…..well, not exactly. I loved a lot more but this covers mainly the new stuff, not the great standby stuff that gets bought out as needed or the numerous re-issues that I really needed, really.
To be clear, 2016 was a dirty ass dog of a year. Endless death and escalating volumes of stupid across the globe. Both of these probably contributed to my self burial in loud and distracting noise. Here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve enjoyed, no natural or unnatural listing or rating. It all worked when it was needed. Please feel free to ignore the words and click the links for the good stuff.
As Uncle Frank noted “Music Is The Best”.
Dinosaur Jr. – Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not
Probably the best of reborn DJ albums but I thought that about the last one. Loved the growing differences between Lou tunes & J tunes. Absolutely huge. On the lovely Jagjagwar label
Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
A real work of art. With such a big history and reputation to fall back on it’s a huge credit to Mr Osterberg that he doesn’t play on it. Still plainly dangerous though….
Swans – The Glowing Man
Following up last years ‘To Be Kind’ which was huge in itself with a 3 disc opus and notionally the last album by the band as it has been for the last few years. Coloured by accusations of impropriety and worse by M. Gira it remains a master work of meditative hard noise. Still the most intimidating live band I can remember seeing.
BJM – World Pyramid
Anton. Well, how many albums this year? 4 I think, this the last. Classic BJM psych plus twist, new EP in January so his absence of moss continues.
Exploded View – Exploded View
One of those brilliant Sacred Bones bands (SB definitely in my list of great indi labels). Echoes of Krautrock, Ambient, Dub, poetic intervention and above extra-national. Took me ages to bag a vinyl copy of this but so worth the wait.
Grey Hairs – Serious Business
Second album by not entirely past it local post-grunge band. The live outting of this was a banger. They easily deserve wider attention for this riffy lyrical noise fest.
Rattle – Rattle
Wonderful eponymous full album from another local band. Drum, percussion & vocal, thoughtfully played and avoiding all the drummer cliches. Really pleased that they got a lot of attention and played across Europe (well, over the channel at least). This one is great.
Soundwalk Collective – Killer Road
New York based experimentalist group, and yes, it was Patti Smith that bought me here. This gives voice to the poetry of Nico but extends beyond the words. One of those records were time stands still when its playing.
Wymond Miles – Call By Night
More from Sacred Bones. I think I clicked on a link and was sucked in. Its got it all, lyrical glam guitar pop done with style. Sounds heroic…
PrairieWWW – WuHai
Another label that never fails to deliver is Gurugurubrain, more from them follows.
“Prairie WWWW is an experimental folk band formed in Taipei, Taiwan in 2010. Its music combines poetry, folk, ambient and tribal elements. The band seeks inspiration from the might of nature, and with a mixture of sounds and visual arts in their performances, they manage to bring forward to their audiences the experience of their unique soundscape visually and aurally”.
Minami Deutsch – Miami Deutsch
Another Gurugurubrain band. Storming Krautrock inspired music.
“Their sound is influenced by both their love for Krautrock legends such as Can and Neu!, and the band members being self-professed “repetition freaks” who heavily listen to minimal techno.
The music proceeds straightforwardly with the Motorik beat (Hammer beat), devised by Klaus Dinger (Kraftwerk, Neu!), as its central axis. Humorous, yet bizarre Japanese lyrics are whispered over a hard, cold beat that is maniacally repeated, creating a pleasant ambience of electronic pulses drifting in space. Sharp guitar tones reminiscent of Michael Karoli (Can) occasionally explode into fuzz distortion, on the verge of collapse”.
Kikagaku Moyo – House In The Tall Grass
If they make a record, its on the list. Gurugurubrain again and the band that bought the label to my attention. This years album covers a lot more ground but they still rule when the groove settles in and the guitars freak out.
Declared self interest here. The diversity of music on this is outstanding, independent artists, unfettered creativity. The project was created to raise funds for the Merz Barn in Ambleside and many of the pieces are lead by thoughts relating to Dadaist artist Kurt Schwitters. It was great to be involved, contribute a couple of track and produce the cover art. Dive in, #5.00 for over 5 hours of music.
Scattered Purgatory – God of Silver Grass
More Gurugurubrain goodness. These brave guys dragged themselves into Nottingham for a very special gig at J. T. Soar.
“God of Silver Grass” is Taiwanese experimental duo, Scattered Purgatory’s second release from Guruguru Brain. On this album the drone music-makers delve deeper into their obsession with creating dark, ambient sounds, while adding new approaches to give spice to their intense, ritualistic music. In contrast to the magma-hot heaviness of the riffs on their previous record “Lost Ethnography of the Miscanthus Ocean”, “God of Silver Grass” coolly crystalizes into a whirl of icy synthesizer loops and improvisational guitar”.
