Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but these days we don’t always have time to listen to complete LPs. However we’ve listened to a ton of tunes to compensate. 2016 was full of inspiring but passionate records, some of them newly minted classics like The Lemon Twigs These Words, others that simmer on the boiler like Frank Ocean’s Nights. Whatever your fancy, we’ve endeavoured to shell out our best tunes of this year in no particular order.
The Lemon Twigs
A very conscious nod to MGMT mixed in with 70s poster boy T-Rex and Elton John.
This is old fashioned melodic fun, but coming from a 17 and 19 year old, it’s a forewarning of their musical potential.
We love the dark hopeless sound ruminating in here. Dreamy and raw, it’s hip hop for people that don’t want the polish.
It’s hard to sum up the man himself, his legacy is unparalleled. But what a fitting way to go out. Lazarus is a deeply soulful and emotional tribute to life. He says signing off, “I’m so high it makes my brain whirl.”
We love where Rihanna has taken her music in the last couple of years. It’s really progressive and soulful, something like experimental sad dancehall. She released our favourite tune of the year but it was unofficial throwaway remix of Tame Impala so it doesn’t count. You can tell Rihanna is trying hard to pour all the disparate influences into the music.
You Want It Darker
Similar to Bowie’s legacy, Cohen’s music aged distinctively well. This song is a testament to that. Almost written on his deathbed, his voice sounds like the grim reaper himself, one that summons the night and is at peace with it.
Lying Has to Stop
The fun never stops with Conan Mockasin, a disco lullaby written with the help of Sam Dust from LA Priest. We absolutely love this romantic oddity. The cover image is by far our favourite of 2016.
Christine And The Queens
She was everywhere this year, as well all the talk about her sexuality. We say who cares?! The music is great. It has shades of Uffie, Fyfe and Soko. It’s romantic intelligent French pop, what’s not to like?
There is so much old school hip-hop embedded in here, if you’re old enough to remember Digable Planets, and a Tribe Called Quest etc. It’s hippy-hop with a whole lot of awakened sunshine quenched inside this young girl’s rhymes.
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Sounding like a Thundercat b-side, it’s got a heavy jazz electro feel. That is until Kendrick rolls in. A strong political storm unleashed. It’s the sign of a very conscious and talented artist.
Novelty hit of the year? It’s got that trap catchy something to it. If you don’t like it enjoy it for the sheer timely message, he’s sick of being contacted. Respect him.
Solemn tasteful pop, from a new indie artist Aaron Maine, he really feels like he’s underwater when the chorus hits. Think Washed Out’s second coming.
Whilst everyone is freaking out over this record, we think the LP is just ok. Nowhere near the type of stand-out tunes we experienced on Channel Orange. However this tune is one we’ve been waiting for.
British house producer has singlehandedly helped revived the dance scene in London or at least given it some originality. His songs are boisterous and innovative. Rojus the LP is full of dance-floor gems.
Alicia, like Rihanna, can go from cheesy ballad to surprising left-field pop gem like this one. She has a knack for reinventing herself and we applaud it.
Shut up Kiss Me
It’s brazen, authentic and a shut up & fuck you from one indie music’s most alluring lead singers. It couldn’t be more to the point than this.
This obscure piece of Swedish production caught us out on a random cycle of Spotify. It’s bizarre and deeply affecting.
Cass McCombs consistently enchants the listener with his totally unique songwriting style. It’s always distinctly Cass and it never fails to impress. Like a mellowed out Grandaddy hanging out with War on Drugs.
We’re surprised this didn’t appear on more people’s radars. It has hit written all over it. Big production, and a huge chorus from the hands of The XX producer Rodaidh McDonald. Where are you radio-land?
Father Stretch My Hands P1. 1
He’s a fool, and they’re not our words, watch Alejandro Jodorowsky’s talk about his encounter with Kanye. But he can still dish out the eclectic tasty tune. This sounds like something that could have easily come out of the stereo of Theo Parrish. Where Kanye goes from here is anyone’s guess.
C.Duncan is a Scottish singer who came onto the scene only a few years ago. His 2016 record The Midnight Sun is an inviting yet strange sounding LP, hard to put your finger on. Nothing More is as melodic and skillful as it gets. Think Belle and Sebastian on a night out with Wild Beasts.