Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Justin's Favorite Music Albums of 2016 Part 2

Hope you're enjoying these lists. Check out Part 1 to see how I'm formatting my lists this year, and to see many other great bands mentioned.




26. Eliot Sumner - Information






Eliot Sumner is the child of the musician Sting and the actress Trudie Styler. This is apparent from the moment you hear their voice ringing out on 'Dead Arms & Dead Legs', if birth is reincarnation in a way, then Eliot is the true reincarnation of Sting, especially in voice. The style of Information is straight off a Sting record, and it's beautiful. You can find their first album under the name I Blame Coco.****




27. Fear of Men - Fall Forever


https://fearofmen.bandcamp.com/album/fall-forever

Dream pop at its best. I'll let the words of one review on bandcamp by Sean Tartaglia speak for it. "Absolutely amazing, THE album of 2016. Shimmers like a faint afterglow: brilliantly, yet dying quickly."****




27. FM-84 - Atlas

https://fm84.bandcamp.com/album/atlas



Much like Timecop1983 or Miami Nights 1984, FM-84 sets the standard for dreamwave/synthwave, with beautiful shining synth music that feels like...well..like a dream. 'Running in the Night feat. Ollie Wride' (who should be fronting Queen cover bands) is truly one of the most beautiful songs of the year, and should be on the next nostalgic 80's inspired teen movie stat.****




28. Frankie Cosmos - Next Thing

 
https://ingridsuperstar.bandcamp.com/album/next-thing



Next Thing is a great, fun, lo fi indie rock record from one of the masters who's been making great, fun, lo fi indie rock for years.***



29. Fruit Bats - Absolute Loser

Fruit Bats has been one of my favorite bands for years, true alt-country masters. Absolute Loser is a return to form of what made them so great for years, and it was great to get to listen to this gem in what was a pretty hard year.****








30. Gallant - Ology





Gallant is what Guardian Magazine calls "a vision of the future of R&B", Ology draws inspiration from such amazing artists as Frank Ocean and Beyonce to craft honest, searing r&b, the lyrics themselves are brave and unafraid to delve deep into Gallant's own depression and fears. In a year that saw artists like Kid Cudi admitting their depression and suicidal struggles, it's important for young black men especially to see other young black men bravely speaking up about their depression and not hiding from it. May more artists take cue from Gallant.****




31. Glass Apple Bonzai - In the Dark



https://glassapplebonzai.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-dark






Unlike a lot of other synthwave records, In the Dark includes vocals, and it's amazing. a truly nostalgic album, in every sense of the word.****



32. Gost - Non Paradisi


https://blood-music.bandcamp.com/album/non-paradisi



Gost, like Perturbator, or Dance With The Dead plays more metal influenced synthwave that has a strong industrial influence. But there's still that 80's synth sound that takes you back, and sounds like the soundtrack to a great 80's horror movie (hence some genre gurus dubbing this slasherwave). Check out Bandcamp's awesome interview with the artist behind the music.****



33. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam - I Had A Dream That You Were Mine




Leithauser hails from the band The Walkmen, and Rostam comes from Vampire Weekend, their collaboration here is a great album full of awesome indie rock.***



34. Holy Wave - Freaks of Nurture

https://holywave.bandcamp.com/album/freaks-of-nurture



Holy Wave is one of the most Real Estate influenced bands out there, with the same 60sish rock indie sound, full of dreamy vocals and psychedelic soundscape. *** 



35. How to Dress Well - Care




At times drawing from Ed Sheeran, at times from the more synthy pop of his earlier albums, this is probably the most R&B of all HTDW's albums, and the most polished, but it still features that indie pop sound along with hip hop influenced voice that makes HTDW the artist he is, and that is a great one. ***



36. Jesu/Sun Kil Moon - self titled






Another collaborative effort, this time from two of the masters of the slowcore genre, Sun Kil Moon (the indie folk branch of Mark Kozelek who once fronted the amazing slowcore band Red House Painters) and Jesu, the shoegazey metal tinged slowcore band whose 2006 EP Silver I still consider one of the greatest EP's of all time. This self titled record features Jesu's signature slowcore shoegaze/metal sound with Kozelek singing over the songs in his quiet almost talking more than singing voice. It's a powerful record that is two masters at the top of their craft.****



37. The Jezabels - Synthia




Synthia is The Jezabels' third album, and their best to date, atmospheric arena synth pop. You truly feel like your standing in the studio itself, or seeing them in concert, the music covering you and taking you away. I love this album, and especially the song 'My Love Is My Disease'.****



38. Katie Dey - Flood Network

https://katiedey.bandcamp.com/album/flood-network-3



It's hard to pin down the sound of this Australian singer's music, but it's definitely different, and it's really good, a little bit Animal Collective, a little bit lo fi, a little bit ethereal, truly beautiful.****





39. Keaton Henson - Kindly Now







The first time I heard Keaton Henson I was immediately reminded of Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright, the beautiful falsetto voice, the somber sad rock, the quietness and the contemplation, Henson just writes similarly beautiful music. Kindly Now is one of his best records to date.***



