Part three of my favourite albums of 2016 includes one of 2016’s most emotional records, sizzling psychedelic and garage rock, Australian BritPop, a funk odyssey and one of the years prettiest rap albums- plus a heap more.
30- DMA’s – Hills End (I Oh You!)
DMA’s have been one of Australia’s most buzzed about bands in recent years, and Hills End marks that such buzz has been well worth it. Hills End takes the best elements of 90’s BritPop artists like Oasis, but have done more than enough to shake off any possible tags as a ‘rip-off’ or cover band, delivering a cohesive but varied mixture of emotive slow-burners (Step Up The Morphine, Delete) and rollicking rock tunes (Play It Out, Too Soon). For a while there it looked like the success of Delete, the first single taken from this album may hinder DMA’s longevity, however, this is a debut full-length of great maturity and quality that indicates that the future of this band is far broader than being pigeon-holed for one song.
Highlights: Lay It Down, Timeless, Play It Out
29- Ka – Honor Killed The Samurai (Iron Works)
Honor Killed The Samurai has a knack for existing as both a fluid and atmospheric record, while also being an incredibly viscious urgent and claustrophobic one. The beats here are often almost non-existent, with little to no percussion providing the record with its fludity and cohesiveness, while Ka’s often husdhed and viscious vocal performances, often focussing on how the noble life of a Samurai warrior is of no use in the selfish, materialistic world we live in today, deliver the sense of urgency and pressure that makes Honor Killed The Samurai such an intriguing and unique record. Ka’s messaging is incredibly relevant and profound, and the idea that no matter how much Ka may try to be noble and selfless like a Samurai warrior, the material, selfish nature of the world will always find a way to nullify.
Highlights: Just, Conflicted, Mourn At Night
28- Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY. (SideOneDummy Records)
Jeff Rosenstock has a knack for creating punk rock and indie rock tracks that are full of an infectious power pop positivity and an underlying sense of lyrcial hopelessness and doom. Worry is an interesting and natural progression from 2015’s We Cool?, delivering some of 2016’s catchiest and most relatable songs thanks to Rosenstock’s witty observations, earnest honesty and knack for the catchiest of melodies.
Highlights: Festival Song, Wave Goodnight To Me
27- Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love! (Glassnote Records)
Awaken My Love is, to date, Gambino’s finest work. This is a record of such ambition, musicianship and execution that it floors me with each listen. Evoking the work of Parliament Funkadelic, D’Angelo and Sly & The Family Stone, Glover has released the best of this new wave of soulful funk that dominated much of 2016. Glover’s talents have always been on show in whatever artisitic discipline he’s participated in, however, they have never been put on the line as ambitiously as this, with the end rsult being a funk odyssey showcasing Gambino’s acrobatic vocal performances and a presence behind the microphone that would rival any frontman or woman on the planet right now. Fair warning, though: if you like Gambino as a rapper, prepare for a very different experience, albeit a great one.
Highlights: Redbone, Me And Your Mama, Have Some Love
26- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd.)
The context of this album has been widely discussed in both the lead-up to this record and it’s aftermath, however I sincerely hope the quality of the record isn’t skipped by anyone. Skeleton Tree feels like the sincere sound of mourning and despair. This record is full of droning orchestration, harrowing lyrics and some of Cave’s most haunting, painful and intimate performances to date. Although Skeleton Tree is a remarkably personal and intimate record from Cave and the Bad Seeds, I have not been able to listen to this record without reflecting on my own life and my thoughts about those I love. This is not an easy listen, but it is a damn remarkable one.
Highlights: Jesus Alone, Girl In Amber, Anthrocene
25- Whitney – Light Upon The Lake (Secretly Canadien)
Whitney’s use of male falsetto vocals, intricate string, horn, bass and organ arrangements and restrained, delicate guitar and drum rhythms on Light Upon The Lake has made for one of the years prettiest and most alluring listens. The falsetto of Julien Ehrlich may not be for everyone, but I urge you to give this record a deeper listen, as what he’s saying is clear enough to paint a personal tales of joy and broken love, but also vague enough that it can be relatable to your own personal experiences. Anyone with a remote interest in well put together folk needs to give this album a spin, it is more than worth your time.
Highlights: No Woman, Golden Days, The Falls
24- The Murlocs – Young Blindness (Flightless)
The Murlocs deserved to have received a lot more attention and praise in 2016 than they did, with this record proving to be a dynamic, sharp and vibrant mixture of pop and R&B filtered through a hazy filter of psychedelic garage rock. This release is quirky enough to satisfy the oddball psych fan in me, but also poppy enough to appeal to my love for big hooks and tight R&B rhythms. As an offshoot of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard you can expect The Murlocs to deliver a heap of fun, and Young Blindness is unquestionably one of the most enjoyable albums of 2016. Give it a go if you’re up for ear-worms to stay in your head for weeks and a permanent smile to become etched on your face.
Highlights: Rolling On, Compensation, Wolf Creep
23- Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger (Drag City)
This is an exhilarating, noisy and fuzzy record of messy oddity. This may be labelled as a rock album on some websites, but this is unlike any rock album you will hear in 2016, with bizarre, yelping vocal performances mixed brilliantly with a crisply produced wall of noise that sounds equally improvisational and expertly executed. This record is odd, it’s lo-fi, it’s bizarre, it’s twisted, but it is one hell of a ride, and without question one of Segall’s most interesting and bugged out releases yet.
Highlights: Californian Hills, Breakfast Eggs, Candy Sam
22- Noname – Telefone (Independent)
Telefone contains some of 2016’s most thought-provoking hip hop, while also delivering some of the years sunniest, most vibrant and addictive instrumentation that is reminiscent of jazzy, 70’s R&B, gosepl and soul. Telefone tells tales of pain and serious issues with earnest honesty and an intimate frankness, however, the record has a positivity that shines through each and every track, evoking a sense of positivity and a realistic possibility that everything will eventually be okay. You won’t listen to a prettier rap album than this from 2016.
Highlights: Diddy Bop (Feat. Cam O’bi & Raury), Sunny Duet (Feat. The Mind), Reality Check (Feat. Akenya & Eryn Allen Kane)
21- Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits (Castle Face Records)
A Weird Exits further proves that Thee Oh Sees are masters at what they do: off-the-wall psychedelic rock and garage punk. A Weird Exits is a remarkably cohesive record that can become overwhelming in it’s intensity, energy and heaviness. I have found this to be one of the year’s most disorientating musical experiences, so strap in and prepare yourself for one hell of a sonic exploration.
Highlights: Jammed Entrance, Gelatinous Cube, Ticklish Warrior
Please check a playlist with some tracks from most of these records below!