#BestOf2015 : Top 50 Albums Of The Year


Here they are! Our favourite records of 2016. There has been something for everyone. Veteran artists such as Sleater-Kinney; D’Angelo; Jim O’Rourke or Dr. Dre putting an end to their long career breaks. Younger ones (Grimes; Tame Impala; Julia Holter) hitting their all-time best. Some others -Sufjan Stevens and Björk, among them-went to exorcise intimate ghosts and the results are among their most accomplished works.

There were band members going solo (Father John Misty; Jamie XX) and mind-blowing collaborations (FFS; Jonny Greenwood’s Junun). Rober awards favourites returning in top shape (Joanna Newsom; Destroyer; Panda Bear) and a healthy crop of first albums from all genres (Courtney Barnett; Natalie Prass; Vince Staples; Beach Slang) keeping things fresh. Finely crafted escapism (Carly Rae Jepsen), next to soundtracks to our conflicting society (Kendrick Lamar; Sleaford Mods). Altogether they have helped shaping this as the best year in music for, at least, a decade. Check them out and enjoy!

And the Top 50 albums of the 2016 are:
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The Loop Is Diving With Joanna Newsom

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After her all-conquering live shows in London and teaching Larry King how to play the harp on TV, Joanna Newsom is back to the top of our loop with ‘Divers’, the title track from her masterful fourth album, delivered with a beautiful video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. This is the pair’s their second collaboration after Newsom’s role on his latest feature’Inherent Vice’

Spanish singer Soleá Morente, daughter of the legendary Flamenco singer Enrique Morente, is this week’s highest entry with her indie take on the classic Sevillanas subgenre. Other high entries are the latest project by Jonny Greenwood “Junun”; The return of David Bowie with ‘Blackstar’ and his disturbing eight minute video; the spectacular duet between Grimes and Janelle Monáe and the latest tracks by So Pitted; D∆WN; Savages; POLIÇA; Baroness; Junior Boys: New Order feat. La Roux; Future, doing the theme track for the new Rocky film “Creed”; Lana Del Rey covering Daniel Johnston, among many others.

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Joanna Newsom Leaves City For Loop


The second taster from Joanna Newsom‘s highly anticipated new album ‘Divers’ is our top track this week in a delayed edition due to our coverage of the London Film Festival. ‘Leaving the City’ comes with the news of a world tour that will bring the songwriter to our city in November.

Atlanta’s rocker girls The Coathangers are the highest debut. Next to them, the newest tracks by Run The Jewels; Little Simz; Neon Indian; Nicolas jaar; Carla Morrison; the returns of Tortoise and Annie; an unheard Kurt Cobain track, plus the unexpected collaborations of Jesu with Sun Kil moon and Christine & The Queens with Perfume Genius.

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Joanna Newsom rockets to #1

The excellent new track by Joanna Newsom, ‘Sapokanikan’, has rocketed her way to the top of our loop. The first taster from the singer-songwriter fourth studio album ‘Divers’ also benefits from a video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

In the latest edition of our chart, Deerhunter are the highest entry, followed by the latest offerings by FKA Twigs; DJ Spinn & DJ Rashad Feat. Danny Brown; Deafheaven; Owiny Sinoma Band; Jay Rock; Beirut; Panda Bear; and Janelle Monáe recovering the spirit of the best protest song while congregating the whole roster of her label, Wondaland, for an anti-racist anthem.

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#15-JOANNA NEWSOM-Have One On Me (Drag City)

The question was on everybody’s mind. How could Joanna Newsom follow up her impressively ambitious second record ‘Ys’? The answer: with an even more ambitious proposition; a triple record in times where the conventional concept of album is getting dangerously close to become an anachronism and formats boasting fewer songs as well as the individual track download reign supreme; also coming back to a simplicity of arrangements that leaves behind the Baroque ways of Van Dyke Parks. Arguably ‘Have One On Me’ could have been a better record if shorter or more lavishly produced, but as an artistic statement is another establishment defying triumph.


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#9-JOANNA NEWSOM-Good Intentions Paving Company (Drag City)

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#57-JOANNA NEWSOM-Baby Birch (Drag City)

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The Cheapskate: The National; Latin American Indie; Phoenix…

This week has brought us a few top quality freebies for all you saving conscious music lovers: Track wise The National were giving away ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, the surprising first single –we thought it would be the already leaked ‘Terrible Love’- from their forthcoming fifth album ‘High Violet’.

