The first half of 2016 has been and gone in a blur, and with it has seen a flooding of huge album releases from many amazing artists such as the up and coming Melbourne trio Camp Cope, electronic producing trailblazer Flume and old favourites Radiohead. Although these three albums have received critical acclaim and are undoubtedly great records, these albums have not been able to make my top five of 2016 so far, which proves the quality of music that has made it to our ears this year. Below, I will name my best five albums of the year to date, judged on sounds that I enjoy and characteristics that I believe make an album great.
- U – Tourist
U by Tourist is my top album of the year so far. The English producer’s debut album dropped on May 6th and includes the hit single ‘Run’, which reached number one on Hype Machine. Tourist first came to my attention with the single ‘Holding On’ last year, which I liked, but not to the extent that I have loved his new record U.
Initially, I was not overly excited by the release of U, although I did take a particular liking to the lead single ‘Run’ and, over the space of a few weeks, I found myself religiously listening to the album in full during any occasion. By any occasion, I mean I would play the album when I was struggling to sleep late at night or before a big night on the town; the album is great in any situation.
U contains a consistent genre throughout the entire album, making it particularly easy listening. Although the genre is consistent, the pace of the album does alternate throughout, from the buoyancy of ‘My Love’, to the slow and long-winded journey of ‘Waves’. U is house music at its infectious best.
- Nonagon Infinity – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
The title says it all; nine pieces of music infinitely circling. The creativity of King Gizzard is the thing that puts Nonagon Infinity above other albums of this year. Crafting an infinite looping album, which may have never been done before, places it just above several successful records from artists such as DMA’S with Hill’s End among many others.
Another reason I feel Nonagon Infinity is one of the best albums of 2016 is the consistent banging pace of the record, as it hardly takes a second to slow down and let the listeners take a breath – just 41 minutes of constant phased-out psychedelic punk-rock. The combination of psychedelic, punk and rock creates a nostalgic sound reminiscent of the 60’s and 70s, which again makes it unique from other albums released this year, as the band have taken the risk of making the album sound so phased out. The risks taken by King Gizzard on Nonagon Infinity is what has made the record so great, and has it cemented in my top five albums of 2016.
- Wildflower – The Avalanches
Possibly the most anticipated album of the year, some 16 years in the making. After listening to Wildflower on repeat only for the last week, it has already become one of my favourite albums this year and, with more exposure, it could be considered the year’s best by the end of 2016.
From listening, it is understandable why it has taken The Avalanches so long to curate this absolute masterpiece. Wildflower is constructed from an abundance of samples, sound creations, vocal cuts and features from artists including Danny Brown, Toro y Moi and Father John Misty to name a few, making the record extremely unique from other albums released in 2016. Wildflower has a highly nostalgic feel, a direct result of their samples; exemplified by the sample in ‘Subways’, taken from the 1980 song ‘Subways’ by Chandra just to name one.
The primary reason I have loved Wildflower is the flow of the album; each track connects from beginning to end, which takes listeners on a fluctuating musical journey along the way. The 16 year wait for this LP from The Avalanches has been more than worth it and their fans should just be happy that the band has re-emerged after the adversity they have experienced.
- Telluric – Matt Corby
Following the huge success and international recognition from five EP’s, Australian vocalist Matt Corby finally unveiled his long-awaited debut album Telluric in March. The record was an instant hit, debuting at the number one position on the ARIA and iTunes charts in Australia and in the top 40 in the UK.
Corby initially recorded a complete albums worth of material in America, but opted to scrap the whole record when he felt the compilation was being pulled in different directions by a number of contrasting opinions, which was evidently not in Corby’s interests. Instead, Corby withdrew back to his native location in country New South Wales to create and complete this new record.
The title, Telluric, means of the earth as a planet, which may translate to Corby returning to his roots as a musician. As a result, Telluric has a predominantly acoustic and stripped back nature, typified by the hit single ‘Monday’, which is constructed entirely from Corby’s voice and body. However, it is not only acoustic, as it contains singles such as ‘Knife Edge’, where Corby employs an electric sharpness and the soulful, rhythmic single ‘Sooth Lady Wine’. These two tracks display Corby’s range in genres as a multi-instrumentalist and ingenious song writing.
- Hopelessness – ANOHNI
ANOHNI is the moniker of U.K.-born, California-raised Antony Hegarty, who has previously been a part of Antony and the Johnsons. Hopelessness is a hugely politically charged record, delivering issues of drone warfare, climate change, the death penalty and Barack Obama’s presidency term.
Hegarty employs the production wizardry of Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, who combined to create a wildly jagged electronic sound for Hegarty to convey her messages to a younger audience. The genre displayed all throughout Hopelessness contrasts vastly from the previous works of Hegarty, represented by her time in Antony and the Johnsons, where the group’s genre would be defined best as Baroque/Chamber Pop. As a result, it is clear that through Hopelessness, Hegarty genuinely attempted to target a different mass of listeners.
Although Hopelessness didn’t achieve as much chart success as the other albums listed in my top five, this record’s eye-opening portrayal of issues was enough to give it a place, but the clattering production from Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never has made this album one of the best of 2016 and one that is deserving of more attention.
- Hill’s End – DMA’S
- Light Upon the Lake – Whitney
- 99.9% – KAYTRANADA
- Is the Is Are – DIIV
- Weval – Weval