The best album of the year

My favourite five

Bowie - Blackstar a fitting end definitely one of his best.

Lambchop - Flotus a real grower and possibly my favourite Chop album

Heron Oblivion - Just love this one.

Wilco - Schmilco a return to form 

Nick Cave - Skeleton Tree.

Just received Rolling Stones Blue & Lonesome and very enjoyable on first listen.

Top 5. I note all by established artists but they are still doing things that are exciting, different or just plain great quality. I think all have produced their best ever albums or close to it this year.

Lambchop 'Flotus'.

Wilco 'Schmilco'

Nick Cave 'Skeleton Tree' The back story of his bereavement suffuses the album, even tracks that were apparently recorded beforehand. Distant Sky is an amazing track.

Mary Chapin Carpenter 'The Things That We Are Made Of'. Unspectacular but excellent.

Way out ahead is Leonard Cohen 'You Want It Darker' Even if you forget that he died shortly after release just a fantastic record. We have sat and listened to this together at home most weeks since release. Add in his recent demise and his lyrics gain even more power.

The biggest let-downs. King Creosote 'Spaceman Meets Appleman'. None of the grace and beauty of Diamond Mine. Radiohead 'A Moon Shaped Pool'. Yes it sounds great but totally fails to engage me. Sterile. Last Radiohead album I buy

Bruce

(Premmyboy, glad Heron Oblivion still doing it for you)

 

Very difficult but probably these 5 (+ I sneaked one extra in).

  • Drive by Truckers - American Band
  • Ben Watt - Fever Dream
  • Mandolin Orange - Blindfaller
  • Luke Howard Trio - The Electric Night Descends
  • Brad Mehldau Trio - Blues and Ballads
  • Lucinda Williams - The Ghosts of Highway 20

 

I have enjoyed a huge amount of new music this year, a lot from artists new to me, largely thanks to you all on this forum.

Disappointments include:

  • Impossible Gentlemen - Lets Get Deluxe
  • PJ Harvey - Hope Six Demolition Project
  • Bon Iver - 22 A Million

2016 seems to have been a bountiful year.  I have a 2016 release folder with over 80 selections in Spotify.  And that is probably less than 5% of the releases available this year.  The below five are certainly no "best" list, rather just a few that I have seemingly played frequently.  They all fall under the umbrella of singers/songwriters in the veins of pop, rock, folk and a touch of country.

Bears Den  -  "Red Earth  And Pouring Rain"

Sara Watkins  -  "Young In All The Wrong Ways"

Ray LaMontaigne  -  "Ouroboros"

Pete Yorn  -  "Arranging Time"

Eleanor Friedberger  -  "New View"

Throughout December I will look a bit back and also publish my favorites with a little text. The first one is one of the last ones I got. The grandfathers of Bluesrock have returned with a masterpiece in my eyes. Returning back to the roots of what their sound was a the beginning, without sounding inappropriate. Almost sounds like the guys just play what they like to play without considering the market, you feeel the joy of playing. This one will get a lot of turns from my side, while I am not a hardcore Stones fan. Sound quality not so good, but in a way it fits to the retro album...

 

Firstly, I apologise for breaking things here. This is truly a short-list, even though it isn't very short. I left four times the amount listed here out! In alphabetical order. If I had to pick one: Heron Oblivion. No, All Them Witches. Or is it Perge, or The Hardy Tree? I give up...

Videos where available/relevant

Albums of the Year

All Them Witches – Brussels, Belgium 3/3/16

Imagine JJ Cale fronting a southern rock band. That’d be close.

Black Mountain – IV

Not their best, but excellent nonetheless, especially for Space To Bakersfield (almost Floydian).

Cavern Of Anti-Matter – void beats/invocation trex

A bit of motorik, a bit of Stereolab (natch) and something new.

The Claypool Lennon Delerium – Monolith Of Phobos

A kick back to the late 60s, but more in spirit than retro-copyists

Dub Trees – Celtic Vedic

Jah Wobble & Youth collaborate again on a dubby Celtic/Goa thing.

Brian Eno – The Ship

Eerie. Brian sings (deeply) in amongst the electronica.

Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – The Rarity Of Experience

A wonderful, traditional rock album with, as usual with Chris, more than a hint of Tom Verlaine.

Wolfgang Gsell – Endurance:  Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition

Atmospheric imaginary soundtrack to Shackleton’s epic expedition.

The Hardy Tree - Through Passages of Time

Charmingly melodic and pastoral electronic meander through lost London.

Steve Hauschildt – Strands

Plangent and lovely electronics from ex-Emerald

Heron Oblivion – Heron Oblivion

Utterly awesome amalgam of early Fairport/Trees with Electric Prunes.

Nicolas Jaar – Sirens

Another hard to pin down album. A bit of D&B, scratchy pop, tuney ambience. Not quite as good as Space Is Only Noise, but still.

Benn Jordan – Planet Nine

A soundtrack to a Planetarium trip from the artist otherwise known as The Flashback

Kl(aüs) - Kl(aüs)

Australian Berlin School. Brilliant band name!

Lambchop – Flotus

For all the highlighted vocoding and drum machines, it’s still a Lambchop album and a very good one at that.

Mary Lattimore – At The Dam

Semi-improvised harp music, with delicate laptop treatments.

Morgan Delt – Phase Zero

Pretty much straight retro late 60s psych-pop

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Mirage

A touch of krautrock, Suicide (and thus Moon Duo), and above all Rainbow Lollipop!

The Orb - COW - Chill Out World!

A back in time ambient album to pair with KLF’s Chill

Orgasmo Sonore - Themes International

French Canadian faux library music. No really, it’s really good. Honest. Oh well.

Outer Space - Gemini Suite

Another electronic (spacey) album from an ex-Emerald (John Elliott)

Perge - Aural Coefficients Within A Fractal Plane

Superb (fake) live album in the style of mid-70s Tangerine Dream. Their best yet.

Perturbator - The Uncanny Valley

Dance-oriented synth electro from French-based son of Nick Kent.

Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre

One-woman mixture of pop, glam, and psych.

Radio Massacre International - RMI On Broadway

More good old Berlin electronica.

Shearwater - Jet Plane And Oxbow

Criminally underrated Americana. Run close by their live cover of Bowie’s Lodger album.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani – Sunergy

Experimental yet accessable electronica based around the Buchla synthesizer.

The Still - The Still

Almost impossible to categorise this lot – Jazz? Post-Rock? Something else?

Sula Bassana – Shipwrecked

Neo-krautrock from the cornerstone of that genre (see also Zone Six, Electric Moon et al.)

The Luck of Eden Hall - The Acceleration of Time

Gloriously tuneful power pop

Trembling Bells - Wide Majestic Aire

Balladic folk-rock from Scotland’s finest (singing about Yorkshire...)

WellenVorm - Petrified Forest

Moody, berlin school electronica

Re-issue of the Year

Frank Zappa - Meat Light: The Uncle Meat Project/Object

Simply stunning sound – cannot emphasise that enough, plus two additional discs of extra stuff.

 

Gary Shaw posted:

Firstly, I apologise for breaking things here. This is truly a short-list, even though it isn't very short. I left four times the amount listed here out! In alphabetical order. If I had to pick one: Heron Oblivion. No, All Them Witches. Or is it Perge, or The Hardy Tree? I give up...

Videos where available/relevant

Albums of the Year

All Them Witches – Brussels, Belgium 3/3/16

Imagine JJ Cale fronting a southern rock band. That’d be close.

Black Mountain – IV

Not their best, but excellent nonetheless, especially for Space To Bakersfield (almost Floydian).

Cavern Of Anti-Matter – void beats/invocation trex

A bit of motorik, a bit of Stereolab (natch) and something new.

The Claypool Lennon Delerium – Monolith Of Phobos

A kick back to the late 60s, but more in spirit than retro-copyists

Dub Trees – Celtic Vedic

Jah Wobble & Youth collaborate again on a dubby Celtic/Goa thing.

Brian Eno – The Ship

Eerie. Brian sings (deeply) in amongst the electronica.

Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band – The Rarity Of Experience

A wonderful, traditional rock album with, as usual with Chris, more than a hint of Tom Verlaine.

Wolfgang Gsell – Endurance:  Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition

Atmospheric imaginary soundtrack to Shackleton’s epic expedition.

The Hardy Tree - Through Passages of Time

Charmingly melodic and pastoral electronic meander through lost London.

Steve Hauschildt – Strands

Plangent and lovely electronics from ex-Emerald

Heron Oblivion – Heron Oblivion

Utterly awesome amalgam of early Fairport/Trees with Electric Prunes.

Nicolas Jaar – Sirens

Another hard to pin down album. A bit of D&B, scratchy pop, tuney ambience. Not quite as good as Space Is Only Noise, but still.

Benn Jordan – Planet Nine

A soundtrack to a Planetarium trip from the artist otherwise known as The Flashback

Kl(aüs) - Kl(aüs)

Australian Berlin School. Brilliant band name!

Lambchop – Flotus

For all the highlighted vocoding and drum machines, it’s still a Lambchop album and a very good one at that.

Mary Lattimore – At The Dam

Semi-improvised harp music, with delicate laptop treatments.

Morgan Delt – Phase Zero

Pretty much straight retro late 60s psych-pop

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Mirage

A touch of krautrock, Suicide (and thus Moon Duo), and above all Rainbow Lollipop!

The Orb - COW - Chill Out World!

A back in time ambient album to pair with KLF’s Chill

Orgasmo Sonore - Themes International

French Canadian faux library music. No really, it’s really good. Honest. Oh well.

Outer Space - Gemini Suite

Another electronic (spacey) album from an ex-Emerald (John Elliott)

Perge - Aural Coefficients Within A Fractal Plane

Superb (fake) live album in the style of mid-70s Tangerine Dream. Their best yet.

Perturbator - The Uncanny Valley

Dance-oriented synth electro from French-based son of Nick Kent.

Purson - Desire's Magic Theatre

One-woman mixture of pop, glam, and psych.

Radio Massacre International - RMI On Broadway

More good old Berlin electronica.

Shearwater - Jet Plane And Oxbow

Criminally underrated Americana. Run close by their live cover of Bowie’s Lodger album.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani – Sunergy

Experimental yet accessable electronica based around the Buchla synthesizer.

The Still - The Still

Almost impossible to categorise this lot – Jazz? Post-Rock? Something else?

Sula Bassana – Shipwrecked

Neo-krautrock from the cornerstone of that genre (see also Zone Six, Electric Moon et al.)

The Luck of Eden Hall - The Acceleration of Time

Gloriously tuneful power pop

Trembling Bells - Wide Majestic Aire

Balladic folk-rock from Scotland’s finest (singing about Yorkshire...)

WellenVorm - Petrified Forest

Moody, berlin school electronica

Re-issue of the Year

Frank Zappa - Meat Light: The Uncle Meat Project/Object

Simply stunning sound – cannot emphasise that enough, plus two additional discs of extra stuff.

 

Thanks, you have quite some unknown's on the list, some reason for further research....

It's been a good year for new releases two of which sadly turned out very quickly to be their final albums.  Many of my favourites coincide with Gary Shaw's expansive list above so I'll second those (that I know) and give mention again to these, sorry there are 10!!:

Blackstar  - David Bowie

Heron Oblivion - Heron Oblivion

Live in Brussels -  All Them Witches

Desire’s Magic Theatre - Purson

Folklore - Big Big Train

Moon Shaped Pool - Radiohead

Your Wilderness - Pineapple Thief

Mirage (Holographic Mirror board) - Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation

You Want It Darker - Leonard Cohen

Blue & Lonesome - The Rolling Stones

Off topic I know but three big disappointments for me were:

Sorceress - Opeth 

Requiem - Goat

Eye Of The Soundscape - Riverside

 

Always very personal, but for me head and shoulders ahead at number 1 is a compilation of songs as a tribute to Blind Willie Johnson - God don't never change. For me the standout tracks are performed by the Cowboy Junkies, Sinead O'Connor and Maria McKee. Definitely one for the late hours with each artist adding their own take to the soul of the man.

