[sic] Magazine

Sub Ed’s Albums & EPs of the Year 2016

Here, simply, is what I consider to have been the best albums and EPs of the year – those that have stood out most from that which I’ve listened to. As usual, there’s been plenty of good-to-downright-great releases, each and every one of the below worth recommending in their own way. Perhaps an appropriate soundtrack to a most turbulent political year, the overriding themes have been dark, loud and diaphanous. Studded with gloomy singer-songwriters too, the listening may have been bleak, but it was also rewarding.

Particular credit goes this year to [sic] fixture Sacred Bones, a label who can count five entries in this list for the fifth year running! Plaudits also go to the rejuvenated Jagjaguwar, from whom five artists also feature, and special mention goes to Castle Face for managing the same feat. Only slightly lesser mention should also be made of the Dead Oceans, Sub Pop, 4AD, Tri Angle and Run For Cover imprints for not being far behind!

Other statistical analysis interestingly shows that, while I consider myself an open-minded globetrotter when it comes to music, 87% of the artists in this top 100 still entirely or partially call either the US, UK, Canada or Australia home. Four of the top twenty do buck the trend, though, so it’s not a question of quality, but one of quantity. A couple of international collaborations spoil the look of the rest of this statistic, but still … turn over enough rocks and great music abounds almost everywhere.

It must be said though that, as per every year, I have only one pair of ears, a set amount of hours in the day and a bank balance that is far from inexhaustible, so there are, perhaps, certain notable omissions from the list below. In any case, who knows what may have been, but here is what definitely was (linked where reviewed – rough genre given in brackets):


1. Jesu & Sun Kil MoonJesu & Sun Kil Moon (Singer-Songwriter) [Caldo Verde]

Poetry obviously doesn’t need to rhyme. Nor does it have to be especially poetic. Mark Kozelek’s utterly unique art as Sun Kil Moon is accordingly and unquestionably poetry (even as he amusingly reads out his fan mail) and yet, in his trademark half-spoken slur, it unspools like a stream-of-consciousness, often no filter between brain and mouth. Some of what he says hurts. Some of it is just beautiful. Both can reduce you to tears. Here, alongside Kozelek’s increasingly excellent output, heavy experimentalist Jesu provides choppy fuzz-tones and light electronica to the former’s more usual acoustic palette, rarely challenging Mr Kil Moon for centre-stage, but making himself more than known all the same. A balance found, together the pair are just spellbinding.

Listen: Exodus


2. The BodyNo One Deserves Happiness (Doom/Black-Metal) [Thrill Jockey]

Employing dark power electronics similar to Pharmakon as well as straight-up doom, No One Deserves Happiness is aptly titled and yet it is – accurately – marketed as The Body’s pop album, albeit a grotesque one. Again produced by The Haxan Cloak, a breath-taking metal proposition they remain however, Chrissy Wolpert and others’ pretty vocals an angelic counterpoint to Chip King’s black shrieking. Heavy distortion leads to nihilistic noise. Pop only then in the last year’s [sic] album-of-the-year winner Chelsea Wolfe sense, an 808 even lends proceedings a – whisper it – witch house edge. Truly a perverted pleasure rather than any sort of punishment, No One Deserves Happiness is the sort of album they jam in the discos of hell.

Listen: Prescience


3. TrementinaAlmost Reach The Sun (Shoegaze) [Blow Your Mind]

Meaning “turpentine” in their native Chile, Trementina sound simply like they’ve been getting loaded on its fumes for days. They make retro shoegaze that is blinding in its ferocity, woozy summer music for the tinnitus crowd. Their debut is like standing in the path of an exploding supernova, great waves of guitar scree coming close to vaporising Vanessa Cea’s suitably dreamy vocal. And, what Almost Reach The Sun lacks in the originality stakes (you’re not going to get far without mention of MBV, Slowdive, Lush, Medicine, even the Cocteau Twins), it compensates for with spectacularly smiley noise-pop. It might not be world music in the traditional sense, but Almost Reach The Sun is nevertheless out of this world.

