With 2016 rapidly drawing to a close, Getintothis present their annual rundown of the top albums of the year.

After a week of publishing our list in stages, not solely to draw out the tension but also to present it in more digestible bite-size chunks, we are able to finally reveal, in all its controversy-causing glory, our albums of the year list, from 1 right down to 100.

As we alluded to previously, 2016 has been a traumatic year. Too many cherished icons of music have been taken away from us, some prematurely others at a ripe old age yet still demonstrating their capacity for creativity. Grief has thus hung heavily in the air, informing artistic output like never before as well as forcing us to question how we react to and perceive music.

David Bowie‘s Blackstar and Leonard Cohen‘s You Want it Darker were both released so close to their death and do unquestionably deal in themes of mortality that it becomes difficult to listen to them with an open mind – indeed in the case of Bowie many have avoided it altogether such has been their sense of grief. While we’re certain that both records would stand proud and tall irrespective of circumstance, subsequent death has changed the way they are perceived.

Many see them as final statements, almost as last will and testaments. Accordingly there is the temptation to listen from an entirely singular perspective. Yet Blackstar in particular revealed that right up to the end Bowie‘s creative spark remained undimmed with its experimental jazz sounding unlike anything that he had ever done before. If it tells us anything it is that age should never be seen as a limiting factor. The very best artists are able to resist the lure of the nostalgia market and can continue to create truly inspiring art right up to their death.

2016 was one of the best years in recent memory for the album, with a number of exciting and rewarding releases proving that music can act as a welcome anti-dote to the global turmoil and reactionary political environment. It is unrealistic to necessarily expect overtly political albums – too often they can grate – but they retain the capacity to unite people across borders, offering introductions to different cultures and ideas. Music can take a stand against narrow insularity and promote, through creative art, an open-mindedness and a deeper understanding of the human condition.

The year has been a challenging one for smaller artists and labels, struggling as ever to make a living out of an increasingly devalued music industry. There seems a prevailing attitude that music is a disposable commodity and the creative process does not have a value for which we should pay to consume. The vinyl revival is a curiosity, yet elements of the opposition to it speak volumes.

Expense and price of new vinyl records are often held as criticisms of the format. Yet are they really that costly? Is it that we value it so little, that qualms about price says more about our reluctance to contribute to the industry than anything else. After all, the price of a freshly pressed vinyl record often costs only marginally more than a CD album did in the 1990s. Recent statistics show a trend towards streaming services in favour of purchasing new releases, despite best efforts to portray it as an upturn in the vinyl record sales.

We recognise that times are not the easiest, the post-Brexit economic outlook far from certain. There are ever-competing demands on our hard-earned dough. Real wage stagnation is making it harder to afford to the essentials never mind the perceived luxuries. We need to find a way to better support the creators, in a way that reflects the change in our listening methods. Not everyone wants a vinyl collection, or has the space to store it. Others are content to stream, adapting to the freedoms and advantages of technological advances. What is clear is the need to provide a more sustainable solution, which most likely involves paying more for unlimited streaming services.

The upshot is that smaller labels face a bleak future, which is why it all the more important to promote and support the outsider, the unusual and free-spirited over the bland and mainstream. To reinforce the fact that we live in a diverse world and our lives are ultimately enriched by sharing and understanding the culture of others rather than steadfastly sticking to what we know.

To an extent, that’s the purpose of this list, to plumb the depths. To prove that there’s life outside the mainstream and that variety is the spice of life.

We also shouldn’t forget that we are Liverpool-based, and fortunate to be so such has been the continued flow of excellent of albums from our city. From She Drew the Gun to Ex-Easter Island Head, Lapsley to Mugstar and Barberos, Liverpool’s music community continues to punch above its weight seriously enhancing all of our lives week-in-week-out. That Liverpool is so well represented is testament not only to the talents of the artists themselves, but also to those working hard behind the scenes to support and sustain music in Liverpool.

In recent times there have been many threats, closures of venues and rehearsal spaces and the continuing redevelopment of the city centre. Working together as a community we have largely overcome these challenges. New venues have opened, vibrant pockets of creativity have emerged amid the disused warehouses of the city’s northern dockland areas, and there seems to be a council-led initiative to support and nurture the creative and artistic industries. In the mere twelve months since the closure of The Kazimier, optimism seems to have supplanted negativity and it feels like we can, as a musical city, look forward to the next year with confidence. Paul Higham

Whitney’s Light Upon the Lake is our album of the Year for 2016

1. Whitney: Light Upon The Lake

Secretly Canadian

It’s a common contemplation in contemporary pop culture to moan about the relentlessness at which we quite literally consume real life. Are we living life or merely being eaten up by the machinations of our very existence? I dunno. It certainly seemed easier when adventures involving Panda Shandy and dicking about down the back field were genuine childhood escapism options.