Next, in no particular order - Joy of living, another compilation and a tribute to Ewan MaColl. Some of the usual suspects from the alt-folk scene, setting the mood is Schooltime's Over sung by Damien Dempsey:

"Come on then Dai,it's almost light,
Time you were off to the anthracite,
The morning mist is on the vally,
It's time you were on your way,
Time you were learning the miners job
And earning the miners pay"

Teodor Currentzis take on Mozart's Don Giovanni is thrilling and compelling as he cuts fast and loose with the score, even so there is much and respect for the music here. Any fan of Mozart and the Don should give this a listen, at least.

Leonard Cohen - it did indeed get quite dark this year and there's still almost a month to go

Then it's a toss up between 9 Bach - Anian, a Welsh folk album with a strong electronic backbone and Vilde Frang playing Korngold and Britten's violin concertos - an interesting combination of two quite different 20th century composers

I found the Nick Cave album too difficult to manage for the time being, but it's sitting on the playlist

OK, for me it was Blackstar, easily David Bowie's best album since Scary Monsters (and perhaps Low); and - I hope nobody thinks I'm cheating here - The Early Years 1965-72 by Pink Floyd, a gigantic embarassment of audio and visual riches which I think, despite its faults and omissions, is the best set of its kind by a major artist ever released.

Big shout-outs too for Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool; Future Standards by Howe Gelb (didn't hear it until December but it completely won me over as soon as I heard it); Mirage by Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation (so, so much better than the rather stilted effort by labelmates Goat, of whom I am otherwise a great admirer); and the welcome return after 16 years of The Avalanches with Wildflower.

In no particular order, as they say, my top three of the year.

         

   The Strolling Bones - In Mono.                         Doyle Bramhall - Rich Man.                                Some Old Guys - Blue & Lonesome.

   All great, and all out there on Tidal.

Bert Schurink posted:

This man has been on my list of favorite classical artist for a while now. I also had the luck to see him live this year with a piano concert of Rachmaninov - if I remember well the 3rd. This album is a treat....

 

No doubt, this is a sensetional performance. Saw him live with Listz solo in Munich and it was a milestone. 

 

I wrote this for a friends website here in NZ, i'm sure he won't mind me sharing it here

Chris K tells us . . .

Shearwater - Jetplane & Oxbow

I’ve become quietly obsessive about Shearwater since buying Rook off the back of a magazine review.  In that time their musical palette has shifted from the brooding melodrama of Talk Talk to the syncopated energy and anger of  Scary Monsters era David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Peter Gabriel.  Largely the outlet for the literate musings of front man Jonathan Meiburg, whose lyrical concerns have similarly evolved from the earthy to the socio-political; Jetplane & Oxbow sees the band go bigger and bolder as they as strive for greatness on an album that The Austin Chronicle hailed as possibly the “Best Protest Album of 2016”.  On first listen I thought it was almost too obvious and missed some of the oblique-ness of their previous releases but since then it has revealed hidden depth and beauty to become my most listened to album of 2016.

https://open.spotify.com/album/6C3nCWp1EnjUENpFv6AKYi

There is also a great podcast about the album called “Headwaters” and edit of which can be found here http://www.wnyc.org/story/jona...burg-jetplane-oxbow/

As an aside the album was released a couple of weeks before David Bowe’s ‘Blackstar’ and I’d like to think (probably misguidedly) it may have been overlooked or got lost as a result.  However the band were able to pay tribute to Bowie in May this year when they performed Lodger in its entirety for The Onion’s A.V. Club http://www.avclub.com/article/...bowies-lodger-236726

Other notable mentions

Dawes – We’re All Gonna Die

Drive-By Truckers – American Band

Low – Ones & Sixes

Richmond Fontaine – You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailors Guide To Earth

I have now roughly 4000 albums on vinyl and file, but this is record has simply the best SQ I ever had- forget hd, redbook, dsd or whatever and do youself a flavor and listen just the first track- it's live ah...and pump up the volume....even if it's not your musical taste ....the record is from 2006 but my record of the year:-):

Hadouk Trio: Live a Fip

Ralf

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