Album of the Year 2016; The Opinions

It’s nearly time for our Album of the Year! Before we reveal ourselves (ooh, matron!), we asked some friends to do the same, with a few words on their personal #1…

Cameron Law (@Deadend_Friend) – TCOV Contributor / Best Beard 2016

1. PUP – The Dream is Over
2. Weezer – White Album
3. Touche Amore – Stage Four
4. Three Trapped Tigers – Silent Earthling
5. Black Peaks – Statues
6. Oathbreaker – Rhiea
7. Milk Teeth – Vile Child
8. Tiny Moving Parts – Celebrate
9. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation
10. Muncie Girls – From Caplan to Belsize

“Building on from their tremendous self-titled debut record, Canadian punk quartet PUP returned in 2016 with their sophomore effort The Dream is Over and managed to somehow better their debut. This record builds upon the catchy hooks, huge distorted guitars and memorable lyrics by adding a real sense of angst and raw emotion to this record. Tracks such as Sleep In Heat which deal with overcoming the loss of a pet and If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will which tackles of the stress and tensions that the bands relentless touring schedule are packed full of memorable hooks which in places are immediately great but in other places become greater appreciated with multiple listens. The Dream is Over is 10 tracks of memorable angsty punk rock with great pop sensibilities and is an album that’ll be remembered as a punk rock classic in years to come, there’s not a weak song on this record and if there’s any justice in music PUP will surely become one of this decades most successful punk bands.”

Dan Buckingham (@DanBuckingham_) – TCOV Contributor / Local Drunk

EDITOR – Dan copped out by claiming that he couldn’t order his albums. When pushed, he gave #1 to LJG and co. He also as you might see, can’t count and has chosen his 10 favourite albums as a list of 13. With 4 honourable mentions. Forward all abuse to the above Twitter link.

1. Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me
Blink 182 – California
Brian Fallon – Painkillers
Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
Descendents – Hypercafium Spazzinate
Every Time I Die – Low Teens
The Falcon – Gather Up The Chaps
Moose Blood – Blush
Plague Vendor – Bloodsweat
Recreations – Baby Boomers 2
Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave
White Lung – Paradise
The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep

Honourable Mentions
Boston Manor – Be Nothing
So So Glos – Kamikaze
We Are Scientists – Helter Skelter
The Dirty Nil – Higher Power

The Rt Hon. Kieran Moore (@Sheer_Music) – Sheer Music Head Honcho

1. Chris Farren – Can’t Die
2. Tellison – Live On A Boat On The Thames
3. Beach Slang. – Loud Brash Of Teenage Feelings
4. Thought – Forms – Songs About Drowning
5. Johnny Foreigner – Mono No Aware
6. Ducking Punches – Fizzy Brain
7. Yndi Halda – Under Summer
8. Chris T-T – 9 Green Songs
9. Beans On Toast – A Spanner In The Works
10. Animal Collective – Painting With

Kieran wants to make you work for his words, so will elaborate more over at

Mike Barham (@mbarham1138) – Local Musician & Journo (The Ocelot) / Camp Sheer Tent Troll

1. Black Peaks – Statues
2. The Qemists – Warrior Sound
3. Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
4. Hacktivist – Outside The Box
5. Gaz Brookfield – I Know My Place
6. Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty
7. Phil Cooper – Things I’ll Never Say
8. Babymetal – Metal Resistance
9. Beans on Toast – A Spanner in the Works
10. Nick Johnston – Remarkably Human

“2016 has been a fucking disgrace for human kind in general, but at least will still have incredible musicians cranking out some absolute belters to give us some form of distraction. I’ve chosen Black Peaks – Statues as my album of year purely because it represents everything I think music can and should be. It’s progressive, it’s raw, powerful, changeable and carries so many elements in a simple 11 track album. The addition of one of my idols in Jamie Lenman is a bonus and a half, but on the whole, I felt it was the most rounded choice for album of the year. The whole list was tough to choose however, but every artist on there has had an incredible year and deserves praise of the highest order. I’m not saying my praise is worth that, simply they should get it from somewhere!

However, should Mongol Horde drop an album in the final days of 2016, I withhold my right to change this list entirely…”

Jordan Whatley (@JordanWhatley) – Local Musician / aka The Hound On The Mountain

1. David Bowie – Blackstar
2. Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree
3. Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch
4. Esben And The Witch – Older Terrors
5. Savages – Adore Life
6. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
7. Anohni – Hopelessness
8. Yak – Alas Salvation
9. Thought Forms – Songs About Drowning
10. S U R V I V E – RR7349

“What is there to say about this… I fell in love with this album on the day of release and this was before i even understood what the album was about… even now I’m not sure but it is a fitting end to a career that has reached every crevice of the musical spectrum. It feels almost as if Bowie was moving towards the dark movements of fellow musicians such as Scott Walker and creating real atmosphere and art. Outstanding and will long live as one of my favourite albums of all time.”

