Albums Of The Year 2016
At Rockshot Magazine we don’t review albums but we do listen to them and this is our list of Albums Of The Year 2016 chosen by our great team of photographers and writers.
The albums are not in number order but the titles at the beginning appeared most in everyones top ten.
Slaves. Take Control.
Post-punk can be very hit and miss, but Slaves’ Take Control hits the mark perfectly with their defiant anti-establishment and less polished sound. Produced by Beastie Boy Mike D, you can hear slight similarities with License To Ill, if you squint a little. GM
David Bowie. Blackstar.
Haunting us now that we know what came next. David Bowie left us with his painful epitaph and farewell. SA
When I stumbled across four posing band members in Kobetamendi Park during July’s BBK Live festival, I photographed them without a clue who they were. I later realised they were Stockport natives Blossoms, a band who would go on to release one of my favourite records of the year. Their self-titled debut is nothing short of special, their blend of guitars, synths and slightly psychedelic lyrics make them stand out from the indie-rock crowd. KP
Solange. A Seat At The Table.
A Seat at The Table had a lot of people very, very excited on release, and deservedly so. It reflects Solange’s evolution and represents empowerment and strength, proving she is an artist to be taken seriously, just like her big sister. Raw and powerful. NG
Bob Mould. Patch The Sky.
Songs that capture the mid-life concerns of Bob Mould his battles and achievements. This album reminds me a lot of his first two solo albums Work Book and Black Sheets Of Rain. His solo albums have always been something to look forward to but this has an extra edge and great tunes including the happiest “depression” song The End Of Things. SJP
Thee Oh Sees. A Weird Exits.
They are really two bands. A live group whose shows bear little resemblance to their recorded work and a studio band who push the boundaries of psychedelic, mind binding music. This albums is almost a greatest hits of their best sounds from the last ten years and when I say “sounds” just listen to Plastic Plant to find out! SJP
Julia Jacklin. Don’t Let The Kids Win.
Her songwriting goes from strength to strength. Her songs are subtle with gentle hues of colour. A Nanci Griffith or Gillian Welch for the millennials with an added aspect of Jim Jarmauch lo-fi story telling. SJP
Wovenhand. Star Treatment.
Possibly their most accessible album to date, but also one of their most refined. SS
WEEZER. THE WHITE ALBUM.
American rockers Weezer’s tenth album, continuing their self-titled, coloured album theme, brought back all of those feelings of early Weezer tinged with Californian summer air, each song a homage to teenage Californian living … ironically coming from the mouths and instruments of middle-agers. It’s hard not to feel the stress leave my shoulders and the fun kick in. KP
THE BLIND SHAKE. CELEBRATE YOUR WORTH.
Energetic, fast, and fun dirty rockin’ roll. Killer rhythm and riffs with smashing percussion. These guys know how to get you moving! BP
THE 1975. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It.
Even The 1975’s frontman Matt Healy said “I’m challenging people to sit through an hour and 15 minutes and 17 songs that all sound completely different from each other. It’s quite an emotional investment”. Challenge accepted, it’s teeming with clever, brilliant tracks (and one of the most memorable album titles of the year even it if was too interminable for some people). NG
Boston Manor. Be Nothing.
The debut album of the Blackpool quintet has won over the hearts of many. Full of considerate lyrics and genuine emotion, the comparably refined sound of this album from previous releases is what has allowed Boston Manor to merely scratch the surface of what’s in store for them in the future. NL
The Black Queen. Fever Daydream.
Shifting walls of synth with space shaping percussion, it’s a dream come true, 80s Depeche Mode style, stunning landscape with killer vocals. BP
MICHAEL KIWANUKA. LOVE & HATE.
Following the success of gold-selling Home Again, which contains one of the most haunting tracks ever produced, Bones – the follow up doesn’t disappoint. It’s complex and at times beautifully tormented and fragile, but overall a powerful collection of soulful music. NG
SAVAGES. ADORE LIFE.
A thundering aural assault on your senses, defiant powerful messages, stabbed with dark ferocity. BP
PIXIES. HEAD CARRIER.
The sound of the Pixies holds more memories for me than most other bands and I was happy and relieved that they have not lost their unique edginess on Head Carrier. GM
NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS. SKELETON TREE.
Weird, spooky and dark. SA
Leonard Cohen. You Want It Darker.
This is not a band wagon choice. He was, and remains, my favourite songwriter. SS
William Poyer. Born Lucky.
Written by Poyer during his time in Mexico, is an impressive, 7-track collection of acoustic music that demonstrates a genuine attention to his craft and the sounds of driving, melodic Americana. NG
Agnes Obel. Citizen of Glass.
Sensitive smooth vocals, piano and woodwind create an ethereal soundtrack for soothing troubled souls. BP
Moby. These Systems Are Failing.
Moby synergised his life’s mission with punk rock to open our eyes to the suffering of animals and the consequence of total ecosystem destruction. SA
Joan As Policewoman & Benjamin Lazer Davis. Let It Be You.
An electronic adventure which enables Joan to create another layer to her brilliant recorded work. SJP
Billie Marten. Writing of Blues and Yellows.
Young Billie’s lovely voice and light touch on her guitar collide to produce an album brimming with all the beauty and innocence of her youth. SA
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down. A Man Alive.
Weird, wonderful and funky.
Paul Simon. Stranger To Stranger.
There is so much interesting percussion on this record, and snappy lyrics.
Alicia Keys. Here.
What a great discovery toward the end of the year. One of her finest song collections..almost a concept album that reveals Alicia’s vulnerabilities and lets you stand and stare, sympathise and admire. SJP
Rockin’ raw female vocals giving you the perfect music to empower and relieve the horrors of 2016. BP
Christine & The Queens. Chaleur Humaine.
