[sic] Magazine

Editor’s Albums Of The Year 2016

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When I look at fashion, today, EVERYTHING seems to be in. All at once. Flares, skinny fit, those ‘urban’ jeans that ride low on the arse with the sole purpose of revealing branded undies… (words can’t express how much I hate that). Lumberjack shirts! Jackets that look like sleeping bags. Different eras collide. A walk through the city centre confirms it. I remain routinely out of fashion(s).

I was never in.

Next up, a thumb through the more respected year-end lists reveals Bowie, Iggy, Leonard Cohen, Bon Iver, Green Day, Kings Of Leon, James Blake, Swans, Wire, Beyoncé… and her sister!!! What year was this supposed to be again? What decade even?

Hold the phone, ______ (insert year of choice) wants its Album Of The Year list back!!!

A strange old 2016 then, punctuated by heavyweight losses. Of the two most lauded ‘farewell’ albums, Blackstar is probably the more interesting. Disputing whether or not it is Bowie‘s most relevant since Let’s Dance seems abstract and futile to me. Just listen to the record. We didn’t know him, only his music and that has been rendered immortal.

There seems to be two types of music magazine now. The traditionalist and the pretentious. Have you listened to the stuff in some of those lists? You can’t. It’s unlistenable. A series of art installations punctuated by the occasional R&B staple. I swear I saw something called ‘How to grow a migraine’…. You couldn’t make it up.

My 2016 list isn’t supposed to be industry encompassing or a platform for showing how relevant I am. It’s what I liked, pure and simple. Hopefully that’s what readers are really interested in. So let’s go. A word first for some unlucky disqualifications. First up, Ocean Hope whose Chamber Dreams got the remix treatment this year although the original (and best) EP came in 2015. Very cool though. Next and very dear to my heart is NutopiansWhat Does The Future Sound Like? to which the answer is firmly 1984. A brilliant post-punk revival album that I heard in January but I believe was technically a 2015 release. As was Last Year’s Leaves – Tape Reflections Vol: 1 by My Autumn Empire, one half of epic45 who we simply adore to the heavens here.

Bubbling under my top ten. I thought Jenny Hval‘s Blood Bitch was interesting although the concept of menstruating vampires was somewhat non sequitur. (Werewolf surely?) FEHM and DIIV were terrific releases and I refer you to Rob Gannon‘s always excellent Sub Editor’s End Of The Year List(s). (Link below) There you really can get down with the hipsters. I loved the Wire album. Everyone loves Wire, right? Mogwai were Mogwai. They don’t really do albums do they? Just terrific tracks. I did appreciate Radiohead‘s A Moon Shaped Pool. Although it was admittedly patchy it was made more poignant by Yorkes personal loss.

Brett Spaceman’s Top Ten Albums of 2016

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1. HammockEverything And Nothing. (Hammock Music) [Ambient]

Our Tennessee Titans re-emerged with the perfect tonic …an album that fixed all the wrongs of its predecessor. ‘Clarity’ is the sound of a band rubbing its eyes after a heavy night and deciding to make today brilliant. Which they do. Where Oblivion Hymns layered on the hazy melancholy and forgot the zip. Everything And Nothing counterbalances its aching loss with urgency and an accessibility bordering upon pop. The title track is propulsive. ‘Dissonance’ shimmers like a lost m83 classic and ‘Burning Down The Fascination’ steals the show. Of course, Hammock being Hammock, all the bright shiny gems are punctuated by trademark neo-classical ambience. Even the artwork looks like Christmas.

Not perhaps an ‘every day’ play.
Not an everyday band.

We will put some songs underneath. Have a listen at the foot of the article.

NB. Try to get hold of the (at least digital) bonuses. ‘Devil Wind’ is a thing of shattering beauty.

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2. Tiger LouThe Wound Dresser (Startracks Label).[Alternative]

As well as the year of farewells, 2016 also had its share of comeback albums. Sweden’s Tiger Lou is the solo project of Rasmus Kellerman, who hadn’t been active since 2008. Its arena alternative with an emo edge. The Wound Dresser far exceeded expectations.

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3. Minor VictoriesMinor Victories (P.I.A.S.) [Alternative/ Shoegaze]

Supergroups are usually less than the sum of their parts and often worth avoiding altogether. Not so Minor Victories. Comprising Rachel Goswell from Slowdive and Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai) it was inevitable I’d pick this up. My highlight was ‘Scattered Ashes’; a staggering duet with The Twilight Sad‘s James Graham.

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4. Shield PatternsMirror Breathing (Gizeh Records) [Trip hop/ambient]

Flickering , fluttering haunted ambience from the Manchester based couple.

Genre silo-busters, these two.

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5. American FootballLP2 (Polyvinyl Records) [Emo, Alt rock]

Another comeback. Another winner in overtime from American Football. Not all the fans loved it. I did.

“Some things never change. Maybe that’s okay?”

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6. Ian William CraigCentres (FatCat) [IDM, Ambient]

There’s always a FatCat release in my list. C Duncan last year, The Twilight Sad….(cough).. every year. This time Ian William Craig unveils a hymnal, ‘wrapped in static’ record flickering between trancier side of IDM and gothic grandeur. Probably the most remarkable album in the list. Not unlike Tobias Lilja or a cyberpunk This Mortal Coil. Hear it to believe it.

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7. Jesu/Sun Kil MoonJesu/Sun Kil Moon (Caldo Verde) [Post Metal Indie Folk….I know!]

Rob Gannon writes about this in his Sub Editor’s Albums Of The Year (link below) and he nails it. Jesu’s Justin Broadrick lends his electronics to Kozelek inimitable shtick in a similar way Jimmy Lavalle with Perils Of The Sea. Jesu being Jesu this one’s a bit darker in tone. Kozelek’s ramblings move ever more abstract material but it works, dammit.

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8. Sunflower BeanHuman Ceremony (Fat Possum Records) [C86 Dreampop]

“Human Ceremony emerges at the intersection of dreamy modern psychedelica and urgent fuzzed-out bliss” Their own words and who are we to disagree. Light, summery and shimmery. Oh, and good to see Bob Dylan looking so well.

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9. Soft KillChoke (Profound Lore Records) [Post punk]

A slice of old skool post-punk with Goth leanings. They cite The Chameleons and The Sound as influences but they’re less melodic. More… insistent. Their reference points are probably closer to Xymox and Sisters Of Mercy.

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10. EagullsUllages (Partisan Records) [Indie]

Begrudging top ten gatecrasher of the year. George Mitchell‘s gurgling Robert Smithisms are too ‘on the nose’ for me to take even remotely seriously. I want to dismiss them outright yet Ullages has too many earworms to ever fully shift. A giant leap forward from the raw material exhibited on their eponymous 2014 debut.

Summary:

1. Hammock – Everything and Nothing
2. Tiger Lou – The Wound Dresser
3. Minor Victories – Minor Victories
4. Shield Patterns – Mirror Breathing
5. American Football – LP2
6. Ian William Craig – Centres
7. Soft Kill – Choke
8. Sunflower Bean – Human Ceremony
9. Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
10. Eagulls– Ullages

Sub Editors Albums And EP’s of the year.

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