Albums Of 2016 Retrospective
(No ranking. No definitives. Just what we liked the most, and still do, from last year.)
Parquet Courts - Human Performance
Parquet Courts’ third album sees them imitate the Velvet Underground subjected by the hectic modern-day. Once content to make sly remarks, it’s their most critical and sonically ambitious work to date, with a particularly thrilling title track realising psychedelic glory. When the dust has settled, it’ll be evident this fiercely intelligent album is a stroke of genius.
Modern Baseball - Holy Ghost
This is not pop-punk as you imagined it. In creating an album full of aching emotion describing loss, and the loss of control, Modern Baseball refreshingly and staunchly reject indulgence or cliché. ‘Holy Ghost’ is hopeful, and disarrayed, but it’s also charmingly optimistic like the best of The Killers’ work.
Sioux Falls - Rot Forever
The extended breakthrough album by Sioux Falls has obvious, and satisfying inspirations from Modest Mouse, to Built to Spill, to True Detective. ‘Dom’, an album highlight, sets the tone for this brilliant collection of incisive post-punk anthems, “Spending too much time on the internet, are you ok? You don’t seem very into it”.
Violent Soho - Waco
Violent Soho could easily be overlooked as pretenders to throne of Dad-almost-top-gear-cd-rock. Though they're perhaps a little more Queens Of The Stone Age then Foo Fighters, the Australian punk-rockers deliver hook after hook on ‘Waco’ which sees them at their finest, unrelenting best. On ‘Viceroy’ they drawl “My drunk guitar's more fun than you'll ever be”, and it’s hard to argue.
FRANKIE COSMOS - NEXT THING
Greta Kline (or Frankie Cosmos) exhibits an unparalleled ability to 'cut to the chase' on Next Thing. Songs that fly by in under a two minutes show better storytelling chops than most musicians could hope for across an entire album. It's this sheer ability to conjure vidid and specific events that is perhaps her greatest skill on Next Thing. With track four 'Embody' being the best example, and her most beautiful effort to date. Seemingly cherry-picked from a Bandcamp career, yet truly an album in itself, Next Thing never relents, both in its catchiness and ultimately its memorability.
John K. Samson - Winter Wheat
It's not crazy to suggest that Ex?-The-Weakerthans frontman John K. Samson is one of Canada's best living storytellers. I mean they teach his stuff in Universities for christ sake. Winter Wheat is a categorical step-up from his last solo-output, with an especially stunning opening 3-track run. That's not to say the rest isn't as excellent, they're just typically more slow-burners. Samson's ability to not forgo songs that are 'singles' makes it an especially enjoyable ride; 'Postdoc Blues' is an unashamed tirade, skipping superbly along, while closer 'Virtute At Rest' marks the end of a beautiful, teary trilogy.
Alex CAMERON - JUMPING THE SHARK
Cameron's bleached, seedy, squelching Jumping The Shark feels like a brilliant tour alongside the ever-popular anti-hero figure. It's a pulsing, thrilling tour-de-force that came out of nowhere. 'She's Mine' best exhibits Cameron's excellence in tension and release, it feels like tightrope walking, though he's always in control across what is eight frighteningly short tracks. Make sure you see these guys live, for the full cinematic experience.
American Football - American Football (LP2)
American Football did not need to make another album. Indeed, there was enough reverence for their first to start an entire genre. But, they did. And, for that we are grateful. LP2 is in turns as wistful and brilliant as you would expect. With, 'Home Is Where The Haunt Is' and 'I've Been So Lost For So Long' doing a lot of the heavy lifting it's easy to look past the more deceptively brilliant tracks across the album. As their first needed time, so does this. It is a slow-burner, that needs no comparing to their iconic first.