Exeter, Devon UK • May 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Music Exeposé Music’s Best Albums of 2016 | 40-31

Exeposé Music’s Best Albums of 2016 | 40-31

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[50-41]    [40-31]    [30-21]    [Top 20]

40   Sturgill Simpson

 A Sailor’s Guide to Earth

sturgill-simpson-sailor-guide-album-streamIf there is such a thing as alternative country, Sturgill Simpson is its torch-bearer. Having emerged from the ashes of the Dolly Parton-era Nashville bonfire, Simpson is both a philosopher and a raconteur. A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is a loose concept album about a sailor’s letter home to his wife and son. That sounds trite, sure, but Simpson’s cynical humour and bare lyrical honesty keep the album from curdling. The “antithesis of Brad Paisley” uses classic country traits of storytelling and twangy instrumentation to deliver his “meta-modern” messages – it’s ironic and dark, but brighter and more sincere than his previous couple of albums. Plus, his cover of ‘In Bloom’ by Nirvana is subtle and intriguing.

Sam Norris

39   jAMIE t
tRICK

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Jamie T’s fourth studio album, Trick, takes the best parts of the previous three and blends them together in a cheerful fusion of some of the darker aspects of life, from addiction to self-dissatisfaction. Notable tracks include the first single, ‘Tinfoil Boy’, with its booming urgency and punk-fuelled, mosh-worthy chorus, the hauntingly sincere ‘Sign Of The Times’ and the bittersweet ‘Dragon Bones’ that juxtaposes suicide with the most playfully upbeat melody on the album. Jamie steps away from London as the main inspiration for his lyrics, calling instead upon classical literature and mythical figures, but his brutal honesty is never lost, making this quite possibly his best album yet.

Georgie White

38   Glass Animals
How to be a Human Being

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Colourful and chaotic, How To Be A Human Being displays a range of unlikely combinations of sounds. Bells, jingles that seem to come out from old-fashioned arcades, fairy-tale flutes, and many other embellishments make listening to the record an enjoyable experience. The second album of the Oxford-based band Glass Animals is a delirious collage of stories and tones, a mix of indie rock, psychedelic pop, and alternative R&B. Perfect background music for those grey winter days in need of warmer shades.

Emma Prevignano

Read our review of How to be a Human Being here.

37   Kaytranada
 99.9%

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Haitian-Canadian producer, Kaytranada, made waves earlier this year when he dropped debut album 99.9%, an eclectic mix of bustling electro set with a distinct alternative hip hop groove and flourishes of abstract funk and neo-soul. As is evident from that description, the record is fairly genre defying, something that is clear from the wide variety of its collaborators, with the record seeing Kaytranada fuse the likes of Craig David, Vic Mensa, Anderson .Paak and Little Dragon to thrilling effect. On 99.9% Kaytranada engineers the right balance between quirky leftfield production and traditional rap/pop sensibilities (e.g. ‘Together’, ‘Glowed Up’) to make a record that whilst quirky is still very accessible with wider audiences. A melting pot of sounds and beats, 99.9% is as innovative as its head-turning album artwork, which is no mean feat.

Rory Marcham

36   DD Dumbo
 Utopia Defeated

dddumboThe latest gem from 4AD’s roster is D.D. Dumbo’s debut album Utopia Defeated: the product of a one-man band with a sound bigger and more intricate than you’d think possible from one person. Rhythmic flirtations and playful looping splatters what is in essence a very carefully crafted record, covering coveted topics such as a death of a walrus, UFOs and the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Written, performed and recorded almost entirely by Castlemaine’s Oliver Hugh Perry, this record is a thrilling and thoroughly unpredictable look into the mind of one of Australia’s most exciting musicians.

Tristan Gatward

35   Mitski 
 Puberty 2

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Puberty 2 is an album about that point in early adult life where there’s a sudden realisation of insecurity, and that happiness is further away than it should be. Mitski’s melodic indie rock and Pixies-style dynamics give Puberty 2 an overwhelming emotional force, but this is not a remake of a 90s alt rock standard; folky experimental sounds meet with wit and imagery in an exploratory, anxious fashion. Tracks ‘Happy’ and ‘Fireworks’ put across the sheer hopelessness that looms over the album, but parts are punctuated with positivity, like the euphoric explosion in ‘Your Best American Girl’. Mitski’s struggle to find some kind of self-meaning is ultimately a fruitless one, as she admits on the final track ‘A Burning Hill’: “I’ll love some littler things”.

Sam Norris

34   The Avalanches
Wildflower

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When the Avalanches released ‘Frankie Sinatra’ as the lead single from their long-rumoured sophomore album, I was shocked, confused and vaguely offended. Including original vocals, even if they were from edgy essential Danny Brown and the metal-faced supervillain MF DOOM, felt rather like a slap in the face to their original plunderphonic vibe. Of course, there was no need to worry – far from becoming “just” producers, their various guests are just that – guests. If anything, they’re used in a way to differentiate the Avalanches from the league of imitators that their debut Since I Left You spawned. If this is the beginning of an Avalanches comeback, then it’s a hell of a statement of intent.

Alex Brammer

33   Various Artists
 Day of the Dead

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I know, I know, it’s not just a compilation, but a tribute album but hey, I’m only the writer (and a senior editor, but that’s another story), and I can explain. Whilst it is the case that this LP goes on for over five-hours and spans 59 tracks, it somehow transcends the traditional boundaries of this medium to become a monument to the genius of Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead – a demonstration of the endless road on which these songs travel. Complied by The Nationals, the album sidelines the band’s traditional jam-based heritage for a richer variety of connections, ranging from contemporary icons The War On Drugs, to soul-man Charles Bradley, to Unknown Mortal Orchestra, to even Anonhi, to bring about a rich palette which covers practically every sonic tendency known to contemporary music, all the while laying waste to the public’s obsessive pigeon-holing of the Dead as “yet another hippie band, and whilst there exists the occasional misstep, the overall result is a mesmerising exhibit, honouring one of the most important bands to grace 20th Century America.

Theo Stone

32   Kano
 Made In The Manor

articlesharedimage-60007Last month Kano grabbed the MOBO for Album of the Year, besting Skepta and Laura Mvula in the process. Made in the Manor is at its best when Kano offers an intimate; emotionally charge introspective depiction of London’s East End. It’s not your archetypal, aggressive, 140-beat-per minute grime album. Nostalgia flows from ‘T-Shirt weather in the Manor’ as Kano raps over a breezy, slowed beat, ‘This is England’ centres on the gritty reality of the urban life rarely paid any attention by the mainstream media and ‘3-Wheel up’ has simply been scorching dance floors since January.

Tom Murphy

31   Whitney
Light Upon the Lake

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Light Upon the Lake is almost as chilled out as it gets. The duo of Max Kakacek (Smith Westerns) and Julien Ehrlich (Unknown Mortal Orchestra) are something of an indie supergroup, and their sunny, lazy Americana pop-rock is as crisp and pleasant as a well organised holiday. There are lulled falsettos left, right and centre here, which get a tad sickly at times, but the instrumentation is dulcet and little fragments of catchiness glimmer here and there. If anything, the album is a bit, well, too “nice” to really get anybody excited, but the essential elements of a by-the-book pop-rock album are all present here and it gives us a few more options for our “sipping-Sunny D-in-a-field-of-wheat” playlist.

Sam Norris

[50-41]    [40-31]    [30-21]    [Top 20]

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