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My Best Albums 2016 - Charlotte Winspear


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2016 has been a year of surprise, characterised by overnight drops from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean, impressive visual albums and the return of Radiohead.

It’s safe to say we’ve been truly spoilt this year, you know, if we ignore the deaths of music titans Bowie and Prince.

And Brexit… and Trump.

Nonetheless, there have been some beautiful albums prescribed to us to heal the wounds of 2016 and I’ve attempted to create a list of some of the best musical medicine this year has had to offer. 

Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

You know those albums that you hear for the first time and you know you’re still going to be listening to in 40 years time? For me, Teens of Denial one of those albums.

From its apathetic opener ‘Fill in the Blank’ to the eclectic romanticism (and immediate slandering) of ‘Drunk Drivers/Killer Wales’, lyrical oddity Will Toledo leads his band into a guitar-driven stream of consciousness from the backseat of his heart.

If you want a brutally honest reflection of modern life that you can scream at your parents when they just-don’t-get-it – then this is the album you should have been listening to.

Hinds – Leave Me Alone

Hinds’ debut hit our eardrums in January yet it’s collection of 12 three-minute tracks have left me feeling like I’ve been in a Hinds infused daydream for way longer than 11 months.

Leave Me Alone transmits the warmth of the Spanish summer as Cosials’ harpy tones and Perrote’s steady vocals fight to entice you into their adventures against a backdrop of overriding reverb and experimental drums.

The band are at their loosest on ‘Bamboo’, whilst ‘And I Will Send Your Flowers Back’ presents a more vulnerable side to the care-free quartet.

The 1975 - I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

Say what you want about The 1975, but there’s no denying that their album wins 2016’s award for the hardest album title to say in a single breath.

The album firmly seals the bands progression from teenage pleasers to that band your mum actually quite likes because it reminds her of the eighties.

The interplay of high reaching synth pop numbers like ‘The Sound’, gospel powered ‘If I Believe You’ and the more sombre depths the album draws to a close with create a wholesome listening experience.

If you’re not listening to The 1975 because somebody told you they were uncool, give this a listen.

Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch

From some quiet corner, Jenny Hval emerged with her sixth offering Blood Bitch.

The Norwegian creative draws on blood, menstruation and vampires on her intricately produced concept album.

The unravelling of manic panting, sweeping bass, cushioned hooks and haunting lyrics that at times border on celestial battle with the meta themes of ‘The Great Undressing’.

Blood Bitch doesn’t demand to be played to mass audiences, it demands you to turn up the volume and lose yourself within it.

The Avalanches – Wildflower

Sixteen years on from their hugely acclaimed debut, Australian collective, The Avalanches had big boots to fill.

Enter Wildflower: a colourful explosion of instrumental samples merged with guest vocals from the likes of Danny Brown, Biz Markie and Chaz Bundick of Toro Y Moi.

Lead single ‘Frankie Sinatra’ brings all the fun of the fair with its calypso beat, a psychedelic feel that carries into the metaphorical kaleidoscope that is ‘Colours’ and throughout the album.

In a year as dreary as 2016, the positivity of Wildflower is an escapists dream.

Beyonce – Lemonade

Pardon the pun but I Aint Sorry, Lemonade is one of my favourite albums of the year.

As the saying goes “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, or so the album and its numerous references to infidelity and the now infamous Becky with the good hair reminds us.

Careful publicity stunt or not, Lemonade is an album packed with empowering anthems with political elements, ranging from the soulful heights of ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ to the country roots of ‘Daddy Lessons’.

With her vocal talent and finesse, alongside a song writing team boasting the likes of Ezra Koenig, Father John Misty and James Blake and a stunning visual accompaniment, there is no doubting the quality of this lemonade.

Slaves – Take Control

Take Control combines everything that worked so well on the first album and amplifies it to the next level with more snarling angst, heavier percussion and more explicit content.

Tongue-in-cheek skits, ‘Rich Man’ disses and a track with Beastie Boys legend Mike D (who also produced the record) help boost this chaotic bare-faced punk album.

‘Steer Clear’ is the record’s stand out track, which takes the abrasive duo temporarily back on the rails with the help of Baxter Dury’s serene delivery and a low tempo backdrop.

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

I don’t think anybody needs me to tell them that Radiohead’s latest is a good album.

A Moon Shaped Pool proves Radiohead are still masters of their craft, with every delicate string, riff, key and depthless vocal falling into perfect arrangement.

From ‘Daydreaming’ to ‘Desert Island Disk’, you’re left to find your way in an empty atmosphere, with ‘Full Stop’ offering a shift in pace, leading you towards the light.

As always, Radiohead are at the top of production, cautiously pulling the strings.

Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

OK, so it may have only come out last week but its still a worthy contender.

Now on his third album, Donald Glover has swapped his rap roots for a funkier endeavour.

Sleazy synths and rippling electric guitars form the foundations of this easy listening funk offering, whilst Glover shows off another one of his endless talents – a far- reaching falsetto that weaves within his delicate production.

“Awaken, My Love!” is the perfect modern take on 70’s funk, wearing its influences firmly on its sleeve.

Oscar - Cut and Paste

Oscar Scheller's debut injects a burst of britpop into 2016.

Cut and Paste is a collection of simple love songs, jazzed up with infectious hooks, glitzy melodies and Oscar’s innocent baritone delivery.

The album opens with the aural handshake that is ‘Sometimes’, continuing the feel good vibes with ‘Good Things’, ‘Breaking My Phone’ and ‘Daffodil Days’ which provide the perfect sing-along gig tunes.

Cut and Paste sounds just as warm when listened to under the duvet on a rainy morning as it did in the summer.

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