Whitney, a Chicago outfit shaped around singing drummer Julian Ehrlich and former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek, seem to hark back to world where time didn’t just leisurely pass you by, but near stood still; a time when looking out the train window meant taking in the passing fields not thinking what administrative computer chores you had to attend to upon arriving home. Here is a band who seem transported from gentler times, they capture a changing of Spring to Summer, breezy and fresh with a mournful whiff of wistfulness. They’re cool and almost carefree.

What makes No Woman such a wonderful debut collection is not just its seeming simplicity and considered brevity but a sequence of magnificent musical motifs; the sweeping strings of Golden Days, the bottleneck bluesy stomp of Dave’s Song, Red Moon‘s 90 seconds of tootling trumpet and the title track’s burst of brass which decorates the album like early morning sunshine.

“I left drinking on the city train, to spend some time on the road,” sings Ehrlich on the album’s opener – this is an album to dream the days away, think of simpler times and escape. And it sounds simply divine. Peter Guy

Getintothis on Whitney

2. Bon Iver: 22, A Million


There’s been a copious amount of bullshit written about Bon Iver‘s third album. ‘Departure’, ‘difficult’ and ‘disappointing’ have all been associated with 22, A Million – but we’d suggest it is actually his most direct – and also continuing the natural path Justin Vernon has been exploring for some years.

His debut For Emma, Forever Ago may have been aligned to that of a traditional folk album but his work since then has been layered with electronic expansion and the introduction of vocoder and treated effects have been apparent since his stop gap EP Blood Bank back in 2009.

The fact is, 22, A Million reaffirms what Justin Vernon is about – an uncertain, anxious and often troubled mind creating quite visionary, beautiful music which has that rare gift to sound widescreen and multi-faceted yet so intimate you’d swear he’s penned these tracks just for you.

This time around, the vocal production shares much of the studio trickery he’s been drafted in while working with Kanye – it’s a suite of personas and vocal operatics all gliding in and out of focus; atop of one another and using a variety of tones – the effect can be disarming but it’s engrossing and the result is his most realised album yet.

Especially given the depth of song-writing; at just 34 minutes 22, A Million may seem slight – but there’s more ideas packed into these wondrous works than many artists pack into a career.

Where Vernon goes next is perhaps the only worrying aspect of 22, A Million, for the self-doubt and uncertainty is awash on his third album – but once again it posits him as one of contemporary music’s finest talents – and he joins that ultra-rare clutch of song-writers who’ve laid down three gold standard albums on the trot. He’s one in a million. And more. Peter Guy

Getintothis on Bon Iver

3. Kaytranada: 99.9%

XL Recordings

In any year, David Bowie’s Blackstar would rightly be the best album released, such is its wonder and built in futurism. An album to pore over in 25 years time. But for me, the best album I have heard all year is 99.9% by Kaytranada. K is 24 years old, from Montreal, and a four year overnight sensation. I first became aware of him via his remix of Janet Jackson’s If, which fair blew me away at the time, his manipulation of the remix format different and refreshing. Now, following a swathe of production and remix credits, we reach his debut album offering.

It invokes the free thinking, spiritual high of De La Soul’s 3 Feet High And Rising. Putting that sunshine high in modern context, and channeling some of the most wondrous pop-soul I’ve heard in modern times. It features collaborations with Vic Mensa, BADBADNOTGOOD and the newly resurgent Craig David – but don’t let that put you off. There’s a seam of very dark, claustrophobic r’n’b that can thankfully make you feel uncomfortable about the music you are listening to. With 99.9% Kaytrananda has dispensed with all of that, opened the curtain and let the sunshine in.

It’s difficult to convey its wonder in such a short space. Just open yourself to the massive expanse of audio this kid has created. Amazeballs. Bernie Connor

Getintothis on Kaytranada

4. The Magnetic North: Prospect of Skelmersdale

Full Time Hobby

Let’s face it; 2016 has been a bit of crappy year to say the least.

The loss of Bowie and Prince, an election in the UK that left people reeling, the drawbridges of isolationalism being pulled up post that referendum vote and the next President of the US is someone who is both a buffoon and dangerously unhinged (a lethal combination, but one which Trump has managed to pull off.) It’s all very grim and we seem to be heading back to 1979 as fast as possible

Yet within all this grimness, there are still faint rays of hope.

