The Best of 2016 So Far

As seems to have become traditional – well Andy reminded me last week, here are my favourite tracks of the year so far. Some may make it into my end of year list, some may fall by the wayside.  A strong start I would say, with an interesting mix of returning long distance runners, plus some new (to me) artists.

To kick off, here’s  the first track on Underworld’s ‘Barbara Barbara, We Have A Shining Future’. It’s not a ‘return to form’ as in my view they have never lost form. It’s been quite a career, encompassing ‘Born Slippy’ the rave generation’s Bohemian Rhapsody and providing the music for the Olympic Opening Ceremony, in which visuals and music combined to win over even the most cynical of non-patriotic hearts.  They claim to have had a blast recording this album and this video seems to reflect that.

 

The video for Daughter’s ‘How’ seems to reflect the growing trend for artists not to appear in their own videos, but instead to commission mini indie movies – see also Elbow and a whole album from Suede.  Yet another song on this blog with a Slowdive influence, but I can also hear shades of The Sundays as well.

 

Mogwai’s ‘Ether’ takes the shimmering soundscapes up a notch – this is truly lovely, slowly building from a start that is, well, ethereal, into an anthemic instrumental. That reminds me of something on my ‘to do’ list for this blog – a list of recommended instrumental tracks.  Stay tuned.

 

The Mystery Jet’s latest album, ‘The Curve Of The Earth’ is excellent and they remain very hard to categorise, which I like but I do fear that they are this decade’s Cooper Temple Clause – brilliant but somehow beaming in from a parallel universe and never truly acknowledged. This is the second single.

 

Here is David Bowie’s Lazarus just because it is simply brilliant. Hard to watch in hindsight but captivating nonetheless. Dark Star is an incredible album for an artist to leave as a parting gift.

 

Talking of brilliant, Suede have recorded possibly the greatest rock album of this decade. I saw them perform ‘Night Thoughts’ all the way through behind a cinema screen showing the related film, which packs the emotional punch of the first episode of Broadchurch. This track has a jaunty feel to it, but in the context of the album as a whole takes on a completely different meaning. If you haven’t already, then listen to this album now. Go on, stop reading this blog and do it now.

 

Possibly the best video on this post is Polica’s ‘Wedding’.  It reminds me of a couple of longform Public Enemy Videos I got back in the 90s which mixed the band with agitprop footage and vignettes.   Originally I assumed that the singer uses  another language or a Cocteau Twins made up one, but then an actual word of English floats through. If you don’t believe me here are the lyrics. Great track nonetheless:

 

Also no strangers to the world of agitprop, Primal Scream’s latest album is their most pop-orientated yet, reaching almost Beloved levels of blissed out lyrics and chorus. It’s apparently influenced by Abba, which is no bad thing. The first single is a duet with Sky Ferreira, who in a sign of my advancing years ( or lack of exposure to Radio 1) I have to admit I had to google. A great pop single to add to the dozens already in their back catalogue.

 

However when it comes to pop, when you boil it down to its purest form you are left with the Pet Shop Boys. From the upcoming album ‘Super’, this is ‘Pop Kids’ A lyric video is all we have at the moment, but t’s not a bad one and the lyrics are always interesting anyway. Since Kraftwerk’s residency in the Tate Turbine hall, their influence on their disciples has become even more overt – the first few breathy bars of synthesiser in this are of course Trans Europe Express:

 

I really lost interest in Radiohead a few year’s back, so the excitement around an imminent new album has not really hit this blog yet, but I do really like this – Thom Yorke guesting on a track by Mark Pritchard. On the radio this morning someone described this as a Number One hit from a different planet. It has made me more interested in what Radiohead may have in store this year.

 

I don’t know much about DIIV, but do really like this track called ‘Under The Sun’.  Always a sucker for a driving bass riff. Reminds me a bit of mid period Cure.

 

When I first heard White Denim’s Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah) on the radio a few weeks, I assumed it was some lost gem from 68-72 that I had somehow missed. Perhaps a support act for early Fleetwood Mac? But no, these are a bona fide current band from Austin, Texas.  For some reason this also reminds me of the Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion. Remember them?

 

..and I think that’s it. No doubt something else will come to mind the minute I publish the ‘publish’ button, but do feel free to add anything you think I have embarrassingly overlooked!

Happy Easter to one and all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “The Best of 2016 So Far

  1. The Mark Pritchard/Thom Yorke track is new to me, but definitely an interesting sighter as to what the new Radiohead album may contain; although if its anywhere near the quality of ‘Spectre’, it could well be the best thing they’ve done for a some time. Have to concur that the Suede album is a magnificent piece of work. New Primals album is certainly their ‘poppiest’ but in the way that the Beloved and The Shamen (‘Gorbachev’ era) were ‘pop’ – really good track but there are much better ones on the album. There’s a link between DIIV and Sky Ferriera in that Zachary Cole Smith who is DIIV, is her partner; plus she also duets on a track on his new album. The album is a Sandinista-esque 17 track follow up to his wonderful debut – again the single is nowhere near the best track on it. Really like ‘Pop Kids’, another that steals the melody from Bizarre Inc’s ‘Playing With Knives’ – on balance, think I prefer the excellent ‘Inner Sanctum’. Mystery Jets leave me cold and the fact that they are all Manu ‘fans’ from Bedfordshire or somewhere doesn’t help ! I really like White Denim earlier stuff but they appear to have turned into an Allman Brothers tribute band which is never a good thing.
    Some you may have missed…

  2. Slow dive’s influence appears to be omnipresent these days, so here is you real bonafide Rachel Goswell with her new band containing a Mogwai and an Editor.

  3. As good as the last Artics and Mile Kane’s solo album were, in my opinion their work together is far superior. This is an edgy, scuzz-rock mini masterpiece

    1. The Coral have previously passed me by, until I heard this from their new album. If swirling, post-Cope scouse post-punk psychedelia is your thing, I would definitely recommend the album, which is a definite album of the year contender

  4. Another band that had largely passed me by. This stood out as it sounds unlike anything else around at the moment; although it is hugely reminiscent of Peter Gabriel ‘So’ period. Another really good album that is well worth a listen.

    1. At your prompting I did check out the album a few weeks ago, it was very diverse but I don’t remember this one. Closer to PG3 (the melty face cover) than ‘So’ I would say.

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