drfindley's Top Albums of 2016

Discussion in 'Music and Recordings' started by drfindley, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    As part of my record buying binge, I bought many of the top recommended albums of the year. I also bought several recommendations, many of the follow up records to bands I enjoy and some random ones because the artwork looked awesome.

    Below is my ranking and it's deeply subjective. I have a preference for a complicated rhythm and if you have clever or important lyrics but boring music, I'm not very interested. I couldn't be more in love with Radiohead and I'm a bit kind to artists like Joseph Arthur who seem to speak to me and and it seems not many else.

    I've listened to every album at least twice. There are several which demand a more listens (Preoccupations, Paul Simon, Car Seat Headrest, Alcest, Opeth, Steven Wilson) and I may change my take on them more listening sessions.


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    1. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

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    2. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

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    3. David Bowie ‎– ★ (Blackstar)

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    4. Alcest ‎– Kodama

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    5. James Blake ‎– The Colour In Anything

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    6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Skeleton Tree

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    7. Leonard Cohen - You Want it Darker

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    8. Sturgill Simpson ‎– A Sailor's Guide To Earth

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    9. Jóhann Jóhannsson ‎– Orphée

    10. Moonface & Siinai ‎– My Best Human Face
    11. Kjartan Sveinsson ‎– Der Klang Der Offenbarung Des Göttlichen
    12. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive
    13. Aphex Twin ‎– Cheetah EP
    14. Car Seat Headrest ‎– Teens of Denial
    15. RNDM ‎– Ghost Riding
    16. Paul Simon ‎– Stranger To Stranger
    17. Steven Wilson ‎– 4½
    18. The Avalanches ‎– Wildflower
    19. Opeth ‎– Sorceress
    20. Joseph Arthur ‎– The Family
    21. Seasick Steve ‎– Keepin' The Horse Between Me And The Ground
    22. John K. Samson ‎– Winter Wheat
    23. Mogwai ‎– Atomic
    24. Julianna Barwick ‎– Will
    25. DIIV ‎– Is The Is Are
    26. Preoccupations ‎– Preoccupations
    27. Michael Kiwanuka ‎– Love & Hate
    28. Red Hot Chili Peppers ‎– The Getaway
    29. Wilco ‎– Schmilco
    30. Norah Jones ‎– Day Breaks
    31. LNZNDRF ‎– LNZNDRF
    32. Angel Olsen ‎– My Woman
    33. Explosions In The Sky ‎– The Wilderness
    34. Låpsley ‎– Long Way Home
    35. Kishi Bashi ‎– Sonderlust
    36. The Invisible ‎– Patience
    37. Band Of Horses ‎– Why Are You Ok
    38. Drive-By Truckers ‎– American Band
    39. Amos Lee ‎– Spirit
    40. Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop ‎– Love Letter For Fire
    41. Jóhann Jóhannsson ‎– Arrival (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
     
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  2. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    Trends for 2016


    Death:

    What a rough year it was for the loss of legendary musicians. Two greats, Bowie and Cohen left us with heartbreaking album that captured them coming to terms with their loss. Nick Cave also gave us an album that captured the feelings of the loss of his son and Thom Yorke and Radiohead gave us an album captures the loss his 20+ year partner. It's always amazed me how the emotions of loss have given way to some of the most evocative and emotionally resonate music I've heard. What also produces a great record is capturing a spiritual journey, which Bon Iver captured beautifully. Bowie, Cohen and Nick Cave also feel like they've gone through a spiritual journey, albeit quite a different one.

    The lost year:

    It seems as though music has been rather directionless since around 2010 when the indie folk sound kinda died out. In the late 2000s, we were gifted with fantastic music from The National, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine and The White Stripes to name a few. Since then, very few artists feel as anchored and purposed as they did in the 2000s. It seems like music is waiting for the next wave, like Nirvana or Led Zeppelin to propel music forward but instead we're just stuck in a similar sound. Artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wilco and Band of Horses dove into a new sound and in many ways succeeded, but failed to produce anything meaningful. Aphex Twin and Paul Simon seem to have been the most successful at capturing a new sound. Music seems deeply lost and I'm wondering what album will come out of nowhere and realign the industry.

    Play it again Sam:

    Without a new direction to go, many artists decided to return to what was working for them and produce another album in the same vein. Alcest returned to an older sound, James Blake only slightly evolved, Moonface sounds delightfully like Spencer Krug and The Avalanches returned after 16 years to with a similar formula. There were several artists such as Explosions in the Sky, Amos Lee, Sam Beam and Norah Jones that returned to their sound, but the it failed to resonate as well as their previous albums.
     
  3. jowls

    jowls Something related to poop - Friend

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    Awesome list!

    D.D Dumbo would replace the Alcest album in my personal top 5 though.
     
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  4. Rotijon

    Rotijon Friend

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    Damn, what happened to the VPI?