There’s always music to give us hope.

And in 2016, it came in the unlikely shape of a concept album about Skelmersdale.

At first blush, and if you were going to jump to trite and simplistic conclusions, then a record about a the birth of a “new town” in the late 1960’s, and in particular, one about Skem itself, wouldn’t necessarily fill you with unalloyed joy.

But this album by The Magnetic North does and continues to do so in spades the more you listen to it.

The Magnetic North–Erland Cooper (Erland & the Carnival), guitar wizard Simon Tong (ex of The Verve) and Hannah Peel (composer and arranger) – steered clear from all the clichés about Skem and in writing about the town where Tong moved to at a young age and grew up in, have produced a record that deals with dreams, hope and visions of a better world.

By assiduously researching not only Tong’s childhood but also going to Skem and speaking with people who where there at the birth of the new town, immersing themselves in the place, The Magnetic North came up with a suite of songs that will live in your memory for a very long time.

There’s a constant thread throughout the album that things should be better and can be better and will be better. Its memories of half-remembered past, of Tong’s childhood and of a world that seems half-lost in mist, but is still out there, somewhere.

It’s difficult to isolate just one or two tracks for deserve special mention as the whole thing hangs together so well, but Sandy Lane, Signs and especially Little Jerusalem, where Peel’s crystal clear and diamond sharp voice, evokes both a weariness of the present and hope for the future and melts the iciest of hearts.

Prospect of Skelmersdale is a follow-up to what was intended to be a one-off album about Elrand Cooper’s birthplace (Orkney: Symphony of The Magnetic North) and with the tantalising prospect of a new Magnetic North album dealing with Hannah Peel’s childhood in the works, we at Getintothis can look forward to 2017 turning out a lot better than 2016.

There is always hope. Rick Leach

Getintothis on The Magnetic North

5. How To Dress Well: Care


Tom Krell‘s transformation into Michael Jackson pop is complete. While he showed distinct glimpses on 2014’s What Is This Heart, push forward two years and he’s utterly in the throws of raptures to MJ vocal ticks and chrome-plated slick-beat pop. You can almost hear the white socks being pulled on.

Care is a far cry from his introductory statement in 2010 with the gloomy, understated electro murk of the superlative Love Remains; instead his new album positively oozes Dangerous-era dance-floor shimmies – it’s illuminating and strident with big melancholic wonder.

Like Justin Timberlake, Krell is embracing MJ‘s directness while fusing his lyrics with self-doubt and tales of the night. The Ruins is like a gritty cousin of Dirty Diana, I Was Terrible a bubble-gum machine-gun which could light up multi-coloured disco floorboards, and the tremoring piano duel with sky-shattering Slash-via-Beat-It guitar solo arrives via the majestic killer Lost You / Lost Youth. They’ll Take Everything You Have, meanwhile, could be a 2016 update for Man In The Mirror.

Make no mistake though, this is far from pastiche, How To Dress Well albums are too strong for that and there’s enough tricks of musicality to keep long-time fans interested. Take Made A Lifetime with its treated funk synth line married to a cool vocal drip it’s as refreshing as cloudy lemonade on a summer’s afternoon.

Forget Corey Feldman‘s wild (and brilliantly honest) US TV performance, Krell is indie-electronica’s chameleon absolutely stealing The King Of Pop‘s throne. Peter Guy

Getintothis on How To Dress Well


House of Mythology

Ulver‘s ATGCLVLSSCAP – a whopping 80 minute leviathan of grooves, ambience and rhythmic thunder largely improvised during an 11-date European tour and later sculpted into the finished piece by Daniel O’Sullivan.

There’s barely a coherent strand running through the Norwegian collective’s twelfth studio album which they poignantly describe as “a hallucinatory travelogue“. Yet, the collated whole is nothing short of astonishing as you’re immersed into an abyss-like chasm of progressive instrumentalism and, crucially, an array of actual songs which tie the whole demented saga together.

All bases are covered; Om Hanumate Namah fuses voodoo blues, spectral echo-laden whispers and kraut textures, Glammer Hammer twins anvil-heavy guitar crashes amid electrical dissonance, Nowhere (Sweet Sixteen) is glorious Euro stadium rock while Desert Dawn is an operatic symphony of Goblin-inspired synths.

