By Alex Platt & Kieran Webber
Please bear in mind that 2016 has been a heavy and hectic year, and there’s been a fuck-tonne of interesting releases throughout it, so much so that we might not have had the opportunity to listen to all of them. But we did try out best to listen to as much as possible and although we have narrowed it down to 20 we could of easily had a list of 100.
We also want to take this moment to thank all of you who have sent us your music this year, it really means a lot to open our inbox and find your music. The fact that you trust us with your creations is really heartwarming and means a great deal to us. We hope that 2017 continues with you lovely lot considering Clunk and we hope that we can continue to deliver, with your support we have no doubt.
Anyway, enough of the soppy shit lets get straight into our top 20 list!
1. Touché Amoré – Stage Four
I don’t know who it was that once said “From moments of sadness, moments of destruction, moments of grief, from those moments beauty can spring forth like a rare flower that only blooms once a year in the coldest snow and darkest night.” Actually, I do know who said. It was me, that’s who.But, quoting myself aside, it’s a pretty apt statement when it comes to ‘Stage Four’ by Touché Amoré. Lyrically it’s an album that details the treatment, suffering and final days of vocalist Jeremy Bolm’s mum, before she passed away from cancer in 2014. And what a fucking album it is. I was COMPLETELY blindsided by how emotionally raw this album is. I’ve always been a TA fan, and they’ve always dealt with some heavy issues, but this one just blew me to bits. Remember last year when Sufjan Stevens released the heart-wrenchingly incredible ‘Carrie and Lowell’, an album all about his absent mum and her passing? Well, take that album, but instead of Sufjan being sombre and sad, he’s really, REALLY fucking angry. That’s ‘Stage Four’. I can’t even begin to comprehend the emotional pull this album must have on all the band, but especially Bolm. The loss of a loved one is a hard and trying time for anyone, but to then be brave enough to get on stage and spill your heart out about it and how you now feel about it and all your fears and insecurities, is incredible. To quote my basic inner white girl – I just can’t even.
Just. Fuck. Just go and listen to it. Every song reveals a new unforgettable detail about Bolm’s mother’s treatment, his inner mental health and his constant wrestling with grief and depression. Bolm easily cycles through the stages of grief at least 27 times repeatedly throughout the album. Lines such as “I took inventory of what I took for granted and I ended up with more than I imagined” and “She passed away about an hour ago when you were onstage living the dream” are utterly shattering and they’re peppered throughout the whole album. There are parts of songs that Bolm sings in clean vocals, in a voice that almost sounds as if it’s on the very edge, creeping closer to completely letting go, and I was right there with him.When you listen to it, don’t you dare tell me you listened to ‘Skyscrapers’ without welling up at all. I almost blub every time I hear that song. Bolm’s uninhibited howls of pure grief at the huge climax sends shivers down my spine. That isn’t singing, it’s pure emotion and the weight of the loss washing over him, and by an easy extension me. And then her final voice message plays, and your heart is broken all over again.
I wish I could write more about this album, but I honestly think I’ll just be sullying it, and keeping you from listening to it yourself. It is a knockout punch of emotion, a raging sea in the midst of a storm, a crying child lost in a supermarket, a hug from your parents before you leave for university for the first time. Please go and listen to it. Bring some tissues.
Best Tracks: Flowers and You, Skyscrapers, 8 Seconds
2. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
Remember when little Justin Vernon had a bad case of the heartbreak blues and retreated to a lone cabin in the middle of the woods to fight through it and a bout of illness he was also, mercilessly, going through? Remember when we all first heard the twang of acoustic guitars and that high pitched soft voice, lamenting us his lyrically impressive tales of woe? And remember how we all fell head over heels for it? Our checkered shirts came back out of the wardrobe, you tried to grow your hair long and wear a beanie hat, even during the hottest days of summer (you idiot)? Remember when you picked your old acoustic guitar back up from the corner where it had been gathering dust ever since you learned Wonderwall? Remember not really remembering how to play it, so instead you just stood in the mirror practising posing with it, trying to get a new MySpace profile pic? Remember MySpace? Remember when the twee folk sound of Bon Iver broke a million hearts around the world? Well, this album is the equivalent of Vernon running through the crowds, one hand displaying a hearty middle finger, the other grabbing as many beanie hats of sweaty, greasy heads as possible. This is ’22, A Million’.
