Each and every year thousands of albums are released by artists and bands from countless countries and cities around the world, and of varying degrees of fame. To listen to them all would be an impossible task, but as a lover of music, I did my best to listen to as much as I could, from groups I know and love, to musicians I’d never been exposed to before. Eventually, I managed to condense all of the releases I’d listened to from 2016, into a list of the 25 albums I believed to be the best, or enjoyed the most, which you can read HERE. Unfortunately though there are bound to be albums that I thoroughly appreciated, but couldn’t quite make the cut, this is where the honourable mentions comes into play. Enjoy this small list of 10 albums from 2016 that I really enjoyed or thought were exceptionally impressive, but couldn’t quite fit into my Top 25.
Anchor & Braille – Songs For The Late Night Drive Home
It’s not often that the name of an album so perfectly describes the sound, mood, and tone of the songs which it hosts, but the second album from Anchor & Braille, the side project of former Anberlin front-man Stephen Christian, does just that. It’s a wonderful collection of melancholic, introspective, and emotional electronic tunes, accompanied by Christian’s as per usual stunning vocals and heartfelt lyrics, all of which makes for good listening when you’re on those midnight trips down the motorway.
Anderson Paak – Malibu
The second full length LP from Anderson Paak does an excellent job of showcasing the talent of the California native, who after featuring heavily on Dr. Dre’s album “Compton”, was thrust into the limelight. Throughout the record Paak’s skills are on display as he alternates between rapping and silky smooth singing with ease. Bringing together elements of jazz and funk music, with R&B and hip hop, Paak creates the soundtrack to countless Summer barbecues, with his cool, funky rhythms, wonderfully refreshing rhymes, and groovy beats.
Bon Iver – 22, A Million
I hate using the expression, but Bon Iver’s latest effort is so utterly weird and wonderful. An eclectic 35 minute, 10 track affair with a delightfully fresh glitch, electronic, and experimental sound. Combined with Justin Vernon’s once gentle, now effects heavy vocals, as he sings about life’s trials and tribulations, in the way we’ve come to expect from the 35-year-old. It’s a disjointed, messy, and choppy stroke of genius, which sounds like the collaborative effort of James Blake, Radiohead, and Kanye West, and that’s great.
Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
On their sophomore LP, the Welsh alternative rock four-piece play things safe, building on what made their debut release so enjoyable, continuing to play fast, and hard, with lyrics about girls, smoking, drinking, and life on the road, whilst continuing to wear their influences on their sleeves. The vocals are passionate, the instrumentation is clean, and while the potential continues to grow, and the tracks are catchy and enjoyable, I think it’s time the group carved their own destiny.
Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
A wonderfully weird adventure, containing some really different, original, and fun tunes. There’s heavy influences from just about every genre imaginable; jazz, funk, soul, psychedelic, and of course R&B and hip hop. Soulful and smooth vocals clash with wacky and wild rapping styles, with intricately layered beats; this is one of the most unusual albums of the year. Whilst it might not be for everyone at first, after a few listens, you can really appreciate the wonderful piece of artistry Donald Glover has concocted.
Iggy Pop – Post-Pop Depression
The seventeenth, and possibly final album from rock music legend Iggy Pop, sees the 69-year-old team up with Josh Homme and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys), to create a 9 track album packed with sexiness and swagger. Pop’s vocals are powerful in a subdued way, much like the late David Bowie, as the confronts his own mortality, age, and legacy. Overall the album serves up some good old fashioned sounding rock tunes with outstanding production and instrumentation.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
The Melbourne psychedelic rock septet have been slowly winning over the hearts and minds of the Australian people for some time, with their latest release showcasing what the group can do at their best. An album with incredible production, amazing levels of energy, and precise rock instrumentation, with impressive performances all around, and mixing which is an absolute joy. The record is, from a technical standpoint, masterful, and a pleasure to listen to if you like your music loud, hard, and a little crazy. To top it all off, the whole album is an infinite loop, with each song leading into the next, and the last leading into the first. What.
M83 – Junk
Following up on 2011’s “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” was never going to be easy for French electronic music group M83, but Anthony Gonzalez and company did a wonderful job on their latest release Junk. The vintage sound is back again in full force, drawing on a variety of 70s and 80s sounds and styles to create some really unique electronic, dance, and synth-pop tunes. The production is solid, the vocals are pleasant, and all of the tracks hold onto the ambient and spacey tone, whilst remaining upbeat and fun. Definitely one of the groovier releases of 2016.
Nicolas Jaar – Sirens
Five years on from his critically acclaimed debut album, and with the pressure of expectation bearing down on him, 27-year-old composer and electronic musician Nicolas Jaar produced one of the year’s more originally wonderful records. While only six tracks long, Sirens provides a variety of tones, and moods, utilising unique sounds and production techniques. This is electronic music, with an experimental twist. His haunting, echoing vocals, and the references to his Chilean heritage are all nice touches on top of an already pleasant project.
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Opening with a track with switches from a heartfelt, piano and string driven ode to his infant son, to a poppy jazz tune at the drop of a hat, the Kentucky born country musician lets listeners know they’re in for a treat on his latest album. Featuring a smooth, yet powerful voice, the kind you would not expect from a man of only 38, backed by an arrangement of upbeat rock guitar riffs, piano melodies, horns, and groovy drum beats, this isn’t your typical alternative country album. While it’s only 38 minutes long, it’s a very poetic, and beautiful album which really showcases Simpson’s talent as a musician and songwriter.