Listen: Makes Me Think


4. Show Me The BodyBody War (Hardcore Punk/Nu Metal/Hip-Hop) [The Famous Letter Racer]

Noise terrorists Death Grips are rightly being heralded for making some of the most important music of the millennium so far. Yet, hot on their heels, come similarly styled NYC residents Show Me The Body, a collective along with Ratking attempting to realign rap-rock with progenitors like the Beastie Boys rather than being the dirty word it is in most circles. Deploying heavy funk via speaker-blown cones and punishing feedback, shards of hardcore punk and blasts of detuned bass coalesce with Julian Cashwan Pratt’s turbo-charged wail to form a melting pot of mayhem indicative of the modern metropolis they call home. As the questionable president-elect continues to threaten to throw up walls, Show Me The Body are setting about noisily building bridges.

Listen: Two Blood Pacts


5. PinegroveCardinal (Alt-Country/Punk-Rock) [Run For Cover]

Pinegrove are the band so many young men think they’re in. They make the music they like, influenced by the music they like yet with a voice particular to their generation. The New Jersey trio’s scruffy tracks take in DIY indie-rock, cult acoustic pop and tasteful alt-country elements – emo too, but only in the sense of a man with a guitar talking about emotions. There, inevitably, are shadows of Springsteen, so too to Neutral Milk Hotel and forgotten troubadour Liam Frost, all done against a backdrop of melodic, punk-flecked Americana. Cardinal is deeply nostalgic not only in its musical delivery, but also in its themes of memory and of the concept of home, Hall the sort of mesmeric, accidental performer you could only hope to stumble across at some local open mic.

Listen: Size Of The Moon


6. PJ HarveyThe Hope Six Demolition Project (Singer-Songwriter/Indie-Rock) [Island]

Though PJ Harvey’s sensitivity compass may be knackered and her lyrics occasionally clunky, The Hope Six Demolition Project remains a musical triumph. She may paint a bleak picture of US social and foreign policy, but her arrangements are vibrant, unexpected and full-frontal. It’s solidly a rock album, too, no whispy singer-songwriting here. Blues and heavy jazz motifs decorate the missive artfully, angrily even. And therein lies the key, Harvey’s raw passion alone pulling the project through to a success.

Listen: The Ministry Of Social Affairs


7. Conor OberstRuminations (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Nonesuch]

It may just be Conor, his guitar and his piano, but Ruminations seems the most comfortable and consistent a collection of songs he’s put together since I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. His nasal cadence, of course, flows majestically, cracking under emotion in places, moments from a sly smirk elsewhere. Competent but unobtrusive finger-work all but takes a backseat to allow his broken-down imagery to once again crowd in the mind and heart, reawakening fond memories of Bright Eyes’ genius.

Listen: A Little Uncanny


8. Zig ZagsRunning Out Of Red (Garage-Metal/Thrash) [Castle Face]

It’s an established fact that Zig Zags rule and while the LA-based trio continue to portray themselves as knuckle-dragging thrash lords (and they are), there’s equally a smart amount of nuanced delivery going on with Running Out Of Red. Wondering nonetheless what happens to the EQ after the red has been exhausted? “A soundtrack to getting high, occasionally getting laid…occasionally getting laid out”, here you have your answer. Exactly the sort of record you wouldn’t bring home to meet your mother.

Listen: The Sadist


9. SavagesAdore Life (Post-Punk) [Matador]

Adore Life is the LP on which Savages became Savages. It’s an expansive, almost experimental post-punk album in places and it no longer sounds like anyone, in fact, but Savages. It’s a collection of bleak love songs of sorts, but ones in love with little else but life … and violence and noise. It all makes for an intense listen peppered with knockout tracks, an invitation – if you’ve got the stomach for it – to not only live life to its fullest, but also at it most equal, and to reject and call those out who don’t.

