Seems like an apt image for the year (the other was the Grim Reaper laughing), 2016 has been a bit of a shit year in some ways and in others it has been a fantastic year for music and some of it has really painful. But, it has never been boring; pain and brutal as fuck, yes it has been that, but it has never been dull and in the next few years with some of the fun and games that are happening, it is going to get even more interesting. But my view on the world of politics is not why you have come here (fuck Trump, Brexit and the right wing of politics), you can come here because of music and this is my own personal top forty records of 2016. I have had some gems this year and it is has also had some stinkers, it was a hard task to narrow the list down to forty to be honest; but as my list was magically long last time, I have cut it down to the absolute quality top forty (for myself). BTW - You can vote for the 2016 ATTIWLTMOWOS album of the year 'HERE'!
40 - Baby Scream - Life's A Trap
If you are looking for the next Beach Boys influenced pop, you should start with the workings of Juan Pablo Mazzola (aka Baby Scream). Life's A Trap is a bit of a downer in places, but it is still so well-crafted that it really should be bigger. Here is a link to our review.
39 - The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
As endings go, this is pretty spot on to be honest. Brutal as ever, extreme as ever and uncompromising from beginning to end; they can be proud of their work and know that they did it on their own terms all the way. Here is a link to our review.
38 - MPG Experts - Fucking Donald To Death
This is quite possibly one of the bat-crap craziest releases I have ever had the joy to listen to. It feels like a work of art and chaos, as if the two things are mutually exclusive things. It was not the smoothest of releases and it is a little bit strange in places, but as far as avant-garde pop noise goes, I love that this sort of music is being created and applaud the effort behind it. Crazy, but so are a lot of my heroes. Sadly, I have found that the MPG Experts Bandcamp is no more, sad times and all that jazz. Here is a link to our review.
37 - Mantar - Ode to the Flame
The follow up to 'Death by Burning' which was my favourite album of 2014, 'Ode to the Flame' is a strong and intense follow up. It does not put a foot wrong and I still think that the mark of ten out of ten is designed for this band, much like Conan they are Titans in my music collection. If you want your music heavy, noisy and loud - check out Mantar! Here is a link to our review.
36 - Leonard Cohen - You Want It Dark
In a year that saw the passing of so many musical legends, this one was a hard one for a lot of people to take and Mr Cohen left with a stone-cold stunner of an album. Here was a man who knew time was short and was not afraid of death, but faced the Grim Reaper as an equal and was ready to face his own judgement. Rest well Mr Cohen, rest well. Here is a link to our review.
35 - Every Time I Die - Low Teens
An album built on passion, noise, chaos and seeing how far their own open envelope can be pushed, this was a tour-de-force from Every Time I Die. They have sound as if they still have more in the tanks and it is only going to get more chaotic, what is there not to love here? Here is a link to our review.
34 - Lucy Stoner - The Mirror Is A Personal Hell
I adore noise and drone, I love it when bands make albums in different packaging (the tape came in a metal case which you had to prise open). The music was a build on their last album 'Who Is Lucy Stoner' and musically it can shake the pillars of any room at the right volume. I cannot wait for their next move and this one is a treasured item in my collection. Here is a link to our review.
33 - Touché Amoré - Stage Four
A powerful statement of the final days of his Mother's life as she succumbed to cancer, 'Stage Four' is another dark moment this year. Have made an incredibly personal album in 2016, one filled with pain, loss and love; approach with caution and care. Here is a link to our review.
32 - Justice – Woman
The third album from French Electronica Duo Justice is an unexpected gem for this listener, showing progression on every level and making the type of music that was hinted at on their debut '†'. The growth on 'Woman' cannot be understated and it is hard to ignore them anymore. Here is a link to our review.
31 - Boy Jumps Ship - Wake Up
Punk rock from the North East of England that is full of passion, a sense of grounding and aspirations for the future, ‘Wake Up’ is as good a punk album as you will find in 2016. The album feels so personal and it is one that I have kept coming back to as well. Here is a link to our review.
30 - James - Girl At The End Of The World
Veterans of the UK Indie Rock scene, James have been enjoying a new lease of life these last few years, the music has been changing and growing. On 'Girl At The End Of The World', it went into light speed and it eclipsed their so-called golden period of 'Gold Mother' & 'Seven'. They have been exploiting a new groove since reforming in 2007, this album is the cherry on top of the cake. Here is a link to our review.
