The 2016 Nearlies

 2016 will perhaps be remembered more for its many famous celebrity deaths rather than a year of quality music. But, as I started to put my list together I found (thankfully) that there were more than enough albums to make up my top 20. In this little section I reveal some of the artists that will be kicking themselves to have just missed out on my lucrative, potentially life changing list.

One of the most anticipated albums of the year was Bon Iver’s “22, A Million”. It’s an interesting new direction for the Indie Folk fella as he turned his back on banjos and the like to plug in his drum machine and synths and look towards the more glitchy electronic pop world for inspiration. While I enjoyed the album, I thought it felt more like an EP. It runs for only around 30 minutes and it’s over before you know it. Perhaps fans of experimental pop-tronica would be better off listening to Nicola Jaar‘s, “Sirens” which I found a more compelling listen.

Mercury Award winning Skepta came close to my Top 20 with his album “Konichiwa”. Skepta is doing great things for the UK rap and Grime scene and for anyone not familiar with this genre, it’s a great little intro. On a similar(ish) note was the third in a trilogy of Dawn Richard albums. “Redemption,” is an uplifting, smartly produced, dancey collection of arty RnB tracks. It’s definitely my favourite in the trilogy and certainly worth a listen. Staying with the upbeat theme, it had been a long 7 years since Canadian Tiga had released an album. I’ve always been a fan of his work and I must say I wasn’t disappointed with, “No Fantasy Required”. On this, Tiga brings back his brand of sleazy electro-house and the album spawned some huge international dancefloors hits like Bugatti and Planet E.

On a heavier note, and to another band that had been out the lime light for a while was Deftones. Their latest album “Gore” was a pleasant surprise. These guys have been making music for close to 30 years and to be honest, I thought their best days were behind them. But, I gotta give it to them, their latest album is one of their finest, with a great sound, layers of smart guitar riffs under Chino Moreno’s distinctive vocals. The second hard rock ‘nearly’ this time comes from Norwegian band Kvelertak who dropped a great little record in 2016. “Nattesferd” blends all elements of hard and heavy music, from classic 80s sounding power metal, to punk to black metal. It’s a catchy and infectious listen this one. Lastly, and perhaps in an ideal world I would have stuck this in my Top 20, is The Body with “No One Deserves Happiness”. This is an experimental album, even for the Portland duo’s standards, infusing electronic, drone, doom and elements of pop into a grueling listen.

Last but not least are three little synth-pop gems. First up is Niki and The Dove‘s second album “Everybody’s Heart Is Broken Now”. It’s not a massive change in direction for the Swedes but this whole album sounds more polished, well-rounded and slick. Also, there can be no denying that the Kate Bush-esque vocals are some of the best in pop music. “Moth” by Chairlift. Odd name for a band, but these guys are now on their third album and are making some quality chilled out pop music, with a rather funky undertone. Finally Jessy Lanza dropped her latest album, “Oh No”. It’s co-produce by fellow Canadian Jeremy Greenspan of Junior Boys, a band that I have long admired. His electro-pop influences can be heard on this album, but there are different moods going here from 80s sounding ballads to 90s inspired bangers. A must for fans of Grime, FKA Twigs or sod it, even Madonna!

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The 2014 Nearlies

It is with great pleasure I bring to you the 2014 nearly list. The albums which I definitely enjoyed, but just failed to squeak into my top 20 album list for 2014…..

St_Vincent_artwork

And so, to begin, some controversy perhaps? St Vincent‘s self titled and fourth album is quite a peach, however, I find myself favouring 2011’s “Strange Mercy”. If you have no idea what Art Pop is all about, well, give these guys a spin, you won’t be disappointed. Think about it as top quality pop music for middle aged people. I hope that doesn’t sound too patronising.

In 2014 I also found myslef listening to some rather fine hip-hop. A feat I had never really thought would be possible a few years back. Certainly artists like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar helped widen my appeal for a genre I had virtually no interest in. Two noticeable albums came in the form of “Honest” by Atlanta rapper Future. Its aurally beautiful and synth heavy, however as with many rap artists I find some of the lyrics a tad abrasive. Nonetheless, I played this album countless times this year. The other hip-hop album would be from a certain Schoolboy Q, member of West Coast hip-hop collective Black Hippy alongside rappers Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. His 2014 album Oxymoron has a really nice old school hip-hop feel, not to mention the fact the guy is a fantastic rapper and lyricist.

die antDie Antwoord unhappy after being ‘dissed’ by MusicfromNoise

Electronic albums which have not quite made my top 20 this year include Hercules & Love Affair’s new album “The Feast Of The Broken Heart,” which has a great nu-disco, Chicago house, party vibe about it, “Otherness” by Kindness and Die Antwoord‘s “Donker Mag”, which is more of the same rap-rave shenanigans from the crazy South African duo.

sebSébastien looking rather angry he didn’t make the Top 20

Two rather pleasantly chilled albums that I enjoyed this year came from wacky French pioneer Sébastien Tellier with his album L’Aeventura and “Shelter” by French, once black metal-ers now shoe-gaze chillsters Alcest. If that makes any sense at all? Thought not.

So that was it, my nearly list and first proper post. Do you agree with the above. Did you enjoy an of these albums. If so let me know and we’ll have a little chat.

Ciao4now,

R.