I got to admit, when I first heard ’22, A Million’, I hated it. I for one yearned for the days of Vernon’s guitar, those gentle songs named after imaginary places, making your heart flutter upon each listen. Also, it was about 5:30 in the morning and I was on my way to work and in no mood to enjoy anything whatsoever, so maybe I was somewhat biased. I told a close buddy of mine how I felt, describing the album as being “a bit too Kanye”. He told me he’d loved it and the new sound. It took me a while, but one evening I finally sat down and let it wash over me. My god, I exclaimed aloud to my guinea pig, my god what a fool I’ve been this whole time. He gave me a look as if to say “you got that right buddy”. I realised I wasn’t gonna take any shit off of a large rodent so I returned my attention back to the album. Yes, Vernon has amped up the vocoder massively, yes this album largely depends on samples and loops and odd blasts of bizarre electro percussion, yes he’s put down the guitar for a while, and yes it’s brilliant. It’s a deeply personal album, from the hopefully melancholy call of “it might be over soon” on opening track ’22 (OVER S∞∞N)’ (a mantra Vernon repeated to himself while alone on a Greek island, trying to find a reason for all this) to the layered call of his voice “Well I’ve been carved in fire” on ‘____45____’. It hums and crackles with background distortion, threatening almost to tip over the edge and break, but hangs on just long enough. For those hoping for the old days of ‘Skinny Love’ (easily the worst and most irritating Bon Iver song) then this album ain’t for you I’m afraid. But, please, stick with it. It’s an evolution, it’s an epiphany, its introversion, it’s a call to arms, it’s a back pew prayer, it’s a cry for help. It’s fantastic.
Best Tracks: 715 – CRΣΣKS, 666 ʇ
3. Apologies, I Have None – Pharmacie
I found Apologies, I Have None through the dark depths of my tumblr dashboard many years, and while initially it was the name that drew me in, it soon became apparent I had stumbled onto something much more worthwhile than an interesting name. A band from London that sang about London was right up my street (also in London). Their first album was an instant classic for me, detailing the trials and tribulations of relationships and status of a young Londonite. The album was angry, violent, destructive. I expected big things from them, and oh boy I have not been disappointed. After a few quiet years (an EP released that focused more on that anger) the first trickles of the rumour stream gently flowed over me. Soon there were singles, maintaining that angry Apologies punk sound, but with more of a mature edge, a more fleshed out, lush sound. The boys had become men it seems. Then, the album dropped. And fuck me it was heavy.
The central focus of ‘Pharmacie’ is on mental health, depression, anxiety and trying to keep yourself together through it all. It’s a ridiculously personal album, almost to the point that some song are incredibly hard to listen to. But it’s never over the top, it’s never contrived. There are many lyrics which ring true for a lot of people suffering from mental health issues, and the for the ones that aren’t it’s no stretch of the imagination to get into their shoes. It’s a ferociously brave move, and it’s paid off in spades for the band. The album shifts through quiet, introspective moments to huge flurries of violent anguish, and you’re along for the whole ride with them.
Best Songs: Wraith, Goodbye Peace of Mind, Crooked Teeth
4. Moose Blood – Blush
I will admit, even I find it odd how much I enjoy Moose Blood. A strange blend of pop, emo and indie music, with lyrics about drinking lots and having arguments with your lover they seem best suited to 16 year old girls. But here I am, a red blooded, 27 year old, 16 stone bearded man and I fucking love them. I can’t get enough of them. I was put onto them by a pal of mine (the same one who convinced me to give Bon Iver another go, he might be onto something here…) when he played me their very first single ‘Swim Down’ (still a fucking banger). Their first album (‘I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time’) dropped and it was great, I thoroughly enjoyed. Lots of catchy songs and although the vocalist may suffer from the odd disease of American Accent during his singing duties (the band are from Kent) it wasn’t nearly as bad as say, Neck Deep, for example.