Listen: Sad Person


10. DIIVIs The Is Are (Shoegaze/Indie-Rock) [Captured Tracks]

Confusing title, overlong, drugs … there are a number of criticisms you can level at DIIV but failing to write great song isn’t (the is are) one of them. True, you could cut a number of tracks here and be left with something even better, but sometimes in life you need to be grateful for what you do have. A lightly psychedelic indie band now caught between shoegaze and noise-rock, the QC is obviously varied, but at least a third of Is The Is Are comes on like a sorely recommended Sonic Youth wet dream.

Listen: Mire (Grant’s Song)

11. White LungParadise (Punk-Rock) [Domino]

[sic] magazine album-of-the-year winner 2014, White Lung haven’t changed much in two years and Paradise remains truly that if your idea of the ever-after is brilliant punk-rock blasts rampant with addictive melody. Firebrand frontwoman Mish Way still leads the charge, her feminist invective curiously leading her towards the odd power ballad this time around, as well as a newfound fascination with m/f team serial killers, which muddies her picture of the female psyche as it goes.

12. Miss DestinyMiss Destiny (Rock) [RIP Society/Agitated]

What even is rock music anymore? It’s perhaps easier to define by saying what it isn’t, but surely by any measure Miss Destiny make proper rock. The Melbourne band’s S/T debut is trashy, abrasive, and real. The all-female line-up flips Neanderthal proto-metal and Sunset Strip excess on its head too, leather-clad Amazons dragging home their mates via marauding guitar parts. It’s ironic then that they come on for the most part like Ex Hex if those girls had balls. Just pump it up loud and enjoy.

13. Lust For YouthCompassion (New Wave/Post-Punk) [Sacred Bones]

Seemingly New Order’s best album since the 80s, Compassion is so in thrall to the synthiest end of the new wave/post-punk crossover that it’s almost done away with Lust For Youth’s darkwave roots all together. In their place are blissful Balearic chill, club-friendly beats and a karaoke Bernard Sumner vocal. There’s evidently a balance to be struck and an easy, if self-deprecating and anthemic one is readily found. For all Compassion’s similarities to past greats, it’s really rather unique after all.

14. The LimiñanasMalamore (60s Psych/Soundtrack) [Because]

So cool it is of course hot, Malamore is the soundtrack to the life you wish you’d led. A gloriously retro romp through 60s psychedelic jangles, fuzz-tones, Morricone, dreamy motorik, sexy chanson, straight-up exotica, proto-punk and artsy lounge-pop, it’s a breathless listen right up to when the credits start rolling. What’s more, none of it feels forced. Malamore simply documents The Limiñanas’ love affair with classic cinema and it does so in sunglasses while dreaming of car chases.

15. Odonis OdonisPost Plague (Industrial Electro/Darkwave) [Felte]

Where did this come from? Noisy garage-surf also-rans Odonis Odonis tabled two solid but unspectacular albums a few years back and were since presumed to have slid into obscurity / retirement. Instead the wily Canadians have been busy rebranding and industrial darkwaver Post Plague now hits like Soft Moon and HEALTH teaming up to doing NIN covers. After you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, get involved, obviously, and then revel in what yesterday sounds like today.

16. HindsLeave Me Alone (Garage-Pop/C86) [Lucky Number]

“I could do that”, they sneer. “They can’t even play.” That tired, and possibly sexist, argument unravels so quickly when you clap your ears on Leave Me Alone that it’s not even funny. It almost goes without saying that while Hinds’ ramshackle indie is undeniably basic, it’s also unmistakeably full of charm. Sure, a sprinkling of je ne sais quoi makes the whole thing sparkle, but it’s the girls’ melodically strong song-writing that does most of the work … and, no, you couldn’t do that.

