Of all the lists produced on this site, this one is the most subjective and changeable. A month ago it could have been completely different and indeed in a months time. That being said I have tried to pick what I consider to be the most interesting, clever or just plain brilliant songs of the last 12 months. Starting with…
10. Honeyblood – Ready for the Magic
A song that all football fans will have heard this year without knowing who it is by as it appears on an advert that accompanies Sky’s football coverage. Honeyblood’s first single from their second album Babes Never Die is insistent, rocking and the perfect tonic to all the mopey, slow, drivel being served up by identikit indie acoustic acts.
Honeyblood are perhaps the most underrated UK band around at the moment but the fact they have just announced their biggest ever live show at the KOKO club in London suggests they are finally beginning to receive the accolades that they deserve. For my live review of their excellent live show at Sheffield’s Bungalows and Bears click here.
For Fans Of: Idlewild, Wolf Alice, Fleetwood Mac
9. DJ Shadow – Nobody Speak
I must admit that hip/hop has completely left me cold these last few years despite dominating the charts and receiving endless critical acclaim. One act who have impressed me though are the rap duo Run the Jewels.
El-P and Killer Mike are the guest stars on this Tarantino-esque track with impressive and original results. I know absolutely nothing about DJ Shadow but this song has inspired me to check out some of his other stuff.
For Fans Of: Run The Jewels, Hilltop Hoods, Fun Lovin’ Criminals
8. Teleman – Düsseldorf
Teleman rose from the ashes of Pete & the Pirates to create a wonderful debut album in Breakfast. There was no second album syndrome for the London band and ‘Düsseldorf’ is the best moment from their sophomore effort Brilliant Sanity.
Teleman are producing gorgeously crafted indie pop music with an eccentric touch at a time when the British guitar scene is desperately in need of more interesting bands. They should be embraced.
For Fans Of: Maximo Park, The Futureheads, Metronomy
7. Milburn – Midnight Control
To say that 2016 has been a brilliant year for Milburn would be an understatement. With their biggest headline tour, a trio of triumphant homecoming gigs at Sheffield academy and a storming surprise set at The Leadmill for Tramlines festival, Joe Carnall Jr and co have every right to be delighted with their successful comeback.
The jewel in the crown of 2016 though has to be Midnight Control. Long times fans of Carnall Jr will know he has been writing top notch tunes throughout Milburn’s hiatus and anyone who saw the Sheffield bands comeback as an exercise in money grabbing have been firmly shut down. A song to rival anything that the band have written in the past.
For Fans Of: Reverend & The Makers, The Courteeners, The Enemy
6. John K. Sansom – Postdoc Blues
Everyone has that one band or artist that they love deeply but the rest of the world seems to ignore. For example. I don’t understand how The Crookes, The Wonder Years, Alkaline Trio and The Weakerthans aren’t headlining festivals yet Kings of Leon continue to sell out arenas.
John K. Sansom is the singer and song writing force for The Weakerthans and his long awaited follow up to 2012’s Provincial does not disappoint. ‘Postdoc Blues’ was both the first taste of the album and the best song. A mournful slice of mid tempo pop genius that is par for the course for Sansom. If you’re not familiar with The Weakerthans or John K. Sansom then go and listen to everything. You’re welcome.
For Fans Of: Frank Turner, Weezer, Bright Eyes
5. Future of the Left – Back When I Was Brilliant
Future of the Left. Welsh. Mental. Fucking brilliant. Complaints of the current music scene being bland and forgettable are perhaps fair but Future of the Left are fighting that notion with each incendiary album.
‘Back When I Was Brilliant’ is at once unique, crazy and hilarious. There is nobody quite like Future of the Left and we should be thankful we have them. Anyone who features Bobby Zamora, a cat named Colin and Satan in their lyrics should be lauded… or locked away.
For Fans Of: The Fall, Mclusky, John Cooper Clarke
4. Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties – 67, Cherry Red
The Wonder Years are probably my favourite band at the moment so it is remarkable that singer Dan ‘soupy’ Campbell’s side project Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties are perhaps just as good. On following up their brilliant debut album We Don’t Have Each Other with the EP Bittersweet in 2016, the Philadephia band have written one of their strongest songs.
’67, Cherry Red’ is a poignant ode to family and home that hits the head and the heart with a sledgehammer in a way that only Campbell can. If anyone has written a lyric better than ‘Do the songs of young love hum like an engine in your head?’ this year then I haven’t heard it. A beautiful song.
For Fans Of: The Wonder Years, Alkaline Trio, Jawbreaker
3. The Crookes – The World is Waiting
The first time The Crookes played ‘The World is Waiting’ live was at Tramlines 2015 and I knew that I had witnessed something special. A perfect slice of life affirming indie pop that serves as an excellent introduction to an outstanding band for anyone who isn’t familiar with them.
There is a reason I have written more about The Crookes than any other band over the last few years and I would urge anyone from any musical background to give them a try. You wont be disappointed. For more on The Crookes read here, here and here.
For Fans Of: Felt, The Smiths, Elliott Smith
2. Mystery Jets – Midnight’s Mirror
In Curve of the Earth, London band Mystery Jets have released one of the best albums of 2016 and ‘Midnight’s Mirror’ is an instant classic. Becoming the first band to effectively tackle the nightmare of a drugs comedown since Pulp all those years ago, Mystery Jets have left their peers in the dust with ‘Midnight’s Mirror’.
As well as borrowing the abject horror inherent in Radiohead’s best moments, the Jets have summoned up some of their finest lyrics in this visceral, haunting track.
For Fans Of: Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Interpol
1. The Beach Boys – God Only Knows
Ok so this song might have just missed out on the deadline for being released in 2016 (by fifty years) but in terms of the most significant songs for me in the past 12 months there can only be one winner. On July 9th 2016 my wife came down the aisle to this song ending a tense and painful twenty minutes of me being stood in front of a room of uneasy wedding guests trying not to be sick.
That glorious orchestral intro from The Beach Boys best song will always fill me with feelings of love and happiness. And relief. Mostly relief. I know this wasn’t released this year but this is my list dammit, so this is what wins. Fight me.
For Fans Of: Life, Love, Laughter
Eagulls – Velvet
Metronomy – Night Owl
Spring King – Rectifier
Suede – Like Kids
Weezer – California Kids
Yuck – I’m OK
Bloodhound Gang – Dimes
Last Shadow Puppets – Sweet Dreams, TN
Radiohead – Burn the Witch
Blink 182 – Bored to Death