The musical scope is quite remarkable and the album reaches its zenith during the near 10-minute Cromagnosis which charts metallic tribal grooves which build to an undulating tremor only for a demonic latin percussive rumble to interrupt proceedings and stampede into a tidal wave of barbaric riffs. It’s monumentally huge.

In a so-daft-it’s-fantastic moment, penultimate track, Ecclesiastes (A Vernal Catnap) adds ’80s ballad complete with spoken word, gothic pianos and chest-beating vocal to the mix which would be all too much were it not so fucking brilliant. Peter Guy

Getintothis on Ulver

7. The Early Years: II

Sonic Cathedral

Not all Psych is good Psych. In fact there’s a fair bit of flimsy half-baked Psych out there – and some are calling for a Psych cull in what’s an already saturated market. But then again, there is, actually a lot of good Psych too.

Like gluttons we’re feasting on a bounty of Psychedelic platters. And yet no matter how much we fill our overloaded bellies with gratuitous levels of swollen Psych suppers there’s no end to this conveyor belt of Psych.

Just as well for The Early Years then, who rather than waiting for a gap in the market, have returned 10 years after their debut with an album rife with prime, tender Psych. What differentiates this from other Psych is that it’s really, really, really good Psych. The Best of Psych.

This is T-bone Psych. Natural History Museum Psych. Usain Psych. Gold Frankinpsych and Myrrh. 1000% Psych. Peter Guy

Getintothis on The Early Years

8. Ulrika Spacek: The Album Paranoia

Tough Love

The Album Paranoia must surely rank as one of the best debut albums of the year. A heady moulding of various styles, this a record that is at times hazy and blissfully laid-back such as on Porcelain with its breezily melodic guitar line that locks on to a head-filling groove and is laced with a just-right amount of fuzz and distortion. She’s a Cult meanwhile is a tightly coiled spring of tension loaded for release, full of choppy, distortion-heavy guitars and edgy krautrock rhythms.

The sparse intro to Circa 1954 reveals a group keenly aware of how to trade in layered textures and broody atmospherics, holding enough back rather than trying to force the issue. While on Strawberry Glue Ulrika Spacek stray into Deerhunter territory, or at least into territory formerly occupied by Deerhunter. A taut and tense union of understated motorik and jittery guitar encased within a bittersweet melancholia. Its very ambiguity is addictive, the vocals are beautiful and dreamy while the music alludes to an underlying anxiety.

We could go on for the album continues its embrace of motorik, psychedelia, shoegaze, which fit in happily alongside noise rock and avant-garde leanings. All without ever coming across as confused or uncertain. With the band variously located between Berlin and London, you sense an exploratory freedom. An amalgamation of various elements of currently fashionable scenes without ever truly sounding like a part of any of them.

The Album Paranoia is as distinctive as it is measured, as restrained as it is elegant. A sure-footedly assured voyage of a record in which everything has its place; there are no extraneous elements and barely a moment is wasted. This is a woozily distorted ride and we can’t recommend it highly enough.

Getintothis on Ulrika Spacek

9. Christine & The Queens: Chaleur Humaine

Because Music

Christine and the Queens, the recording name of French musician Héloïse Letissier, is a huge mainstream star in her native France. With a stream of top 40 hits and high profile industry awards behind them, Christine and the Queens are a big deal.

With records like Chaleur Humaine, an English translation of a French language album of the same name, it surely won’t be long before that’s the case over here too. It’s an astonishing piece of work in whichever way you decide to take it, whether as a deeply honest and explorative album about gender, identity and sexual orientation by a pan-sexual woman, or just as a collection of great, intelligent pop songs, you can’t help but wanting to keep listening and look deeper.

Tracks such as No Harm Is Done, her collaboration with rapper Tunji Ige, is a brooding and smothered in RnB influences, with sharp electronics dancing over stammering beats, while album opener iT showcases Letissier’s stunning vocals.

It’s a brilliant album, and what it lacks in obvious UK chart hit material it makes up for with charm, intelligence and inventive melodies. It is genuinely refreshing and forward thinking pop and deserves to be heard by ears from far further than the French borders. Take note, Britain. Adam Lowerson

Getintothis on Christine & The Queens

10. Three Trapped Tigers: Silent Earthling

Superball Music

Mesmerising from beginning to end, this is an astonishing record. It exudes an intricate and technical complexity that it wears with an assured lightness of touch. Despite the immense musicianship on display this isn’t a showy record, it dextrously avoids any hubristic pitfalls ensuring the focus remains on the songs allowing its prodigious creators to bask unassumingly in the shadows.