And so we waiting with baited breath, curious to see where the band would go next. Would it be more of the same? Would they take a different turn stylistically? The first single from ‘Blush’ was ‘Honey’, which was great! It had the same sound as their first album, but this was no problem. Unfortunately, the next few singles, upon first listen, did not impress, and I was resigned to the fact that maybe they would be a one trick moose. Upon first listen of the entire album, I thought much the same. Where was the poppy feel of the first album? This one wasn’t as catchy, there was a weird slowed down singy bit midway through. I also maybe equated it with hard work as I was cleaning the kitchen of my flat at the time, so I put the album on hold for a rainy day. Turns out, that was a good mood. A few weeks later I dusted it off and gave it another go, and you know what? It’s the darnedest thing, now I can’t stop listening. It easily gets a couple of plays a week. The more I listen, the more I realise how good it actually is. The catchy songs are ALL there, in fact almost every track is a catchy one, with big sing-along choruses and melodies that stick in your head. Sure sure lyrically it’s very similar to the first album, but there’s definitely a whiff of maturity and growth that comes with them. I’ll make sure the kitchen is spotless before the third album drops.
Best Tracks: Pastel, Glow, Sway
5. Earth Moves – The Truth In Our Bodies
Ok so, I need you to do me a quick favour. It won’t take long, or much effort I promise. Ok? Ok cool, right. I want you to imagine a scenario for me. See, super simple. OK so, imagine you’re getting yourself ready for a super cool radical house party. You’ve ironed your going out shirt and got those skinny jeans that a little too tight but make you look great on. You’ve fully prepped yourself. New aftershave on, hair gelled, looking proper ready for it. You meet your mates, head to the party, drinking tinnies on the way and revealing in the luxury of youth and a good night to come. Your phone beeps, it’s a message from HER. Your heart jumps into your mouth, your palms start to sweat, your mates are elbowing you, ridiculous grins on their faces. You open the message, it’s short, but still affects you anyway. She’s asking what time you’ll be arriving. It could mean anything, it could mean something. You spend a solid 15 minutes, with some input from your mates “Type what time do you want me” shouts Big Mike – you’ve never liked Big Mike), agonising over the perfect reply before winging it off. You’re elated. You spend some more time drinking, periodically checking your phone. There’s no reply, but you’re not worried, after all, she text you first anyway. You arrive to the party, it’s in full swing already. You cast your eyes around, but there’s no sight of her. Your mates have drifted off to various parts of the house, you’re left alone. Drink some more, talk to some old school mates. One asks you what you do now. “Unemployed? We always thought you’d have your own business by now mate”. Let that sink in, hear the disappointment in their voices. More booze, still can’t find it. It’s later now, the booze is coursing through you. You’ve found your mates, and you’re all huddled around. Occasionally a cheer of approval rises from the crowd behind you, but you pay no intention. You fire off another message to her, letting her know you’re here. Big Mike notices and yells at you “treat her mean, they love a bad boy”. You’ve always thought Big Mike was a prick. The yelling rises again and you go to investigate. Someone tells you it happens whenever two people head upstairs together, or come out of a bedroom. You wait around for the next one, and suddenly you hear it rising. Your eyes twitch up and, oh god, oh no, it’s her, coming down the stairs, followed by Murphy James, the biggest lads lad in the year above you. They’re coming down the stairs together. You can’t tell if she looks embarrassed, but he’s looking pretty happy. You feel your stomach tightening, you feel a scream building in your throat, your palms no longer sweat, they tingle instead. You stare at her, a look of pure unhappiness on your face. You can’t help it. Murphy high-fives one of his mates, and you tear out of there. Coat on, left over tins in the pocket, you storm out into the night. You’ve been walking for some time, but you realise you don’t actually know this area very well, and it’s too far from a main road for public transport. You check your phone to see where you are on the maps, and that’s when you hear it. A muffled laugh, the