Monday, January 2, 2017

Favorite albums of 2016

To the joy of my 2 (maybe 3) fans, I give thee my top albums of the year.

First, Nine Inch Nails little EP "Not The Actual Events" (just released last week) will likely end up being my long-time love,  But, it is only 4 1/2 songs; and, I haven't really had time to absorb it.

On that subject, The Strokes released some throw away music from earlier sessions "Future Present Past" which is certainly better than most of the music released this year.

Which leads to this musing...2016 will not go down as one of the great moments in musical history.  I hope that is just a blip, but one never knows with today's blather of pedestrian verse (yes, that is a direct slam on Frightened Rabbit...a prior year top group).

It was so bad that I decided to give it all up for 10 days of nothing but Morrissey/Smiths in December...just to prove to myself that I was right.  Still, my electronic playlists had lots of plays. Ergo, I must have loved something.

My list is organized into the categories that exist in my brain.

- Classics who can do no wrong, but outdid themselves -

Strange Little Birds, Garbage
Super, Pet Shop Boys
Girl At The End Of The World, James
Breakin' Point, Peter Bjorn and John

From the over processed guitars and Shirley's vocals, Garbage is still loud and raucous.  I'll be listening to this PSB album the rest of my life (along with everything else they've ever done!).  James are by far the most under-appreciated band.  Once again, they sing songs of themselves and put together a fantastic album.  Maybe most surprising is PB&J.  I've never loved an album of theirs this much, and they gave one of the best live performances of my year at Music Midtown.  

- Knowles Sisters - 

The Altar, Banks
A Seat At The Table, Solange
Lemonade, Beyonce

O.K.  I know Banks is not a Knowles.  However, her album grooves and moves just like the sisters.  At the end of the day, I probably liked Solange a little more for now, but I bet Bey will be listened to more often throughout my life.  There is just something intoxicating about wondering what is wrong with Jay-Z.  She's Beyonce dude...behave and treat her with some respect (or call Becky).

- Pop Music - 

Conscious, Broods
All I Need, Foxes
Love You To Death, Tegan and Sara
I Like It When You Sleep, for you are so beautiful and yet aware of it, The 1975
Everything You've come to Expect, The Last Shadow Puppets

This broad category is all over the place.  Broods are the type of music to which I am naturally drawn...slightly darker and electronic.  Tegan and Sara are getting close to being in the first category.  The Last Shadow Puppets put together such smooth, sexy, "baroque" rock (I love this term "baroque" for them, but it is not a KLF original!).  Alex Turner gets to croon instead of the more bombastic A.M.  I'm sure someone of my musical taste is not supposed to like Foxes or The 1975, but I admit to it.  Both albums are loaded with great songs.  It is hard not to sing along, as you drive down the road.

M.I.A. is the most important album of this bunch and probably the most played in my playlist.  (I do want to be her and have this control over sounds and words!)

"Freedom, 'I'dom, 'Me'dom. Where's your 'We'dom?"

- Beyond whatever anyone else seems to be able to create -

A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead

The only album from 2016 that I consider masterful is A Moon Shaped Pool.  Mesmerizing is probably the best word to describe it.  Honestly, I can listen to the album and find clever sounds and shifts every time (even after about 480 times!).  The textures hover over quiet guitar rifts that are just magical.

Of course I knew from reviews that this was Thom's "break-up" album, as he separated from his long time partner and mother of his 2 kids. What I didn't learn until December was that his ex was suffering and dying of cancer.  (She passed away on December 18.)   Songs that had already touched me personally in one way suddenly took on even more poignancy.

"And in your life, there comes the darkness
This spacecraft blocking out the sky

And there's nowhere to hide"