Thursday, 5 January 2017

MUSIC LIBERATION TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2016

 1. Preoccupations - Preoccupations

Preoccupations are a Canadian four-piece from Calgary, Alberta who are releasing their self titled new album through the Jagjaguwar record label. The band will be familiar to some already since they released their debut album under a different name - Viet Cong - back in early 2015. The quick name change since has done little to alter the band's stock and ability to create some fantastic post-punk ambient noise, which you can hear on this new record's 9 tracks and it's near 40 minute length. A clear and obvious example of this is 'Memory', an 11-minute opus which transcends different melodies and sounds with a real understanding and confidence.

 2. Douglas Dare - Aforger

Aforger is the new album from Douglas Dare, a 25 year old singer songwriter from Bridport in Dorset. Aforger is an introspective affair, with Dare recounting his relationships and sexual orientation, over a backdrop of dark electronic beats amongst piano, synths, and harmonica. It's bleak sounding but there's plenty of melodies and soaring climatic moments to restore the balance.
 
3. Dangers - The Bend In The Break

'The Bend In The Break' is the third album to come from Los Angeles hardcore punk band Dangers. The 13 track album was recorded straight to tape at the Atomic Garden recording studio in San Francisco, with the band turning to friend Jack Shirley for producer duties. It is an engaging and dangerous listen, with the band combing loud, aggressive music with lyrics detailing their thoughts on what they see as cultural degradation.

4. Junk Son - Beginning, Ending, Pretending

The 11-track record is available through 37 Adventures and was recorded at Junk Son's own studios in South London. It is a sprawling journey through electronica, dropping into trip-hop, darkwave, and dream pop along the way. There's a multitude of beats, synths, and bleeps, held together by the distant and softly delivered vocals from Amy Spencer. Beginning, Ending, Pretending is a strong debut record, deftly produced and delivered to the highest standard.

5. Greys - Outer Heaven

Greys are a noise punk rock 4-piece from Toronto, Canada who this week will release their 2nd album 'Outer Heaven' through Carpark Records. There's some straight up punk tracks, a couple of more rounded indie ones, some shoegaze, and some noise rock. It feels like Mike Rocha has really harnessed that raw dissonant sound the band had on their early work and combined that with moments of calm and space within the chaos.

6. Big Ups - Before A Million Universes

Before A Million Universes is an uncompromising and at times difficult record to get your ears around, but it's a vital listen and statement of intent from a band that keep kicking down doors, pushing boundaries, and daring to confront today's issues and problems through their music.

 7. Asylums - Killer Brain Waves

'Killer Brain Waves' is the debut album from Southend's Asylums, there are 12 tracks on the album, some we've heard before, some not, but as a body of work it all pulls together really well. It's nostalgic as anything, darting around from diy punk pop, indie rock, and britpop, with cleverly written and on point lyrics.

8. The Slow Show - Dream Darling

Dream Darling is the new album from The Slow Show, a 5-piece from Manchester that are signed to the German label Haldern Pop Recordings. Dream Darling is a carefully thought out album which sounds equally sparse and all encompassing, cleverly allowing the band to tell their stories not only through the vocals but the music itself too, and for me it's going to be getting regular spins this forthcoming Autumn.

 9. Shura - Nothing's Real

Shura is Aleksandra Denton, a 23 year old singer-songwriter-producer from London, who grew up in Manchester and has Russian heritage. The 13 track album is a lush, full bodied, wholesome indie pop record that spans times gone by, the current zeitgeist and a whole other future world that only Shura seems to know about. Influences and reference points can be found with the likes of Grimes, Bat For Lashes, Goldfrapp, as well as a whole spectrum of 80's and 90's pop.

10. Is Tropical - Black Anything

The music found on Black Anything is a mix between electronica and rock, and as you might expect from an album with such a different recording process there is much variation to be found. It's a record which sounds wholly positive and upbeat but always seems to maintain a darker edge, flirting between gorgeous pop melodies and deep basslines with grittier guitars and off rhythm beats.

Head over here to view all the albums covered on Music Liberation in 2016.

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