17. ChromaticsCherry (Italo Disco/Electro Pop) [ Italians Do It Better]

Though parts of Cherry, notably the title track, have been floating around for a good while now and it was clear it was always going to be a winner, it’s great to finally have the thing complete. Chromatics’ breathy exuberance needs little introduction, their iconic italo-flavoured electro-pop now marginally warmer than once it was, but otherwise still bubbling along just as satisfyingly. Of course, Cherry is just a stopgap until Dear Tommy finally drops, but it’s a tasty morsel to tide us over.

18. Public MemoryWuthering Drum (Darkwave) [Felte]

Slightly nebulous in concept to all but the experts, texture is to music as terroir is to wine. The rather minimal Wuthering Drum is happily the product of a master knob-twiddler, its aesthetic texture dark and ethereal like HTRK, its sparse drum beats, piano and synth-lines somewhere in the ballpark of DJ Shadow. Robert Toher’s ghostly vocal haunts the tapestry unintelligibly, making the serene unsettling. A series of contrasts in tone and tension, Wuthering Drum is musical monochrome.

19. The GotobedsBlood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic (Punk-Rock/Post-Punk) [Sub Pop]

Of all the bands that dominated 2015, it’s perhaps been Protomartyr that 2016 has missed most. Lucky then that The Gotobeds go some way to plugging that gap. Part Pavement, Wire and Television too, this is slacker rock with tight guitar parts and even tighter lyrical observations. Consequently they tumble along for the most part like a harmless drunkard on a rant, but as a paraphrased Oscar Wilde might have said, this drunkard is sat in the gutter looking up at the stars.

20. Creative AdultFear Of Life (Post-Punk/Psych-Rock) [Run For Cover]

Whilst still retaining elements of their white-knuckle, Hookworms-style psych-punk debut, Creative Adult are now more obviously in debt to the angular shadows of the 80s as well. Their tracks pass at a blistering pace, 45 minutes sounding like a much longer LP, say the collective works of Autobahn, Ceremony and Weekend heard via some sort of high-speed dubbing. Fear Of Life is a guitar lover’s post-punk album as a result, and one that avoids any kind of Joy Division pastiche – an art in itself.

21. EagullsUllages (Post-Punk/Goth) [Partisan]

The first Eagulls album was a predictable if enjoyable exercise in Ian Curtis mimicry. The Leeds band have since moved on, but no further than the dreamier end of The Cure and The Chameleons. Ullages is less immediate, perhaps, as a result but so too is it more mature and with better hidden depths. What’s best, though, is that none of this stops it from sounding like the 80s’ best kept secret.

22. Danny & The DarleansBug Out (Garage-Psych/Rock n Roll) [In The Red]

At the rarely visited crossroads of Billy Haley and Jack White lives Danny Kroha, veteran singer/guitarist of garage-blues rockers The Gories, and a guy now making insanely catchy party-garage with which only the most dexterous of jitterbugs will be able to keep time! When does retro become vintage? Kroha may just have found the formula. Turn on. Tune In. And Bug Out.

23. Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree (Singer-Songwriter) [Bad Seed Ltd.]

After the terrible passing of his son, Nick Cave has every right to be emotional, but Skeleton Tree is a spectacularly miserable listen all the same. It’s no wallowing exercise in pity, however, nor one of pained catharsis. It’s the sound only of honest grieving and in a song-writing sense it’s brought of the best of the man. It’s no consolation, of course, but this is the best Nick Cave album in over a decade.

24. SwansThe Glowing Man (Experimental Rock) [Young God]

Another year, another two-hour opus … listening to Swans physically ages a man. Cue then The Glowing Man, which circles the drain like a vulture, draining the life from rock music’s corpse via endurance-test repeats and bouts of ambient noise. Trademark passages of pummelling reinvigorate the mind and body, post-apocalyptic classical fragments seguing into reassuringly eternal background radiation.

25. Helen MoneyBecome Zero (Experimental/Doom-Metal) [Thrill Jockey]

The most metal of cellists ever, Helen Money added piano and power electronics to her minimal cello, distortion and delay pedal set-up in 2016. She’s made many a doomed masterpiece before without them and it’s no surprise she’s made some more here. Drawing extensively on bereavement as influence, Become Zero may be the heaviest record of the year, and one of the most beautiful too.