Ostensibly a noise rock outfit, Three Trapped Tigers sound lives up to its name. Much like a prowling caged beast there is a built-up tension around mightily ferocious drumming, double-jointed riffing and brightly enveloping synth and keyboards. Immediately and relentlessly gripping the opening side is awe-inspiring as almighty riffs twist and turn with glee through a myriad of time signatures. The title track sets things off perfectly as guitar and synth, at turns bright at others deep and resonant, interact with each other seamlessly.

Kraken raises the bar several notches. Deep and pounding with lots of delay, the twin assault of guitar and drums suggest the ferocity of a Lightning Bolt while the contrast of bright synth and keys keep everything in check, making for a harmonious contrast.

Often compared to Battles, Three Trapped Tigers adeptly transcend the noise-rock genre and demonstrate more strings to their bow than your average math-rock trio. Pushing back the boundaries with more delicate pieces as the album progresses, the ferocity subsides and dense synth-led electronica takes over.

Engrams is a perfect example of their art. Dextrous synths twist and turn with direction-altering adroitness as sonic layers are added, climaxing in an almost intoxicating ambience. It’s a tour de force. We could go on. Rainbow Road is a swirling whirlwind of noise that suggests a gargantuan confrontation between chaos and order yet, somehow, Three Trapped Tigers remain perfectly in control.

Three Trapped Tigers make big prowling noise and nimble electronica coalesce in absolute majesty. Undeniably talented, they might just be one of the best bands out there right now. Paul Higham

Getintothis on Three Trapped Tigers

11. David Bowie: ★

ISO Records / Columbia / Sony Music

As strange and somewhat sacrilegious as it may seem, not everybody was (or is, even now) a lifelong fan of David Bowie, this writer included.

Some of us just didn’t get Bowie, didn’t really fall into that bracket of seeing him as an innovator throughout his career and didn’t fall for the outsider challenging conventions thing. Maybe it was hearing The Laughing Gnome at an early age that put us off.

There may have been a few tracks, a couple of songs that we quite liked, but overall Bowie was irrelevant to us.

It was a shock to the system therefore upon hearing Blackstar. This was not what was expected.

Released on January 8, his 69th birthday, Blackstar sounded like something unlike Bowie. This wasn’t the Bowie that has passed us by. Blackstar had the sound of relevance and of purpose.  This wasn’t a record that was messing about-there was a certain urgency and vitality about it all.

In a time where the boundaries between jazz and rock became increasing blurred-Kamasi Washington being a fine example- Blackstar wears its experimental jazz heart firmly on its sleeve, whether in the intense percussive drumming in Sue... or the saxophone attack in Tis A Pity She Was A Whore.

There’s a hardness about the whole album; a sense of taut energy which surprisingly made it an exciting listen from the get go. Even from its day of release, on that first time that it spun its way through those seven tracks, this was a Bowie album like no other.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Within two days of its release, David Bowie had died, yet it’s too easy to fall into that reductive trap of seeing it as his Requiem. It’s simplistic beyond extreme to read it as his aural last will and testament to his fans; but really, like death itself, you can’t escape the inescapable.

Blackstar will forever be seen as that. Bowie’s poignant reflection on the very nature of a life slipping away and as a rage against the dying of the light.

For the very few of us who didn’t venerate Bowie during what by any account was a staggeringly successful career, then we really should give Blackstar a go. It is a record that’s quite remarkable and one that bears repeated listening, not just in 2016, but for a long time into the future. Rick Leach

Getintothis on David Bowie

12. Thee Oh Sees: A Weird Exits

Castle Face Records

Following the announcement by John Dwyer that Thee Oh Sees were to go on indefinite haitus, they have contrarily been busier than ever since reemerging with a pulsatingly blistering two drummer line-up. In 2016 alone they have release two studio albums and one live album.

There first studio offering, A Weird Exits sees the newly reconfigured band make sure but subtle changes to the band’s core sound. The two-drummer effect is noticeable from the outset, there is a greater propulsive dynamic and a more pronounced sense of groove. Although it has its moments, A Weird Exits isn’t merely a fast-paced race to the finishing line that accelerates mercilessly with each completed lap, it is more subtle and more explorative.

Spaced-out synth-led elements are added to the trademark garage-psych whirlwinds which make for a more dynamically varied recording. Jammed Entrance is a warped and twisted cosmic synth voyage into the unknown, making like the missing link between Thee Oh Sees and Dwyer‘s Damaged Bug-monikered output. While the droning Crawl Out From The Fall Out reveals a more cinematic side. Far from a tightly-hewn spring-coiled tautness, this gives the album’s twin-drumming heartbeat something of a break in favour of rumbling dystopian atmospherics.

