Monday, 2 January 2017

The Best (and Worst?) of 2016 (part 1)

Wow. What a year that was. Very possibly the worst year in popular music history, and politically... Oh just don't get me started. Yep, 2016 was fucking shite. It was but a week old when we had a new Bowie album, and things, briefly, seemed great. Then, two days later, the great man took one last flight on the great spaceship to the sky. And from that moment on, it all went downhill.

Look, I'm not going to get all maudlin here, but let's face it, we're all pretty fucking miserable right now, yeah? And scared out of our minds too, I'm sure. I had hoped there would be plenty of silver linings to write about here, but sadly, it's been pretty hard finding them. For me, 2016 will not go down as a vintage year. 2015 was waaaay better. When I look at some of the records I was really excited about hearing - The Joy Formidable, Pixies, Primal Scream, The Kills, PJ Harvey - I feel a little let down. I mean that Primal Scream album was just fucking terrible, really really unforgivably bad. The Kills record seemed devoid of tunes, and the others weren't awful but below the standards I had hoped.

Every year, I compile songs from my favourite albums of the preceding 12 months. I originally made double-CDs and gave them to people (before I realised most of them never gave a shit and didn't listen to them). In recent years I've made it entirely digital which meant I could expand the number of tracks I use from 40 to 50, and in the case of last year, to 60. This year, however, I struggled to get beyond 40, my worst tally this decade. Despite this though, there were rays of sunshine...

SAVAGES - 'Adore Life'
The second album by Savages just blew everything else to pieces. It still does. Record of the year by a country mile. Record of the decade, even. Shit - one of the records of my life. And no, I'm not overdoing it! Simply sensational in every single respect.


Here's a band I had never heard of before Badger and SWC introduced them on JC's site, and for that I shall always be indebted to them. My best new band discovery of the year by far; a stupendous album, and this track in particular never fails to cheer me up and put a huge grin on my face.

THE CORAL - 'Distance Inbetween'
Also one of my favourite records of the year was the startlingly-good comeback album by The Coral. I've always loved The Coral, but 'Distance Inbetween' totally surpassed any expectations I had for it. Surprise of the year, undoubtedly.

DAVID BOWIE - 'Blackstar'
Of course, we have to give this one a mention. Not actually one of my top 3 Bowie albums to be honest, but there's no denying it is an extraordinary piece of work, especially the title track. And my god, what a concept. Who else but Bowie could ever write a record about death, release it on his birthday and then die within 48 hours? A prophecy if ever there was one.

When you consider how ill he was, it's nothing short of a miracle that video even exists. Bowie: making the people of Earth's jaws drop right to the end. Oh, and stay tuned for a special week of posts starting next Sunday. That's all I'm revealing for now...

MINOR VICTORIES - 'Minor Victories'
Supergroups can be rather hit and miss, but for me, Minor Victories are a definite hit. Featuring members of Slowdive, Editors and Mogwai, this lot made a sensational dreamy debut, and in Scattered Ashes, one of the songs of the year too. I hope it wasn't just a one-off.

(I posted Scattered Ashes a couple weeks ago, so here's another track from the album instead.)

A few more faves on Wednesday...


  1. Agree to your words about 2016, Robster. This year should be much better in every way.

  2. Could you just make this a two-parter ? I don't want to see the number 2016 ever again.

  3. Now you come to mention it, that Coral album was very good wasn't it? I was unfamiliar with Arbor Labor Union until now - 'Mr Birdsong' brightened up my day too.

  4. With you on Savages and Arbor Labor Union.

    Would add Goon Sax, Underworld, Ette, Teen Canteen, Modern Studies, Adam Stafford, Emma Pollock, Honeyblood, The Wedding Present and Steve Mason to the list of albums I've enjoyed a great deal in 2016.

    As well, of course, Nick Cave, but enjoy isn't a word to us with his latest work - seems totally inadequate and inappropriate.