Bob Dylan – Royal Albert Hall 1965
This may be a cheat but really, WTF. This is the real 1966 Royal Albert Hall concert rather than the other 1966 ‘Royal Albert Hall’ show which from Manchester Free Trade Hall. Stunning quality audio and pure fire from beginning to end. The Company released all of the 1966 shows on CD, an archivists wet dream, this particular show is the bomb.
Ex-Easter Island Head – 21 Strings
Another band with a local connection although they are from Liverpool. Unique and absorbing. We saw them in 2015 playing this music prior to recording. One of those big silly grin on your face before you noticed it was there bands, surprising and engrossing music that lifts the spirit.
Six By Seven – EX
EX is the most recent release from Six By Seven and the incredibly prolific Chris Olley. This a raw (that word again) Krautrock referencing record that was produced through a Kickstarter campaign. Chris is incredibly prolific and I follow his work as best as I can. In 2017 Beggars ArKive are releasing ‘The Closer You Get’ following last years Christmas chart storming ‘eat Junk, Become Junk’. I’m in…..
Glitterbust – Glitterbust
The ever inventive and never chasing the pop dollar Kim Gordon and her mid period not Body/Head project. Kim is the only ex Sonic Youth i’ve yet to see and I’m sure it’s worth the wait. Creatively I’ve feed on a lot of the Body/Head & Glitterbust work. Built on intent and atmosphere.
Twin Peaks OST
Another terrible cheat. This came out in 1990 with the first season, but it got a vinyl release in the Summer. It’s a thing of beauty and I don’t care if it’s not contemporary. New series in 2017 and I don’t doubt the musical aspect will blow socks off.
Cousin Silas & Glove of Bones – Ornithology
More despicable self interest. Of all the musical & creative things I’ve diddled with over the last couple of years, this one still feels disconnected because it came out so well. There was some thought to make a ‘dub’ album but it went beyond that. Cousin Silas is a wonderful human being and far more adept at this ‘making musical things’ business. A truly great thing to be involved with and a highlight of my creative year.
Van Der Graaf Generator – Do Not Disturb
It seems likely that this album will be the final VDGG album. None of them are young things any more but hat didn’t stop them making a record that extended their catalogue without repetition. PH’s voice is strong and the lyrical content unlike any other. I’m sure there will be ‘something’ more. One of those out side of a genre bands, linked to prog but really elsewhere.
Stranger Things OST
Netflix hit of the year with a really wonderful retro synth soundtrack. Demand out stripped supply and the vinyl was over a month late. Waiting for the second series whilst hiding behind the sofa. (The OST tracks keep getting removed so apologies if this doesn’t last)
Bob Mould – Patch The Sky
Gig highlight of the year and an album that may complete the trilogy of Silver Age & Beauty and Ruin. The meaty backline of amps on stage gave a good indication of the evening ahead. Bob played with the energy of a guy 20 years younger without any break for breath. Love the guy.
Squrl – Live at Third Man
Sqürl don’t release nearly enough music but what they do is precious and wondrous. Jim Jarmusch, Carter Logan, Shane Stoneback & Josef Van Wissum. The last big thing was the OST for ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ but this year they released a live set recordered at Third Man Records for Jack White. Perfect analogue production cut straight to vinyl master. Rich, resonant & loud as hell.
Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch
More from Sacred Bones. A recent acquisition although it came out in September. Artful and extreme in sound and lyric.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
If there was any hierarchy here this would juggle at the top. I’m a huge fan of Nick Cave and the Skeleton Tree was a highlight despite the sadness and pain embedded in it. Released just after the limited showing of ‘One More Time With Feeling’, a direct and painful making of and much more. This is an amazing song.
David Bowie – Blackstar
2016 was looking like a great year for music when the new Bowie album ‘Blackstar’ was announced at the end of 2015. The video was released, the excitement mounted, the album was a revelation, and then…… Stunned. Art as life. Hugely missed but thank you for the music Starman.
Brian Eno – the ship
This dropped in April and i’ve played more than I thought I might. Engrossing soundscapes and unexpected lyrical content including Peter Serafinowicz. Loved this Velvet Underground cover. Particularly beautiful packaging on this as well.
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
A five year gap between this and King of Limbs but worth the wait. Super duper special edition, the immaculate ‘True Love Waits’ and the storming opener ‘Burn The Witch’. A definite highlight.
Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker
Lenny was been writing about the darkness and long walk to the grave for years. ‘You Want it Darker?’ came out in October and at the time he indicated this may be his last album. Then in November the curse of ’16 struck again and he was gone. There’s a great article about him here which is worth a read. As dark and deep as it gets.
King Crimson – Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind
Closing with a little cheat. This live album came out this year but was mainly recorded of the previous couple of years. It includes every song performed by the band throughout their current three drummer seven headed Crim line up. This is the stunner ‘Starless’.
I hope you find something you either like or hadn’t heard up there.
A big shout out to Forever Records in Nottingham that helped me enjoy many of the above albums. best record shop in Notts easy.
MC& HNY. Bye bye 2016.