The album also marks Dwyer out as a memorable guitarist, furious yet never show-y solos permeate throughout pacing songs and pushing them forward with each frenzied yelp and ignition-twisting press on his Fuzzbox. Yet what characterises the album is not the unhinged blow-outs (of which there are, in Dwyer’s own words, “a few face-fuckers“) but the tendency to pull-back and embrace a cosmically spaced-out vibe, pushing themselves into extra evolutionary dimensions.

Getintothis on Thee Oh Sees

13. Liima: ii


‘Post-millennial’ – a phrase which in cultural terms resonates like some digital pestilence. Anxiety, bank crashes, moral panics, technological warfare, Thom Yorke – we’re all in the suffocating grip of some inexplicable dystopian crisis and all we can do is keep legging it round that hamster wheel called Life.

Liima feel our pain exuding chronic unease and fidgety emotive angst channeling it through their profoundly affecting groove-orientated cyborg rock. The band, which unites Finnish percussionist Tatu Rönkkö and Danish outfit Efterklang, come off like Talk Talk jamming with Yeasayer; it’s an intense, seductive ride with enough understated euphoria amid the gloom.

Tracks Trains in the Dark and 513 are foreboding grinders while Amerika wouldn’t sound out of place on Achtung Baby such is it’s epic electronic balladry. In short, 4AD have unearthed another gem which will keep you buzzing. Like a fridge. Peter Guy

Getintothis on Liima

14. Ryley Walker: Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

Dead Oceans

Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, a follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed Primrose Green, finds Ryley Walker at a creative cross-roads.

Album opener The Halfwit in Me is easily one of the best songs of the year and a marked progression from anything he has previously committed to tape. This is an urgent, progressively lolloping free-form folk song that succeeds on account of its intstrumental shapeshifting relentlessness. It amalgamates jazz and psych-folk into a powerfully inventive concoction that strays into the avant-garde, relying on rhythmically building loops of intensity than any dextrous finger-picking showmanship.

Elsewhere there is a leap forwards from the jazz-folk arrangements of the late-1960s. Although there are still nods to the past – his vocal delivery can’t help but bring to mind Van Morrison – here Walker posits himself in mid-90s Chicago leaning with equal weight on the alternative culture of that decade. The tracks place great emphasis on his lyrics and their languid stream of consciousness intonations bears comparison to Red House Painters‘ Mark Kozelek. Nonetheless the jazzily fluid and loose arrangements remind most of The Sea and Cake while capturing the essence of his live performances.

Songs are afforded space, the music meanders as if under its own direction rather than that of the player. Subtle piano-led numbers such as Funny Thing She Said roll like an ebbing tide across a smokily atmospheric haze while there is an unresolved tension between voice and instrument as if each are competing for equal billing.

The album isn’t perfect by any stretch, its flaws are the sound of Walker striving and pushing himself to the occasional point of over-extension. We’re only critical to the extent that his evident talent is so prodigious we are in danger of expecting too much. Nonetheless its an album that enthralls and captivates in equal measure and certainly one of our 2016 favourites.

Getintothis on Ryley Walker

15. Gold Panda: Good Luck And Do Your Best

City Slang

Gold Panda‘s fourth album, Good Luck and Do Your Best has its roots in a trip to Japan with the title deriving from a Japanese taxi driver’s farewell on leaving his cab. Gold Panda made the trip to the Land of the Rising Sun with photographer Laura Lewis in 2014 ostensibly to gather sight and sound recordings for an intended documentary.

The unintended outcome of the trip however is this album of warm and luscious electronica that seems to bask in a perpetual golden glow. Its glitchily sparse structures are never harsh. They amble at a relaxed holiday pace, pausing to reflect upon the sights and sounds rather than allowing them to race by unnoticed. Delicate and thoughtful it evokes a time and place, distilling memory into a series of affecting sonic vignettes as if musing on the distortion of reality that time spent away from our daily routines can elicit.

One of the year’s most seductive releases and laced with oriental flourishes, this is a record to put on late at night and allow its nostalgic crackles, warm and fuzzy aromas and jazzy undertones to relieve the everyday pressures.

