Filed under: 2016 Albums Of The Year
For one reason or another, long-winded countdowns, teasers and write-ups are beyond me this year, which is ironic because this year I bought more new music than I ever have, and it’s been of a remarkable quality for the most part.
Anyway, here’s the Top 10. Criteria for inclusion – I have to own it on vinyl if it’s on vinyl (some other physical format if it’s not); no live albums, compilations, reissues etc. Erm.. that’s it… Oh yeh, and it has to be mint.
Hey Colossus – In Black & Gold / Radio Static High
It had to be really, didn’t it? No band of recent years has brought me so much pleasure – live and on record. And to release two albums of this ridiculously high standard within a few months of each other is a Husker Du-style level of industry. You can read a review of Radio Static High here – guitarist Jon told me it’s the best thing he’s ever read about something he’s a part of, which may well have changed given the critical acclaim they’ve received of late, all entirely deserved.
This band fucking rocks.
2. DBUK (Denver Broncos UK) Songs One Through Eight
I’m still meaning to write a proper review of this somewhere. It’s the long awaited debut album from DBUK (formerly Denver Broncos UK) and it’s utter fucking genius. DBUK are Slim, Munly and Dwight from Slim Cessna’s Autoclub and Rebecca from some of Munly’s side projects. It’s tar-black gothic americana, equal parts Gorey, Poe, Faulkner and Portis. It’s gallows humour and warped sexuality, it’s infanticide and crossdressing and acoustic instruments that sound like creaking doors. It’s disturbing and funny and genuinely, unarguably, utterly unique.
3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor Asunder, Sweet & Other Distress
“All I know is that when I listen to Piss Crowns Are Trebled – and I have, over and over and over – I see slo-mo news footage of cop cars on fire and people taking to the streets and banks in ruins and I feel genuinely uplifted.“– from my Narc review
4. Morton Valence – Another Country (Bastard)
“After three brilliant, criminally overlooked albums, Another Country might be Morton Valence’s masterpiece, the purest distillation of their gradual shift to an ‘urban country’ sound. Hacker’s lyrical take on the poetry of the city has rarely been better, his melodies never stronger, his and Anne Gilpin’s voices rarely so simpatico. From opener Chinatown, the greatest song Calexico never wrote, to the two-part prison drama of First Night/A Tear For Every Year to The Hawkline Discotheque – suburban angst set to an infectious disco beat – this album never lets up. The arrangements are magnificent, by turns heartbreakingly intimate or spaghetti western-epic, and the linking soundscapes evocative. Another Country is a total triumph and you need to hear it.” – from my Narc review
5. Woven Skull – Lair Of The Glowing Bantling
Woven Skull have been my discovery of the year, cropping up everywhere and killing it every time, whether it’s a kids gig in a tent, a hungover gig in a church or on a weird flashy club stage in Leeds. Their music – an almost indescribable blend of folk and post-rock, like a Celtic Sister Ray or something – soars the way Godspeed do, and you end up gobsmacked that three people with minimal kit can ROAR quite like that. But ROAR they do. Get the album – and all manner of other releases and collaborations – here.
=6. Sleaford Mods Key Markets (Harbinger Sound)
“a torrent of fury and despair that veers from personal vendettas to searing political insight (lyrics about the futility of analysing capital markets) to taking pot-shots at image-driven try-hards (“you’re shit, you look like Rocket From The Crypt”), all of it a sometimes moving, sometimes amusing, sometimes rabid sketchbook of what it’s like to live in this zero-hours-contract, race-to-the-bottom, piss-stinking, bleak and banal world” – from my Narc review
=6. Band of Holy Joy – Land Of Holy Joy (Stereogram)
“… on this wonderful new album, even Brown is sounding worn out and worn down as Austerity Britain chips away at what remains of the working class hope and dignity he cherishes. The nation Brown is describing here isn’t a million miles from the squalid, hopeless wastelands of Sleaford Mods.” – from my Narc review
7. Low – Ones & Sixes (Sub Pop)
An attempt to blend the songs of recent albums with the more experimental sounds of the rather unloved Drums & Guns, Ones & Sixes isn’t Low‘s best album but it is really, REALLY good and Mimi Parker’s voice on Lies just makes my heart soar.
