Årets Beste Album & Reutgivelser 2016

arets_album_1200Å rangere årets favorittalbum er en øvelse som raskt minner om et par ting, både mengden kvalitetsplater som utgis hvert år og den skrekkelig lille tiden man egentlig har til rådighet til virkelig å grave seg ned i materien. Og det sier jeg, som sitter å lytter til og vurderer musikk hver dag som en del av jobben. Denne kåringen av årets høydepunkt fungerer dermed også som en rolodex over titler som fortjener mer fokus, og som jeg har ambisjoner om å høre enda mer på (for det kommer sikkert ikke noen bra plater i 2017 som vil stjele den tiden…)

Uansett. 2016 har vært et helt fabelaktig albumår, i en tid der mange hevder dette formatets endelikt. Au contraire, albumformatet har gjenvunnet en status, ikke minst innen såkalt urban musikk som preges av en etterlengtet politisk slagside vi ikke har sett maken til siden slutten av 60-årene, med profilerte navn som Beyoncé, Kanye West og Solange som fremste talerør. Artister som Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar og Anderson .Paak driver også den musikalske utviklingen framover i stadig nye retninger og gjennom nye mutasjoner, som bidrar til å hviske ut gamle skillelinjer.

For et annet kjennetegn ved denne oppsummeringen er sammenblandingen av mainstream artister og undergrunnen. Det har gjerne vært tette skott mellom disse grupperingene, slik vi ofte har sett to ulike verdener på salgslistene kontra kritikertoppen. Så er det ikke i år, hvor vi positivt nok har sett at veven mellom topp og kred bare har blitt enda tettere.

Likevel står ikke 2016 igjen for meg med den ene soleklare favoritten, faktisk ble jeg overrasket selv over hva som til slutt endte på Topp 10. Det ble en merkelig smørje dette, som gjenspeiler vår tidsånd, i hvert fall for de av oss med relativt åpent sinn, som har tilgang på alt hele tiden. Ikke overraskende preges lista av mye indierock og folk/Americana, men også mer pop og hip hop enn vanlig, samt en variert miks av world, jazz, electronica – og en ikke uvesentlig andel ‘godt voksne’ artister (noen langt oppe i 80-årene, som Shirley Collins og Leonard Cohen) og ringrever (David Bowie, Radiohead og Teenage Fanclub leverte alle opp mot sitt beste i 2016). For Bowie og Cohens del, betød det også at de gikk ut av tiden med den stilen de fortjente.

Tiden er for knapp, frekvensen for høy og den endeløse tilgangen for stor til at vi trenger å bry oss med det som er halvbra. Ingen på denne listen – som lett kunne vært dobbelt så lang – kvalifiserer til en slik betegnelse. Dette er i hvert fall 100 av de beste og mest hørte platene som har blitt utgitt i år. Sett fra tampen av 2016.

chris_forsyth_1200

100-90:
Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band: The Rarity of Experience
Subrosa: For This We Fought the Battle of Ages
King Creosote: Astronaut Meets Appleman
Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids: We Be All Africans
Luísa Maita: Fio da Memória
Hasse Farmen: Livet du redder kan være ditt eget
Teenage Fanclub: Here
Vanishing Life: Surveillance
Moor Mother: Fetish Gambles
Kristoffer Lo: The Black Meat

valdres_1200

90-80:
nonkeen: The Gamble
Deakin: Sleep Cycle
Elza Soares: A Mulher Do Fim Do Mundo
Black Mountain: IV
Anders Røine: Kristine Valdresdatter
Western Skies Motel: Settlers
Maria Usbeck: Amparo
Weyes Blood: Front Row Seat to Earth
Howe Gelb: Future Standards
Heron Oblivion: s/t

goat_1200

80-70:
Jeff Parker: The New Breed
Karl Blau: Introducing Karl Blau
Goat: Requiem
Ryley Walker: Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
Noura Mint Seymali: Arbina
Skepta: Konnichiwa
Lucy Dacus: No Burden
Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein: Stranger Things
Parquet Courts: Human Performance
Blood Orange: Freetown Sound

