5. Minor Victories – Minor Victories: With members of Slowdive, Mogwai, and Editors – this super group’s debut album got OK reviews but it was an album that we loved front to back. “Folk Arp” is the standout with cinematic “The Thief” and Mark Kozelek feature on “For You Always” being among the other highlights. An instrumental version of the album is being released this January.
4. Solange – A Seat At The Table: When it comes to R and B, we’ve always been far more into the dancefloor ready rave-ups vs the quiet storm jams. Maybe its because we’re getting older and life is slower or its because Solange’s second album is just that good that on this one, we love all of it. “Cranes in the Sky” is a lovely track and the insistent stuttering beats of “Don’t You Wait” are solid. We haven’t heard the Beyonce album yet in full (for shame) but at least one Knowles sister caught our ear in 2016 and wouldn’t let go.
3. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate: The sophomore album from the London singer is a showstopper. After battling creative issues for the past few years, Kiwanuka blasts out of the doldrums with two instant classics in Cold Little Heart and A Black Man In A White World. Elsewhere – the title track and One More Night both shine. We are behind the times as Kiwanuka’s first album passed us by but we’re glad we caught up to him on this gritty soul classic.
2. Laura Gibson – Empire Builder: Reading review for Gibson’s fourth album was the first time we had actually heard of her or remember hearing of her. Glad we did – “Damn Sure” rated high on our tracks of the year while the title track is simply beautiful. A sharp, smart lyricist – Gibson is able to catch a range of human emotions. After reading about her journeys and education pursuits we think we like her even more.
1. Angel Olsen – My Woman: Our favourite album of 2016 starts off with the synth drone of “Intern”, contains the giddy rock of “Shut Up Kiss Me” and features an epic centrepiece in “Sister”. There’s a few artist that just seem like “ours” and Olsen is one of them. While her albums aren’t quite as great as the first few Liz Phair ones from the 90s, that is who she reminds us of. A talented songwriter that keeps getting better, we can’t wait to see where Angel Olsen goes next.
4. Gwenno – Y Dydd Olaf (album): Formerly of The Pipettes, 2015 saw the re-release of Gwenno’s debut album all in her native tongue of Welsh. We’ve yet to pick up the Super Furry Animal’s Mwng so this was our first introduction to the wonders of the Welsh language (other than a night on the tiles in Cardiff all those years ago). Gwenno’s vocals sound like they could have been recorded in the 60s while the digital undertones don’t sound dissimilar to Broadcast. Lead track “Chwyldro” and the hushed vocals of “Golau Aall” are just two of the many highlights.
3. Cold War Kids – First (song): On our old radio show, Cold War Kids’ “We Used to Vacation” got played quite a bit. The rest of the album wasn’t the greatest so they fell out of favour until we heard this coming from the girlfriend’s iPhone. Having been released in 2014, “First” keeps popping up in TV shows and movies thereby being discovered by another batch of music fans every few months. We weren’t the first to say how great this song is and I’m sure we won’t be the last.
2. The Rolling Stones – She’s a Rainbow (song): Late in 2015 we bought a pile of discs from The Rolling Stones so having been dipping into them here and there since then. Not knowing many of the songs from 1967’s album Their Satanic Majesties Request, when we finally listened, we fell in love instantly with “She’s A Rainbow”. A shouty, happy delight with a piano that always seems to need winding up before it gets going, this is the Stones at their most poppy.
1. Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (album): We’ve been reading about Isbell for a few years and after seeing his fifth studio album riding high on so many 2015 year end charts, we finally gave it a spin. Glad we did. “24 Frames” is an instant classic with “How To Forget” and “Children of Children” close behind. We didn’t do a year-end list last year but if we did one today, Jason Isbell would be very close to the top.
Lush – Chorus: Two years ago, Lush would not have been the first band we thought of for a boxset collection but early in 2016, get one we did. The storybook style CD case contained all three albums + the Gala and Topolino compilations. Alongside those albums came a pile of BBC sessions, remixes and rarities. Around here, “Sweetness and Light” still gets regular rotation and the first five songs from Split contain the same rush of excitement as it did back in 1994. Now if someone could do the same for the Curve collection we’d appreciate it.
10. Dana Falconberry – Palmless
09. Casket Girls – Day To Day
08. Lana Del Rey – West Coast (Stint Remix)
07. War On Drugs – Under The Pressure
06. Tomas Barfod ft. Nina K – Pulsing
05. The Notwist – Kong
04. Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
03. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
02. St. Vincent – Digital Witness
01. OK Go – The Writing’s On The Wall
05. FKA Twigs – LP1
04. Marissa Nadler – July
03. First Aid Kit – Gold
02. A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent
01. St. Vincent – St. Vincent