clinking of glass on glass, footsteps behind you. Is it worth risking a look? It could be your own mates come to find you, you never know. Go for it. Fuck, shit, those are not your mates. Oh shit, were they wearing hoods? Were they looking your way? Oh fuck, this is not where you want to be right now. Ok, let’s get moving, brisk pace but nothing too obvious. They’ve definitely seen you now, they’re calling to you now. “Oi mate, got the time?” You know what that’s international code for don’t you? Yeah you do. Move a little faster now, shit did you feel something touch your back. Turn around. Oh fuck, there’s five of them, they’re much bigger than you. They’re much closer than you originally thought too. Oh shit. The one right in front of you asking the time again “Not from your watch though”. This is 2016, who still gets mugged in 2016 you’re thinking to yourself, that’s when the first punch hits you, that’s when you go down hard, that’s when they all bundle on you. After they’re done, you’re hurting in places you didn’t even know you could. Try to stand up, shit that hurts so much. You realise, almost dishearteningly, that they didn’t even take your phone. It’s still in your pocket. Take it out, whole screen is cracked, doesn’t look like it’s working. Drag yourself up, start walking anywhere. By luck of the draw you reach a main road, JUST as your night bus pulls into the stop. You jump on and just as you’re about to throw yourself into a corner you spot a £50 note crumpled up on the floor. Stuff it into your pocket. You flump down and press your face against the cool glass. The bus lurches to a stop and you look to see who’s getting on and low and behold, it’s HER. You try to sink into your seat but she’s already noticed you. She’s examining your face, softly touching your bruises. You ask her what happened at the party and she tells you she got pissed off with Murphy for starting a rumour about them, and that she ended up slapping him and leaving. She tells you she was sad she missed you, but glad she found you in the end, even if it’s on a shitty night bus home. You talk for as a while longer but she’s tired. She rests her head on your chest, before taking your arm and draping it around her. You smell her hair (she uses some sort of honey shampoo) and turn to the window, too amped to fall asleep, and smile to yourself as you watch the sun rise rising over the city, welcoming a brand new day.
OK, that was a long one I know, but I want you to take all those emotions you’d feel if that story was yours. The devastation, the pain, the loss, the fury and, the most importantly, no matter how small, the hope. Those are the feelings that coursed through me when I first listened to ‘The Truth In Our Bodies’, the debut album (read that again. DEBUT. Their very first. Let that sink it. Feel the excitement for their future) by Earth Moves, and those feelings haven’t lingered. They’re still there, still as strong, still as potent, still as devastating.
Best Tracks: Plop yourself down and listen to it how it’s meant to be heard – all in one sitting and very loudly
6. The Lumineers – Cleopatra
Now look, OK, I understand your qualms with this one. “But Bear”, I hear you ask, slamming your fist onto your desk in indignation, “The Lumineers? That awful country band with that hey-ho song off the radio? THAT BAND? DO YOU REALLY MEAN THAT BAND? THAT ALT-ROCK VIA COUNTRY BAND? YOU AWFUL PRICK BEAR” Well, yes, yes I hecking do. Look beyond that radio friendly mess of a single and you’ll find a decent body of work (please do this, I’ve genuinely yet to meet another person that will admit to me they also like The Lumineers). The singles dropped for ‘Cleopatra’ (‘Ophelia’, ‘Cleopatra’) immediately caught my attention. The were easy going, catchy country pop songs, and I guess I’m just a sucker for that sort of thing. The album’s title track describes the woes of a taxi driver vocalist Wesley Schultz actually met in REAL ACTUAL LIFE (whhoooaaa), and the songs are full of characters with their own backstories. It show’s a new depth to the songwriting skills of the band, and a new understanding of how to craft an interesting story within them. I also particularly enjoy Schultz’s vocal delivery throughout, from the anthem calls of ‘Cleopatra’ and ‘Angela’, to the gentler yearnings of ‘Sick In The Head’ and ‘White Lies’ (White Lies is only available on the bonus deluxe version, which I suggest you go for). Long gone is Ho-Hey of 2012, this is the new and improved Lumineers, and my god you’re gonna like ’em (and please tell me when you do).
