Features Music Year End 2016 Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2016)

Year End 2016

Music: Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2016)

As years go, 2016 was a cruel one. We lost tons of musical heroes: Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Jones and other iconic performers departed. Before they left us, though, we were treated to a few final pieces of music. Likewise, once-dormant bands returned to prove that their best wasn't behind them. And of course, new bands appeared with fresh sounds and energy to inspire us all over again. While 2016 might be a year to forget in many ways, we don't think the following albums will be disappearing from memories any time soon.

Overall site list

1

David Bowie

Blackstar

ISO Records / Columbia

David Bowie has always stood outside the lines. In the last decade or so, every album release came as a surprise of sorts: no media circus or worldwide promo tour. Each release showed Bowie slipping into his older years with something more stable stylistically. Here on his 69th birthday we get his 25th album, Blackstar. In an almost complete lack of concern about what others may think, he released his most complete work in years so neatly stamping a mark to act as a coda for his career, and incidentally his life. In true Bowie fashion, he made something with lasting merits – something different, yet very much his own. (Jon)

2

A Tribe Called Quest

We Got It From Here...Thank You For Your Service

Epic

Coming off their second hiatus, A Tribe Called Quest have released what is arguably their most politically charged and strongest album in their long and storied career. Recorded virtually in secret with member Phife Dawg before his untimely passing earlier this year, We Got It... is 16 tracks of hip-hop 101, each averaging 3 minutes, and there's nary a single nanosecond wasted. This album doesn't just belong on the playlist labeled "essential", it's on the playlist labeled "important". (Kevin)

3

Swans

The Glowing Man

Young God

With The Glowing Man, Swans add to their legacy. That triptych of double albums has proved the shamanic wisdom of this band. Years do not seem to weigh on Swans' creativity, past experiences do not define what they represent. It is stated that The Glowing Man will mark the end of the current incarnation of the band, something quite logical since they have released in total about six hours of music within four years, so it does feel like the appropriate time for a reboot. When Swans first reemerged I was quite skeptical, but now I am strangely optimistic. And at the mean time I can listen to their three, arguably, greatest records. (Spyros)

4

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Skeleton Tree

Bad Seed LTD.

Skeleton Tree would seem to be (and most understandably so), a transitional album and it will be very interesting to see where Cave’s music will go from here but in all the darkness there’s always the faintest glimmer of light, and on the title track which closes the album, Cave leaves us with that light - glowing white like fire. That glimmer of life and hope that refuses to burn out. Warm and reassuring, letting us know it’s alright now. It's alright now... (Kevin)

5

Radiohead

A Moon Shaped Pool

XL Recordings

A Radiohead album release has become akin to finding folding money under a seat cushion. It doesn't happen often and when it does, it's usually a surprise. A Moon Shaped Pool is an overall quieter entry into the band's catalog - at least much more so than 2011's bombastic and somewhat uneven King of Limbs, though this isn't to be mistaken for Radiohead-lite. They continue to be a band that can convey more with a solitary whisper, than most bands can with a chorus of screams. (Kevin)

6

Metallica

Hardwired...to Self Destruct

Blackened Recordings

8 years. Jesus. That’s the same length of time as Barack Obama’s two-term administration. That’s the entire lifespan of an 8 year old child. That’s too goddamn long between albums, is what it is. Hardwired… to Self Destruct is not necessarily a new standard of excellence in the band’s catalog, but Metallica still manage to sound more vital and capable than 90% of heavy music being played by bands half their age. Let’s just hope they release another album before the next Supermoon. (Kevin)

7

Cobalt

Slow Forever

Profound Lore

The future looked very dark for Cobalt, following the release of 2009's Gin. Wunder and McSorley seemed to have perfected their recipe for the black metal outfit, following the release of their debut album, War Metal, and especially their sophomore full-length, Eater of Birds. The band ceased activities, and time went by. Now, not only do they return with a double album, but they might be coming back with their best work so far in the 84 minutes of Slow Forever. (Spyros)

8

Boilerman

Feel Ways About Stuff

86'd Records

Hypothesis: When good dudes form a good band they put out good records. Findings: This record. (Nathan)