8. King Midas Sound & Fennesz – Episode 1
“A year after releasing the finest album of 2014 as The Bug, restless innovator and musical omnivore Kevin Martin is back in King Midas Sound guise for a collaboration with Austrian musician Christian Fennez, the first of four such ventures. The degree of collaboration varies: some tracks – the lovely On My Mind, the yearning Loving Or Leaving, Roger Robinson’s heart-breaking spoken piece Melt – see Fennesz adding flavour to what are very much King Midas Sound songs. On others – especially the stunning, 13-minute Above Water – Fennesz’s trademark sound is to the fore, gorgeous washes of texture and opiated melody dubbed up by Martin. A fine start to the series, it’s exciting wondering who the other collaborators will be.“ – Narc review
9. Grey Hairs – Colossal Downer (Gringo)
“… Colossal Downer is the fantastic result. An homage in part to a kind of pre-lapsarian Pacific North West, before grunge was even a thing. Before the smack, before Geffen, before Everett True. … it’s fair to say that a couple of the tracks do sound like early, sloppy Nirvana. The propulsive, mutant surf of Jesco is one obvious highlight, the feedback drenched onslaught of Emergency Banger is another. Fuck it, they’re all highlights. This album is just a whole lot of scuzzy drunken fun.” – from my Narc review
10. Blown Out – Jet Black Hallucinations
Of all the combinations of the Vest / Batey / Hedley Geordie Jagermonster stoner doom attack, Blown Out are the best. They killed it at Supernormal and it’s live that you realise how powerful that rhythm section is. Power trio doom with a little bit of muscular funk in its DNA.
And here we go into the middle stretch, positions 20-11 in the rundown.
11. Teeth Of The Sea – Highly Deadly Black Tarantula (Rocket Recordings)
12. Holly Golightly – Slowtown Now (Damaged Goods)
13. Henry Blacker – Summer Tombs (Riot Season)
14. Jenny Hval – Apocalypse Girl (Sacred Bones)
15. Daniel Romano – If I’ve Only One Time Of Asking (New West)
16. Shape Worship – A City Remembrancer (Front & Follow)
17. Wire – Wire (Pink Flag)
18. EEK & Islam Chipsy – Kahraba (Nashazphone)
19. Shannon & The Clams – Gone By The Dawn (Hardly Art)
20. Thee Tsunamis – Saturday Night Sweetheart (Magnetic South)
Filed under: 2016 Albums Of The Year
And here we go with the main albums of the year list. First off, from 30 – 21.
21. Death & Vanilla – To Where The Wild Things Are (Fire)
22. Legendary Shack Shakers – The Southern Surreal (Alternative Tentacles)
24. Sonny Vincent & Rocket From The Crypt – Vintage Piss (We Deliver The Guts)
25. Workin Man Noise Unit – Play Loud (Riot Season)
26. Steve Gunn & Black Twig Pickers – Seasonal Hire (Thrill Jockey)
27. Haiku Salut – Etch & Etch Deep (How Does It Feel To Be Loved)
28. Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology (Riot Season)
29. Shit & Shine – 54 Synth Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral (Rocket)
30. Follakzoid – III (Sacred Bones)
Not the usual bells and whistles for the end of year charts this year – no big countdowns or write ups. Anyway, here are the releases from 2016 that are disqualified from the ‘proper’ chart – reissues and compilations.
Various Artists Compilations
1 Saved & Sanctified – Songs Of The Jade Label (Numerophon)
Artist Reissues / Remasters And Such
1 Coil – Backwards (Cold Spring)
Filed under: Narc, Reading | Tags: Band of Holy Joy, Cassette Store Day, Destruction Unit, Evil Blizzard, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hey Colossus, Joanna Newsom, King MIdas Sound, Laetitia Sadier, Luminous Bodies, Midnight Doctors, Pentecostal Party, Pine Hill Haints, Pokey Lafarge, Richard Hawley, Sleaford Mods, Sunn O))), Teeth Of The Sea, The Delines, Tusk
Yeh, Yeh – I’ve been really slack uploading various Narc articles over the last few months, apologies. So here’s lots at once.
Filed under: Gigs! | Tags: Klara Lewis, Maurice Louca, Oren Ambarchi, Rhys Chatham, Richard Pinhas, Sam Shalabi, Sax Ruins, Stephen O'Malley, The Wire, Tusk Festival
Very pleased to be invited to review this year’s Tusk Festival for The Wire magazine – 20 years a reader, so it felt good.
Filed under: Narc | Tags: a Singer Must Die, Band of Holy Joy, Box Records, Eleventh Dream Day, Haiku Salut, Heavy Trash, Jenny Hval, Morton Valence, Narc, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Otis Gibbs, Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band, Sleaford Mods, Sly & The Family Drone, Test Dept