2016 has not been the greatest year for music. There have been more heart wrenching deaths than iconic albums released. Away from the ongoing shit storm that is ‘pop’ music (whatever the fuck that means any more), there is still some gold to be found beneath the grime.
Hot on the heels of last years list. I bring you my ten best albums of this, the year of our lord, 2016:
10. Jamie T – Trick
It is quite a damning indictment of the quality of this years musical output that the tenth best album of the year is merely a decent one. A 7/10 if you will. Having said that Trick is easily Jamie Treays most consistent album and while it doesn’t have anything to equal ‘If You Got The Money’ or ‘Zombies’ from previous albums, it also lacks the forgettable filler that clogs up those early releases. A good album but by no means a classic.
Best Track: Power Over Men
For Fans Of: Plan B, Jack Peñate, Billy Bragg
9. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
It was not difficult to predict that an album featuring Josh Homme, Matt Helders and Iggy Pop would end being fucking awesome and of course, Post Pop Depression is just that. Iggy Pop’s final album is as rock ‘n’ roll as anything released this year which perhaps speaks volumes of the state of guitar music in 2016. That being said, there is a lot to love on this record and it serves as fitting epitaph for the career of a legend.
Best Track: Break Into Your Heart
For Fans Of: David Bowie, QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys
8. Conor Oberst – Ruminations
The return of Conor Oberst always fills me with dread, simply because he is a bad influence on me. While I managed to avoid the two week bender than normally accompanies an Oberst release, I still became in thrall to Ruminations‘ stripped down beauty after being initially underwhelmed.
Oberst’s latest release finds him in contemplative mood with only a guitar and piano for company. This sparse instrumentation suits Oberst and makes for a compelling and affecting listen.
Best Track: Tachycardia
For Fans Of: Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, Damien Rice
7. Blossoms – Blossoms
When I saw Blossoms supporting Courteeners in 2014 I saw an accomplished band from Stockport with a couple of decent tunes and not much else. I was shocked to find their album sitting proudly atop the English album charts upon release back in August then. I was even more surprised to find that it is mostly excellent. In ‘Charlemagne’ Blossoms have come closer than any other band to a genuine crossover hit in 2016 and if this list was comprised on singles alone, Blossoms eponymous debut would probably win.
Best Track: Charlemagne
For Fans Of: The Coral, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Courteeners
6. Catfish & The Bottlemen – The Ride
It took me ages to get into Catfish. And I do mean ages. When they were playing tiny pubs in my home town of Doncaster I turned my nose up at people who insisted they were the next big thing. Obviously I was hugely, embarrassingly mistaken. Having said that, it wasn’t until seeing them at Tramlines festival that the bands catchy hooks finally caught me. In the latter part of the year this is probably the album I have listened to most. They might not reinvent the wheel but they have produced another excellent wheel to add to all the others on the indie rock car.
Best Track: 7
For Fans Of: The Wombats, James, Shed Seven
5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
I should begin by saying that it always takes me two years to get into every Radiohead album. So ask my in 2018 what my favourite album of 2016 was and I will probably say this one. My main emotion on hearing A Moon Shaped Pool for the first time was relief. After the tedious slog of The King of Limbs it was incredibly exciting to see the band sound like they were awake again. Obviously, A Moon Shaped Pool doesn’t fully recapture their glory years but it is about as good as a bands 9th album can be. Loses marks for the underwhelming version of old song ‘True Love Waits’. Not as good as the live version from years ago.
Best Track: Burn The Witch
For Fans Of: Aphex Twin, Bloc Party, Muse
4. DMA’s – Hills End
Surely the natural reaction when hearing of any band being compared to Oasis is to roll your eyes and sigh in frustration. Australian rock band DMA’s invited this comparison themselves but the music is so good that they almost pull it off. Hills End is a remarkably consistent album and while Noel Gallagher himself isn’t a fan, plenty of his listeners will be.
Best Track: Lay Down
For Fans Of: The Enemy, The Jam, Oasis
3. The Crookes – Lucky Ones
I have been banging The Crookes drum to anyone that will listen for years now. The Sheffield band have quietly put out some of the best records of the decade while still remaining firmly under the radar of the mainstream music scene. I spoke to lead singer George Waite earlier this year and he said that this record rose from the ashes of discord and uncertainty to end up as a brand new start for the band. This is perhaps best shown in ‘The World Is Waiting’ and ‘I Wanna Waste My Time On You’; two of the great lovelorn classics of the year.
Best Track: The World Is Waiting
For Fans Of: The Beautiful South, Belle & Sebastian, Richard Hawley
2. Mystery Jets – Curve of the Earth
Before this year I had dismissed Mystery Jets as just another band cast aside to the indie landfill of the naughties but in Curve of the Earth the London band have released perhaps the prettiest, most melodic, album of the year. At 9 tracks there is no room for filler in an album that perfectly marries the nervous twitching of The Maccabees with Radiohead at their tuneful best. A truly epic album.
Best Track: Midnight’s Mirror
For Fans Of: Radiohead, The Maccabees, Gaz Coombes
1. Weezer – Weezer (White Album)
The cynics among you may suggest that Weezer could release an album of Rivers Cuomo defecating for 52 minutes and it would still top this list, such is my unending devotion to my favourite band. I would urge anyone that stopped listening to Weezer around the time of the Green Album to give their latest a spin and see if they still dismiss the LA band. The White Album is simply a brilliant, timeless album. A true return to form for one of my generations most enigmatic and talented bands. When even the grumpy bastards at Pitchfork give a grudging nod of respect to Rivers Cuomo and co you know that we are talking about something special.
Whether this turns out to be their last hurrah or a full return to form is yet to be seen. For now though, forget the question of legacy and let the album wash over you in an awesome wave and say those magical words with me… Weezer are back!
Best Track: King of the World
For Fans Of: Cribs, Foo Fighters, Blink 182
Viola Beach – Viola Beach
Honeyblood – Babes Never Die
Courteeners – Mapping the Rendezvous
Eagulls – Ullages
Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You Have Come To Expect
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Key
Spring King – Tell Me If You Like To
Suede – Night Thoughts
Teleman – Brilliant Sanity