Here it is, my list. make of it what you will. 2016 has been a strange kind of year but one thing it hasn’t lacked is a soundtrack.
Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp
Michelle Zauner (also of Little Big League) impresses with an emotive album of beautifully crafted pop songs dedicated to the memory of her mother. Her vocals are sugary sweet bubbles carrying track after track of excellent, joyful melodies. At times the record can be difficult to process without tears threatening to come, and the line between celebration and melancholic reflection is finely balanced.
Touché Amoré – Stage Four
Painful subject matter is balanced with great melodies, memorable riffs and moments of raw emotion on this fantastic album, (another record sadly dedicated to Mother), the band bring a new twist to their sound here with tunes leading the way and screaming sometimes giving way to sung or spoken vocals letting the listener experience the impactful lyrics in full.
Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe
Crystal Cafe draws on the late 80s goth-punk, post-punk sound; the tunes are injected with heavy doses of melody and darkness in equal measure so the comforting past is given a modern edgy twist. The melodies are bitter sweet and the guitars are suitably scuzzy, but the production rounds all the edges, giving the pop tunes a chance to shine through.
Taman Shud – Oracle War
The record has a dream-like quality, repetitive, distorted, droning loops of riffage and vocal chants lend the atmosphere a ritualistic quality, and you feel yourself lost in their world of smoggy, doom laden, psychedelic licks, meanderings, over the top vocal effects and satanic crooning; Taman Shud really are an entity all their own.
John Congleton and the Nighty Night – Until The Horror Goes
In another incarnation John Congleton produced some of my favourite albums, ever, The Paperchase is unfortunately no more, however this album is an interesting transition into a more slick, electro style for him, still with a slightly disturbing lyrical content and packed with great melodies.
Svin – Missionær
Quite a chilled, low-key release fom Svin this time, a little less bombastic and epic sounding than I’m used to from them and with a dark, cold tone, this record is as experimental as ever though and has some sweet moments which have had me coming back for more.
Towanda – Plaything
All girl punk from Canada, attitude and tunes rule here in equal measure; they featured on my list last ear with the cracking EP Black Sheep and proving they have plenty more offer, this full length really hits the spot. I just love their brand of distorted, rockin’ punk tunes.
Belgrado – Obraz
Dark post-punk from Barcelona in true 80s style but with a modern, experimental twist, Belgrado are consistently solid and this album delivers on atmosphere and tunes.
VHS – Gift Of LifeThe Seattle Punks are consistently solid. This album hasn’t been off my playlist this year; with a minimal lo-fi sound, class riffs, great vocals and some really memorable tunes its a winner.
Télédétente 666 – Karen
An intriguing album of industrial-electro, noise-punk; the riffs are what keep you coming back to the record, fantastic distorted and melodic scuzz, darkly moody but super rockin’ stuff. Love it.
Behaviour – 375 Images of Angels
This record, released through Iron Lung, reminds me, at the back of my mind of many things but none that I can pinpoint successfully. It is an off kilter, dramatic (at times), minimal (at times), darkly droney and very addictive punk (ish) album.
Also in the running were:
Acid Fast – Last Night on Earth
La Luna – Always Ready
Deftones – Gore
Planes Mistaken For Stars – Prey
Make – Pilgrimage of Loathing
Mannequin Pussy – Romantic
Neurotic Fiction – Demo
A demo from Livi of Hell Money and Twisted, this is great – Livi’s voice is fantastic, and this low-key, low-fi release really suits her style. Its not as loud and heady as the other bands I’ve seen her perform with but it works really well here. I’m hoping this demo leads to much more.
Solids – Else
Canadian guitar rock with heart. Solids have the knack that all great duos have; their sound is much bigger than it sould be, the guitar distortion and dual vocals fill every moment with lovely noise.
Tough Tits – Hairless EP
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne all girl punk trio; lo-fi production, shrill vocals, uncomplicated drums. What this lacks in scope it more than makes up for with energy and attitude.
Grieving – Demonstrations
There is something really charming about this EP from the Cambridge four piece. I get Reuben and Million Dead vibes at times and then more of an indie feel with some sweet riffs; it is in essence very British, with a strong 00’s thing going on. I like that it’s minimal with an emphasis on some great melodic moments and a lovely clear guitar sound.
Terrible Love – Change Nothing EP
Quality HC which interested me initially as the band boasts former members of Goodtime Boys, Bastions and Grappler. The sound here is meaty and tuneful with a raw edge, and their experience shines through, but they’ve also managed to keep things sounding fresh.