The 2016 Album of the Year

Kaytranada, 99.9% (XL) I had a budding listener-artist relationship with Kaytranada all year long, which grew from mild curiosity to full-on obsession, as well as with a very strong connection to a couple of massive events in my life. It all started with Katy B’s track “Honey”, which came out early in the year. It […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #2

2. Drive-By Truckers, American Band (ATO) American popular culture has a terrible history of burying its head in the sand during troubled times. In the wake of 1968, one of the most turbulent years of the 20th century, the most popular song in the United States was the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar”. During the Gulf War the […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #3

3. Leonard Cohen, You Want it Darker (Sony) A couple years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about whose musician’s death would affect me the most. After some thinking I mentioned Leonard Cohen, because his songwriting has had a major impact on my life as a music listener since the early-‘90s. In […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #4

4. Metallica, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct (Blackened) A few months ago it dawned on me that I have not thoroughly loved a Metallica studio album, from start to finish, since 1988. Nearly 30 years. Time flies, I tell you. They’re still a band that’s very near and dear to me – though my naming S&M my 1999 […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #5

5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed) After making a career of making music about the darker side of life and spirituality, Nick Cave was dealt the darkest hand a parent could possibly get: the death of one’s child. In July 2015 his 15 year-old son Arthur accidentally fell off a […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #6

6. David Bowie, Blackstar (ISO) How often does a major artist have an opportunity to create a work that they are fully aware will very likely be their swan song? As sad as it was for the world to lose David Bowie at the age of 69 in early January, it felt so perfect for […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #7

7. Jenny Hval, Blood Bitch (Sacred Bones) A year after the brilliant Apocalypse, girl, an album that held me spellbound like few other records in 2015, Norwegian artist Jenny Hval returned with a sixth album that turned out to be even darker and more confrontational than before, yet at the same time, displaying a pop […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #8

8. Tove Lo, Lady Wood (Universal) With Queen of the Clouds catapulting Swedish singer Tove Lo to the cusp of global stardom – and rightfully so, as it remains one of the smartest pop albums of this decade – you had to wonder what she and her producers would attempt on the hotly anticipated follow-up. […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #9

9. Black Mountain, IV (Dine Alone) Did I ever miss Black Mountain. In the Future was one of my favourite albums of 2008, and one of the best of that decade, frankly, while 2010’s Wilderness Heart was a cool little departure that steadily grew on me. It was hard to believe six years had gone […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #10

10. Jessy Lanza, Oh No (Hyperdub) Jessy Lanza quietly made a name for herself in 2013 by signing to UK tastemaker label Hyperdub and releasing the beguiling Pull My Hair Back. Her sense of simultaneous detachment and playfulness made for an engrossing debut album, while on her spellbinding follow-up the music sounds broader, more vibrant, […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #11

11. Meshuggah, The Violent Sleep of Reason (Nuclear Blast) The sheer force of Meshuggah’s music shouldn’t be inimitable in this day and age, especially when young nerdy musicians have all the effects and recording techniques they could ever need at their disposal. Yet for all the bands that mimic the complex, churning sound of the […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #12

12. Katy B, Honey (Virgin EMI) A big reason why I loved Katy B’s 2014 album Little Red so much was because it came on the heels of a debut that was a minor cult hit and swung for the fences. It tried to establish Kathleen Brian as the next Adele, and while “Crying For No […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #13

13. Opeth, Sorceress (Roadrunner) The winding musical journey of Mikael Åkerfeldt continues to make its way through classic progressive rock on Opeth’s 12th album, which undoubtedly annoyed plenty of fans who wish he’d return to the doomy death metal of old. His decision to walk away from what fans wanted and toward what he wanted […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #14

14. Perturbator, The Uncanny Valley (Blood Music) It’s surreal how synthwave has not only become cool – it’s now in very high demand by horror filmmakers – but also how it’s crossed over into the metal scene. Granted metal has always had its toes dipped into the classic soundtracks by Goblin, Popol Vuh, and John […]

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The Best Albums of 2016, #15

15. Andy Shauf, The Party (Arts & Crafts) Man, was I a fool to ever wonder if Andy Shauf was a little overrated. That was before The Party came out, and over the course of nearly the entire year, this cozy little concept album wriggled more and more into my subconscious. The best thing to […]

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