26. Skinny Girl DietHeavy Flow (Grunge) [Fiasco]

All-girl grunge group Skinny Girl Diet twin DIY feminism with hard-hitting pop, managing to make the distorted whole both fun and furious. The subjects of their angst are, sadly, all too common, but the dextrous and inventive way they spool them out is far from it. Dripping in sneering sarcasm, their dangerous run-time thus coalesces over time into an unstoppable cascade (or heavy flow) of guitars.

27. MerchandiseA Corpse Wired For Sound (Post-Punk/Goth) [4AD]

Carson Cox and his former hardcore compadres went full indie gloom on their top-drawer debut. After an overly pleasant follow-up, Merchandise are mercifully now “reborn as a rock band”. Just as on Totale Night, though, it’s what lurks just beyond the surface that you need to pay most attention to, intricate guitar parts dancing at mid-distance before suddenly lurching for the throat fangs bared.

28. AkranesShadows EP (R&B/Trip-Hop) [Ramber Records]

Amidst slo-mo beats and sub-bass wobble, Ooni Staerck’s frosty vocal hangs in a suspension of Hebden Bridge native Liam Gaunt’s creation, aquatic synths rushing from side to side as he lurches his vessel from dream-pop to trip hop, downbeat neo-R&B to warm glitch-step. Shadows’ soft beats then contrast with abrasive drum compressions making for superlative if lonely, late-night listening.

29. WoodsCity Sun Eater In The River Of Light (Psych-Folk/Dub-Funk) [Woodsist]

Completing a thematic trinity of works that are all highlights of Woods’ career to date, City Sun Eater In The River Of Light adds delightful pedal steel and melt-in-the-mouth wah-wah funk to Woods’ melodic psyche-folk template. The results are naturally laid-back in the extreme and studded with gems start to finish. Squeezing out a stream of liquid funk, ridiculous levels of BBQ bounce emanate from every angle.

30. DaughterI Not To Disappear (Indie/Post-Rock) [4AD]

Way back in January, Not To Disappear detailed urban claustrophobia and tales of loss at appropriately wintery length. Daughter’s fragility is deceptive though, their epic elemental edge often inviting comparison with otherworldly yet steely post-rock. That said, it’s the emotional layers that do the real damage, just as they equally provide each of the LP’s many moments of frosty, indistinct beauty.

31. Tim HeckerLove Streams (Experimental/Drone/Neo-Classical) [4AD]

Love Streams doesn’t feel as lonely as Virgins. And it’s infinitely more approachable than Ravedeath, 1972. Instead, on his eight album, Tim Hecker’s produced an entirely new type of neo-classical, a fusion of the centuries-old with today’s digital corruption in which he opens up his world for greater inspection. Often epic in scale, you’ll still have to do most of looking with a microscope all the same.

32. Muncie GirlsFrom Caplan To Belsize (Indie/Punk-Rock) [Specialist Subject]

Both sugar and spice, Muncie Girls make rousing indie-punk that’s English in its delivery but, with messages of respect, knowledge and freedom, is wholly universal in its appeal. The youth of today isn’t all disaffected, see, but much of it, the part that isn’t apathetic, is still angry. The LP plays out like a map of modern Britain as a result, a melting pot for disparate feels and soapbox from which to shout.

33. espherexplosions in technicolour EP (Ambient Techno/Piano House) [Ramber Records]

Recorded live earlier this year, espher’s fourth EP retains a surface noise to its production. Imprecise patterns tapped out by fingers are favoured over programmes. Urban field recordings breathe life into Ben Pearson’s atmospheric beats, but now his music – spacious textures bolstered by Balearic chill, the ghost of piano-line house and pitch-shifted R&B – shimmers with emotional depth too.

