27 Of Our Favourite Albums Of 2016 So Far
These are the LPs that have copped the biggest office thrashing in what's been a great year.
What a year it's been for album releases... There have been days where four albums likely to feature on many folks' end of year lists have all been released on the same day, it's been that good. Plus we also got a new Bon Iver album. So any year with a new Bon Iver album is a great year by us.
Why post a list now, so close to when the end of year lists are gonna start rolling in? A good question... Truth be told we kinda missed the halfway wrap up, and by doing this list now it saves us going back through the album releases any time before October when those year end lists do start pouring in.
Why 27? 'Cause that's where we ended up - this list was basically just made by asking everyone in the office what their favourite albums this year have been so far. Are they the BEST ALBUMS of 2016? Some of them, yeah, but some of them are just the albums we've really loved, the ones we've rinsed the hardest via various online streaming platforms, or actually went out and bought vinyls for/made that iTunes purchase.
It's also reflective of the broad spectrum of music we try and cover on Pilerats - from harder stuff to rap and electronic, there's been some fantastic releases in 2016, and we look forward to what comes for the remainder of the year.
Architects - All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
It's been a massive year for Architects, although unfortunately for very much the wrong reasons (following some very right ones). Earlier in the year saw the release of All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, one of the Brighton-based metalcore outfit's best and widely celebrated. They toured it extensively following its release before the untimely passing of founding guitarist and songwriter Tom Searle at age 28 after a three-year battle with skin cancer. Incredibly the band, which also features Searle's twin brother Dan, still toured Australia recently with fellow Brits Bring Me The Horizon, although the group's future beyond that tour is understandably in doubt.
Bon Iver - 22, A Million
This one even moved the editor of Pilerats to actually write a blog post for a change, so we recommend giving that one a geez to gather his thoughts on the release. It's not the group's best release, but it's a fantastic album nonetheless in a year filled with them.
Lido - Everything
Lido finally unveiled his debut long-player, and it proved more than worth the wait. Our most trusted voice for all things electronic music, Hayden Davies, had this to say about one of its highlight tracks, Citi Bike: "With tracks like You’ve Lost Your Keys and Angel joining the aforementioned singles as Everything’s best moments (although choosing favourites on this record is pretty much impossible for me), Citi Bike really stands out and cements itself as one of, if not the best piece of work from the seasoned Norwegian producer to date."
Knocked Loose - Laugh Tracks
The Kentucky-based hardcore band released their debut album barely a month ago, but it's already set itself as one of the year's strongest releases in the genre. Having said that, it's Knocked Loose's desire to avoid being pigeonholed that is the release's biggest success. In an interview with Alternative Press discussing the album, the group said, "You can call us a hardcore band, you can call us a metalcore band, you can call us whatever, it’s not a focus for us."
Skepta - Konnichiwa
The man bringing grime to the mainstream backed up the last 18 months of hype (within Australia at least) to release his fourth studio album to basically across-the-board acclaim. NME gave it five stars, saying it was "a landmark in British street music, a record good enough to take on the world without having to compromise one inch in the process," and you'd be hard-pressed to argue. Pulling out of his Australan tour at the last minute has left a bit of a sour taste in a few fans' mouth down under though.
Banks - The Altar
"The only relationship you can never break up with is yourself. I’m going to be with myself till I die, it’s a theme in my music. And if you aren’t comfortable with yourself then write about it." So said BANKS in our recent interview with her around the release of The Altar, and the LP is a pure exercise in self-reflection, and showed no signs of the dreaded second album syndrome.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree
Another release surrounded by tragedy, Skeleton Tree was written over two years, during which time Nick Cave's 15-year-old son died from an accidental cliff fall. What's resulted, perhaps unsurprisingly, is arguably Cave's finest release yet. A slightly more experimental affair, featuring a somewhat less polished sound and reduced production, it's a devastingly beautiful examinaton of grief, from one of the world's finest songwriters.
ScHoolboy Q - Blank Face
In a year that features plenty of hip hop releases, ScHoolboy Q's Blank Face stands head and shoulders above the pack. Featuring guests like Kanye West and Miguel, along with some top shelf producers like Metro Boomiin, Swizz Beats and frequent collaborator The Alchemist, ScHoolboy Q's second major label release finds a ScHoolboy Q at the peak of his powers.
RÜFÜS - Bloom
The Sydney trio's debut record, Atlas, was a good release in 2014, but its follow up builds on the predecessor to find a group who know their sound in and out, while expanding on it with a strong Berlin influence. The fact that a nine-minute track like Innerbloom can become a crowd (and radio) favourite is testament to the trio's talent for crafting irresistibly good pop/house bangers.
PARTYNEXTDOOR - P3
Canada-based member of the OVO family, PARTYNEXTDOOR, unleashed his second album, P3 in August this year, and showed there was plenty to love from the frequent Drake collaborator. Maturing his sound into something that is very uniquely PARTYNEXTDOOR, P3 shows a producer and vocalist at the peak of his powers.
Tourist - U
The debut album from British producer Tourist might take the mantle of most-thrashed on the office speakers in 2016. It's incredibly easy to re-listen to, with each new spin revealing another layer of emotion amongst the electronic. From album opener U, to radio favourite Run and the euphoria of Too Late, it's wonderfully rounded piece, and is as good an argument for the full length electronic album as your likely to hear.
Moderat - III
Moderat's third studio album probably takes a close runner up title for most-listened to in 2016, III completes a trio of albums from the Berlin trio since their debut, self-titled LP in 2009. III also finds the trio (made up of Apparat and two members of Modeselektor) at their most comfortable together, embracing the dark, post-minimal electronic world made popular by the likes of James Blake and Burial.
