Dorney’s Top Records of 2016

28. The Madcaps: Hot Sauce

hotsauce

French lo-fi-ish garage is all the craze with the kids these days, isn’t it? The Beatles meets The Beach Boys in articulated harmony; maybe not as heavy-handed on the strings from The Beach Boys side. This is good fun. It doesn’t end as quickly as you’d like nor hangs around too much for you to particularly care for their aforementioned genesis, if that is in fact their genesis. Probably not.

27. Deftones: Gore

gore

I was never one for Chino Moreno’s ear-busting larynx but here the guitars are almost an elixir and a combat shield against the roars. He’s forced to take it easy and… sing a bit. And this was one of the highlights of guitar rock this year. I hear the vexed contempt coming my way and I know why, but we’re all gagging for some sort of axe-wielding authenticity in any way, shape, or form. I’ll take this for the time being, and you will as well. Admit it. [original review]

26. The KVB: Of Desire

ofdesire

More reverb-drenched sadists attempting to emulate their predecessors—the sadder the better it seems. But I found this charmless piece cynical in sonics, simplistic in groove, and hazy in words. Sounds like most guitar music, actually. [original review]

25. Mass Gothic: Mass Gothic

massgothic

Hooray for Earth’s Noel Heroux decided to do this number after that band decided to call it quits. I’m glad he did. A mostly enjoyable listen with the progressively-heavy “Mind Is Probably”, the modernity of “Want To, Bad”, and the guttural “Soul”. Decent show, Noel.

24. Suede: Night Thoughts

nightthoughts

One of their best efforts and maybe slightly devoid of Bernard Butler’s prowess—no matter, Richard Oakes’ fatter tone is a worthy substitute. Yes I know I’m still clinging to the debut days, but could you blame me? Probably… Brett Anderson is still as effervescent in his usual wailing, bookworm self.

23. Årabrot: The Gospel

thegospel

Norwegian noise rock with something to think about, something to grasp onto without worrying about the pretensions of the actual noise. [original review]

22. David Bowie: ★ (Blackstar)

blackstar

I’ve come around, and yes, his death was the part of the jigsaw I was/we were missing, obviously. It added another layer of context. Y’know I’m still not in awe but “Lazarus” is one of his great singles and the musical personnel are so tight and understanding of Bowie’s situation it’s like they followed him to the grave themselves.

21. Skepta: Konnichiwa

konnichiwa

Much of the acclaim I’m giving this Mercury-winning album lies in its step-forward approach for grime. I don’t think the Americans are going to stand up and take notice right now, but who cares? [original review]

20. De La Soul: and the Anonymous Nobody…

andtheanonymousnobody

There’s an air of inevitability from the nearly-fifties on this record, an air of “we’ve done it but still want to show we can do it”. That goes for sixty-something David Byrne as well as the trio. The diversity on show from Usher’s breezy tenor to Justin Hawkin’s cock-rock is the mix of multiculturalism we can all agree on in this current societal climate. [original review]

19. Michael Kiwanuka: Love & Hate

love&hate

Michael Kiwanuka was one of the highlights in authenticity this year, alongside his US counterpart, Charles Bradley, who brought soul back from the pop stranglehold at the beginning of this decade. Although this panders to an obvious black paradigm somewhat, Kiwanuka has shifted black-appropriated music from the commercial pop conveyor belt back to blacks. Just a different pop conveyor belt now. And judging by Love & Hate that doesn’t matter as long as it’s in the right home. [original review]

18. Aesop Rock: The Impossible Kid

theimpossiblekid

Aesop Rock returns with an oblique play on words that holds sentimental value as well as silly bars. Check out his piss-pull of wannabe gangstas hanging around street corners and his fondness of drawing [as a kid]. [original review]

17. Homeboy Sandman: Kindness for Weakness

kindnessforweakness

Conscious rap from a conscientious semi-wordsmith—he’s frustrated but is nice about it and he loves telling us that the current prison situation is more important than the music. I believe him. [original review]

16. Death Grips: Bottomless Pit

bottomlesspit

More brain-dead fanaticism from MC Ride and band. I said Zach Hill brings some sort of sensibility to the chaos. I may have been premature in my assertion, or simply not listening properly. Still, I feel he’s as musical as the “words”—and the pace of them—will allow him to be. [original review]

15. Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker

youwantitdarker

“I was fighting with temptation/But I didn’t want to win”. The six-feet-under won out and he was okay with this. It was obvious. And he knew well the fruits of his labour weren’t in vain in this parting epitaph. “I’m ready, my lord”. [original review]