40. Kevin Morby - Singing Saw

https://kevinmorby.bandcamp.com/album/singing-saw



Morby plays Bob Dylan influenced indie folk that sounds like a great psychedelic 60's throwback. Formerly in the similar band Woods, Morby is no stranger to the sound, and utilizes it perfectly here, especially on the Eric Garner memorial 'I Have Been to The Mountain', and the song 'Ferris Wheel'.****



41. Kristin Kontrol - X-Communicate



Another one of my most favorite albums of the year, X-Communicate is a synth pop 80s-ish gem from Kristin Welchez, also known as Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls who leaves behind the indie rock of her main band to delve into more electronic sounds here, and 80's influence, with shades of Bananarama, Go-Go's, Bangles, and even Kylie Minogue.****










42. Kyle Craft - Dolls of Highland





As you've probably noticed now, I tend to like music that mines earlier decades as well as plays with futuristic sounds. I like a good nostalgic sound, one that also attempts to sound new and fresh as well. Dolls of Highland certainly is a nostalgic record, probably more so than any other album on here. It feels like it could have been written in the late 60's early 70's. This album is pure unadulterated glam rock, and it draws from Bowie as much as southern rock. In fact if Bowie had ever joined up with Bob Dylan to write a glam-folk album, it mighta sounded something like this, with backing band help from the Beatles and Elton John on the piano. It's just really a work of art for how perfectly it crafts the sounds of its influences. It's almost like Kyle Craft himself doesn't really exist on this album, and is putting on a show, a performance. It works. Amazingly. The first time I listened to this album I couldn't stop, and I loved every song. I still do. It's the kind of happy nostalgic music that one needs nowadays. A pure rock record. I still think it might be my most favorite album of the year. Certainly in the top five.****












43. Ladyhawke - Wild Things




Just like the previous album is a pure rock record, Wild Things is a pure pop record. In a time when the radio is saturated with pop, it's hard to stand out. Perhaps for me the name of the artist herself, since she's a favorite, causes her to stand out enough for me, but the music is fun too and one can't really argue that there's anything to not like in it. You'll easily find yourself singing along to the songs, and contracting earworm as soon as you start playing the music. And really, that's not a bad thing.***



44. Little Green Cars - Ephemera







Infectious indie rock from this Dublin, Ireland band.***



45. Little Scream - Cult Following





Little Scream's The Golden Record is one of my favorite records, a true art pop gem. Cult Following follows in the same stream of consciousness while expanding on those sounds and crafting more polished pop sound. With guests like Sharon Van Etten, Sufjan Stevens, Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio, and the Dessner Brothers from The National, she surely has some true masters of the craft to help her out, and it truly shows. This is a fun, great art pop record. Truly one of the best of the year.****



46. Logan-47 - Dreamer's World




I love discovering amateur artists that don't have a huge following and are just starting out in the biz. Sometimes their sound is raw, and could use work, other times they sound like they have a whole ton of potential. Logan-47 (Andrew Kholodov from Russia) is one of the latter. He plays in the synthwave genre, but you can tell he is a true artist of his craft, and is making something truly original. I was lucky enough to talk to him once via Facebook messenger and he said his influences ranged as wide as early A-Ha and Cyndi Lauper to The Art of Noise and Enigma. Check out this guy before he goes big!****




47. Lucius - Good Grief



Bluesy indie pop, is that a genre? If it is, Lucius are truly masters of it.***



48. Lucy Dacus - No Burden


https://lucydacus.bandcamp.com/album/no-burden




There's been Courtney Barnett, Julien Baker, and many others through the years, those girls who play pure indie rock that sounds wonderful. They're not here to be just another indie folk band, or indie pop, but true rockers. Dacus joins that pantheon and No Burden is an essential rock record, even a bit hard rock in some songs. Her voice soars over every riff as if she's truly above the burdens of the world and in a place where music is free and wild. The picture of the child staring up into the sky on the cover of the album is truly Lucy Dacus' inner child.***



49. Lucy in Disguise - Endless Echoes



https://innerworksrecords.bandcamp.com/album/endless-echoes



Another amazing synthwave record, Endless Echoes is an atmospheric soundscape of synth that doesn't get too lost in the 80's influence, even pulling from ambient post rock at times and manages to hold its own.****


50. LUH - Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing




LUH (Lost Under Heaven) is Ellery Roberts from the short lived enigmatic band WU LYF, a band no one really could learn much about, as they didn't do interviews or advertisement. Ironically this worked for them, and they became one of the most talked about British bands of 2011. LUH follows in their enigmatic footsteps with Roberts keeping that same powerful arena rock sound, and playing with strange at times poignant lyrics that seem to be saying a lot, or very little. You can never really know, but that's kinda part of the allure of this weird band. His raspy vocals and the sounds pure unadulterated rock, or "heavy pop", keep the record going for its hour-long length.***






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