34. NAOFor All We Know (Pop/R&B) [Sony]

Tipped for 2016 success by us as part of last year’s Tasting Notes series, NAO’s major label debut is a thing of spectacularly confident beauty. Sure, she’s riding the post-FKA Twigs wave, neo-soul and svelte R&B production backing up her every move, but like another of this year’s successes, ABRA, is capable not only of beauty, but also of brains and For All We Know surprises as often as it seduces.

35. Puro InstinctAutodrama (Synth-Pop/Goth) [Manifesto]

Largely quiet since 2011, Autodrama is a triumphant return for Puro Instinct, who’ve done away with much of their early shoegazing haze and come full technicolour instead with a collection of nonetheless soft-focus synth-pop. Shadows haunt its every corner, though, a brave face put on over the top of wells of depression, anger and disillusionment. Concealer it may be, but it’s immaculately applied.

36. MitskiPuberty 2 (Singer-Songwriter) [Dead Oceans]

Mitski may be Japanese-born but on her breakout album, Puberty 2 (urgh, can you imagine?), she’s red, white and blue through and through. This is most obvious on sweeping lead single “Your Best American Girl”, a track that could initially be mistaken for someone like Torres, but the unique imagery she displays on dreamier material elsewhere makes her to beholden to no-one but herself.

37. Bon Iver22, A Million (Singer-Songwriter/R&B/Folktronica) [Jagjaguwar]

Back in your box For Emma diehards, Bon Iver’s returned and with, if you’ve paying attention, exactly the sort of glitchy synth-athon he’s been threatening for years. Ghostly gospel, tortured trad-folk, proper song-writing, they’re all here presented under the trademark Vernon lament, but bedecked with a boat load of FX and outrageous vocal manipulation the result is brilliantly, bewilderingly alien.

38. FEHMCircadian Life EP (Post-Punk) [Art Is Hard]

Exercising their right to political protest in the studio rather than the streets, FEHM are a gloomy post-punk trio from a city that celebrates such sounds – Leeds. A strong voice that cuts through today’s echo-chamber society, their debut EP bounces appropriately off the grey angles of brutalist architecture, slate-coloured rain washing away hazy guitars, broken glass crunching under foot.

39. DreamtimeStrange Pleasures (Psych-Rock/Prog) [Cardinal Fuzz]

Many claim to worship at the altar of psychedelic rock, but Dreamtime make it easy to submit to their heavy grooves through shamanistic vocals and full-on guitar idolatry. Strange Pleasures is said to soundtrack an imaginary fantasy film, which translates here into chilly psych-folk, spacey synth epics and exotic ragas. The narrative arc may often be tenuous, but it’s all still quite fascinating.

40. Ian William CraigCentres (Ambient/Drone/Singer-Songwriter) [130701]

A landmark in post-classicism, Centres is truly progressive in the niche while at the same time being the most attainable of the Ian William Craig catalogue to date. Although treated vocals dance amid compositional melodies, digital drones and decay eating away at the recording like acid on celluloid, there’s as much traditional song-writing skill on display here as there is screwed and symphonic.

41. QuiltPlaza (Psych-Folk/Pop) [Mexican Summer]

Quilting is where Americana meets folk tradition. And, intertwined on a kindred level, Quilt is where acoustic psychedelia meets indie and folk-rock. The creaky shadows of their outdoorsy debut ageing now like a fond memory, the Boston band’s primitive edges have been rounded off recently, their easy-going melodies given a shot in the arm on third LP, Plaza, by more straightforward 60s pop.

42. Roly PorterThird Law (Power Electronics/Industrial/Noise) [Tri Angle]

Roly Porter, once of punishing dubstep duo Vex’d, has long since turned away from anything resembling a beat and now works on abstract soundtracks like Third Law, a parallel universe composition in which the earth has been ripped apart by a black hole. Thudding sub-bass whirls into metallic shards as the vortex turns, post-classical dressing doing nothing to disguise its weighty mass.