Chris T-T (@ChrisTT) – Musician / DJ / Music’s Nicest Man

1. Beyoncé – Lemonade (Parkwood / Sony)

In some ways, both my top two records permit the same half-whispered (yet actually constantly discussed) tabloid-ish subtext of real-life hurt to the artist, that forces one into a position of slight voyeurism as one listens. Maybe it helps open up the emotions. Maybe there’s even a sense of guilt, even as we connect to something ‘private’ (whatever that means anymore). But for the record, I simply didn’t give a shit if Beyoncé’s concept album launchpad of uncovering a partner’s infidelity was her real life, a complete fiction, or somewhere in between. It’s not a sociological behemoth; it’s a pop music one. That it teases out such pap analysis is just another twist.

Lemonade takes this explosive yet intimate domestic starting point and forcibly expands it outwards into a meditation and a clarion call that embraces the whole world – political and social. I honestly think it’s the greatest expression so far (ever) in the music world of the artist as ‘executive producer’, utilising all resource, drawing all threads together. It’s not that it skips across genre, it’s simply that anything useful is used in service of the story Beyoncé wants to tell. She’s a great, great filmmaker waiting to happen. And by the way, yes the fantastic Lemonade TV special was in my Top 10 films of the year as well – and that’s not just me being daft; Sight & Sound magazine also included it in their best films list. Anyway, in terms of keeping her enormous ambition in focus, without limiting it, I think Lemonade outguns anything, say, Kanye or Beyoncé’s husband have ever come up with. I often have 2-3 albums fighting a close battle up at the top of the list. Not this year – so completely does Lemonade out-reach other types of musical realisation, I’ve almost reached a point of evangelism about it where anybody who doesn’t have it as #1 is plain wrong.

2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (self-release)
Again, this isn’t exactly an off-kilter choice. Profoundly moving.
3. The Furrow Collective – Wild Hog (Hudson Records)
Not exactly a curveball choice for folk album of the year – many folkies placed high in their charts this knowing, beautifully controlled collection from the 3/4 female quartet. For me, I most like how they strike a balance (or walk a tightrope) between classic, sweet, well arranged trad singing and the current folk-scene vogue for a bit of rough. So it’s earthier and looser than some, yet has whole chunks of extraordinary casual beauty. Also a great calling card for new label Hudson Records.
4. Kiran Leonard – Grapefruit (Moshi Moshi)
If one young Brit genius was overlooked this year (though probably doesn’t care and certainly has all the time in the world to make his mark) it’s Manchester indie-psych virtuoso Kiran Leonard. Nurtured in part by Mary Epworth, he’s a scary technician, a prog visionary and a sweet nerdy low-key smart kid all in one. This album isn’t easy – but as it leaps and spirals all over the shop, it keeps catching the light and dazzling you with simply gorgeous patterns. Live, he’s a young Richard Thompson fronting Shellac.
5. David Bowie – Blackstar (ISO / Sony)
I have nothing to write about this that hasn’t been written better already.
6. Shirley Collins – Lodestar (Domino Recording Co)
In some ways this masterpiece of crackling-dry, thoughtful traditional music ought to be placed in the same box as Cave, Cohen and Bowie. Although Shirley Collins is still with us, it’s her first album of new material in 38 years and it embraces the age and history of the singer; bringing to bear the same potency. I briefly toyed with the idea that if Queen Elizabeth II made a killer folk album it might sound a bit like this. That’s probably really rude but I don’t mean it like that – doesn’t mean it’s polite; nor leans too hard on its ‘dignity’ – there’s just a ton of impact, history and yet immediacy here.
7. Petrol Girls – Talk Of Violence (Bomber Music)
A searing, bleak, livid debut. Ferociously well performed. I’d been thinking how much I dug a couple of their songs, then had a conversation with Sam Dabb who runs Le Pub in Newport (fantastic, politically sound punk venue) and she talked about their potential wider importance – and Talk Of Violence convinces me Sam’s spot on – it’s an album that should be on the national curriculum, should be shared like a sacred text (like it might’ve done in the pre-Internet early 1990s, like the classic riot grrl stuff that got me into alternative music in the first place). Could help save the lives of young people all around the world who haven’t yet found a voice or realised they’ve got back-up. One day we’ll lock Donald Tr*mp in a small room with ‘Touch Me Again’ played on full volume for a few years.
8. Esmé Patterson – We Were Wild (Xtra Mile Recordings)
My favourite album in 2016 on Xtra Mile (label I’m on too) and also Esmé is the singer I most longed to see live in 2016, who I failed to catch.
9. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL Recordings)

I haven’t got anything to write about the Radiohead album except that it’s very beautiful and they still have good ideas.

10. Skinny Girl Diet – Heavy Flow (Fiasco Recordings)
Imperious, messy London grunge/punk trio (sisters Delilah and Ursula Holliday and their cousin Amelia Cutler). Unflinching feminist social commentary shot through with vicious humour – the period-drenched album title and imagery, for example. Mostly SGD just riff hard and simple, keep production scuzzy and disinterested as possible and let the attitude sail through. Old white men like me will love it or be scared off and feign distain – but that’s fine because it’s really not about us. For once.

