Bugulp’s Albums of 2016

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Not a particularly great year for music as compared to last year, we just weren’t feeling that vibe from some of the indie blog favorites this time around, we tried to love some of the records, but it just didn’t work out. A lot of disappoints this year but as always, there are some surprises as well, if you looked beyond the basic jams. Here are our 20 favorite records of 2016…

20 Kings of Leon – WALLS

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19 Bon Iver – 22, A Million 

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18 Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

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17 Tribe Called Quest – We got it from here 

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And after saying I don’t like political albums, I pick ATCQ’s latest and last album because it completely obliterated my supposed principles. Excellent stuff.

16 Parquet Courts – Human Performance 

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The very productive Parquet Courts boys were back again this year and provided us with their most accessible album to date and undoubtedly the years best song about dust.

15 Teleman – Brilliant Sanity

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In part joyous and loose, in part retrospective and referential. Very easy to listen to while still rewarding closer scrutiny.

14 James Blake – The Colour In Anything

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Atmospheric yet quite organic. Settles on motifs that start to feel a little bit lazy by the end, but still very rewarding. I’ve probably listened the opener a thousand times, great song to start off a really different album but one can expect that from James Blake.

13 Weezer – The White Album   

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This is probably the album that I’ve listened to the most this year. Impeccably crafted pop songs.

12 Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.

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11 Porches – Pool

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10 Lambchop – FLOTUS 

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“Is there more to this breath that you are taking?”

One of my favourite bands since the turn of the millennium, Lambchop trailered FLOTUS with an 18 minute single, The Hustle. I just loved them even more for this. And it was excellent, and really whetted my appetite for the full length, which didn’t let me down. I was initially shocked by the autotune effects on the vocals, I remember putting it on to fall asleep to last thing at night and being confused back into consciousness – and then I had to hear the whole thing. To be honest, it’s not that surprising that the ‘Chop have taken a more electronic direction – the signs have been there since 2000’s ‘Is A Woman’, which is my favourite record of theirs in fact – full of bubbling loops and twittering sounds but buried very low in the mix, all FLOTUS does is raise them to the forefront.

09 Kevin Morby – Singing Saw

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This was an early contender for LP of the year, apologies James but I overplayed you earlier in the year la so you’ve dropped down. Just great songs, with a definite Dylan vibe, cribbed from the mid to late 60s but done without claustrophobic nostalgia, instead bringing to mind a Western sunset, wide open skies above canyons full of coyotes and characters. Decorated with lovely instrumentation, not least of all the gorgeous titular Singing Saw.

08 Chance the Rapper – Colouring book

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Coloring Book’s a bloody masterpiece. Gospel touches combine with Chance’s idiosyncratic vocal flourishes to create something wonderfully uplifting. A very happy and beautifully worked summer album and an enhancement and progression from what made Acid Rap similarly awesome. I listen to it on my way to work and it tends to give me warm fuzzy feelings towards humanity and life in general that are not always engendered by early mornings and fellow commuters. It’s that good I can almost forgive him the syrupy and entirely unnecessary Justin Bieber number. Almost.

07 Cass Mccombs – Mangy Love

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I first heard a track, maybe a couple of years ago, by Cass McCombs from 2011’s ‘Wits End’, a slow narcotic burner called County Line. An absolutely sublime meditation on lost love, I’m still convinced it’s the single best song written in the last ten years.

So Cass’ ‘Mangy Love’ came with high expectations and I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint. As last years single favourite musical moment was the mariachi horn break in Father John Misty’s Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins), this years magic moment for me was the pinched harmonics that commence the instrumental section in ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ – just gorgeous, and the flute gliding by in the background. I love the song as well, just listing ingredients at the start ‘Garlic, cayenne, turmeric and lime/Wood spoon to stir into slime’ but by the end he just ‘add whatever you want, for taste’. He’s added all the right ingredients for me. A lot of indie music blogs has appreciated the work McCombs has put in here.

06 Car Seat Headrest – Teens Of Denial

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In a nutshell Teens of Denial is about a guy’s struggle with the passage from adolescence to the adult world and all its annoying obligations. Something that strikes a significant chord and a long shadow for this current generation of 25 to 30 year old’s as we all stare into the abyss of an uncertain future. That’s why this record is important.

05 Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing

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Honest and vulnerable, listening to a lot of these songs make one imagine that they will break apart or dissolve, only for Greta Klein to sort it out in the last second like a catcher in the rye of music. It reaches its critical mass in “Outside With The Cuties” – I haven’t written this part yet, Will you help me write it? and the music briefly halts. The album also contains, in my view, the best opening lyric of any song this year.

I’m 20
Washed up already
I‘d sell my soul for a free pen
On it, the name of your corporation

04 DIIV – Is The Is Are

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One reviewer of this album note that “there are so many ideas, tempo changes, and harmonies packed into some of these songs that they feel a little bit claustrophobic—but also exhilarating” which is on point. In my view it’s exactly on Healthy Moon were it does work the best. It’s one of the most interesting, progressive, and exhilarating pop songs I’ve heard in a while.

03 Big Thief – Masterpiece

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I was sure 2016 wasn’t going to produce a really outstanding album, like Alvvays did in 2014, until I heard the debut of Big Thief. Frontwoman Adrianne Lenker sounds like Emmylou Harris at her best – a clear voice also tender, fragile, and beautifully sad – but she’s also entirely her own. According to her their music is about “the process of harnessing pain, loss, and love, while simultaneously letting go, looking into your own eyes through someone else’s, and being okay with the inevitability of death.”

02 Angel Olsen – My Woman

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Meticulous songwriting, great accompaniment (in particular the rhythm section, interesting but never less than supportive), strong vocals combine to make an enigmatic yet warm LP, with a perfect closer, Pops. One of the things I’m most excited about is the fact I still don’t think she’s made her masterpiece, though I love her last album unconditionally- there’s more to come if it all goes right for her. Plus, I’m kind of in love with her.

01 Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

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This record was my winding down album, so many nights its gentle tones filled my room while I read or prepared for the following day. Now that may sound like it was merely background music but I think the best ambient records work well in that space. Those cascading echoes tumbling along cloaking you in waves that resolve themselves melodically and beautifully. Radiohead have done it again and again over the years. True love awaits is how you close a great record, Bravo.

01 Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
02 Angel Olsen – My Woman
03 Big Thief – Masterpiece
04 DIIV – Is The Is Are
05 Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing
06 Car Seat Headrest – Teens Of Denial
07 Cass Mccombs – Mangy Love
08 Chance the Rapper – Colouring booK
09 Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
10 Lambchop – FLOTUS
11 Porches – Pool
12 Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered.
13 Weezer – The White Album
14 James Blake – The Colour In Anything
15 Teleman – Brilliant Sanity
16 Parquet Courts – “Human Performance”
17 Tribe Called Quest – We got it from here
18 Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
19 Bon Iver – 22, A Million
20 Kings of Leon – WALLS

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