Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Top 30 ALBUMS of 2016: Part Two (#11--20)...

getting closer to the moment of truth...

11. Gallant Ology: Christopher Gallant has been knocking on the door for two years now but nothing could have prepared us for his command of the stunning urban R&B tracks like opener, “Talking To Myself”, “Shotgun” and spectral delight of “Weight In Gold”. No one really does pure R&B anymore but it’s so nice to experience this semblance of beats, hi-claps and production that so many other famous stars just can’t seem to get right.

12. Emma Pollock In Search Of Harperfield: finally finding steady footing, Pollock has reigned in her straying aesthetic and now luxuriates into her folk/pop ditties. This is confident yet upbeat. Songs like Vacant Stare and standout Don’t Make Me Wait are timeless, sunny expositions of a time when the genre experiments and works.

13. Chance The Rapper Colouring Book: expanding his scope, Chance now bounces an almost-religious vibe to go with the texture of his music and, irrespective of the guest verses, he remains on point. Unlike other artists, Colouring Book doesn’t sacrifice its beats for art, but juxtaposes them into a stunning production template.

14. Childish Gambino Awaken, My Love: no longer merely a rapper, Glover embraces the past (specifically 1970s funk) in order to forge a wild present state of mind. If the fact that Atlanta has repositioned the black experience in contemporary America, consider Awaken, My Love the reluctant distant cousin trying to get one last retro delight off before reality sets in.

15. Solange A Seat At The Table: two things struck me immediately upon researching Solange: one, she’s thirty and two, she’s been married twice. Though we’ve been aware of Beyonce’s sister in bits and pieces, 2016 was the year when she became a real artist to us and not just some cool oddity or elevator folklore. A Seat At The Table is a grown woman’s record, not some flirtatious treat but a sobering, introspective piece of what it’s like to wait for recognition and calmly accept it when it finally comes along.

16. James Vincent McMorrow We Move: the Irish singer-songwriter, following the Justin Vernon model, brings soul to acoustics and a convincing falsetto. The soul aspect is reinforced as well by the fact that dvsn mastermind, Nineteen85 helped shape the structure of the album. In the process, both men have produced the chef d’ouvre James Blake has been trying to release for the past five years now. Don’t believe me? Try listening to the serene “Surreal” and not thinking that it’s Blake singing.

17. Shearwater Jet Plane And Ox Bow: eight albums in and Jonathan Meiburg has his Bowie-esque sound down pat. Here though the band has embraced its inner-Americana to stunning results. The first half is packed with the soundtrack of underground rock, while what follows it is typical of journey bands filling mid-sized stadia with loud, raucous fans cheering on, hooked on every line.

18. Blood Orange Freetown Sound: sometimes it takes a truly gifted artist a while to settle in their skin and its always when they turn inside for inspiration, that’s when the magic happens. Enter Dev Hynes, songwriter to other stars, but now egged on by the Black Lives Matter movement and his own experience with prejudice, Freetown Sound clap backs viscerally: silky smooth grooves juxtaposed to that distinct quivering vocal style of tales of endless questioning.

19. Kanye West The Life Of Pablo: love him or hate him, one thing Kanye West is isn’t boring. And now that we have his politics beating outside his heart, it clarifies the schizophrenic turn that his music has taken since the start of the decade. Ever the innovator, West stepped back on TLOP and others took control while he span a little out of control---only to resume the reins and rescued himself.

20. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam I Had A Dream That You Were Mine: one of the most important things for a musician to know, if a part of a collective, is to time their departure for other creative ventures. Leithauser (The Walkmen) and Batmangliij (Vampire Weekend) are two such examples: fresh from respective departures come shopworn yet exciting songs.