Spotify playlist of some of the year’s best tunes.
And here’s the countdown, 10 to 1, and on to 20.
10. Landlady – Upright behaviour
Shrewd, energetic, wonky, surprising, Brooklyn-inflected pop.
9. Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin
An absolute return to form – straight as a die indie rock, and none the worse for it.
8. Caribou – Our Love
Dan Snaith done and grown up – this is beautiful, soulful, dare I say mature dance music that grows and grows.
7. Sun Kil Moon – Benji
I doubt anyone else’s diary would read like this: big, painful events mixed with irrelevances in Mark Kozelek’s distintive poetic, charismatic style.
6. Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels II
5. Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
Getting back into a room together has worked for Deerhoof – the last album was made by members remotely, strung out across the globe and communicating by ones and zeros. A good record, sure, but this is a great one. Stuck in Ed’s basement, they’ve made an accessibile (in Deerhoof terms) record thanks to a greater lead from Satomi…more bass-led, more linear, more danceable. Danceable in a way that doesn’t tie you up in time signature-change knots like a complete idiot. It’s not going to bother the Top 40 anytime soon, there’s still some glorious noise to go with the tunes, but this feels like a coherent, complete pop album. One of their (13) best I’d say. Lucky for some.
4. Swans – To Be Kind
3. The Bug – Angels & Devils
I nearly wet myself when I heard this album for the first time. It’s filled a hole I didn’t know I had – a dark, evil hole for sure, but one pulsating with a manic, angry energy. This is archetypal modern city music. Superlative guests (Gonja Sufi, Death Grips, Manga etc). It’s just so perfectly pitched I nearly bobbed my head right off my neck.
2. Gazelle Twin – Unflesh
I’m not a fan of horror films, so the first time I heard this I was doing the aural equivalent of peeping through my fingers. This is dark shit – I know Brighton has an underbelly that ain’t all peaches and tofu, but local resident Elizabeth Bernholz obviously gets her inspiration from within…this is full of self-loathing, violence, lyrical sinew and blood. In short, it’s angry, detached lyrics set to brilliant, twisted, electronic funk. There’s something of the Fischerspooner about the production, but nothing of their pomp and doves. Hide behind the sofa if you have to, but listen to it.
1. Deptford Goth – Songs
11. Lucius – Wildewoman This is the vinyl equivalent of aural crack. A little too polished maybe, but 7 years of practice have honed a ton of killer tunes in here. A big, fun, percussive attack live, along with dirty de-tuned guitar and pop/soul vocals.
12. Young Fathers – Dead Not Tape One or Tape Two…but still a great record. And you won’t see a better live band at the moment.
13. Vince Staples – A load of different stuff. Lots to choose from this year – mixtapes Shyne Coldchain Vol 2, Stolen Youth EP with Larry Fisherman, and the Hell Can Wait EP. As the man says, he’s proved he can rap, this is all about the songs
14. Kate Tempest – Everybody Down Strong poetry, great stories, killer production from this amazing woman. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
15. Aphex Twin – Syro Good old Aphex…but I wanted new Aphex. .
16. Eagulls – Eagulls Squalls of angry, gritty punk pop. I hope they take a new direction in future but for now, this is just the job.
17. Gold-Bears – Dalliance
Like Neutral Milk Hotel and other Elephant Six bands? Like your indie pop to include the kitchen sink? This will fill your duffle(coat)bag for the year. Brings back good memories.
18. Andy Stott – Faith in Strangers.
More strong, intelligent dance music from the Mancunian master. With the ubiquitous drum ‘n’ bass tune thrown in halfway through.
19. Clark – Clark.
20 The Antlers – Familiars Slight and understated, there is real haunting beauty in this one .