43. Mateusz FranczakLong Short Story (Ambient/Experimental/Singer-Songwriter) [Too Many Fireworks]

Ambient music is sometimes difficult to engage with, but Franczak’s hyper-intimate missives don’t rely on obscure samples/field capture. Instead, Long Short Story is just him, his guitar, scuffed piano and the cavernous space that surrounds us all. Select strings add something cinematic to the hissing, semi-improv and semi-instrumental jams – amongst which are strewn moments of sheer magic.

44. LUHSpiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing (Indie-Rock) [Mute]

Alongside visual artist Ebony Hoorn, Ellery James Roberts of WU LYF now co-fronts LUH, a striking indie-rock proposition that again makes the most of his even more striking, gruff roar of a vocal. It’s Hoorn that makes the project cohesive though, tempering his anthemic and nihilistic tendencies whilst adding a necessary dose of femininity to Gothic synths and occasionally punishing electro.

45. Gabriel BruceCome All Sufferers (Singer-Songwriter/Indie-Rock) [Luv Luv Luv]

Just as bombastic as Bruce’s stellar debut, but with a shade fewer knockouts, Come All Sufferers is another bout of charismatic, theatrical song-writing that retains its love of the grandiose and absurd. His cabaret style is dialled back, though, due to the multitudinous suffering of the title. This, of course, affords him the chance to play tortured wretch however – a role, it seems, he was born for.

46. AnohniHopelessness (Singer-Songwriter/Electronica) [Rough Trade]

Trying her hand at muscular electronica, Anohni is the inimitable Antony Johnson and Hopelessness a pained reaction to state surveillance, masculine foreign policy, drone warfare, child sexploitation and climate change denial. Addressing so many elephants in the room simultaneously, it’s all far from subtle, but that’s kinda the point. Subtlety and diplomacy no longer work in a post-factual age.

47. MournHa, Ha, He. (Post-Punk/Indie-Rock) [Captured Tracks]

Stepping up their game, and now at the indier end of the post-punk spectrum, Spanish youngsters Mourn now finally sound like they belong at Captured Tracks. Their slight debut offered glimpses of greatness, but Ha, Ha, He. has the more consistent tunes for a better all-round claim. The album’s minimal palette is given much-needed edge by 90s alt-rock motifs and they prove cool companions.

48. IAN SweetShapeshifter (Fuzz/Dream-Pop) [Hardly Art]

Built on the lonely displacement of having moved home, as well as against a backdrop of depression, panic attacks and heartbreak, Jilian Bedford peels herself off the canvass time and time again on Shapeshifter as her fuzzy guitars split the difference between Waxahatchee and Best Coast. Her bruises even come dressed in self-deprecation with the subtle implication that this, too, will pass.

49. VHSGift Of Life (Post-Punk) [Suicide Squeeze]

With little fanfare, Seattle-based Violent Human System/VHS’s second full-length manages to worm its way into your heart as their Gift Of Life is an unassuming post-punker that tends to do away with fireworks in favour of almost post-hardcore intensity. The run-time may not even hit the half-hour mark, but yet its content still covers – in a pantone, rather than porn sense – all fifty shades of grey.

50. PreoccupationsPreoccupations (Post-Punk) [Jagjaguwar]

How to differentiate yourself from the now infamous and since retired Viet Cong moniker? First up, don’t do away with what isn’t broken. Keep then the scree of parent-band Women. Keep the post-punk gloom in place before the rebranding too. And then throw loads of 80s synth at what remains and hope some sticks. Preoccupations is a patchy LP as a result, but one with some killer moments.

