As you might know, me and Karl have been undertaking our albums of the year countdown on the blog Facebook page. Well, to make it easier for you to keep up we are going to post our picks in groups of ten here, starting with numbers 30 to 21.
30: Weezer – “Weezer”
The California kings came back into form with this solid record full of stirring anthems and the occasional ballad. During a time where guitar music is stagnating, Rivers Cuomo reminded us all that if you combine catchy hooks with a big guitar sound, rock music can still sound good. Yeah, it’s not moving the genre forward, but Weezer has never been about that. Long live power pop I say!!
29: Chance the Rapper – “Coloring Book”
After his solid “Acid Rap” mixtape in 2013, Chicago’s best Chance the Rapper returned with “Coloring Book” this year. This is hip hop like you’ve never heard it before. There is a gospel choir, horns, soul hooks, and all-star features from some of the best names in the game. It was an ambitious project from the 23-year-old, but he oozes confidence and no doubt his impending debut album will have a lot to live up to.
28: Beyonce – “Lemonade:
Beyonce is hands down the queen of music and she showed why again this year with her visual album “Lemonade”. The film was quite simply amazing and perhaps even leapfrogged “Thriller” to become the best ever long-form “music film”. The music was just as good, and showcased Beyonce’s versatility as an artist, with the album moving around stylistically from soul to rock and even country. This album should probably win album of the year at the Grammy’s if it wasn’t for that other music Queen from the UK.
27: SWIDT – “SWIDT vs Everybody”
Onehunga’s finest were let loose on the world this year with their fantastic debut album. Led by the effervescent rapping of Spycc + INF and some solid production by the talented SmokeyGotBeatz, this album had a distinctly local flavor referencing Onehunga itself, or should I say “Stoneyhunga”, and the local bus route 312. The crews humorous and non-serious take on hip-hop also gained them wider attention and award nominations at this year’s music awards. Watch for them to continue their rise next year as these guys are just getting started.
26: Kendrick Lamar – “Untitled Unmastered”
It has been a quiet year for Kendrick by his standards, but then again what could top 2015. However, he did release an album of outtakes from the “To Pimp a Butterfly” sessions in the form of “Untitled Unmastered”. This was a solid release by the world’s best hip-hop artist where he experimented with more jazz and even Bossa nova. This guy doesn’t stay quiet for long, and given the political climate we now live in, I forecast another release soon.
25: Merk – “Swordfish”
New Zealand music has had a great year and it is because of artists like this guy. Merk is a musician from Tauranga who has just released his first album “Swordfish” and it is a stunner. The music channels the likes of Weezer and Supergrass, and the songs give off a great indie guitar pop vibe. In an age where guitar music has been stagnating, albums like this give me hope that a renaissance could be around the corner. I look forward to seeing where he takes this.
24: ScHoolboy Q – “Blank Face LP”
Whoa!! What can you say about this album? This is aggressive hip-hop like perhaps only Danny Brown can match this year. The production is ferocious, the features on point, including solid efforts from Anderson Paak and Jadakiss, while Q proves yet again he is one of the best rappers going around. The only downside is that they didn’t keep the original album cover of the blind crying Michael Jordan meme. Oh, what could have been.
23: Mick Jenkins – “The Healing Component”
Despite being around for a while this is Chicago rapper (yes another one) Mick Jenkins first album. He of course until now has been riding that mixtape wave along with many other rappers. I decided to dive into Jenkins after hearing he was on the Laneway bill, and with this album, I am so glad I did. His style on this record is definitely down-tempo and the tracks are quite mysterious both lyrically and production-wise, setting him apart from other more aggressive rappers. The icing on the cake of this record was his collaborations with other 2016 favorites Noname and BadBadNotGood.
22: Glass Animals – “How To Be a Human Being”
If there was an award for the quirkiest album of the year then “How To Be a Human Being” by Oxford indie pop band Glass Animals would probably win. This album is so fun and you can’t help but smile when you listen to its bouncy psychedelic pop. The overall sound of the album reminds me of the likes of Super Furry Animals and the Flaming Lips, however, at the same time, it is distinctly them. They have developed a wide following this year playing festivals such as Coachella and Glastonbury, and if this album is anything to go by, then they will be well worth seeing at Albert Park in January.
21: The Avalanches – “Wildflower”
Australian group The Avalanches returned with their first album in 16 years this year and boy oh boy was the wait worth it. “Wildflower” is a stunning comeback from the guys and compliments their first album “Since I Left You” so well. From the bombastic beginnings of “Because I’m Me” to the smoothness of “Subways” this album had plenty of variety throughout, while its quirkiness was seen through both the samples used and the cameo feature appearance from Danny Brown and MF Doom. If this is anything to go by, one can only hope the wait is not as long for the next Avalanches release.
You can follow the next ten additions of our countdown (20-11) on our Facebook page. Check back here in ten days for the next list.