2016: Best Albums Through February 29th

Written by | February 29, 2016 5:07 | No Comments


The Life Of Pablo – Kanye West – It lacks concentration and sometimes the lyric gets clunky,and it is still is the best piece of music you’ll hear this year.

Blackstar – David Bowie – We’ve heard four of the five songs before and there is nothing approaching the old touch, but it sounds like nothing else you’ll hear this year, a trip hop beat, skronk jazz doomsday scenario.

Malibu – Anderson Paak – is a concept album about surfing in Pre–Vietnamese War Malibu before it sidesteps into  a self portrait, peaking very very high and maintaining it with only an occasional falter on this state of the art hip hop triumph. “Come Down” a masterpiece and the The Game and Talib Kweli are fine featured artists

Give Me A Groove EP – Charlie Funk – Funk is a paid up member of the True Groove Funk EP, but he is more than that: on this debut EP he surges through with an indelible personality, a glammy pop front man with sex and style. “Sexy Cutie” is a an All Stars showstopper, “It’s Not A Joke” a horn riddled mood funk, “Lunch In Babylon” art rock and the title track the national anthem

I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It -The 1975 – This is the best album of the week because it is the most ambitious album of the week, and it hangs together as a concept album, though not in a story bound way. For 1975, it will break them hugely in the US: this will make them big, big stars here and while it isn’t as great as we think it is (it lacks the consistency of greatness), in 2016 has the stamina and stature of a masterclass in rock pop self-consciousness

When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired – Mothers – Somewhere between Americana, indie, folk and singer songwriter, lies this compelling and intensely depressing set of songs by Kristine Leschper. Downbeat, lo fi, but not mellow, there is a sense of mutated strings hovering and ready to die

KINGSIZED – Dressy Bessy – Indie meets power pop with so many catchy melodies? You’d be excused for wondering what century it is. At first it’s a shocker but a little more research finds Dressy Bessy part of the Elephant Six Collective and Apples Of Stereo’s John Hill on guitar. But don’t let the marquee dazzle you, this is Tammy Ealom’s tough and girlie vocals album to hit or miss and she doesn’t miss once

Death Of A Bachelor – Panic! At The Disco – better than Fall Out Boy, and that includes the execrable “Victorious”. For sure, “Crazy=Genius” is the best song you’ve ever heard that name checks Brian Wilson, Dennis Wilson and puns on “mike, love” and the best song ever about being 28 and peering down the loaded gun of 30. And then it gets really good.

Anti – Rihanna – The kick is, this is a drug induced, unfocussed, mess of an album. But the only mistake is one of omission, “Bitch Better Have My Money” should’ve been included. Only “Desperado” from the first six tracks are open to debate, the ballads are pretty good, the fast ones better, and Trevor a bigger aid than Chris Brown, though not than Jay Z

God Don’t Never Change: The Songs Of Blind Willie Johnson – Various Artists – The Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams performances are sublime

Avocet – Bert Jansch – A re-release of the late Scottish folkie’s 1979 instrumental classic… a complete delight, especially the seventeen minute title track – A

Wild Stab – The I Don’t Cares – After a couple of disappointing songs last year,  this seemed like it was gonna be na alt rock star circle jerk, but Paul Westerberg is too good a writer and every time he takes the lead is magical and even when he doesn’t Juliana Hatfield is up to it. A delightfully swift witted, fast on its feet rock triumph

You Are Going To Hate This – The Frights – Sophomore effort is killer, it would be of interest for only its doo wop meets punk “All I Need”, but they sustain the sound for thirty minutes with invariably excellent results – A-

Wonderful Crazy Night – Elton John – No, this isn’t Don’t Shoot me, I’m Only The Piano Player, but at 68 years of age Elton still has the old skills to call on from time to time, around half this album is really really good. And though the world might well ignore it, it is still a fine piece of proto-glam piano pop

Wynonna & The Big Noise, – Wynonna & The Big Noise – Big Red is back with, with he exception of a Christmas album and a Greatest Hits, her first new disk in 13 years ,With featured appearances from Jason Isbell, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks, she takes her small and powerful band through a raucous, sing your guts out ride, that never lags, Christ Stapleton co-wrote the Tedeschi opener

New York Is My Home – Dion – The title track with Paul Simon is killer and the rest of it is no better or worse than a typical Dion blues album

Porta Bohemica – Trixie Whitley – Anyone who has heard Trixie play guitar might have wanted a bluesier exercise, but what we got was an album as influenced by Daniel Lanois’s Oh Mercy field of sounds as it is by the blues or by long journeys (the Porta Bohemica is a European Orient express). Where it leads to is the deepest of emotional black holes, a place so quiet it is ineluctable, and ends up just being the sound of blue piano keys, secretively

New View – Eleanor Friedberger  – I was expecting a goodie, the coupla songs I’d heard were all aces, but this goes a touch too Lillith Fest before it ends. At its best there is an addictive tunefulness and a hard headed singer to pull em through . Shout out to that guitar solo on “Because I Asked You”