14. HÆLOS: Full Circle

fullcircle

With many of the computer munchkins giving me the technical shivers this year, I basked somewhat in this soul-filled set. [original review]

13. Preoccupations: Preoccupations

preoccupations

Formerly known as Viet Cong, Preoccupations delivers what most of the “post-punk revivalists” wished to conjure up but couldn’t/can’t. It wasn’t quite as danceable as others this year but showed dynamism, flow, and most importantly, music throughout. [original review]

12. Prince Rama: Xtreme Now

xtremenow

Filler added for a perverse effect is exactly that, and while it adds nothing to the creative sphere, this gimmick was one of the catchiest affairs of 2016. Gloriously mindless, fruitfully fulfilling, and “now age”. Yeah… [original review]

11. The Jezabels: Synthia

synthia

The Australians offered up something worthwhile from a poor start to the year in music. Maybe that’s why it’s hung on in there. Hayley Mary’s vocal triumphs through a scene of dismay are bright and brave even if the synths were in fact there to help her out.

10. Teenage Fanclub: Here

here

Okay, I’ll admit it, I completely overdid the initial review. And I’d even go as far as to say it shouldn’t be in the top ten. But Raymond McGinley and Norman Blake gave me a ’60s trip even if I wasn’t asking for it and gave to me hope that the quiet guys can do something. I knew this all along as is, but it’s nice to hear it from 2016. [original review]

9. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin: Savage Mode (EP/collaboration)

savagemode

Womanising is a staple with the gangsta folk but none as cut-and-dry as this. Grim and grimy, chauvinistic and never flattering, high but always low. [original review]

8. Solange: A Seat at the Table

aseatatthetable

Racial topics and tensions abound, Solange Knowles delivers a commentary on the current state of American whites vs blacks. Not the violent type nor a full-on social-justice outlook. You can join her cause if you’d like. And I have. There is the “it’s-okay-to-celebrate-your-blackness” line, too, that’s ever pertinent in today’s sociopolitical sphere. [original review]

7. Whitney: Light Upon the Lake

lightuponthelake

Arguably the prettiest listen of 2016—only in their ’70s-style exertions are they letting loose anything new or revolutionary, but there’s something in the archaic nature of the album, the overall surrounds, and even the lyrical themes which makes this a must-listen. I mentioned authenticity, and this is what we need, even if it’s as plain as this. [original review]

6. Wussy: Forever Sounds

foreversounds

Wussy is a new discovery for me. Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker’s vocal cadence is a dichotomy that works, just listen to their past releases. The first half is crunching and met by a well-versed final trio. [original review]

5. Jinx Lennon: Magic Bullets of Madness to Uplift the Grief Magnets

magicbulletsofmadnesstoupliftthegriefmagnets

The Dundalk man went criminally unnoticed by the Irish crits this year. Not I. This fixed a beaming smile on my face—very difficult to accomplish, I’ll have you know. His aunty gets a ribbing for her shit baking and sandwich-making, David Drumm gets a doing, and he illustrates the shithead in the canteen that everyone filters back to their desks to avoid beautifully. And they’re just some of the “uplifting” bits. [original review]

4. Drive-By Truckers: American Band

americanband

One of the great protest albums in a while. Maybe not much of an accolade but the songs are meant as songs with a message in front of them. Their social and political ideologies are sound and reasonable, much like the music. You can take their umbrage fine as it’s legitimised through their tales of gun control, immigration, and racial relations. [original review]

3. A Tribe Called Quest: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

wegotitfromherethankyou4yourservice

A commentary on the state of the States given a Trump win, and it fared out that way. Whether their fears are what will come to the fore we’ll have to see. Still, this not-so-jazz pastiche was one of the joys of black music this year. A defiant goodbye for Phife Dawg and plenty of good advice for the youth. [original review]

2. Swans: The Glowing Man

theglowingman

Strenuous as allows and I wouldn’t blame you for skipping to the “best bits” at eight songs in nearly two hours—Michael Gira sucks us into his abyss and we’ll follow our leader for he’ll lead us out. “The glorious mind”. [original review]

1. Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition

atrocityexhibition

One of the most batshit, crazy [hip-hop] albums of 2016. Danny Brown projects upon us the horrors of narcotic abuse and more so just what’s in his own head. African themes; erratic jazz; and his own sardonic, philosophical outlook on the world are what made this the highlight of the year for many and seals hip-hop’s place as an art form rather than a medium for self-advertisement alone. [original review]


“The Almosts” (definitely worth a punt)


“The Not Quites” (worth a punt)


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