Getintothis on Gold Panda

16. American Football: American Football

Polyvinyl / Wichita

By rights we should hate this album. It’s an incessant moan, flips the math-rock-lite thing which gotten boring last decade and is stuffed to the brim with whiny Yank vocals. In fact the whole thing is one big mope. More bed-wetting than the official Travis Fan Club.

But the songs are undeniable. Like, really fucking, undeniably good. And it doesn’t stick around long enough for you to get pissed off yourself.

The irony is, like good emo, it’s actually really uplifting, and who doesn’t need a big hug this time of year.

There’s even a song called Give Me The Gun which when you play backwards has the refrain ‘So I can shoot Donald Trump right in the shitter.‘ Touchdown. Peter Guy

Getintothis on American Football

17. Jherek Bischoff: Cistern

The Leaf Label

LA’s Jherek Bischoff specialises in orchestral pop, be it on the ukulele or grandiose musical theatre scores. His latest collection on Cistern is redolent of Johann Johannsson‘s work both sonically combining vast string collages with meditative soothing ambience, and literally with the album being recorded in an empty church.

Where he departs from Johannsson is that much of the music on Cistern arcs into great swells of neo-post-rock voids – and if that all sounds tremendously serious, don’t be put off as it’s simply wondrous and far from a difficult listen. Take the quite magnificent Headless which in itself could soundtrack an entire series of David Attenborough‘s wildlife wonders.

Elsewhere, opener Automatism combines chilling piano stabs with rich violin pageantry, The Wolf is a slow, stalking Hitchcockian terror, closer The Sea’s Son is one long warm release of rippling orchestration while Closer To Closure sways eerily among woodwind and yet more oceans of strings.

Apparently, Bischoff drew inspiration from his time submerged in an ‘empty two million gallon underground water tank‘ – if that sounds incredulous, take a listen to Cistern – you’ll find it an unforgettably immersive experience. Peter Guy

Getintothis on Jherek Bischoff

18. Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool

XL Recordings

Slow, almost sluggish, A Moon Shaped Pool is an album which entices you, ensnaring you with every listen as layer upon layer of subtlety grips you tighter. It locks you in its detail. Save for the darting waspish opener Burn The Witch there’s barely a track which gets gets out of second gear, yet this is without doubt its appeal as Yorke and co. have crafted a tomb which demands you stop and pour all your attention into some of the most beautifully crafted songs they’ve ever produced.

There’s a succession of tracks which mellifluously meander by yet form the spine and set the tone; Glass Eyes barely registers above a hum as cello deftly weaves among bubbling synth and Yorke‘s barely-there vocal, Daydreaming recalls Aphex Twin with its shapeshifting loops and disorientating melody while Tinker Tailor is a distant cousin of Pyramid Song yet underplayed with a sinister sweeping string section. There’s further unease as Ful Stop harks back to Kid A all itchy rattle-n-fizz, Decks Dark is a piano waltz groove while Identik recalls the rhythmic pangs of In Rainbows yet it’s stripped to the bare bones save for a multi-tracked choral and synth outro.

Much has been made of the fan favourite ‘lost track’ and live thriller True Love Waits and while there’s no denying it’s simplistic majesty, we’d argue the centre-piece lies with the quite magnificent The Numbers a track which emerges from a dancing piano intro into a malevolent jazzy John Martyn number which erupts into a strident fanfare of power chords, trumpet blasts and luscious orchestration. Albeit rocking somewhat relatively gently.

For much of their career Radiohead have been likened to Pink Floyd, and while we’ve seen the likeness in their ambition, musically it seemed tenuous. Yet on A Moon Shaped Pool this is the closest they’ve come by marrying the ambience of Eno and the studio trickery of the Floyd they’ve produced an album which is very much the delicate sound of thunder. And it’s shockingly brilliant. Peter Guy

Getintothis on Radiohead

19. Newmoon: Space

PIAS / Mayfly Records

Chocolate, fine ales, Tintin and Eden Hazard – add spacerock to Belgium’s range of superlative exports.

Hailing from Ghent and Antwerp, quintet Newmoon specialise in all things supersonic – notably walls of seismic melodic noise.

While there’s not much new on their debut Space, it’s a wondrous listen and it positively rockets by powered by a dizzying array of shimmering guitars and swaggering somewhat Northern soul.

Cherry-picking influences from the likes of Ride, Chapterhouse and Catherine Wheel, they imbue a certain swagger through singer Bert Cannaerts‘ Ian Brown-like beatific drawl.

