy, Fireworks
Paul Dempsey – Strange Loop (EMI)
Dempsey, the former frontman of Something for Kate, has released one of the best singer-songwriter records of the year full of gorgeous instrumentation and soaring, passionate vocal performances.
Highlights: Idiot Oracle, Morningless, The True Sea
ScHoolboy Q – Blank Face LP (TDE)
Blank Face has not stuck with me as much as I would have liked this year, however, it still stands as a monster of a rap album, full to the brim with Q’s trademark west coast gangsta-rap sounds and explosive attitude.
Highlights: Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane, Lord Have Mercy, Blank Face