Welcome to the Vulture Hound Top 30 Albums of 2016 – a countdown of the best releases from the past 12 months, as selected by Vulture Hound Music writers and contributors.
Listen to full Top 30 on Google Play Music here – https://play.google.com/music/playlist/AMaBXykSlUttGs4UcpvQKNS9xlfqtSlrvccPaNKxcWJZraZ4-CriY6KYkCdqcTA_2O2qxwyeKZnNcziwn0JHvq2aCwj0uBGvGA==
Part 1: #30 – #11
#30 Bleached – Welcome The Worms
“Guitars chug along in a loud, ritualistic yet upbeat fashion while the melodies are extremely catchy, really taking your mind away from the angst of some of the lyrics. Bleached found a way to keep that SoCal sound while blending a more radio-friendly production with tunes like ‘Trying to Lose Myself Again’ and ‘Wednesday Night Melody’.” (TF)
Must hear tracks: ‘Wednesday Night Melody’, ‘Keep On Keepin’ On’, ‘Sleepwalking’, ‘Hollywood, We Did It All Wrong’.
#29 Kero Kero Bonito – Bonito Generation (GW)
“Incorporating the bright lights and kawaii style of Tokyo and the grungy electric funk of Camden Town, KKB are one of the most unique groups to have arisen over the past few years. Catchy, toe-tapping, and irresistibly likeable, Bonito Generation is, without a doubt, one of the most bizarre and yet undeniably “millennial” albums of the year.”
Must hear tracks: ‘Graduation’, ‘Lipslap’, ‘Trampoline’, ‘Heard A Song’.
#28 Bayonne – Primitives (DW)
“Tapping into a range of influences from the percussive, minimalist arrangements of Steve Reich to the often erratic modulated sounds of Animal Collective, Primitives sees Bayonne (aka Roger Sellers) taking a journey through lush and hypnotic soundscapes – and taking us with him.” (DW)
Must hear tracks: ‘Appeals’, ‘Steps’, ‘Spectrolite’, ‘Waves’.
#27 The Black Queen – Fever Daydream
“For Greg Puciato, this is what life after The Dillinger Escape Plan will sound like. Dark, gothic and incredibly seductive, Puciato’s voice has never sounded more soulful. Parallels to Nine Inch Nails have been made but Fever Daydream doesn’t imitate – it simply appreciates the dark 80’s electro that influenced it.” (DW)
Must hear tracks: ‘Ice To Never’, ‘The End Where We Start’, ‘That Death Cannot Touch’, ‘Secret Scream’.
#26 The Wytches – All Your Happy Life
“An insightful look into the band’s new perspective on life, All Your Happy Life is complex and dark; even the lighter moments are served with a gnarly edge. Intense riffs and enraged vocals draw the listener into a whirlwind of musical paths, ensuring there is never a dull moment in All Your Happy Life.” (SF)
Must hear tracks: ‘C-Side’, ‘Dumb-Fill’, ‘Home’, ‘Throned’.
#25 Slowcoaches – Nothing Gives
#24 Johnny Foreigner – Mono No Aware
“Johnny Foreigner completed their development into full-blown angular indie heroes in 2016. Mono No Aware is perfectly written, composed and performed and adds a completely new dimension to previous releases. The gentle emotive build up’s make the saccharine choruses all the sweeter.” (BA)
Must hear tracks: ‘If You Can’t Be Honest Be Awesome’, ‘All Yr favourite Bands Are Dead’, ‘The Worst Of Us’, Cliffjumper’.
#23 Solomon Grey – Solomon Grey
“Already making a name for themselves composing for film and TV, Tom Kingston & Joe Wilson take their classically minded approach to arrangement and apply it to electro pop. The result is dazzling. It’s a record that feels other worldly yet still manages to pass itself off as a melodic and deeply infectious pop album. It’s the best of both worlds.” (DW)
Must hear tracks: ‘Choir To The Wild’, ‘Hidden Planes’, ‘Electric Baby’, ‘Sweet 84’.
#22 Travis Scott – Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight
“It’s been a long, scary year, and I can’t say how much worse it would have been without the soul-therapy music provides. BITTSM is a lot of things – bombastic, scattershot, an exercise in hedonism – but what it is foremost is a celebration. A celebration of sound, invention, living. And this year? We needed that more than anything.” (CH)
Must hear tracks: ‘way back’ – ft. Kid Cudi, ‘through the late night’ – ft. Kid Cudi, ‘Goosebumps’ ft. Kendrick Lamar, ‘outside’.
#21 The Hyena Kill – Atomised
“Atomised is a rabid dog of an album ferociously clawing and biting at your flesh until you almost become addicted to it. The incessant drums pummel your ears alongside razor cutting guitar to a beautifully destructive aplomb, surely adding this Manchester two-piece to the top of the list of great up and coming British alternative bands.” (CT)
Must hear tracks: ‘Crosses’, ‘Your Loss’, ‘Tongue Tied’, ‘Still Sick’.
