2016: My Idols Are Dead And My Enemies Are In Power




This image posted in a web page owned by Paul Darling has circulated in social media around the world. A tweet containing it sent by Cambodian film director Rithy Panh cached our attention. Nothing has summarised better the ghastly vibe of 2016.

A year that begins with the dead of one of the most iconic popular culture artists of all time does not forecast anything good, and David Bowie passing away was a devastating first taste of things to come, making us more aware of the ones who followed him over the course of the last twelve months. Prince; Leonard Cohen; A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg; Sharon Jones; Dead or Alive’s Pete Burns; This Mortal Coil’s Carolyn Crawley; Alan Vega; P.M. Dawn’s Prince Be; Vanity; Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White; Colin Vearncombe aka Black and many others have formed a long black list that leaves the sour impression of having arrived to the end an era whose cultural achievements no one seems able to better, not even repeat.

Politically, the rise of populism came in many shapes, from the repetition of the Spanish general elections and subsequent negotiations concluding with the same, corrupt popular party and leader in power; to the vaguely surprising “Yes” Brexit vote in the UK, leaving the country in a muddling situation the new formed crisis government doesn’t seem to know how to deal with. Yet it was all crowned in the autumn by the US referendum, when against all odds billionaire Donald Trump won, using bigotry and other repugnant strategies to manipulate the prejudices of a growing percentage of disenfranchised population.

Despite all those shadows planning over us, music has not just reflected well the state of things but in 2016 has risen over the doom and gloom and offered us another surprisingly excellent crop, crammed with so many notable records that our usual Top 50 could not accommodate them all. That’s why once more we begin our Best of 2016 review with an honourable mentions section, selecting 30 albums that didn’t make our final cut but equally deserved our full attention.

Among them long awaited returns (Kristin Hersh; Maxwell; Brazilian singer Elza Soares); new psychedelia explorers (King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard; Sex Swing; Drugdealer); the band formerly known as Viet Cong and before that as Women (Preoccupations); Trash metal J-Pop idols Babymetal; A band (Woods) coincides with one of his member’s solo effort (Kevin Morby); a large number of female voices coming from all genres (Emma Pollock; Julia Jacklin; Weyes Blood; Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith; Jessy Lanza) and an ever larger number of urban and hip-hop artists pushing the boundaries of a genre that is still carrying the weight of popular music forward. Schoolboy Q; R&B revelation Jamila Woods; British grime star Skepta; hip-hop newcomer Noname; Atlanta TV series star Childish Gambino and the side project of ubiquitous newcomer anderson.paak (NxWorries) are some of them.

And the 30 Bubbling Under albums of the year are:

ARCHY MARSHALL
A New Place 2 Drown
(XL)


BABYMETAL
Metal Resistance
(Edel)


CHILDISH GAMBINO
"Awaken, My Love!"
(Glassnote)


COMMUNITY RADIO
Look Now, You're Cursed
(Tenorio Cotobade)


DRUGDEALER
The End Of Comedy
(Domino)


ELZA SOARES
A Mulher Do Fin Do Mondo
(Mais Um Discos)


EMMA POLLOCK
In Search Of Harpenfield
(Chemikal Underground)


GRUMBLING FURS
Furfour
(Thrill Jockey)


IMARHAN
IMARHAN
(City Slang)


JAMILA WOODS
HEAVN
(Self-Released)


JESSY LANZA
Oh No
(Hyperdub)


JULIA JACKLIN
Don't Let The Kids Win
(Transgressive)


KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH
Ears
(Western Vinyl)


KEVIN MORBY
Singing Saw
(Dead Oceans)


KING GIZZARD AND THE WIZARD LIZARD
Nonagon Infinity
(Heavenly)


KRISTIN HERSH
Wyatt At The Coyote Palace
(Yes Dear Music)


LEON VYNEHALL
Rojus (Designed To Dance)
(Running Back)


MAXWELL
blackSUMMERS'night
(Columbia)


MOOR MOTHER
Fetish Bones
(Don Giovanni)


NONAME
Telefone
(Self-Released)


NxWORRIES
Hey Lawd!
(Stones Throw)


PREOCCUPATIONS
Preoccupations
(Jagjaguwar)


SCHOOLBOY Q
Blank Face
(Top Dawg)


SEX SWING
Sex Swing
(The Quietus)


SKEPTA
Konnichiwa
(Boy Better Know)


STURGILL SIMPSON
A Sailor's Guide To Earth
(Atlantic)


TIM HECKER
Love Streams
(4AD)


WOODS
City Sun Eater In The River Of Life
(Woodsist)


XENIA RUBINOS
Black Terry Cat
(Anti)


YG
Still Brazy
(Def Jam)


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