29 - Waheela - Treading on Weird Lines
Waheela - Noise Masters extraordinaire; after 'No Funeral' the band took a long time to come up with 'Treading on Weird Lines' and it was time well spent. Savage as always, full of noise, depth defying bass and sonic notes that will be felt in your bones. To be played as loud as possible, so everyone can bask in the noise. Here is a link to our review.
28 - Ty Segall - Emotional Beggar
Art-house rocker, Garage noise maker and all-round maverick/good egg Ty Segall is one of those artists which always sounds as if it is going to combust, but he somehow manages to look the beast in the eye until it blinks and turn it into a glorious canvas of sound and light. This is not an easy listen, in some places it is what some people would call “off the beaten track so far that a map and compass would not help”; but that is the joy of it, we need albums with such Ty Segall to forge new paths such as ‘California Hills’, ‘Diversion’ & ‘Candy Sam’. Loud and heavy in places, off the wall in others. Here is a link to our review.
27 - Marillion - F.E.A.R.
Veteran Progressive Rock act Marillion have been one of the UK’s best kept secret success stories in recent years. Pioneering the Pledge Music style campaign when the fans pay for the album in advance, they have been releasing some quality albums, the latest being ‘Fuck Everything And Run’ (‘F.E.A.R.’ for short). A multi-layered piece that is created with craftsman-like ease and it make you wonder how they ended up the butt of so many jokes over the years. This album should be ignored at your peril. Here is a link to our review.
26 - Various Artists - Sweet Sound Records: Spring Sampler 2016
As compilations go, this one is a spectacular release from our American cousins based in Swansboro, NC. As eclectic as this blog, it showcases the underground in America and not the one you read about in the popular press. There are some genius songs on this release and it has brought so great bands to my life. Here is a link to our review.
25 - Gojira – Magma
Created in the aftermath of death & loss, Gojira has come back with one of the best pieces of music that they have ever committed to record. In a year where Metallica came back with a new metal opus, Gojira have left all other thrash & groove metal acts in their wake, they are still on their own path and they do not seem to be deviating any time soon. Here is a link to our review.
24 - The Pop Group - Honeymoon on Mars
One of the original Post Rock bands are continuing from where ‘Citizen Zombie’ left off and challenging the perceived “norms” of music and making a lot of noise. Currently on tour as I write this (go & see them if you can, you will love it), ‘Honeymoon on Mars’ is another political statement that reflects the mood of the nation and it is not pretty; what a great album. Here is a link to our review.
23 - Face to Face - Protection
It seems to have been a great year for American Punk band for me, it was nice to see the return of Face to Face and their album ‘Protection’. Fast pace, frantic punk with more hooks than on a fishing boat and some fantastic song. Here is a link to our review.
22 - Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits
Thee Oh Sees are a band I have an awful amount of time and respect for, this year they have released one of their strongest releases with ‘A Weird Exits’. It is Garage rock explosion that has been winning them high praise which is being laid at their feet. A sea of rock which can enthral and it makes such a good racket that it demands to be played loud. Here is a link to our review.
21 - Neurosis - Fires Within Fires
Speaking of music that sound be played loud, the legend that is Neurosis have returned with a five-track album that runs over an hour in length and is Post Hardcore/Sludge noise that is their best work since ‘The Eye of Every Storm’. Here is a link to our review.
20 - Love Sex Machine - Asexual Anger
One of the first submissions I received in 2016 and it is also one of the loudest of the year as well, the musical equivalent of slow moving lava and it is just as destructive. In a year when heavy music has been reaching new levels of intensity, this has been one of the mainstays on this list from beginning to end. Here is a link to our review.
19 - Autoheart - I Can Build A Fire
A cover roulette choice which turned out to be one of those records which takes you by surprise. Succeeding where acts like Years and Years & Bastille have failed, this is how an alternative synth pop album should sound. It has passion, drama and a bucket load of top quality tunes. Here is a link to our review.