#20 Mass Gothic – Mass Gothic
“Noel Heroux’s latest project has produced one of the most impressive and surprise debuts of the year. Infectious and rousing baroque pop, backed by sudden outbursts of intense fuzz and cheerful (and not so cheerful) sing-along. Plus it has the track ‘Nice Night’ – possibly the single greatest track of 2016”. (DW)
Must hear tracks: ‘Nice Night’, ‘Pier Pressure’, ‘Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me’, ‘Money Counter’.
#19 Frank Ocean – Blonde
“The first real words we hear from Frank Ocean on his new album Blond(e) are, “We’ll let you guys prophesy.” Sure enough in years since his last release fans have been feverishly speculating just when the R&B star would drop his next project. Now that it’s here we can all bask in it’s heartbreak and know it was better than we imagined.” (JD)
Must hear tracks: ‘Ivy’, ‘Self Control’, ‘Nights’, ‘White Ferrari’.
#18 The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
“Did Ben Weinman catch his guitar cheating on him with his wife? Because that dude is pounding it like Jesus should have pounded Judas. It’s an album that features some of Dillinger’s most melodic moments yet. But melodic feels far too mundane of an adjective to describe Disassociation. For example, ‘Fugue’ sounds like an 8-Bit soundtrack having a mid-life crisis.” (LH)
Must hear tracks: ‘Symptom of Terminal Illness’, ‘Limerant Death’, ‘Fugue’, ‘Low Feels Blvd’.
#17 School of Seven Bells – SVIIB
“SVIIB is an album of truths, stories about the joys, pain and stupidities of love. Not only is the sentiment beautiful, the music borders on electro-pop perfection. The opening three track run, in particular, is so addictive that it takes a lot of self-discipline to not reach for the repeat button.” (DW)
Must hear tracks: ‘On My Heart’, ‘Open Your Eyes’, ‘Ablaze’, ‘This Is Our Time’.
#16 Greys – Outer Heaven
“A step up for the band, in every single way. By refusing to play it safe, Greys have produced a devastatingly diverse collection. Frantic, heavy and chaotic one moment, calm, reflective and moody the next. Some may be frustrated by the peaks and troughs in intensity, but to everyone else it’s a mountain range of discovery”. (DW)
Must hear tracks: ‘No Star’, ‘If It’s All The Same To You’, ‘Blown Out’, ‘Erosion’.
#15 Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP
“Blankface LP – taking hip-hop to woozy, eccentric, and psychedelic depths. It’s a testament to Schoolboy Q’s vision, having come into better focus with this ambitious statement. Hip-hop’s sound and identity saw a collective shift this year. Blankface LP is one of the few terrific albums to encapsulate that very change from start to finish.” (AJ)
Must hear tracks: ‘THat Part’, ‘Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane’, ‘JoHn Muir’, ‘Black Thoughts’.
#14 The Lion And The Wolf – Cardiac Hotel
“As far as a sophomore release goes TLATW show absolutely no evidence ‘second album syndrome’. Instead, Cardiac Hotel is a development of Tom George’s debut LP Symptoms; heart-breaking, beautiful and full of honest emotion.” (BA)
Must hear tracks: ‘Don’t Fail Me Now’, ‘My Father’s Eyes’, ‘Bar Stools’, ‘Heaven Forbid’.
#13 Alev Lenz – Two Headed Girl
“Beautifully arranged instrumentals are accompanied by a vocal performance that can only be described as hypnotic. However, almost everything on Two-Headed Girl is built on a solid percussive foundation, made up of some of the most intricate and mesmerising percussion work you’ll hear on a pop record.” (DW)
Must hear tracks: ‘Eggshell’, ‘Airport’, ‘Well’, ‘Yamaha’.
#12 Milk Teeth – Vile Child
“It’s a problem for us in our late-twenties/early-thirties, that we keep thinking that there is no more new music left for us. That’s what makes discovering bands like Milk Teeth so special. Their combination of passionate intensity and sweeping melody reminded me of what it was like to discover Mudhoney or Sonic Youth.” (LH)
Must hear tracks: ‘Brain Food’, ‘Brickwork’, ‘Swear Jar (again)’, ‘Crows Feet’.
#11 Daughter – Not To Disappear
“With dark and brooding themes of loneliness and fear saturated in an atmospheric soundscape, Not To Disappear is all that you could want from a sophomore release. Darting between moments of shoegaze and melodic indie elements, this record continues to surprise even after the first listen.” (PM)
Must hear tracks: ‘Doing The Right Thing’, ‘How’, ‘Mothers’, ‘To Belong’.