Best Tracks: Cleopatra, Angela, White Lie (Deluxe)
7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton tree
This was never going to be an easy listen, was it? The latest album to come from the king of the goths and the latest musical endeavour after the death of his son Arthur, ‘Skeleton Tree’ is a bleak but beautiful album. Cave claim’s lots of it was written before the death of Arthur, but you can’t help but link it to the event itself, such are the lyrics of loss and struggle. Some of the songs, of course, obviously reference it, as you’d imagine. This is a way for Cave to get his grief from off his chest, or at least try and ease the burden a little bit. A lot more sombre than previous Bad Seeds albums, ‘Skeleton Tree’ features quietly pulsing loops, vocals from Cave that are a lot rougher than usual. This is a akin to a futuristic ‘The Boatman’s Call’ (possibly the best NC&TBS album ever). This is Cave’s admission and confession of his anguish to his family, to his friends, to his band and to his fans, but also a message of support to them. ‘I Need You’ (one of the best tracks of the album) is an obvious call to his wife Susie and how they need to help each other through this time. The title track reflects on the event and the future for Cave, and his dealings with it. The line “I called out, I called out right across the sea, but the echo comes back empty” is especially poignant (Arthur fell from a cliff overlooking the sea in Brighton). The final repeated line of “And it’s alright now” reveals that maybe this album is his catharsis, his release, his coming to terms. It’s a stark yet emotive contrast to the rest of the album, and a reminder that will time and love, things will get better.
Best Tracks: I Need You, Girl In Amber, Skeleton Tree
8. Keaton Henson – Kindly Now
‘Kindly Now’, his fourth album, is actually much the same of the same Keaton formula, an analysis of his own depression and anxiety, mixed with a healthy dose of self-loathing. However, it does feature a new side to him, with songs sounding much fuller and more arranged than previously, and a vocal delivery that’s a lot stronger than previous albums. In the track ‘Alright’, Keaton almost sounds angry at his inadequacies, a surge of weight behind his words, unlike his usual self-deprecating whine. I think on the whole this is a braver album, with Keaton owning up to his shortcomings without asking for a dashing of pity. The track ‘Old Lover’s In Dressing Rooms’ is particularly beautiful, detailing a conversation adrift with tension and woe between Keaton and an ex (presumably so anyway). It’s a great songwriting technique and catches the mood of a certain type of closeness between two people, a feeling most if not all of us have experienced and can understand.
Best Songs: Old Lovers In Dressing Rooms, Alright, No Witnesses
9. Whitney – Light Upon The Lake
Imagine, if you will, the first truly warm days of summer – wearing shorts without worrying it’ll be chillier come the evening, hanging out with friends until the sun comes up in the early hours of the morning, drinking outdoors and soaking in every last ray of sunshine you can find. That’s what this album is. It’s a super chill, lo-fi pop piece of work, as if Mac DeMarco and Youth Lagoon had a little band baby together, although maybe a little more radio friendly and mainstream. Vocalist Julien Ehrlich singing can certainly jar, but I think it fits perfectly in with the music. Some of the lyrics as well can come off as cheesy with a dash of extra nostalgia, but Ehrlich delivers them so earnestly you can help but smile and tap your foot along (god that was cheesy in itself wasn’t it? See, they’ve even got me doing it. It’s ok though, you can close your eyes and smile as you imagine gently tapping your foot against my face over and over again if that’ll make you feel better). The album is full of short songs, but that’s part of the appeal (it clocks in at just under half an hour). Any longer and the songs would begin to feel contrived, and the charm of the cheese would be lost to the overpowering pong, but as it stands, it’s just right. Bring on the summer.