staples_1200

70-60:
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Nonagon Infinity
Tim Hecker: Love Streams
Kedr Livanskiy: January Sun
Chris Staples: Golden Age
Jherek Bischoff: Cistern
Gojira: Magma
Margaret Glaspy: Emotions and Math
NxWorries: Yes Lawd!
Huerco S: For Those Of You Who Have Never (and Also Those Who Have)
Jóhann Jóhannsson:Orphée

shabaka_1200

60-50:
Babyfather: ‘BBF’ Hosted by DJ Escrow
Leyla McCalla: A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey
Ka: Honor Killed the Samurai
Shabaka & the Ancestors: Wisdom of Elders
Margo Price: Midwest Farmer’s Daughter
Richmond Fontaine: You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing to Go Back To
Daniel Bachman: s/t
Ólafur Arnalds: Island Songs
BADBADNOTGOOD: IV
Erlend Apneseth Trio: Det andre rommet

pup_1200

50-40:
Max Jury: s/t
Aaron Lee Tasjan: Silver Tears
Geir Sundstøl: Langen ro
PUP: The Dream is Over
The Mystery Lights: s/t
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: EARS
Bon Iver: 22, a Million
Pinegrove: Cardinal
Årabrot: The Gospel
Angel Olsen: My Woman

rihanna

40-30:
Terrace Martin: Velvet Portraits
The Olympians: s/t
Noname: Telefone
Rihanna: Anti
Anohni: Hopelessness
Nothing: Tired of Tomorrow
Stein Torleif Bjella: Gode Liv
Marissa Nadler: Strangers
Ray LaMontagne: Ouroboros
Shirley Collins: Lodestar

gambino_1200

30-20:
Hiss Golden Messenger: Heart Like a Levee
James Blake: The Colour In Anything
Floating Points: Kuiper
Whitney: Light Upon the Lake
Agnes Obel: Citizen of Glass
Lambchop: Flotus
Steve Gunn: Eyes on the Lines
Car Seat Headrest: Teens of Denial
Nicolas Jaar: Sirens
Childish Gambino: “Awaken, My Love!”

sturgill

20-10:
Jeff Rosenstock: Worry.
Ian William Craig: Centres
Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Kanye West: The Life of Pablo
Drive-By Truckers: American Band
William Tyler: Modern Country
Jenny Hval: Blood Bitch
Leonard Cohen: You Want it Darker
Kendrick Lamar: untitled unmastered.
Solange: A Seat at the Table

***

10-1:

kiwanuka_600
Michael Kiwanuka: Love & Hate
(Interscope)

cave_600

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree
(Bad Seed)

paak_600

Anderson .Paak: Malibu
(Empire)

radiohead_600

Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool
(XL)

cass_600

Cass McCombs: Mangy Love
(ANTI)

atcq_600

A Tribe Called Quest: We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
(Epic)

morby_600

Kevin Morby: Singing Saw
(Dead Oceans)

blackstar_600

David Bowie: Blackstar (★)
(RCA/Columbia)

lemonade_600

Beyoncé: Lemonade
(Parkwood/Columbia)

woods_600

Woods: City Sun Eater in the River of Light
(Woodsist)

≈≈≈Bubbling Below≈≈≈
Amanda Shires: My Piece of Land//Big Ups: Before a Million Universes//Brandy Clark: Big Day in a Small Town//case/lang/veirs: s/t//Chance the Rapper: Coloring Book//Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas: Mariner//Darling West: Vinyl and a Heartache//Dinosaur Jr.: Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not//Frank Ocean: Blonde//Frankie Cosmos: Next Thing//Jim James: Eternally Even//Julianna Barwick: I Will//Kaytranada: 99.9%//Lionlimb: Shoo//Lydia Loveless: Real//Maren Morris: Hero//Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings//Mattis Kleppen & Resjemheia: El Bokko//Mitski: Puberty 2
Mystery Jets: Curve of the Earth//Nails: You Will Never Be One Of Us//Oathbreaker: Rheia//Okkervil River: Away//Oranssi Pazuzu: Värähtelijä//Robbie Fulks: Upland Stories//Savages: Adore Life//Signe Marie Rustad: Hearing Colors Seeing Noises//Swans: The Glowing Man//S U R V I V E: RR7349//Tony Molina: Confront the Truth//Touché Amoré: Stage Four//Twin Peaks: Down in Heaven//

