Saturday, June 18, 2016

Albums 2016 - Mid-Year Favorites

We're midway through 2016 and already have a surplus of excellent music to enjoy.  In alphabetical order, the following fifteen albums are my favorite this year so far. . . .

Autolux:  Pussy's Dead (30th Century - 4/1/16)

Reclusive Silver Lake threesome Autolux drop their third album in a dozen years, moving even farther away from their shoegaze and noise-rock roots into Radiohead-style glitch IDM territory while showcasing Carla Azar's always-excellent drumming.

David Bowie:  Blackstar (ISO - 1/8/16)

Music legend David Bowie caps off his unparalleled fifty-plus year career with a haunting 26th album released on his 69th birthday, just days before losing his battle with cancer.  An arresting and graceful blend of experimental jazz and trip-hop, Bowie confronts mortality and legacy head-on.

Commodo:  How What Time (Black Acre - 4/8/16)

Releasing over a dozen bangers on single and EP over the years via heavyweight dubstep labels like Deep Medi Musik, fan-favorite UK producer Commodo finally drops his debut album mixing dank sampladelic hip-hop instrumentals and off-kilter dubstep with the occasional grime MC chatter.

Deftones:  Gore (Reprise - 4/8/16)

The Deftones have moved from strength to strength since their contemporaries became punchlines decades back.  Their eighth album finds frontman Chino Moreno's 80's new wave sensibilities colliding with lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter's metal obsessions with beautiful and brutal results.

Ital Tek:  Hallowed (Planet Mu - 3/18/16)

UK producer and Planet Mu stable veteran Ital Tek transitions from his usual dubstep and footwork sound on his fifth album, a gorgeously textured collection of sci-fi soundtrack compositions that mash up Burial's bass-weight aesthetic, Vangelis' lofty scope, and John Carpenter's horror film dread.

Kvelertak:  Nattesferd (Roadrunner - 5/13/16)

Easily one of the most exciting, and divisive, bands in contemporary hard rock and metal, Norway's Kvelertak return with their self-produced third album boasting a looser, jammier vibe while adding shades of Van Halen to their mix of Darkthrone-meets-AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, and Motorhead sound.

The Last Shadow Puppets:  Everything You've Come To Expect (Domino - 4/1/16)

Having released the best rock album of his career so far in 2013's AM with his main band Arctic Monkeys, swaggering vocalist Alex Turner links up with his equally laddish pal Miles Kane for another round of syrupy string-soaked spaghetti western soul and garage rock.

Mikal:  Wilderness (Metalheadz - 2/5/16)

Swedish-born drum & bass producer Mikal releases his debut album on Goldie's venerable Metalheadz label - a dark dubwise affair that forgoes straightforward 2-step beats and amen breaks for hard skankin' riddims, ganja-smoke atmosphere, and head splitting sub-bass.

Moderat:  III (Monkeytown - 4/1/16)

Comprised of German electronic producers Modeselektor and Apparat, Moderat issue their third album blending melancholic vocal pop with techno, ambient, breakbeat, and post-dubstep, serving as a spiritual counterpart to Jamie XX's excellent sophomore outing In Colour from last year.

Iggy Pop:  Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista - 3/18/16)

Like his old friend and sometime benefactor David Bowie, Iggy Pop tackles mortality and legacy with his latest and possibly final LP, albeit with more venom and cynicism.  Queens of the Stone Age principal Josh Homme hosted Iggy at his SoCal desert studio to produce and co-write the album.

Radiohead:  A Moon Shaped Pool (XL - 5/8/16)

Sixteen years after ditching rock for their own brand of miserablist glitch IDM and five years after their humdrum King of Limbs LP, Radiohead return with an affecting album featuring traditional acoustic instrumentation, gorgeous string arrangements, and even some folk and bossa nova.

Sturgill Simpson:  A Sailor's Guide To Earth (Atlantic - 4/15/16)

Torchbearer for a new generation of leftfield country musicians and still hot off his breakthrough LP from 2014, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Sturgill Simpson drops a ballsy self-produced third album dedicated to his young son and filled with lavish string orchestration and Stax-era soul.

Skepta:  Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know - 5/6/16)

Grime veteran Skepta drops his fourth LP - a collection of recent anthems and new cuts that confirm his status as the UK's reigning MC and makes the London-born genre's most explicit connection with American hip-hop yet, featuring contributions by Pharrell and members of A$AP Mob.

Vektor:  Terminal Redux (Earache - 5/6/16)

Philadelphia-based progressive thrash metal foursome Vektor release their third album - a dense, super-technical, sci-fi magnum opus comprised of tracks averaging seven minutes plus, with blazing instrumentation and raspy, screeching vocals.  Not for the faint of heart.  

Venetian Snares:  Traditional Synthesizer Music (Planet Mu - 2/19/16)

Releasing over twenty LPs in as many years, the Canadian producer and Planet Mu stable veteran primarily known for his breakcore output drops a collection of crisp electronic compositions reminiscent of mid-90's Aphex Twin and Autechre, recorded entirely on outboard modular synthesizers.


  1. Good looking. I've got some catching up to do.

  2. Thanks for checking out the blog, Ben! Happy listening!