Ex-Beta Band frontman Steve Mason provided another taster from his solo debut, ‘Lost And Found’, a trendy Active Child remix of which can also be downloaded for free. And Madonna’s mates and gipsy rockers Gogol Bordello began their way towards world domination with ‘Pala Tute’, taken from their Rick Rubin produced new album.

Leftfield Latin American bands were given an online boost this week with both Pitchfork and Club Fonograma giving away samplers of the most interesting up and coming new artist in the Spanish speaking continent. Pitchfork has compiled a mix to celebrate the MTYMX festival to be held soon in Mexico City–highlights include Jovenes Y Sexys; Chikita Violenta; etc. Meanwhile, Club Fonograma offered the seventh volume of their regular ‘Fonogramáticos’ compilation, covering the most adventurous sounds across the Latin world –Dominican Rita Indiana; Spanish indie band Los Punsetes and Chile’s new folkies Los Mil Jinetes are some of the best moments.

On the live stages, Phoenix gave away a full live album recorded in Sidney a few weeks ago during their current world tour. It offers renditions of eight out of the nine songs that formed their acclaimed ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’.

Just a stream, but equally interesting, Joanna Newsom is letting her fans to check the sound of her current tour by showcasing one of her recent shows via NPR radio.

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The Week That Was (25-02-2010): Joanna Newsom; Liars; Roman Polanski; Pantha Du Prince; Devo

Last week it seemed like there was only one record release: Joanna Newsom’s third album’s triple extravaganza has taken the media by storm. Newsom has never been short of ambition and her former opus “Ys” became such a landmark that few thought it could be matched. But the first reactions to “Have One On Me” have been superlative. However, a couple of listenings have left us still unsure if three albums worth of material were necessary or “Have One On Me” would have been much better if shortened. Listen in full during this week at NPR and take your own conclusions.

Joanna Newsom casts a shadow over the rest of the week’s releases, among them ‘Similes’, the new record by Phil Elverum’s ambient project Eluvium and the rather lackluster posthumous sixth volume of Johnny Cash’ “American Recordings”.

Haiti and the many charitable musical causes to help with the earthquake’s aftermath were still generating news. After the devastating catastrophe the world had to suffer –for a good cause- reinterpretations of R.E.M.’ s ‘Everybody Hurts’ performed by Simon Cowell’s puppet factory next to some other British stars and in the US ‘We Are The World’ by a large list of A, B and even some C list artists that happen to be around on Grammy night; now its time for an all-star record that you may actually want to hear: Shane MacGowan and friends covering ‘I Put A Spell On You’. The Pogues’ frontman got Nick Cave, Johnny Depp, Mick Jones, Chrissy Hynde and a few other friends involved in the recording.

Primal Scream generated some headlines by announcing they will be touring in the autumn playing their seminal album “Screamadelica”. The band joins an illustrious list of artists that in recent times are following the trend of playing classic albums in full. More live news, Fleet Foxes’ frontman Robin Pecknold will be touring with Joanna Newsom in what’s likely to be one of the most talked-about double bills of the year and Fairport Convention veteran Richard Thompson will be the curator of London Southbank’s annual festival Meltdown.

Roman Polanski was the toast of the Berlinale after being awarded as best Director for his new film ‘The Ghost Writer‘. The filmmaker was not able to collect the prize as he’s still in house arrest waiting for new developments in his long-standing conflict with the US law. The winner of the Golden Bear was the Turkish film ‘Bal’ (Honey). More details about the rest of the festival’s winners here.

More movie news, Oren Moverman, whose striking debut ‘The Messenger’ has earned an Oscar nomination for best script, will be the director of a film about Kurt Kobain’s life. Moverman is no stranger to writing about music. He earned rave reviews for the imaginative script of Bob Dylan’s biopic ‘I’m Not There’. This week also saw the Oscar nominated shorts hit the American cinemas, a look at this year’s contenderds here.

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Pantha Du Prince offered an excellent show at Cargo, mostly based on the tracks of his magnificent recent album “Black Noise”. The project of Hamburg producer Hendrick Weber showcased his excellent melting pot of shoegaze; Detroit and minimal techno influences in front of an ecstatic audience.

Last week we finally finished watching all of this year’s Oscar nominated films, reaffirming our overall impression that 2009 won’t go down in history as a vintage year for movies. The last two films on hitting British cinemas are ‘Crazy Heart’, Scott Cooper’s debut as a director, which tells the story of a country singer whose career is fading. There’s nothing new or ground-breaking about it, but Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s performances elevate it from being just an average fare. At this state nobody doubts Bridges will grab the statuette on Oscar night.