    I'm a big bon iver fan, but im not too sure about his new album.
     
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  5. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    It's quite different. And "strangely" recorded. I'm not sure about it either.
     
  6. DigMe

    DigMe Geekus Imperator

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    I've felt the same about Bon Iver. It's, at times, a very challenging listen and I'm definitely not one to shy away from experimental sounds in music. It hasn't caught my ear like some previous BI. Orphée has been in heavy rotation for me since it's release. Have you listened much to And In the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees? It's prob my favorite Jóhannsson album.

    From the list I've also listened to Moon Shaped Pools quite a bit.

    It seems like Sturgill Simpson is quite popular with folks who aren't necessarily into country music. What draws you to his sound?
    I quite enjoy Willie Nelson and some classic Texas country guys but SS hasn't really grabbed me in the little bit I've heard.
     
  7. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Someone give this man a blog!
     
  8. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    I'm trying to be open minded and enjoy the new Bon Iver again today. But it's mostly a forced effort. It just doesn't speak to me like the earlier recordings.
     
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  9. a44100Hz

    a44100Hz Friend

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    The vocal effects are distracting to the point of being annoying, and I like hectic music (think breakcore). This effect seems to be worse with better gear.
     
  10. DigMe

    DigMe Geekus Imperator

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    Honestly I wonder if recording several songs with Kanye was an influence on his vocal effects.

    To me the pinnacle of any recorded Bon Iver performance is the Bon Iver at Air studios recording on YouTube. Wish that was available in a true high res recording.
     
  11. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    Yeah, it's very different, but I've been blown away by the amount of soul he put into it, hidden behind his vocoder thingy.

    It may have gotten replaced by an EAR turntable. Don't worry, the VPI went to a good home :)
     
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  12. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    I'll give it a listen, I'm always up for new music.
     
  13. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    I haven't yet! I've been digging into the whole Icelandic/Scandinavian music scene a bit with Olafur and Nils Frahm as well. I'll give this a listen.

    Yeah, I don't like most country, but there are some exceptions, Willie Nelson and Jason Isbell being among them. It wasn't specifically the music style, but there was a lot of soul in what he was doing and several songs had a good bluesy sound to them. Also, I just remember coming away with a big grin after listening. I think it comes more alive on vinyl though.
     
  14. drfindley

    drfindley Secretly lives in the Analog Room - Friend

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    With Bon Iver, I think if you stop looking to hear a human voice or to hear a pure instrument and just kinda let the sounds wash over you, it helps to start to feel what he's doing. But yes, don't expect it to be in the same class as For Emma, Long Ago.

    It was probably easier for me as I've jumped deep into the weird sounds rat hole. I absolutely love Radiohead's King of Limbs and think it's a brilliant work, but I know I'm in a very small minority there.
     
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  15. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    I think the Bon Iver album is pretty good. Best bit in my opinion is the song construction and arrangement, I love stuff that constantly shifts and evolves in counterpoint between lots of elements. It has this manic formal energy, reminds me a bit of Beethoven piano sonatas.

    Production quality is way up from the previous albums. He has always gone for interesting production effects but I thought on prior records they sounded a bit lacklustre on better systems. This one is super slick and well realised.

    My main criticism is that I felt that a bunch of the songs don't get enough space to work out the ideas they contain. They feel sort of like sketches or studies.
     
  16. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Real World Records, Peter Gabriel's label; JA is strongly influenced by PG as well.

    You might be interested in some of the other Real World artists, e.g. Martyn Bennett (Grit), The Portico Quartet

    P.S. loved the writeup!
     
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  17. DigMe

    DigMe Geekus Imperator

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    Coincidentally I was at the local coffee shop yesterday and they had Sturgill Simpson playing on vinyl. Wasn't a good system though. a lot of hipsters seem to be into him.

    My 9-year-old somehow came across Brad Paisley's version of Away in a Manger a couple of years ago and for a while would request it often. It became a song that made me smile as well.. A really great classic country sound with just-right pedal steel and a nice rhythmic quality. I tried to listen to some of Paisley's other work but... No.

    Willie is such an icon and he grew up just down the freeway from here. When I was a kid I once saw him sitting in the back of an old car parked at a liquor store. Many Texans are intensely prideful of and attached to him in a universal sort of way that transcends his various political POV's that might be divisive in less iconic characters. It will practically be a state holiday here probably when he dies.
     
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  18. DigMe

    DigMe Geekus Imperator

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    And to bring it back full circle Peter Gabriel has an album called Scratch My Back and I'll Scratch Yours where he does a cover of a various artists' songs and each of those artists covers one of his songs. He covers Bon Iver's Flume and Bon Iver covers Come Talk to Me.
     
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  19. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    Nice list. Surprised to not see more jazz and world music, given your stated preference for complex rhythms.
     
  20. jowls

    jowls Something related to poop - Friend

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