Best Tracks: No Woman, On My Own, The Falls
10. Oathbreaker – Rhiea
Phew boy. Boy o’ boy. I’ve only just recovered from this one, and even then I’m still not so sure. This is a chaotic monster truck of an album. Blending parts of hardcore and black metal into one furious Cerberus beast, Oathbreaker smashed it out of the ball park. I first listened to this on an early Monday morning coach from Nottingham to London, as I could feel the comfort of sleep start to wrap itself around me. Well, this woke me the fuck up. Do not be fooled by the gentle opener of 10:56, vocalist Caro Tanghe may be singing clean lyrics, but you can feel the menace building up, the gentling pulse of the guitar in the background an omen of things to come. Just as she’s lulled you into a false sense of security THEN BLAM SLAP RIGHT TO THE FACE and the band dives headfirst into ‘Second Son of R’. Tanghe’s near hysterical screams at the very end of the track sound almost freeing, as if she’s exorcising any demons they may linger around her. The album features a mix of screamed and sung vocals, and interestingly enough when it comes to the clean ones, Tanghe almost sounds like a hardcore Bjork (wouldn’t that be a fucking interesting band). There is a menace behind all of them, which match the screamed ones for feel of heaviness, but also a beauty that is an incredibly hard element to capture in a genre so violent. ‘Rheia’ is a stunning body of work from of of the most interesting hardcore bands out there. Sit back, and let it blow your fucking socks off.
Best Tracks: Second Son or R., Needles In Your Skin, Being Able To Feel Nothing
11. Jinnwoo – Strangers Bring Me No Light
There are few artists that can bring on an array of emotions with such intensity, however Jinnwoo is a master of this. His debut release touches subjects such as death, love, sex and mental health. This painfully honest body of music is heart wrenching but subtly beautiful at the same time, but as much as the context is torturous it is Jinnwoo‘s unique voice is something of a marvel that portrays pain and anguish. ‘Strangers Bring Me No Light’ is a beautiful example of modern folk and boasts Jinnwoo‘s songwriting abilities.
12. Shura – Nothing’s Real
You thought the 80s revival was dead didn’t you? Go on, just admit it. It’s OK if you dead, maybe it had gotten a bit stale in the recent years. Well, if you need some convincing, whack on ‘Nothing’s Real’, the debut album from Shura. Full of catchy pop songs about finding and losing love, it’s enough to get your nan up on the kitchen table during christmas for a little boogie.
Best Songs: What’s It Gonna Be?, Touch, What Happened To Us?
13. POLIÇA – United Crushers
An excellent mix of funky basslines and wiggly electro synths, backed up by those dual drum kits, throw in Channy Leaneagh’s vocals sounding stronger than ever and you’ve got a winning album.
Best Tracks: Summer Please, Lately, Lose You
14. Bastille – Wild World
Their first album, ‘Bad Blood’, was, let’s face it, a bloody banger, so it was interesting to see if the boys of Bastille were gonna top it. Admittedly, no. However, it’s still a flipping good effort. They’ve created a huge sounding album, ready for stadium plays and world tours. It’s not quite got the magic of ‘Bad Blood’, but that was their own fault for setting their own bar too bloody high.
Best Tracks: Good Grief, Power, Fake It
15. Pine Grove – Cardinal
What do you get when you mix country music, folk music, indie music, rock music, emo music and intelligent and genuine songwriting? The answer, if you hadn’t already guessed, is ‘Cardinal’ by Pine Grove. A sweet little album dealing with musings around friendship, family and death. Imagine a cold beer at the end of a long summer’s day…as you sit alone in your room with the blinds pulled down to avoid the outside world due to your crippling anxieties.
Best Tracks: Size Of The Moon, Old Friends, Waveform
16. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
The boys have gone much more 80s revival vibe on this album, and it’s an interesting direction, and one that I think they pull off nicely. Whereas Shura is more Madonna, The 1975 are more Duran Duran for this one. Mixed with some interesting (if slightly out of place) ambient instrumentals, it’s a strong follow up for their first outing.
Best Tracks: Somebody Else, Change Of Heart, The Ballad Of Me and My Brain
17. Pity Sex – White Hot Moon
Back with their (somehow) enjoyable mix of fuzz and mumble, Pity Sex‘s second album follows in much the same vein as their first one, but that isn’t a problem. That’s what made them so enjoyable in the first place! The lyric content is a bit more melancholy (hard to imagine I know) especially ‘Plum’, a ballad about the death of singer Britty Drake’s mum. The beck and call of dual singers Brennan Greaves and Drake is still frequently used here, and they’re all the better for it (it’s a shame that Britty has now left the band, lets hope they find a new member soon).
