5 Albums of 2016

I’ve had absolutely no time to write over the last few months.  Moving flats four times within the span of a year really does eat up your free time.

That said, music is one hobby that takes very little effort to enjoy.  I can’t recall the last day I didn’t listen to an album in its entirety.  I wake up and put on an album.  I’m sure anyone who has ever lived with me would say it’s obnoxious.  Oh well.

Anyway, let’s celebrate the divisive and oft lambasted 2016 by looking at my top five albums of the past 12 months.  And let’s do this before tomorrow comes around and someone dies, making people realise that years are somewhat arbitrary and shit things aren’t confined to certain periods of time.

5 Lil Boat by Lil Yachty

Taste a track while you read:

Little Boat.  Given ‘divisive’ has been the word of the year, we’d best start with a divisive album.  Lil Boat.  You might think this album is crass, asinine and does little to move hip hop on from the culture of calling women bitches and men a word that I’m not allowed to repeat.  You’re probably right. #LILBOAT

But the sound alone of this album is worth a listen.  I was addicted to it for a good two months.  Lil Boat!  If you don’t like the vibe of the first few tracks, then this album isn’t for you.  Lilboat!  It’s laidback and collected.  It just sounds like summer.  LIBOAT.

If you’re going to give this album a listen, be prepared to shout ‘LIL BOAT!’ for a few weeks following.  Throughout, Lil Yachty drops his phrase in a manner that can only be called hashtagging.  Possibly annoying.  Undeniably effective.  Wee dinghy.

Album:

4 Next Thing by Frankie Cosmos

Taste a track while you read:

Just like Lil Boat, if you don’t like the first few songs of this album, it’s not for you.  It’s borderline monotonous, but reeks of delightful early-2000s indie nostalgia with prominent plodding bass lines.

Come for the short, sweet melodies.  Stay for the peculiar lyrics.

And I really mean it when I say short.  With 15 tracks over 28 minutes, by the time you’re acquainted with a melody, you’re already onto the next beautifully mournful tune.  It helps make it endlessly repeatable.

Album:

3 Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest

Taste a track while you read:

If the last two albums on the list are consistent but a little one note, the next two are the absolute antithesis.  This is the perfect showcase for the way songwriter Will Toledo snakes in and out of unhinged angst and contemplative drawling.

Teens of Denial is flat out indie rock and is both heartbreaking and defiant.  Perfect for rebel hipsters who just want a pint and a fag while complaining about the ‘older generation’ – as if they’re happy too.

Album:

2 “Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino

Taste a track while you read:

This is the eclectic album on the list.  And not in a similar vein as that person whose dating profile describes their taste as ‘eclectic’.  No, this album is eclectic in the true sense of the word, drawing its style from an array of genres when called for.

I never expected Donald Glover to make an album like this.  As a rap album, it’s lacking and might disappoint fans.  But people seldom make such drastic deviations from their established sound like this, especially while at the height of their fame, so its success should be celebrated.

Glover’s vocals shine throughout.  As each song demands a different style, he answers with impressive range.  From the powerful yells of the opening track, he delves into croaks and quirky stilted rapping, before closing the album with his more traditional soul song.  This refusal to settle carries the album.

I hate completely derivative comparisons to unrelated works, but I’m throwing caution to the wind on this occasion.  “Awaken, My Love!” immediately evokes a number of albums, including Speaking in Tongues by Talking Heads, For Your Pleasure by Roxy Music, Stankonia by Outkast and Plastic Beach by Gorillaz.  All seminal works that were a little odd, very laboured and absolute accomplishments in resolute tone.

Any other year, this would’ve been number one, if it weren’t for…

Album:

1 Light Upon the Lake by Whitney

Taste a track while you read:

I don’t know where to start with this album.  For a band I didn’t know existed this time last year, I’ve since seen them live twice and listened to this 30-minute album more times than my bearded friends have mentioned #harambe and #dankmemes.

It’s hard to argue the album isn’t very twee.  Its entire premise is a nostalgic love album reminiscent of 70s folk and soul, recorded on traditional reel-to-reel tape that plays on that nostalgia with such confidence, only the truly soulless could claim there’s no beauty here.

Throughout, Julien Ehrlich’s falsetto voice and Max Kakacek’s confident guitar licks playfully dance around each other with joyous melancholy.  If you didn’t have this album to cwtch you up and whisper sweet somethings into your ear over the summer, I pity you.

Also, go see them live.  They’re more playful in person and do a mean cover of The Everly Brothers.

Just listen to it already.

Album:

 

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