What David did, what David's done and what David is going to do.
About that time! We’ve already dug into the songs that have made 2016 what it was, but what of the albums they came from? Who showed the long-player enough love to earn all 33 1/3 of their revolutions? Let’s find out.
As always, DISCLAIMER: This is not a list of the most popular albums, nor is it a list curated by anyone except myself. These are, in my view, the best songs of the year. Disagreement and discussion is welcomed, but ultimately if you have any real issues with any albums that are ranked too low, too high or not at all… make your own list!
– DJY, December 2016
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Weak Boys – Weak Boys II, Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings, Dangers – The Bend in the Break, Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, Ngaiire – Blastoma, Swans – The Glowing Man, Ball Park Music – Every Night the Same Dream, Against Me! – Shape Shift with Me, Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered., Xenia Rubinos – Black Terry Cat, Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust, Somos – First Day Back, Ladyhawke – Wild Things, Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate, Weezer – Weezer, Mitski – Puberty 2, Sarah Jarosz – Undercurrent, Bruno Mars – 24k Magic.
Surely they should be getting tired by now. That’s what one thinks to themselves as Every Time I Die – some 20 years and eight full-lengths album into the game – mercilessly tear through yet another blinding assault of heaving guitars, blood-splattering breakdowns and Keith Buckley’s unrelenting vocal belligerence. The Buffalo natives still buffalo every and all watchers of their throne, running circle pits around bands half their age and leaving challengers coughing in their dust. As the last riff rings out of the amp, the band stand tall – unphased; ready to go another eight rounds. Bring it on.
THREE TOP TRACKS: It Remembers, The Coin Has a Say, Glitches.
49. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
This may be the end of the band at the core of chaotic metalcore, but it should come as no surprise Dillinger chose not to go quietly into the good night. Rather, they lobbed in Dissociation as a final quarter three-pointer – a career-best effort from a band that kept listeners guessing right up until their final moments.. The rage is maintained, but so too is the band’s attention to detail and relentless energy – on more than one occasion, the build to a fever pitch only to push past it entirely. So long, and thanks for all the head-walking.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Dissociation, Symptom of Terminal Illness, Honeysuckle.
48. Drake – Views
The king of Toronto looks out among the masses. His cup empty, his castle desolate, he ponders how he got here – and how long he’ll be able to stay there. As Aubrey Graham arrives in his 30s, he looks to his city and to his accomplishments in order to calibrate and ascertain his next move. Views is a record that is at times exhausting and convoluted, but that’s what being a fan of Drake beyond his moments atop Spotify charts is all about. Dig deep enough and you’ll find what you’re looking for. It can only mean one thing.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Controlla, Too Good, One Dance.
47. DJ Snake – Encore
With “Turn Down for What,” the Lil Jon-assisted chart-topping club smash, DJ Snake arrived with all the subtlety of a swinging hammer. He could well have disappeared into a dead-meme wormhole, but instead the French producer took the completely unexpected route: he became perhaps the single most influential figure in modern EDM this side of Diplo. His pop-drop warped vocal hooks are all over radio and the charts, but all the ones that don’t belong to him are essentially biting at his arse. Encore is 2016’s ultimate party album – and this Snake is on a whole different motherfucking plane.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Sahara, Let Me Love You, Middle.
46. Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
They grow up so quick, don’t they. Only a few years ago, Ariana Grande was pop’s Sandra D – cute, flirty and fun. With Dangerous Woman, the cat ears were gone and Grande rocked up to the fairgrounds in a leather jacket and heels. Alright, maybe it wasn’t that glaring a transition – but it should be noted how far Grande has come in a relatively short period of time. After a couple of albums with great singles and more than their fair share of filler, the consistency of Dangerous is not something to be discredited. She’s never sounded better.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Side to Side, Into You, Be Alright.
Sukhdeep Singh is one of the most engaging, intelligent figures in Australian music – and, for the last few years, he’s also been one of the most consistently underrated and overlooked. Thankfully, it was the latter that changed this year, with his second LP Become breaking through to a wider audience and giving Singh the recognition he deserves. Whether dismantling institutionalised racism or celebrating his ancestors, L-Fresh makes music that’s immediately compelling and thought-provoking. Become is the most self-assured and confident Singh has ever sounded. It’s this fire in the belly that keeps the album burning from start to finish.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Hold Up, Get Mine, Pray for Me.
A portrait of the artist as a young, confused, vulnerable being. June Jones is at the helm of the stunning debut from this Melburnian art-rock trio, oft-painted as the protagonist of her own tales and occasionally even alluded to in the third person. She laments quietly, screams loudly and weaves in stories of identity, whimsical fantasy and cold-fact reality in-between. It’s safe to say there are no bands out there quite like Two Steps – reassuring, really, when you also think that no other combination of musicians could have come up with an album so masterfully crafted and strikingly emotive.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Baby and the Bicycle, A Little Bit Scared, Words in My Mouth.
Safe Hands may have been Newcastle-based for their entire lifespan, but it should be noted that this is the only context in which the band have ever stayed put. Revolving-door line-ups and experiments in the outer reaches of their genre ultimately lead the band to this, the difficult second album. Its difficulty lies within its complex emotions and a further recalibration of their sound, thanks in part to the new members that came on board between 2013’s exceptional Montenegro and this. Even after so many years, Safe Hands are able to make everything feel new again – truly a gift.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Born in the Last Shower, Traffic Island Wreath, The Great Affair.
Was Paradise the poppiest punk record of the year or the punkest pop record? Who’s to say, really. In any context, listening to Paradise is a win-win situation. It’s White Lung’s most accomplished, striking collection of songs thus far – across just 28 minutes, the band make their presence felt through radiating guitar tones and Mish Way’s snarling Courtney Love-esque delivery. The album charges out of the gates and refuses to let up for one moment – and, really, why should it? If sharp, succinct and effortlessly cool guitar music is on your agenda, then you’d best run to Paradise.
THREE TOP TRACKS: Kiss Me When I Bleed, Narcoleptic, Hungry.
41. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
“With my voice, I am calling you.” Nick Cave – a father who outlived his son, a lapsed Catholic, a lone figure – is speaking to his interventionist God. He’s been having the same dreams again. He’s been hallucinating in the street. Moment after moment passes by in his mind. Time slows to a crawl. Who can he turn to? Who will save him? Skeleton Tree poses many questions. It doesn’t always come back with answers. How could it? All we truly know is that Cave will never be the same man again. Here, he slowly learns to start over.
THREE TOP TRACKS: I Need You, Jesus Alone, Skeleton Tree.