18 - Pinegrove – Cardinal
After seeing these guys live in Newcastle, I made a promise to check out their second album ‘Cardinal’ and it did not disappoint. A heartfelt piece of Americana that is as gentle as a breeze and strong as an earthquake, it was a captivating listen. Over a little too soon maybe, but it was still dripping in quality. Here is a link to our review.
17 - Dinosaur Jr. - Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not
This album is an album that does two things for Dinosaur Jr. - firstly, it keeps them relevant to new comers and it will also keep the hardcore fan base extremely happy. It has everything you want from the band, plus some classics in waiting on the album that will become staples of the Dinosaur Jr. set for years to come. The second thing it accomplishes is that it does not fuck with the legacy of the band, it is a worthwhile addition to that back catalogue and in years to come I have a feeling that it will actually be one of the highest rated album from Messrs Mascis, Barlow and Murph. Here is a link to our review.
16 - The Divine Comedy – Foreverland
It has been far too long since Neil Hannon has released anything under the banner of The Divine Comedy that it started to look as if the ultimate gentleman of pop had quietly left the building. Thankfully this was not the case as ‘Foreverland’ as he continues to deliver his own brand of pop with wit, charm, grace and with the voice that would tempt angels and demons to join him in a choir. Full of wit and charm, this album is a fantastic classic pop record. Here is a link to our review.
15 - Taking Back Sunday - Tidal Wave
This album is quite high up my personal list, despite being an album which loses its way for the second half of the album. The main reason it is so high is simple, that opening section of the album is so strong, so full of catchy emo/alternative rock that it would have been a crime to ignore. ‘Death Wolf’, ‘Tidal Wave’, ‘You Can’t Look Back’ and ‘Fences’ are a top-quality quartet of songs and have driven this album up my list. Here is a link to our review.
14 - This Wild Life - Low Tides
This album has been living a charmed life since it was first brought to my attention, something which I am eternally grateful for. As I said on the blog, emotional music is sometimes really hard to mark, even hard to make as well; this album is a beautiful acoustic emotional punk album, with fantastic song, great vocals and it ends before it starts to repeat itself. It is a sleeper hit for the year, something I might regret not being higher; but it is a beautiful piece of music. Here is a link to our review.
13 - The Virginmarys – Divide
it is a blast from beginning to finish with each track being as memorable as the last. There are a few growers in the mix, which keep on giving with each release and sometimes that is needed. It does have a sound that is a little retro in places with an alternative rock sound that has been missing from the music scene, but it still has a current edge to the album as well; it is a special release with the work of the band and producer Gil Norton being of an incredibly high standard and it will be welcome by any fan of punk, grunge and alternative music as a whole - purchase now, why have you not purchase it? Here is a link to our review.
12 - Blink-182 – California
Apart from a few joke tracks on this album, ‘California’ is quite possibly the best thing that Blink-182 have ever released. The addition of Matt Skiba is very good and you can hear his influence on the album, also it is good that he does not try to be Tom DeLonge part II. That would have been horrible to hear, but they stay away from that one thankfully. You also don't miss Tom DeLonge during the album and this can only be seen as a good thing, to be honest it is as if he was not here at all and that is a strong position for the band to build from. Here is a link to our review.
11 - Anthrax - For All Kings
It was really hard to pick which song would not be making my top ten, but that does not take anything away from how much I love this album. From beginning to end and I have not been so impressed by Anthrax since my beloved ‘Sound of White Noise’, there is a fire and belief behind this record that I have not heard for such a long time. The riffs, the sound, the fact Belladonna seems to be at ease with himself now, everything about this album just screams class for me. Here is a link to our review.
10 - David Bowie – Blackstar
It was a dark day when Mr Bowie left this sphere, but had did leave one more gem before departing behind the curtain. It is a jazz heavy album from a rock star who we all thought was grown old gracefully, well he has just stuck two fingers up at that idea and released a glorious piece of art. It may not have a "Strangers When We Meet" or a "Queen Bitch", but it has a collective spirit which is so rare in music these days (sadly even more so). Here is a link to our review.
09 - NOFX - First Ditch Effort
As I start off writing this list, I know that Luke is finishing off his review of the album for the album. But as this will be posted afterwards, you will have already read about it. But here is my take; offensive, hilarious, moving and fun - everything you want from a NOFX album and much more, it is such a fucking great album! Short and simple here, check out the record. Here is a link to our review.
