Here is part one of my favourite 50 albums of the year! This is more of a personal favourite list than a ‘best of’, but hey, may as well throw my opinion into the ring! Let me know what you think of the list and stay tuned for my top 40 albums of 2016 over the next few days!
50- Kemba – Negus (Independent)
This is not the easiest 2016 rap album to listen to but there are few that talk about such political issues in a more nuanced way. Negus is full of vibrant jazzy instrumentals that provide a backbone and platform for Kemba, aka YC The Cynic, to discuss serious issues, like the place of African-Americans in the USA and the violence many minority groups suffer through. Thought-provoking hip hop with important social messages and gorgeous instrumentation. Check this out.
Highlights: The New Black Theory, Already, Caesar’s Rise
49- YG – Still Brazy (Def Jam)
Still Brazy is the perfect example of how fresh and booming the sounds of 90’s G-Funk and West Coast gangsta rap can be in the 2010’s when handled expertly. Still Brazy encapsulates the bravado of YG through its vibrant instrumentation and occasional bars of braggadocio, while also capturing the uncertainty, distrust and violence YG faces in his life as both a gangster, and a celebrity. This juxtaposition reveals itself moe and more with every listen. But hey, even if you just want some great west coast rap songs for a party, this is the 2016 album for you.
Highlights: Who Shot Me?, Twist My Fingaz, Don’t Come To LA
48- Savages – Adore Life (Matador)
Jenny Beth & co. have returned with one of the year’s most scintillating indie rock and post punk records, with flourishes of noise rock making it a compelling listen. The band’s debut, Silence Yourself, was one of my favourite albums of 2013, and although this record doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, it is still one hell of a record.
Highlights: Adore, Surrender, T.I.W.Y.G
47- Sticky Fingers – Westway (The Glitter and the Slums) (Sureshaker)
On what looks to be their last album for a significant period of time, Westway is a terrific example of what Sticky Fingers do best: reggae-infused indie rock full to the brim with the bounce of dub and the attitude of BritPop.
Highlights: Sad Songs, Something Srange (Feat. Remi), One By One
46- Bon Iver- 22, A Million (Jagjaguwar)
I have felt a wide range of emotions towards this record since it’s release, and I sincerely think it has been this wrestle and tussle that has made me end up loving this album more and more with each listen. Although the direction towards a more electronic sound was to be expected, the degree and extremity to which Justin Vernon has adopted a glitchy folktronica sound took me off guard. However, I have found myself being able to appreciate and enjoy such choices more and more with each listen, with the backbone of most of the songs here being truly beautiful.
Highlights: 22 (OVER S∞∞N), 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄, 29 #Strafford APTS
45- Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp (Yellow K)
At only 25 minutes in length, Psychopomp is an alluring dream pop album that snuck up on me in 2016. I found myself returning to this album more and more towards the end of the year, and as a result had to put it on this list. Psychopomp‘s lyrical content is full of pain and loss, however, the dreamy, occasionally shoegazey instrumentation makes it one of those records that you can’t stay away from for long.
Highlights: In Heaven, Everybody Wants To Love You, Rugged Country
44- Clipping – Splendor & Misery (Sub Pop)
Splendor & Misery is without question one of the most unique hip hop records I have ever listened to. Telling a tale of a slave aboard a spaceship in outer space, Splendor & Misery merges Clipping’s classic noise-hop sounds with classical and futuristic instrumentation to tell a story and craft a record unlike any other.
Highlights: Air ‘Em Out, True Believer, All Black
43- Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (Caroline Records)
The seventeenth studio album from the punk rock legend is a sneering, sassy and rollicking collection of garage and art rock. Teaming up with Josh Homme, Matt Helders and Dean Fertita has Pop sounding reinvigorated and electric, with the sounds of Homme’s last Queens of the Stone Age album dominating much of this album. This is one hell of a finale if this really is the last album Iggy Pop releases.
Highlights: Gardenia, American Valhalla, Break Into Your Heart
42- Skepta – Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know)
One of the biggest releases out of the UK this year, Grime veteran Skepta has released what can probably be considered the biggest grime record since Dizzee Rascal’s Boy In Da Corner. Skepta’s confidence is at the forefront of this album with his booming performances dominating all of the tracks here, however, it is his delivery of lines expressing a distrust for authority, industry and his fellow Londoners that makes this such an intriguing and addictive record.
Highlights: Man, That’s Not Me (Feat. JME), Shutdown
41- Violent Soho – WACO (I Oh You!)
Violent Soho have skyrocketed in recent years to become one of Australia’s most beloved rock bands and WACO is certainly the band’s attempt to deliver more of what they’ve made their name doing. The band are clear worshippers of 90’s alternative rock and grunge music, however, Soho’s knack for massive hooks and catchy riffs makes WACO a thoroughly enjoyable record that deserves to stand aside from its obvious influences.
Highlights: Blanket, Like Soda, So Sentimental
Check out some of my favourite tracks from these albums below!