Tag: Top Ten

Records Of The Year 2016

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.

 

LPs

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 Life
The 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

 

EPs

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.

 

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Records Of The Year – 2012

This year has seen releases from some big names (Billy Talent, Cancer Bats, Deftones, Every Time I Die et al) and also from some of my favourite artists (Cursive, Latitudes), but for me it has also been a year for discovering great new music so there was so much to choose from it became a really difficult task to pick favourites. In the end though, after much deliberation, I did actually manage to whittle it down to this top ten album list.

Albums
Cursive – I Am Gemini
A new Cursive record is always going to be a big release for me and this album really delivered – again (how do they keep doing it). It’s an ambitious concept record carried by nicely meaty riffage, spectacular tunes and some of the band’s most complex song constructions to date. Tim Kasher’s lyrics are fantastic as always and here he focuses again on preoccupations with spirituality and good & evil which have often been an undercurrent in his writing. Just brilliant.      

Everyone Everywhere – 2012
Everyone Everywhere’s second self-titled album is a grower, not as instant as their debut but, as I’ve discovered, with repeated listens you’ll find it delivers as much on melody and hooks as the former. read more

Annabel – Youth In Youth
Annabel deal in the kind of tunes that make your heart soar; uplifting sing-along melodies, gang vocals, intense and rich guitar sounds and marching drum beats that make you want to move. They walk the line somewhere between indie and emo, a kind of jangly, emotional rock base with some nicely anthemic song structures and the odd twiddly guitar part thrown in for good measure. read more

Goodtime Boys – What’s Left To Let Go
This isn’t just a straightforward, in your face scream fest, Goodtime Boys hook you in with strong lyrical content, layered and atmospheric slow burns and technical proficiency, giving you plenty past the initial rush to keep you coming back to the album. read more

Neon Piss – Neon Piss
This one came out of the blue –  a really interesting punk-rock record, injecting some great tunes into a scuzzy backing, pretty full on but has you singing along after only a couple of listens. This one got some great coverage from Maximum Rocknroll this year too which piqued my interest in the first place but it far outlived all my expectations when I got my hands on it – thoroughly addictive. Check out their bandcamp for more.  

Slices – Still Cruising
Read about this album in MRR too and really liked the sound of it. I spent a couple of weeks listening to the album stream on their label’s Bandcamp before thinking sod it and ordering the vinyl. It’s H/C with a Fucked Up type sound and oh so listenable.

Blacklisters – BLKLSTRS
Blacklisters are superbly nasty; jagged riffs and intense untamed vocals, all underlined by the most compulsively danceable, distorted and rumbling bass lines and heavy hitting drums, OK perhaps not danceable but twitchable at the very least, this is a record that commands your attention from the opening bars and relentlessly batters you but it’s never just a wall of noise there is such a lot more going on underneath that scuzzy, hard exterior. read more

Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Not sure if this really nedds too much of a write up as its Deftones but I think this one deserves a mention in the top ten list. In my opinion this album is more well rounded than their last – a good mix of heavy and dreamy and it feels, finally, that they’re getting their groove back. Since Che’s been out of action there’s been a kind of desperate melancholic tone to their records but this one feels more relaxed and organic than they have in a while.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
A new Godspeed record was something I didn’t actually think would happen but here it is and it’s superb. A really epic sound and some great little snatches of melody – powerful and emotive. A great return.  

Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory
Cleveland based Cloud Nothings new Wichita released album (produced by Steve Albini) is a tuneful ride of jangly noise and melody with beautifully raw vocals; moments of post-rock, post-punk along with surf, garage and indie amongst others all feature (if we must label) – whatever, when it’s this engaging, who cares what you call it, all you really need to know is that it’s charming and memorable and addictive. read more

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