Spent the majority of the last two years in the French Top 40 and it’s easy to see why. It’s rich and rewarding electro-pop and very cool, just like Héloïse Letissier herself who secured the global-recognition she deserved this year. NG
Emma Ruth Rundle. Marked For Death.
Longing and melancholic soundscapes taking you to dark depths. BP
Dinosaur Jr. Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not.
Similar to the Pixies’ Head Carrier, Dinosaur Jr.’s Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not was long awaited and delivered on every level with the same alternative indy rock sounds that we have come to expect from them. GM
Ray Wilson. Makes Me Think of Home/Song for A Friend.
Burning with fire Britain’s finest rock singer excels with contrasting albums’ one full of energy and the other sweetly acoustic. SA
Highly Suspect. The Boy Who Died Wolf.
It is no wonder that Highly Suspect are currently topping the Billboard Alternative Song Charts with My Name Is Human from their new album. The album should come with a warning though as the emotional songs will stick in your head for a long time. GM
Hope Sandoval And The Warm Inventions. Until the Hunter.
A new Hope Sandoval album is a bit of an event but this one seemed to just be released without any warning. It is brilliant in a shining way and it has Kurt Vile on it. Simples. SJP
Last Shadow Puppets. Everything You’ve Come To Expect .
With no Arctic Monkeys album this is the only way to get a fix of Alex Turner vocals and good dollops of weird but brilliant Miles Kane. Check out Bad Habits. AS
Jon Anderson & Roine Stolt. Invention of Knowledge
An album of brilliant lightness and joy woven by the fusion of skilled compositions and Anderson’s unique voice. SA
Twin Atlantic GLA.
Crunching and angry, but still with a hook. No Sleep is on everyone’s playlist AS
Panic! At the Disco. Death of a Bachelor.
The fact that Panic!’s fifth studio album was written and recorded entirely by Brendon Urie is nothing less than impressive. In fact, it was probably a huge influence in getting the exposure that it did. Full of pop melodies, dramatic cabaret elements and an underlying alternative rock sound, Urie has managed to blend these genres smoothly. NL
Emeli Sande. Long Live the Angels.
An awesome album of ballads and gospel and truly one of the best voices in music today. Yes even better than Adele. AS
HoneyBlood. Babes Never Die.
These two make a great sound and this album is worth it for the best single of the year Sea Hearts. SJP
Spring King . Tell Me If You Like To.
SK are all that’s good about the current punk scene. City is suitably shouty and distorted and pretty perfect. Also notable as being the last band I saw live before breaking my back. AS
Kate Tempest. Let Them Eat Chaos.
In a musical landscape of empty lyrics and repetitive riffs, Kate Tempest’s Let Them Eat Chaos is a ray of sunshine with her poetic words and hypnotic musical accompaniment. GM
Black Foxxes. I’m Not Well.
Black Foxxes prove all that they’re worth and so much more with an absolutely stunning debut. Every song is impactful, powerful, full of raw feeling that nobody else could mimic. An overarching sound of anthemic and strong textures is what sets this debut aside. NL
Architects. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us.
Pain, desperation and hope is what envelops the new Architects album. Metal grooves and exhilarating riffs are the perfect ways to indicate this. Elements that seem so distant from each other yet at the same time go hand in hand. NL
The Coral Distance Inbetween.
Their last album and a bit heavier than some of the iffy lightweight stuff which is a good thing. AS
Blink 182. California.
As somebody who wouldn’t (previously) necessarily classify themselves as a Blink 182 fan, California has beyond exceeded expectations. Catchy hooks are just the start. This time round band explore themes that are alien to their music and having Matt Skiba in the band has definitely helped this change sound more seamless. NL
Taking Back Sunday. Tidal Wave.
Taking Back Sunday have ditched emo entirely with their seventh studio album. The shift away from what people expect the band to sound like is a surprising change to fans, but one that they’ve been on board with accepting. NL
Shura. Nothing’s Real.
Manchester native Shura made waves in 2016 as she, in her words, “gave birth” to debut record Nothing’s Real. In a market saturated by synthpop, Shura’s debut stood head and shoulders above the rest, her synth-driven tracks backed by guitars but given room to breathe. KP
Testament. Brotherhood of the Snake.
Like a good wine, and unlike most of their contemporaries, Testament actually got better with age and Brotherhood of the Snake stayed true to their thrash metal roots. GM
Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression.
Strong, edgy, 100% real. Just as music should be. EK
Rolling Stones. Blue and Lonesome.
A return to their roots but played with respect and style. In an effort to produce a swan-song of influences they have probably, unintentionally, made their most commercial album in years. EK
Meshuggah. The Violent Sleep of Reason.
Hardcore is my guilty pleasure. I just really enjoyed the variety on this album. SS
You don’t have to be an electro-head to appreciate French duo Justice. The explosive blend of disco, dance, rock, funk and more is a delicious antidote to a year that most of us would rather forget. NG
Lemon Twigs. Do Hollywood.
Theatrical and glam, Liza Minnelli meets Todd Rundgren via Barry Manilow and Sparks…sort of. SJP
Steve Mason. Meet The Humans.
Steve Mason..who? Sometimes known as King Biscuit Time and more famously as the founder and singer of The Beta Band. You know?.. the Beta Band, insanely catchy tunes and full sound production. This is every bit as good. SJP
The Hyena Kill. Atomised.
This duo from Manchester were my musical revelation of 2016 and their album Atomised captures their raw ferocity, playful energy, and power perfectly. GM