08 - Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
As surprise releases go for 2016, this one was hoped for and delivered. After removing their digital footprint from the internet, they released ‘Burn the Witch’ and the far superior ‘Daydreaming’ before dropping the album. It is a sparse record, the absence of the electronica sound and (for the most part) the electric guitars are very refreshing to these ears. It will be viewed as a break up record, but some of these songs pre-date the recent private events that have effected some of the band members. You can sense that this album is destined to be a companion for people on those long, dark nights to help people reach the dawn with some sanity still attached. Here is a link to our review.
07 - The Wonder Stuff - 30 Goes Around The Sun
I keep coming back to this album, especially the song 'Don't You Ever' which sends shivers up my spine each time I hear it. I love every piece of music on this album, the passion, the drive, the fact that the band are dealing with their past, their age and still making music that is relevant to these ears. One day they will play those stadiums they mock... 😜 Seriously thought, they have a great thing going on and in such a good environment, it is really no surprise that they are able to create such a great album, it’s the fucking Wonder Stuff after all! Here is a link to our review.
06 - Jimmy Eat World - Integrity Blue
I like it when a band can make a record that makes me change my attitude and eat my words, Jimmy Eat World have done that with this record. I will admit that it is top heavy with slower number and they would be an argument for a bit of energy to be added to the album, but I also I see a craftsmanship to the music that is not always visible from a lot of bands that can be considered their peers. Still say ‘Sure & Certain’ is one of the best songs of 2016. Here is a link to our review.
05 - Bad Rabbits - American Nightmare
This album, oh this album…... it is a brilliant record from the stunning image on the cover to the music that does not stay still for a moment; I find this album to be one of the best records to come from over the waves in 2016. Combining Rock, Metal, R&B, Pop, Funk, Alternative and his royal badass, this album has everything going for it and it is a worth album for the end of the year. I would recommend you all get a copy as soon as possible, you will not regret it as it is one of the best albums of the latter half of 2016. Here is a link to our review.
04 - Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
Thrice really pulled out all the stops here and ‘To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’ is a powerhouse of Alternative Rock in 2016. It is a moody and dark release, it has a striking cover and some anthems to rejoice and lose your own sense of love & loss into when the events and mood require. Here is a link to our review.
03 - Dälek - Asphalt of Eden
Dälek have taken just seven songs to change me into a believer of their sound and I am wanting to heard more of their sounds as soon as possible. Musically, they are as important as The Bug & Death Grips in terms of noise and as important in terms of protest as D'Angelo & The Vanguard. They bring something totally unique to the table and it is such a brilliant release; I am trying to find an issue with the release and apart from wanting more (which is just selfish), I cannot think of one. Here is a link to our review.
02 - Whores – Gold
This is as good an album as I could have hope for and much more, it is a distorted piece of art that levels the reverb ringing in your ears for long after it has finished. The band sound as if the fire is just starting to grow and the confidence, noise and attitude on this release is absolutely fantastic. It has been far too long since an alternative release sounded like the distortion peddle was being used correctly and it is about time a record sounded as if it was barking orders at the audience. From beginning to end, this is just as good as anything else I have heard this year. Here is a link to our review.
01 - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Key
Was it going to be anything else? Could it have been anything else? I usually wrap myself in knot over my top album of the year; this year the top four have always been in the top section from when they were released and from when I first wrote this list, they have not move position. 'Skeleton Key' is the most emotionally raw album I have ever heard, I well up with tears when I start to think about it, let alone try to listen to it. I am banned from doing that on my own after I was found weeping, but it is such an honest and emotive album that it is hard not to be moved by the sense of lost on the record. It may have been wrote before the tragedy that befell the Cave household, but the sense of loss and pain from that event have affected the album in ways that cannot be articulated; you must listen to the record to hear it to experience it. I find it to be a cathartic release and I think it deserves all the praise it has received and more, best album on 2016 by a long mark. Here is a link to our review.
So that is it for the year, let’s hope that 2017 is better and be kind to each other, we only have one planet and we are only on it for a short time. May your deity guide you to safer shores and all that jazz! Remember, you can vote for your ATTIWLTMOWOS album of the year here.