Barry Dolan (@oxygenthiefYEAH) – Oxygen Thief / Non Canon

Another year, another largely failed attempt to keep up to date with new album releases due to the option paralysis caused by there being so much new music and having a Spotify account. Another part of that problem is I keep going off into weird corners of 90s emo/posthardcore that I had neither the money nor the coolness to get into at the time. So, here are 10 albums I’ve really enjoyed this year:

Chris T-T – 9 Green Songs
This record has it all; angry T-T, sad T-T, rocking T-T, folky T-T, singalongs and spoken word. The version with Chris introducing each song is a particular treat: /

Super Goliath – Destroyer Destroy Destroyed
A single 36-minute track, this Bristol duo have distilled the primal riffage of Left Side Brain into a singularly bludgeoning experience. Set aside the time, listen in full (it’s paywhatyouwant), and catch them live when you can (nb: take earplugs): /
Metallica – Hardwired…To Self Distruct
RIFFS! Hetfield at his beastly best! More riffs! Fuck yeah. You don’t need a weblink from me, just press the “Metallica” key on your computer and it’ll start boshing your face through.
John Congleton & The Nighty Night – Until The Horror Comes
The latest batch of weirdness from a guy now more widely known as a grammy-winning producer (St. Vincent, FFS, and loads more), JC used to be in a band called The Nighty Night who sounded like they were scoring the Apocolypse. Until The Horror Comes sounds like the Rapture has happened and those left behind are having a party: /
Kagoule – Urth
Ok, it’s from 2015 but I only heard it this year and I listened to it for almost a solid month. Scratches the 90s alt-grunge itch despite the band themselves probably not having been born early enough to have heard it the first time around. They make me feel young(er) again, and also old af. New record next year; can’t wait. /
Happy Accidents – You Might Be Right
Joyful indie slacker-core from the trusted Alcopop stable: a ray of (slightly melancsunshine for your ears. /
Johnny Foreigner – Mono No Aware
More Alcopoppers: JoFo are the greatest. If you don’t know this by now then you’ve got some catching up to do. /
Fun fact: I took part in the gang vocal sessions for this record & got moved to the back of the crowd after the first take: a sensible decision.
Jeff Rosenstock – Worry
This guy just seems to sweat awesome songs; intricate arrangements with the punkest energy around, sounding like they’ve sprung fully formed in an explosion of impulsive creativity, but are clearly solid works of actual genius. Jeff Rosenstock majestically straddles that fine line between being utterly inspiring and hugely intimidating from the pov of being a songwriter. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuucking hell. /
First – Shriek
Formerly rocking with the wonderful Serafin, a similar wonky indie-rock energy is present throughout this new incarnation of Ben Fox Smith’s music. The most un-Google-able band since “A”, but thoroughly worth the effort of tracking them down: /
David Bowie – Blackstar
Aside from the grief at his passing and the added poignancy that lends this record, there are places where it sounds like Bowie was having a fucking brilliant time making this album which is simultaneously a joy to hear and sweetly heartbreaking. We miss you David.
Non Canon – Non Canon

Yeah I made this, but I also listened to it an unholy number of times and still really properly enjoy it. Modesty be damned; it’s ace and you should check it out: /

Dev Place (@SquadUp_) – TCOV Contributor / Horizon Press / Emo Scene Hero

1. Basement- Promise Everything
2. Deftones- GORE
3. Fatherson- Open Book
4. Halfnoise- Sudden Feeling
5. HONNE- Warm On A Cold Night
6. Bon Iver- 22, A Million
7. Swain- The Long Dark Blue
8. Biffy Clyro- Ellipsis
9. The Wytches- All Your Happy Life
10. HECK- Instructions

“This year has been a pleasure in watching this band evolve. Promise Everything opened up the year with perfect emo-rock essences with grungey undertones and a dollop of pop punk on top. That may sound unexciting – and sort of what like everyone else is doing. But Basement have managed to refine these elements and produce something alluring and brilliant with it.

Fisher’s vocals carry the entire record in a way that make it close to easy-listening. He sings in a way that sounds like little effort, but not lacking in talent; the quivering scratch of his natural tone is brilliantly enticing. The hints of the record come full-circle, swooning in one place and frenzied in others. Basement have come on leaps and bounds just this year, and this release is a testament to their gut-wrenching greatness.”

Ben Sydes (@BSydes) – Musician / Friend, Roman, Countryman

1) Gaz Brookfield – I Know My Place
2) Non Canon – Non Canon
3) She Makes War – Direction Of Travel
4) Chris TT – 9 Green Songs
5) Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
6) Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack
7) Lonely The Brave – Things Will Matter
8) Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
9) Paul Goodwin – The Northern Lights In a Neon Tube
10) Jake Martin – We Take Them At Dawn

EDITOR – Ben is excused from writing anything due to submitting his list despite spending the last however long on tour in Germany. We love you Ben.



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