BarryGruff Albums of the Year (2016)

barrygruff-albums-of-2016

Yes. It is that time of year again, lists, lists and more lists. Well, not be out done, here are my 13 (lucky for some) albums of 2016.

There was lots of great music in 2016 but I decided to keep it to a short list this year. Also, I’m hoping the festive period will provide some time to catch up on some records I’ve missed throughout the year, so feel free to recommend some listening material.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2016:

There is also a Spotify playlist of all the albums, to save you time and hassle, and it is here.

13. Amber Arcades – ‘Fading Lines’

Amber Arcades‘ – Dutch-born musician Annelotte de Graaf – debut album is a dazzling blend of ‘60s tinged psych, lush jangly guitars, floating pop melodies and an abundance of propulsive, hypnotic krautrocky moments. [Listen here]

12. Tuff Love – ‘Resort’

Glaswegian scuzz-pop aficionados Tuff Love, combine a terrific trilogy of EPs into an LP of dazzling, fuzzy indie pop with sugar-sweet melodies and crunching choruses and shoegazey guitars galore. [Listen here]

11. Underworld – ‘Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future’

A first proper Underworld record in half a decade, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith deliver a stomping electronic record that is up there with the best of their work. [Listen here]

10. The Coral – ‘Distance Inbetween’

Distance Inbetween – their eighth LP and first in over five years – saw The Coral rediscover their roots, mojo and discover their dark side and add a harder edge to their brand of psychedelic indie. It’s an evolution of the Wirral five piece’s sound into a cohesive, weird and imaginative psych-rock record, and one that grows with time. [Listen here]

09. Mr Huw – ‘Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr’

Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr is album number five from one of Wales’ finest, Mr. Huw and with it, he has delivered an irresistible set of inventive, electrifying indie. Sang in his native tongue, these are melodic songs with a spiky edge. Post-punk riffs and snappy drum-machine punctuate infectious pop melodies, mild psychedelic leanings and Huw’s affable Welsh lilt. A magnificent collection of soul consuming tunes which provide proof if proof be needed, that we should never underestimate the power of great music to overcome a small matter, like a language barrier. [Listen here]

08. Jinx Lennon – ‘Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets’

2016 saw Jinx Lennon return with two new albums – Past Pupil Stay Sane and Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets – with each offering distinctly different brilliance. Magic Bullets… is the pick of the pair but in fairness, both find the folk punk poet at his uncompromising best. Recorded with Liverpool experimentalists Clinic, it is a collection of instantly catchy tunes that boasts a meatier, more beat-driven sound, combined with Jinx’s raw truths kicking back against the humdrum bullshit of modern life. Jinx Lennon is a unique talent, a national treasure to be exact and this is him at his inherently brilliant best. [Listen here]

07. Unloved – ‘Guilty of Love’

Spearheaded by the legendary Belfast producer David Holmes, Unloved are Holmes, composer Keefus Ciancia and songwriter-vocalist Jade Vincent. The trio share a fondness for 60’s girl groups and classic film scores, to which they explore on Guilty of Love, with spellbinding results. The album is a beautifully crafted collection of haunting, dramatic and evocative atmospheric sounds tempered by a deliciously retro ’60s vibe and rich, smoky vocals. A record of of breath-taking beauty and one that is up there with Holmes’ best work to date. [Listen here]

06. Steve Mason – ‘Meet The Humans’

Unlike Mason‘s previous two excellent solo records – Boys Outside and Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time – which were often very dark, angry and confrontational, Meet the Humans is overwhelmed by warmth, beauty and emanates a powerful sense emotional resolution. Filled with personal, political and redemptive themes, Meet The Humans is buoyed by the weightlessness of hopefulness and in truth, it feels like a big, warm hug from an old pal. Glorious experimental indie. [Listen here]

05. CaStLeS – ‘Fforesteering’

North Walian trio CaStLeS delivered one of the finest debut records you’re likely to hear this year, or any other. With ‘Fforesteering’ they spliced together psychedelic surf rock, blues and mildly dancey, kraut-rock grooves with sweet, sweet vocals harmonies, crafting a unique sonic brew of irresistible grooves laced with psych riffs and hypnotic reverb soaked melodies. A swirling, melodious and harmonious infusion that sits somewhere between Django Django, the Beach Boys, Os Mutantes and Ennio Morricone. Stunning. [Listen here]

04. Teleman – ‘Brilliant Sanity’

The London four-piece’s debut showed Teleman as a force to be reckoned with; no one can eek out that sweet spot between pop and indie, so splendidly well. Like its predecessor, second album ‘Brilliant Sanity’ showcases their brilliance for crafting an immaculate pop song and is filled with easily digested, infectious motorik indie songs. Opener ‘Dusseldorf’ captures the album’s essence perfectly with its propulsive rhythm, stabbing synths, guitar hooks, soaring harmonies and Sanders’ trademark spiky vocals. A note of caution: so terrifically catchy are these songs, they will be embedded in your head for days. [Listen here]

03. Oh Boland – ‘Spilt Milk’

Galway trio Oh Boland have been one of the brightest talents to emerge in recent years and their debut LP, ‘Spilt Milk’ delivers on all the promise (and more). It is a masterclass in raw, noisy garage pop that is ragged but irresistible, blasts of lo-fi goodness. The album trashes, screeches and rumbles rumbustiously along, but brash as it is, it is supremely catchy and mashed with earworm hooks. Here in lies the brilliance of their sound, traversing the space between brash and beautifully catchy. Oh Boland create something unique and special, perfection through imperfection if you will. Just superb. [Listen here]

02. Cate Le Bon – ‘Crab Day’

Cate Le Bon is a treasure. The Welsh artist is the kind that is difficult to box-off with a taste for offbeat folk but an equal a propensity for psych – something fully realised on album number four, ‘Crab Day’. This genre defiant sound is equally unique and strange; the oddity, jarring arrangements and musical whimsy probably wouldn’t resonate so much were it not for the moments of melodic sweetness threaded through. Le Bon’s powerfully versatile – and somewhat haunting – creative voice is a constant through swaying, acrobatic guitar fuzz or off-kilter keys and general oddity. An album which dazzles and delights with a boundless imaginative versatility. [Listen here]

01. Czarface – ‘A Fistful of Peril’

‘A Fistful of Peril’ is the third instalment from Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric’s collaborative project, Czarface; and the trio serve up a record every bit as good as album one & two. Like it’s predecessors, this is action-packed, hard-hitting and compelling superhero inspired hip-hop. Quite nostalgic and colourful, the beats pack a bounce, the production – cut with all manner of superhero-sampling – is precise and the wordplay is slick, as razor-sharp lines are traded. This is Czarface at their finest, to be fair, the trio don’t do anything other than exceptional. [Listen here]

 

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