Retroåret 2016 – 10 Utvalgte Favoritter:

wayfaring_600

Various: Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music
(Numero)

tad_godsballs TAD: God’s Balls/Salt Lick/8-Way Santa
(SubPop)

sunra_600 Sun Ra: Singles
(Strut)

jack_rose_600 Jack Rose: Jack Rose/I Do Play Rock and Roll/Dr. Ragtime and His Pals
(Three Lobed)

scientists_600 Scientists: A Place Called Bad
(Numero)

lapunk_600

Various: Chaos in the City of Angels and Devils – Punk in Los Angeles 1977-81
(Soul Jazz)

lagos_600

Various: Doing It in Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria
(Soundway)

juarez_600

Terry Allen: Juarez
(Paradise of Bachelors)

aloha_600

Various: Aloha Got Soul – Soul, AOR and Disco in Hawai’i 1979-1985
(Strut)

zombie_600

White Zombie: It Came From N.Y.C.
(Numero)

raveups_600

The Rave-Ups :Town + Country
(Omnivore)

Years & Years: Dance Music For Your Head

years_years_12002014 was a great year for London-based electronica trio Years & Years.

Climbing the charts with songs like “Take Shelter” and “Desire”, and playing featured artist on The Magician’s “Sunlight” and Tourist’s “Illuminate”, the group secured a deal with Polydor Records.

2015 will most certainly bring one of last year’s rising names closer to the stars: In January they won the highly prestigious BBC Sound of 2015, and they’re currently nominated for this year’s Brit Awards, held on February 25. With their shiny Y&Y EP out now, their debut full-length is set for release later this summer.

I caught up with the three talkative, cheerful chaps – Olly Alexander (vocals, keyboards), Mikey Goldsworthy (bass), Emre Turkmen (synths, beats) – for a coffee table chat that covered their growing recognition, being inventive, and their expansive interests in music, from modern dance to classic rock.

* * *

For some you’re still a pretty unknown act. How will you describe Years & Years for a new and curious listener?

Olly: We make electronic dance music that has bit of an emotional personality to it, music you can dance and sometimes cry to. [laughs]

So it’s music both for you head and feet, then. How’s the climate for thinking man’s electronic music in the UK these days?

Emre: It’s great, but I don’t think of music in terms of countries any more. With the Internet and stuff it’s really different now. Even when we were completely unknown we had people that listened to our music from Brazil, Mexico, Poland… Music is global, but London is definitely the place to be for us. It’s full of music and creativity, and it’s always alive.

How does that energy channels into your music, I mean, do you feel like you’re part of a scene or something?

Olly: Well, I don’t know. People come to London for a number of reasons. Mikey moved from Australia to London, I got here from the countryside and Emre has spent more time in the city, but we met each other because we all moved to London. I think that’s in itself is an example on how a city like London breeds creativity, and bands tends to form in those places.

I heard that you guys also bonded over a common fondness for Radiohead?

Emre: Yeah, that’s true. It’s not like we sound like them or anything. There are all kinds of things you pick up from bands without necessarily trying to rip them off sonically. But they’re cool, inventive and they change a lot.

We sound very different now from when we started, and hopefully we’ll sound different if we ever meet again in five years time. We get bored easily, spending all our money on gadgets. We spend it on gadgets, food and synthesizers. [laughs]

Are being inventive a key phrase for you?

Emre: Definitely. I think that if you are inventive, then you have a personality to your music. Music spurs expression and you want to express who you are. The three of us have come to a place where we all contribute different things to our sound and the way we make music. It’s really important that it’s us, so we always try to be involved with every aspect in what we do – be it music, videos, live shows, or whatever.

And it seems like you have done some right moves along the way. Congratulations on winning BBC Sound of 2015, in competition with Rae Morris, Kwabs, Soak and others. What did that award mean to you?

Olly: It’s really overwhelming. Before we won, I have always looked at the sound poll myself, knowing how prestigious and great it is being such a great component of new music and new talents; so even to be on the list was really exciting.