Best Tracks: Plum, Burden You, September
18. Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack
While this is one of their weaker albums it still holds up against other contenders this year. Without a break up affecting vocalist Scott Hutchison’s life, his attention is turned to his environment, after a recent move to LA. The lyrics aren’t quite as emotive as before, but nonetheless they still stir something inside you, and that’s really the whole point isn’t it?
Best Tracks: Get Out, Still Want To Be Here, Blood Under The Bridge
19. Goat – Requiem
Goat‘s music is one of complete wonder and merriment and one of the few bands that are hard to pin down into one genre, they float around and through so many different sounds that their music always sounds fresh and new yet still very much recognizable. This years release ‘Requiem’ was arguably one of their most defining and strongest releases yet, dabbling more into psych-folk than ever before but it is far too ambiguous to simply label this album as folk. It has complete far out psychedelic tangents, voodoo esque jazz break downs and a healthy amount of bongo/world music percussion.
It’s a real journey, a journey through genres, through sounds and through yourself. The energetic blend of folk, Eastern-tinged psychedlia and fuzzed out madness is something of a hypnotic genius.
Best Tracks: Goatfuzz, Try My Robe, Goatband
20. Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love
Before the release of ‘Awaken, My Love’ Childish Gambino was known for his lyrical prowess as a rapper but this album has flipped that on it’s head. Glover managed to shock a lot of us by dropping what is essentially a 70’s throwback funk album that has nods to the likes of Parliament, Prince, James Brown and Funkadelic. This brave move was criticised by a few but was mostly embraced and for good reason, Donald Glover is doing him right now and is experimenting with sounds and genres and we can’t wait to see what he tries next.
Best Tracks: Redbone, Me and your Mama, Boogieman
21. Kikagaku Moyo – House In The Tall Grass
Their continued musical journey has seen the band craft some beautiful music and this year’s release ‘House In The Tall Grass’ is no exception of this. The album showcases the bands perfect balance between soft and loud, demonstrating a tranquil and whimsical sound with moments of welcomed chaos.
Best Tracks: Silver Owl, Green Sugar, Old Snow, White Sun
22. Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger
There are few artists that share the same work ethic of Ty Segall. Still in his 20’s The Californian has released eight studio albums (with his ninth on the way early next year) and that is just counting his solo projects, he has been involved with a litany of other projects and artists-most notably Fuzz and his joint album with White Fence.
Although ‘Emotional Mugger’ isn’t as impressive as his previous release ‘Manipulator’ it still holds strong and shows him growing as an artist. It feels that this album Ty moved away from providing tasty licks, mind melting solos and heavy riffs to bring a message, a message and comment on society. It shows Segall at his most strange and diverse and for that reason it will be on of most memorable releases.
Best Tracks: Baby Big Man (I Want My Mommy), Candy Sam, Squealer Two, Diversion
23. Dabbla – Year Of The Monkey
There’s something inherently funny about Dabbla‘s music; the beats are generally pretty fun, the skits on the album are great, or maybe it’s subtleties like the tiny ‘squeak’ which follows the lyric ‘rosy like your girlfriends farts’, but listening to this had me laughing in public. It’s always nice to find rappers who don’t take themselves too seriously, and comedy plays quite a big part in Hip Hop especially in the UK scene, so it’s no surprise that it works as a ballast on this album offsetting the vibes of the more serious tracks.
Best Tracks: Life Line, Randeer, Stupid
25. Hockey Dad – Boronia
Their debut album ‘Boronia’ is an 11 track belter that is surf-rock at its best, it has everything you would expect from a band that dabbles in this genre from the rustic and simple riffs and prevalent percussion. However, Hockey Dad are not your run of the mill surf-rock garage band there is one element of their music that separates them from their peers and that is their natural skill in songwriting.
The band have been very open in how bands like The Arctic Monkeys have influenced them and this is very clear in regards to their songwriting, like The Arctic Monkeys they have perfected the emotive yet infectious rock song and deliver it with a brash confidence.
Best Tracks: Jump The Gun, I Need A Woman, Grange