Columbus - Spring Fever
We've bene big fans of Brissie punkers Columbus for a couple of years now, and their debut album shows we've got plenty to be excited about as the group continues to develop. Spring Fever isn't a groundbreaking release in the world of pop-punk by any means, but it's a confident, polished release from a bunch of blokes with a bright future.
PUP - The Dream Is Over
At a grand total of 30 minutes, PUP's second album is one of, if not the most, relentless albums you'll find on this list. A half-an-hour of rock and farking roll in its purist form, The Dream Is Over doesn't stop for a breath as the group explore what its like to just continue pushing through every obstacle that may befall them.
Cursed Earth - Enslaved By The Insignificant
Coming in at a brutal 20 minutes, Enslaved By The Insignificant isn't here to hang around and try and be your friend - rather blow you out of the fucking water with some of the most technically proficient and intense metal/hardcore/powerviolence music you're likely to hear anywhere in the world. With the longest track coming in at 2:13 and the shortest 1:01, anyone who calls themself a fan of any of this style of music is crazy not to give it a burl.
Camp Cope - Camp Cope
Camp Cope came out of seemingly nowhere in 2016 to release their debut, self-titled LP, and it wasn't long before much of the country had jumped on board. Lazily described (by us plenty of times) as a female version of The Smith Street Band, the sonic resemblences between the two is equally comparable to the social awareness of both groups. Indeed, Camp Cope are providing a powerful voice for girls at the rock show, and are leading the movement to make rock shows a more inclusive space. And their cause is definitely helped by the fact Camp Cope is one of this year's strongest debut albums.
Solange - A Seat The Table
Currently rocking a 90/100 on Metacritic, AKA "universal acclaim", it's fair to say Solange Knowles' third album is a huge success, both creatively and commercially. The records features some great collaborations from the likes of Lil Wayne, SAmpha and Kelela, but perhaps most importantly is a frank and indepth look at race relations in America and abroad that can't be ignored.
Anderson. Paak - Malibu
If 2015 was the year Kendrick Lamar really came to the front of collective conscious, it feels like 2016 is Anderson. Paak's time to shine. Recently in the country for the Listen Out fesival, along with a bunch of sneaky sideshows, Paak's live shows with the Free Nationals were easily the talk of the tour, as the emergent rapper looks to claim the throne.
Mt Mountain - Cosmos Terros
The Perth-based stoner/sludge/doom rock purveyors nailed their debut album earlier this year, jamming out six sprawling tracks that work equally as individuals and as a cohesive group across the LP's 38 minute run time. It's an album that is wonderfully easy to completely immerse and lose yourself in, be it over a couple of hot ones with mates or under the blazing summer sun.
Kaytranada - 99.9%
"Kaytranada has outdone himself. My expectations were set extremely high, but in the case of 99.9% those expectations were well exceeded. Thank you Kaytray, thank you very much." So said Tom Wolff when he reviewed this LP earlier in the year. The little master somehow outdid himself with his debut LP - one of, if not the most accomplished debut albums of 2016, and just best LPs in general.
Anohni - Hopelessness
Another fantastic debut release, it sees the Antony & The Johnsons lead singer delving into electronica head-first while still maintaining the melancholic-yet-hopeful vibe we've come to expect from one of world music's most unique voices. The thematic nature of Hopelessness is also new territory for the artist, focusing on the political and environmental, with at times devastating results.
Blood Orange - Freetown Sound
The third album from Dev Hynes under his Blood Orange moniker finds the producer/songwriter at the peak of his powers in both areas. And, similar to Solange's A Seat At The Table, doesn't shy away from the hardships currently faced by black America, among others, stating on the day of release that Freetown Sound was meant for anyone told they were "not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way."
Warpaint - Heads Up
California-based four-piece Warpaint got the ball rolling with stunning first single New Song, a track that immediately gave our writer Liam Apter the sense we were in for something special: "New Song follows up from their self-titled album, a very introspective and beautiful album but one marred by a certain aimlessness. Heads Up seems to be shaping up to be the opposite, indeed New Song is rather straightforward but aren't some of the best songs like that?"
Angel Du$t - Rock The Fuck On Forever
Featuring members from a bunch of higly regarded Baltimore acts, Angel Du$t's second album is an 80s-inspired hardcore-punk wonder that also happens to be catchy as hell and is a pretty perfect soundtrack to a nostalgic summer with the most apt album title you're likely to find in 2016.
True Love - Heavens Too Good For Us
If Cursed Earth's album was brutally short at 20 minutes, then True Love's 17-minute debut LP is a monster. That said, even though its only 13 tracks, the longest coming in at 2:07 and the shortest a whopping 35 seconds, there's something inherently anthemic in the hardcore assault on offer.
Balance & Composure - Light We Made
Pennsylvania alt-rockers Balance & Composure followed up their sophomore album, 2013's The Things We Think We're Missing, with Light We Made earlier this year, and it showed a different side of the act that fans were perhaps used to. A more polished affair, Light We Made, finds the five-piece in a less-aggressive place, more adaptable, and diverse, for a result that hasn't seemed to lose them any fans in the process.
SAFIA - Internal
The Canberra trio finally backed up years of fantastic singles with their debut album, Internal, a few weeks ago. Going down the singles-only route does open a band up to an album full of tracks that don't work as a whole, but SAFIA handled the pressure with aplomb, melding fan favourites like Embracing Me and Make Them Wheels Roll with new bangers like Close To You and External. A more clubbier affair than we expected, and that's not a bad thing.