The best of the rest (no particular order):

JEFF The BrotherhoodZone (Garage-Rock) [Infinity Cat]
BleachedWelcome The Worms (Garage-Rock/Pop-Punk) [Dead Oceans]
Jenny HvalBlood Bitch (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Pop) [Sacred Bones]
Ghost WaveRadio Norfolk (Indie/Psych) [Flying Nun]
TWINSMusic From The Insider II (Darkwave/Post-Punk) [Clan Destine]
AbraPrincess EP (R&B/Pop) [True Panther]
Uniform Ghosthouse EP (Noise Rock/Industrial) [Sacred Bones]
Katie GatelyColor (Experimental/Pop) [Tri Angle]
Hoops Hoops EP (Indie/Dream-Pop) [ Fat Possum]
GnodMirror (Experimental/Noise-Rock) [Rocket Recordings]
Whyte HorsesPop Or Not (Psych-Pop) [CRC Music]
Pity SexWhite Hot Moon (Shoegaze) [Run For Cover]
Feral OhmsLive In San Francisco (Proto-Punk/Psych-Rock) [Castle Face]
MarthaBlisters In The Pit Of My Heart (Indie/Punk-Rock/Emo) [Fortuna Pop!]
The AmazingAmbulance (Indie/Dream-Pop) [Partisan]
Moonface & SiinaiMy Best Human Face Experimental/Singer-Songwriter) [Jagjaguwar]
Exploded ViewExploded View (Experimental/Psych) [Sacred Bones]
NotsCosmetic (Punk-Rock) [Heavenly]
Lorelle Meets The ObsoleteBalance (Shoegaze/Psych-Rock) [Captcha]
PillConvenience (Art-Punk) [Mexican Summer]
Ty SegallEmotional Mugger (Garage/Psych-Rock) [Drag City]
Julianna BarwickWill (Ambient/Dream-Pop) [Dead Oceans]
Car Seat HeadrestTeens Of Denial (Indie/Punk/Slacker-Rock) [Matador]
Angel OlsenMy Woman (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Country) [Jagjaguwar]
Sheer MagIII EP (Punk/Rock) [Static Shock]
Ela OrleansCircles Of Upper And Lower Hell (Experimental/Synth-Pop) [Night School]
RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool (Indie) [XL Recordings]
Diarrhea PlanetTurn To Gold (Rock) [Infinity Cat]
Thee Oh SeesA Weird Exits (Garage-Psych/Kraut-Rock) [Castle Face]
G.L.O.S.S.Trans Day Of Revenge EP (Hardcore Punk) [Total Negativity]
Kevin MorbySinging Saw (Singer-Songwriter) [Dead Oceans]
Wild RaccoonHalf Pine Cone (Garage-Psych) [Howlin’ Banana]
WallWall EP (Post-Punk) [Wharf Cat]
Big Naturals & AnthroprophhBig Naturals & Anthroprophh (Noise-Rock/Drone/Krautrock) [Cardinal Fuzz]
Adult JazzEarrings Off! EP (Experimental/Psyche-Pop) [Tri Angle]
Black MountainIV (Psych-Rock) [Jagjaguwar]
Big DealSay Yes (Pop-Rock) [FatCat]
Fear Of MenFall Forever (Dream-Pop/Indie-Pop) [Kanine]
Big ThiefMasterpiece (Singer-Songwriter/Folk) [Saddle Creek]
Cullen OmoriNew Misery (Dream-Pop/Indie-Rock) [Sub Pop]
La SeraMusic For Listening To Music To (Garage-Pop/Indie) [Polyvinyl]
Cross RecordWabi Sabi (Dream-Pop/Goth) [Ba Da Bing!]
Little ScreamCult Following (Experimental Pop) [Merge]
So PittedNeo (Noise-Rock/Post-Punk) [Sub Pop]
Pop. 1280Paradise (Noise-Rock/Industrial) [Sacred Bones]
SunwatchersSunwatchers (Psych/Drone/Kosmiche/Jazz) [ Castle Face ]
Spacin’Total Freedom (Psych-Rock) [Agitated]
FeelsFeels (Garage-Rock/Pop) [Castle Face]
Big UpsBefore A Million Universes (Post-Hardcore) [Tough Love/Brace Yourself]
Emily WellsPromise (Freak-Folk/Orchestral Pop) [Thesis & Instinct]