9

Iggy Pop

Post Pop Depression

Loma Vista Recordings

When Iggy Pop parted ways with The Stooges in the mid-seventies, no one really knew what to expect from the man next. If they had been taking bets in Vegas, the highest odds would have gone to: Moving to Berlin to collaborate with David Bowie. Iggy has gone on record as saying Post Pop Depression could very well be his swansong. I get it. I do. The man has lived enough of a life to satiate the most bacchanalian horde, but selfishly, I don’t want this to end. I want this party to go on until I’m forcefully dragged from the room. There’s a brief tour to accompany this album. I will be sure to be there and you should be sure to be there, too. With the life he’s lived and career he’s had, there’s a good chance that this is indeed it, so I don’t know about you folks, but I’m damn sure I want to at least be there for last call. (Kevin)

10

Alcest

Kodama

Prophecy Productions

Kodama is a record that follows Alcest’s path of spirituality in music. It strips things back to the basics of Alcest’s sound and lifts the mind into new realms while doing so. In searching for answers, Alcest create music that speaks to many – they’re not quite black metal, and not wholly shoegaze, but they are entirely human and it’s in this that people have found their home. "Onyx" closes out Kodama on bittersweet, instrumental tones that offer a slight glimpse at the sunlight that we all seek to find. (Cheryl)

11

Big Eyes

Stake My Claim

Don Giovanni

Big Eyes play in the punk circuit but their sound definitely isn’t restricted to the genre ghetto. It’s more open-ended rock, but is concise, fiery, and personal, which makes it a good fit in the punk scene. I hear as much Cheap Trick and other non-gimmicky classic rock as I hear Ramones (and the obligatory Joan Jett reference). Stake My Claim grows off the imprint of their previous work, using that hard hitting rock core but giving a unique touch throughout. It’s powerful, yet tempered, forceful instead of soaring. And this time it’s personal. (Loren)

12

40 Watt Sun

Wider than the Sky

Radiance Records

40 Watt Sun hold a special place in the hearts of those who have heard their music and been affected by the honesty within. Having been many years in the making, Wider than the Sky comprises of six beautiful songs that speak to the very essence of humanity and delves below the surface of relationships and sadness and loss. It's a beautiful presentation of honesty, dreams, sadness and passion, and 40 Watt Sun are a band to be engulfed by. (Cheryl)

13

Arms Aloft

What a Time to Be Barely Alive

Red Scare Industries

Midtempo punk sounds like such a boring idea. And sometimes it really is. But when it works, it’s hard to top. The chords are still powerful and concise, the frustration and fury still present, but it’s more tempered when the tempo drops down a bit and more powerful when it rises to the top. The vocals need to sneer and snarl instead of shout. It’s that ability to balance emotion with aggression and uncertainty that sets Arms Aloft ahead of the pack. They’re absolutely a punk band through and through. It’s DIY at heart, super cynical, and built around the cusp of just-contained emotion, but it’s also carefully structured with rising and falling power within each song instead of full-throttle fury. (Loren)

14

Rakta

III

Iron Lung

From São Paulo, Brazil, this band tests the limits of what is considered punk and the results are truly awesome. Picking any track of this and you've got the best song you've heard this year. (Nathan)

15

Perturbator

The Uncanny Valley

Blood Music

James Kent, known as Perturbator, has been meticulously constructing whole worlds with his dark synthwave music, one album at a time. His love of cyberpunk concepts has been the driving force for all his releases, and coupled with a strong '80s aesthetic, he has been able to breathe life into these feverish visions of futuristic domains. The Uncanny Valley was named after a hypothesis in robotics engineering. A phenomenon that occurs when a robot resembling, nearly identically the human form, causes a response of revulsion to the human observer. This is not the case with listening to The Uncanny Valley. There is not a single moment that can make you look away. (Spyros)

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Words by the SPB team on Jan. 16, 2017, 4:53 p.m.

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Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2016)

Posted on Jan. 16, 2017, 4:53 p.m.

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Pages in this feature:

  1. Records 16-30
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Series: Year End 2016

Our annual round-up of the best music of the year 2016.

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