Phil Jones tells us his top five albums of 2016
The Last Shadow Puppets- Everything You’ve Come To Expect
After an 8 year hiatus, TLSP returned with a sound bigger, bolder and straight out of their rock and roll fantasies. With the Scott Walker-esque strings replaced with tight basslines and an injection of soul, Turner and Kane swaggered through eleven standout songs. With tongues firmly lodged in cheeks, TSLP sizzled and soared above their indie-rock competition with tracks based around disreputable habits, flying vehicles and Miles Kane-centred dreams. For some this would be a step too far, but for everyone else the year of TLSP was a true delight.
Sunflower Bean – Human Ceremony
New York has always been a cooler-than-thou city, and every year produces a new band to set the music world alight in the customary uniform of a denim jacket and sunglasses. Sunflower Bean’s debut record Human Ceremony takes the psych guitar of Tame Impala, the melodic ambivalence of The Cure and Cocteau Twins and filters it through the NY Cool of the Velvet Underground. Sunflower Bean haven’t attempted to reinvent the wheel, but instead have delivered a really solid group of tracks that is as delightful on twentieth listen as it is on first. If you want a new band to believe in, this is it.
David Bowie – Blackstar
How do you even comprehend an album so monstrously important as this? Blackstar is not only a defining moment of music as a whole, but is an evocative and beautiful farewell from one of the true masters of popular music. Not willing to go quietly into the night, David Bowie spent his final moments on this planet crafting a forward-thinking, experimental record which challenged everyone’s expectations of what a Bowie album in 2016 would sound like. In a year marked by such tragedy, it is inspiring to see an elder statesmen stare death in the face and say goodbye on his own terms. David Bowie was a true auteur until the end.
Frank Ocean – Blonde
Back in 2012, Channel Orange transported Frank Ocean into the musical stratosphere, a location he has occupied so strongly that the only person able to bring him back down to Earth was himself. With Blonde being one of the most anticipated albums of recent years, there was no way that the finished article would ever be able to please everyone. However, what Ocean was able to provide us with was an intimate portrait of his inner psyche, a deconstruction of his humanity and road mind to the true meaning of what it is to be Frank Ocean. There may be less standout tunes than the previous record, but Ocean has sacrificed hit singles for an overarching theme and tone. As perfect for background listening on a quiet afternoon as it is for intensely analysed listening sessions, Ocean has produced another masterpiece.
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!
2016 was Donald Glover’s finest year yet, with his Atlanta TV series receiving rave reviews and the announcement of his Star Wars casting being met with rabid enthusiasm. However, the crowning glory of this year was the December-released tour de force effort that is Awaken, My Love! Leaving behind his previous hip hop flow and taking up the role of soul lounger and funk crooner, Glover raided the record collections of Marvin Gaye and Isaac Hayes to create a tortured, personal record that never forgets to bring the funk and always leaves you with a smile on your face. Childish Gambino has truly been awoken.