Since winning it has been a definite change. We made the news. We went from being a band that some people had heard of in the UK to being a band that people were talking about in the UK. But it doesn’t guarantee you anything winning an award like that. You have to make the most of the platform that’s given you. We are really grateful, but now it’s up to us.

You’re also nominated for the Brit Awards, as the Critic’s Choice for Breakthrough Act of the year – along with James Bay and George the Poet. How do you feel about that one?

Olly: It’s similar. We just have to thank when an institution backs you, saying, “we’re picking you, and we think you’ll be great”. It’s great but equally quite scary, with a pressure to deliver. But at least we get to go the awards and have us some cocktails at the party. And Madonna is coming! [giggles]

Has this pressure that you mentioned changed anything for you within the group?

Mikey: It hasn’t changed what we do or the way we do it. We’ve always been pretty self-sufficient in many ways. We make and play our own music, used to record at home and make our own videos. A great upside is that we get more people listening to what we do, meet cool people along the way, and see how they do it and maybe work with them. All this cool stuff we wouldn’t get on another level.

So it hasn’t changed what we do and the way we do it, but it has made us more conscious. We take it a bit more serious now. But not in a boring way. We’re actually thinking that we can be a really good band. [laughs]

You’ve have recently been working with artists like The Magician and Tourist. If you could choose your dream cast to work with, whom would you pick?

Michael: Current artists? I’d love to work with… Caribou.
Emre: Flying Lotus
Olly: Little Dragon

Your debut album is finished and will be released later this summer. What can you share, any new collaborations to expect?

Emre: No, not on the album – it has been an in-house operations. But yeah, it has all our singles on it, older songs together with brand new ones. We’ve been a band for a long time, and had lots of time to think about this album. You know what they say: it takes a lifetime to write your first; it’s the second one that’s hard. You can expect some energetic singles in there, but also some slower, more introspective numbers.

years_years_communionWhat’s your view on the album format? Do you think of it more like a set of songs in a row or do you consider the album more as one piece, a unique entity?

Olly: We made this collection of songs from the last few years that shares a certain sound, a similar idea that fits into a body of work. I guess most of the songs have a similar sound to each other, but then you’re becoming aware of something that might not fit with the album – but you need to have a body of work to know what that is.

Mikey: Yeah, it’s a different thought process. Before, we would never think of things that way, we just made music and didn’t have to consider whether it all fit in one body of work. Now we have to think about it as one album, and be a bit more precious. But it doesn’t have a specific theme or concept, so it’s certainly not a concept album.

Emre: And also, this is our debut, so hopefully as we progress we’ll find different ways of working and thinking, sonically or the way we write. We don’t ever want to do the same thing over and over again.

And sonically speaking, how will you describe the recording process?

Olly: We’re concerned about everything. We take care in every single detail of the production, and have been spending hours and hours to flick on just one note. But it’s your baby, right. The arrangements are as important as anything else in the creative process. But the most important is the song, though. Once you have that right, then you really can start having fun with it.

What do you write about?

Olly: Oh, it’s all about me and my life, he said selfishly. [laughs] You know, the classic themes of heartbreak and rejection. That’s all I know, really. Maybe I should try to write from a third person perspective, like the great storytellers. It’s not that common in popular music, being less immediate and difficult to master. Like John Lennon did. Or Tom Waits, he can tell a story. Bob Dylan. Nick Cave is a great storyteller.

You namedrop some classic artists here, you still buy albums?

Olly: Oh yeah, and we still pay for them! I actually just started buying a again, in order to enjoy to a full body of work.

So, you guys have any favorites?

[All together:]
Harvest by Neil Young.
In Rainbows by Radiohead.
What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye.
Until the Quiet Comes by Flying Lotus. Siamese Dreams. Grace. Innervisions. Ritual Union by Little Dragon. Blue. Off the Wall….

And the threesome just kept pumping out names as we left them behind at the coffee house table.

One day in the future, they might be name-dropped by a young band themselves. Until then, tune into Years & Years yourself.

Opprinnelig publisert på read.tidal.com, 19. februar 2015

Bjørn Hammershaug