Matt Warrell’s best music of 2016 list

It’s that time of year again when many of us rate our favourite records of 2016. I knew what my favourite album of this year was pretty early on into 2016, but there were so many great releases it made it difficult to choose a top 10 list. Here’s my attempt at trying to jam all of my favourites into the top ten releases of 2016 according to me.

10. THE HARD ACHES, ‘I FREAK OUT’

“Lead single Glad That You’re Gone balances cynical self-deprecation with dreams of greener pastures; its cathartic chorus was built for the live arena with drummer Alex Upton anchoring this tune, and the whole record, perfectly. Breakdown and Gut Full provide contrast and showcase frontman Ben David’s raw lyricism, and album closer Alcohol & Cigarettes is the wet dream of Wil Wagner fans waiting for new a Smith Street Band record. David’s blue collar, self-effacing wail is a heaving highlight. All killer no filler.” – STACK

9. BAND OF HORSES, ‘WHY ARE YOU OK’

“Band of Horses’s fifth album makes something of a triumphant return to the wide-eyed, dreamy vulnerability that marked the Seattle band’s first two records.” – The Guardian

8. SHEER MAG, ‘III’

“Sheer Mag’s music stuffs hip-shaking hooks and burly riffs within impeccably structured pop songs, wrapped in lyrics both open-hearted and openly political. They’re the Jackson 5 raised to play punk rock, with an F-5 tornado for a singer.” – Pitchfork

NUMBER SEVEN // DEATH GRIPS, ‘BOTTOMLESS PIT’

“On their new album Bottomless Pit, they stitch together one of their most cohesive grotesques ever, renewing their focus on songcraft, rather than chicanery.” – Pitchfork

NUMBER SIX // JAMIE T ‘TRICK’

“The full, colourful spectrum of Jamie is on show here, as broad as it’s ever been.” – NME

NUMBER FIVE // CERES ‘DRAG IT DOWN ON YOU’

“Yet, cleverly, the album avoids falling too far into the darkness and while, there’s an unmistakable presence of mourning and more than a few hints of malice, the fist-pumped fury of the Japandroids-esque self-assurance lifts the mood more towards a beautifully, tight-roped middle ground.” – Rolling Stone

NUMBER FOUR // THE BENNIES ‘WISDOM MACHINE’

“The Bennies genuflect at the shrine of partying more than John Belushi and Andrew WK combined. Wisdom Machine is belligerently raucous, relentlessly delivering good times and accentuating their usual horn-flecked party-punk with electronic flourishes, as on the ball-tearing “Party Machine”. “Maybe We Could Get High”, “Legalise (But Don’t Tax)” and Sabbath-lite “Corruption” are full of guitars, hints of ska, gleeful keys and never growing up. Wisdom Machine soundtracks an unhinged fever-dream house party full of triumph, regret, and bong water stains on the couch that match the amount of times some dude named Jeff says, “This is a fuckin’ great party, man.” – Rolling Stone

NUMBER THREE // KANYE WEST ‘THE LIFE OF PABLO’

“[He] has perfected the art of aesthetic and intellectual bricolage, shape-shifting in real time and counting on listeners to keep up. More than on any of his previous albums, “Pablo” reflects that rambling, fearsome energy. This is Tumblr-as-album, the piecing together of divergent fragments to make a cohesive whole.” – The New York Times

NUMBER TWO // VIOLENT SOHO ‘WACO’

“Boerdam’s lyrics deliver big ideas wrapped in small moments, with plenty of choruses built to be shouted along with (even veering into half-remembered Blink-182, Pixies and – gulp – Sugar Ray motifs), but the riffs reign supreme. Lead single “Like Soda” is a fist-pumping proto-punk singalong slugger of the highest order, while the thrill of “Evergreen” – which careens to its chorus like a flailing body flung off the top of a speaker stack – and the heavy-lidded churn-cum-thundering-burn of closer “Low” make it clear that Hungry Ghost was no fluke. It may have taken a decade for Violent Soho to break through, but if WACO is any indication, their climb isn’t anywhere near over.” – Rolling Stone

NUMBER ONE // MODERN BASEBALL ‘HOLY GHOST’

“In addition to being a powerful examination of self-worth and how it tends to wither beneath the responsibilities of adulthood, the record is also a testament to the band’s growth musically and thematically.” – The AV Club

 

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