Yet while there’s no mistaking the shoegaze influence, Newmoon‘s closest relative is The Smashing Pumpkins– and most acutely, that devastating debut album Siamese Dream – check out the cataclysmic crunch of Life In The Sun as it starbursts immediately upon opening or the blistering fuzz of Skin.

Like Corgan‘s outfit, there is though enough tenderness and moments of deft subtlety to allow the listener respite particularly on the chiming penultimate One Thousand or instrumental Hi which sounds like shards of dust scattering into space itself. Peter Guy

Getintothis on Newmoon

20. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity

Heavenly Recordings

As a child I loved playing cowboys and indians. And despite the rather elaborate wooden fort, which clipped together with old-fashioned carpentry you rarely see exhibited on the shelves of Toys R Us, the native warriors never lost in my fantasy world.

I mean how could anyone with feathered spear, warpaint and a name like Geronimo lose? After all if you’re going out hunting buffalo for your breakfast, there’s no way some goon in a daft hat and chaps is going to stand a chance.

Nonagon Infinity is essentially 43 minutes of Sioux warrior tribesmen raining deliciously and rather bloodthirstily down your lug holes with seismic thunder. Ferocious tomahawk guitar chops trade with leathery relentless padded drums echoing across scorched plains as howling Apache war-cries reverberate among the chaotic storm. Factor in King Gizzard sound like they’ve been dropping copious amounts of speed and you’ll soon realise this is one hell of a rush.

I was going to pick up the rather half-arsed native American Indian metaphor but to be honest I’ve been having so much fun listening to this album for the last three weeks I’m not even gonna bother. Turn it up, dance in your pants and revel in this glorious bundle of utter lunacy. Peter Guy

Getintothis on King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

21. LUH: Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing


Ellery James Roberts‘ band WU LYF felt like the real deal. A colossal debut album, an equally impressive live set up (their Kazimier show highlighted such potential) and a cultivated mystique which drew as many sneers as supporters meant – whether you liked them or not – they warranted your attention. So it was surprising when they self-combusted in the centre of their own hype machine in November 2012.

Roberts returns alongside his girlfriend and co-vocalist Ebony Hoorn on LUH (Lost Under Heaven, duh!) and it’s remarkable how he’s honed some of WU LYF‘s central ideas – MASSIVE hooks, CATACLYSMIC percussive beats and BLOCKBUSTING choruses and aligned it with his characteristic roar – if you’ve yet to hear it consider a wolf gargling razors after downing a bottle of bourbon with a nasty throat infection (it’s not for everyone). The result is stadium size bombastic brilliance.

LUH may not be a complete reinvention for Roberts but it is a near revelation. Peter Guy

Getintothis on LUH

22. Mugstar: Magnetic Seasons

Rock Action

Magnetic Seasons is sound of those perennial old reliables Mugstar expanding, experimenting and pushing forward their sounds to the new horizons. Fore-runners of the turn-of-the-millennium psych revival in many ways, Mugstar were one of the first of a new wave of spaced-out trendsetters able to take their seat at the back of the bandwagon long before it became standing room only and perilously over-crowded.

Just when you feared that Mugstar might be overtaken by more experimental young upstarts they have returned seemingly emboldened after a collaboration with Damo Suzuki to produce a record of staggeringly gargantuan proportions; a heady concoction of space-rock stylings, swirling kosmische and propulsive motorik. It’s confidently ambitious fare, its 70-or-so minutes spread over a mere nine tracks.

Yet Magnetic Seasons is more restrained and nuanced than their reputation would have you believe and it’s when the foot relaxes on the gas that the album finds its best moments. Deftly exploring the spaces and using keyboard and synth to expose dramatically widened vistas, as on the magnificent Flemish Weaves, this is the work of a band very much at the top of their game.

Getintothis on Mugstar

23. Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation: Mirage

Rocket Recordings

Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation‘s Mirage is one of those records that locks on to a singular groove throughout and does not allow itself to deviate from it. Indeed, much of their songs don’t stray too far from the formula and are more often variations on a theme rather than any great reinvention. Not that we’re complaining as the effect is nothing short of hypnotically transfixing.

With a near omnipresent motorik beat, pulsating bass-lines and distorted droning walls of shoe-gaze guitars their sound is full and enveloping. Yet the real star is Josefin Ohrn, and her voice is a perfect match, adding a beautiful serenity to the squalling Looking For You. There is something strongly redolent of the likes of Broadcast and Jane Weaver about the whole affair, as Mirage proves that last year’s superlative Horse Dance was no flash in the pan.

Getintothis on Josefin Ohrn

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