Other film whose actors have scooped some nominations is Michael Hoffman’s ‘The Last Station’, a period drama about the last days of Russian writer Leon Tolstoi; the peculiar cult surrounding his ideals and the conflict they generate between him and his wife, played by the always excellent Helen Mirren. Both Mirren and Christopher Plummer are nominated and deservedly so, but the film shifts between comedy and drama, failing to feel truly accomplished as either.

New and noteworthy tracks of the week: Beach House, fresh from having released one of the best albums of the year, unveiled a new track “The Arrangement”, destined to be a B-side for an exclusive single the Baltimore couple is releasing for record day. This week also saw the return of the Canadian supergroups, with both The New Pornographers –‘Your Hands (Together)’ and Broken Social Scene ‘World Sick’ offering the first taster from their respective new projects. Bill Callahan was also in the news with the announcement of an imminent best live moments compilation. The anticipating track “Bowery” hit the blogs a few days ago.

Video of the week goes for Vampire Weekend’s star-studded new promo in which the preppie New Yorkers have called their celebrity friends to be filmed during a strange tennis match. Jake Gyllenhaal; RZA; Lil Jon & Joe Jonas helped putting images to “Giving Up The Gun”.

Other interesting clips: Liars finally offered a video for “Scissor”, the first single from their imminent “Sisterworld”. Xiu Xiu’s “Death Grey” and Kanye West still releasing tracks from his tepidly received latest record “808’s & Heartbreak” brought us a disturbing video for “Coldest Winter

And the best free stuff of the week includes surprises such as a new track by Devo. The American new wave masters, after their successful return to the live circuit, announced their first studio album in two decades with the free download of the rather excellent new track “Fresh”. The band is also asking their fans for help choosing colours for their new art and image through a curious marketing research happening at their website.

Antifolk supergroup The Bundles, fronted by ex-Moldy Peaches Kymia Dawson and Jeffrey Lewis, introduced themselves by giving away one of their songs, ‘Pirates Declare War’.

And three top-notch mixtapes for your collection: The way for the imminent collaboration between Method Man; Ghostface Killah & Raekwon –finally under the name of Meth, Goth & Rae- is being paved with a mixtape full of both classic moments of the Wu-tang members and new track premieres. “Avenging Angels” can be downloaded here. Canadian electroclash purveyor Chilly Gonzales is back with his “Pianist Envy” mix; and for the lovers of nu-cumbia DJ Orion has compiled another scorcher called “Carajo Colombia” than can be downloaded on a pay as much as you like basis.

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Surfer Blood Swim To Reach The Top Of The Loop

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Fresh from their UK live debut last week -we managed to catch them at Club NME last Friday -, these lo-fi surfers from Palm Beach in Florida have climbed all the way to the top of our loop with their catchy “Swim (To Reach The End)”. Surfer Blood’s first album “Astro Coast” is shaping itself as one of the finest debuts of 2010.

New entries from Four Tet; Joanna Newsom; Pantha Du Prince with Noah Lennox; etc. come to challenge their peak position in following weeks.

You can check this week’s loop in full here.

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The Week That Was (24-01-2010): Haiti Relief; Kate McGarrigle R.I.P.; Billy Bragg; Joanna Newsom; Panda Bear

An incredibly busy week packed with terrible news, great records and movie frenzy. But it was the tragic earthquake in Haiti, shocking the world and getting the headlines, what has served as a catalyst for the creative community as a whole. Artists big and small, from all corners of the music and entertainment spectrum, got involved in all sorts of activities to raise money and help in the relief of the catastrophe’s devastating effects. From Arcade Fire asking their fans to donate and international governments to cancel the country’s debt to Radiohead playing a special fundraising show or Will.I.Am remixing The Who’s “My Generation” with Slash. Here’s a few other notable initiatives:
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(Live video)

Alter leaving the world open mouthed with her dazzling “Ys”, an assertive Joanna Newsom released a EP of new songs and some that didn’t make her acclaimed second work. Throwing a wink to Springsteen by naming her accompanying band “The Ys Street Band”, what could have been a bunch of discards did not lower the high standards for a minute and included “Colleen”, one of the best songs in the multi-talented artist’s career.

Listen to the recorded version here.

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