In The Magic Hour – Aoife Donovon – If Donovan is a journeyman vocalist and an Brooklyn indie stalwart, she is one whose time has come on this immaculately sung and arranged modern singer songwriter album, that summons Joni, but doesn’t stay there

Feed The Fire – Promise And The Monster – this is Billie Lindahl, who exude an enthralling ghostly sensuality on song after song –

Skilled Mechanics – Tricky – Former trip hop superstar, the Tricky kid is on his game with these funky rhythm beat tracks. But then he is always on his game and if this sounds like more of the same, it is more of the same of something no one else has ever done . “Don’t Go” is a blueprint tricky track

The Traveller – Baaba Maal – Senegal superstar foes electronica, that’s the short story. The large story is if there were more songs that rocked out with the persuasiveness of “Fulani Rock”, this would be the big time crossover he has been striving for since forever

The Long Way Home – Show Of Hands – If this is UK American, which it isn’t, or English folk, though without the clever clever of Fairport Convention, which it is, it is awful good

Let Me Get By – Tedeschi Trucks Driver – Not so fast with the Jam Band Crown abdicated by the Allman Brothers.. While the soul songs are fabulous, the Americana songs are nothing much, the quirk tracks odd though not unpleasant and the blues a drag till the solo kicks em over … maybe they should follow Eat A Peach’s lead and do a half live, half studio effort

We Are King – King – We were expecting great things from these soulful LA singers, and four years after “The Story” we got it. If you’ve heard the hype, believe it: these are three sisters who were great when I saw their showcase years ago, and while the production is overdone, they sing deep harmonies and improve everything they touch

The Ghost Of Highway 20 – Lucinda Williams – The mother of all daddy issues, Lucinda was sent reeling at the passing of her poet daddy Miller Williams a year ago, and this is pretty much a memento mori from a woman who can drag on and on at the best of times. Still, 2014’s double album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone was pretty good, the tour was even better and if this goes on a bit, when she nails it, the terrific “Place In My Heart”, it makes up for a Springsteen with change to spare

Fun’s Cool – The Prettiots – half of this duo is Lulu Landolfi, of Care Bears On Fire, who once blew me away opening for Titus Andronicus, and another former member of whom started a great band that disappeared, Claire’s Diary. These guys are smart tuneful, very funny and remarkably cool, somewhere between tongue in cheek and tongue in mouth

Mi Vicio y Mi Adiccion – Kevin Ortiz – Latin pop but with less ballads and more horns and bop than you’re used to – B+

American Appetite – Harriet – Dawes’ former keyboard player Alex Casnoff’s new band Harriet have something Dawes never had, astounding consistency. This is Socal indie pop with an eye on the 70s, but willing to ignore the 70s and go its own way. An occasional misstep, the title track is too clever for its own good, is more than made up with by first rate rocker “Inheritance”

Back On My Wall – Burnt palms – So modern punk pop, which this nominally is, sounds a whole lot like Bangles jangle, which this certainly does

Hot Sauce – The Madcaps – If they’re meant to be funny, this French bands humor doesn’t travel, but if they are meant to be straight up no chaser garage rock, they do it well

I Long To See You – Charles Lloyd and The Marvels – saxophonist Lloyd’s new band play fresh arrangements of rock, folk, jazz, hey is that country and western, pop hits, sometimes a Gregory Porter or a Norah Jones adds vocals

Misty Shrub EP – Bird Dog – Despite being from Malibu, these guys have a rustic indie folk with beard vibes offset by an ambient sound based around soaring harmonies. And even better than you think it is

Suicide Songs – MONEY – Somewhere between funny and manic depressive, this is modern shoegaze from Manchester

Don’t You – Wet – So far, so hype, so good, with these consistently talented synth poppers

Statik Kxng – Statik Selektah – Why is everything to do with Slaughterhouse so good? Slaughterhouse emcee KXNG Crooked hooks up with DJ Statik Selektah, and the result is a well rapped, well versed, terrific sounding album, head and shoulders above the dark sampled business as usual Drake influenced sounds we hear all year –

99¢ – Santigold – 99 Cent – Santigold – Sure, we’ve already heard five of these songs, one was iffy, one was a great pop track, and the other three relatively minor. And that’s the way the album goes as well, wonderful disco songs, relentlessly cheerful and upbeat, with a Caribbean lilt for spice. Another fine album

Your Girlfriend Thinks I’m The Shit EP – Round2Crew – Pop rap that sounds like a modern day LFO, a good giggle with memorable pop moments

Leave Me Alone – Hind –  Madrid chick band add pop punk to occasional Latin flow and uncomfortable lyrics to general badassness, just waiting on Taylor Swift endorsement to break Stateside

Paramount – It Lies Within – Hardcore metal from industrial slums Flint, Michigan is a no nonsense ear bleeding treat. Start with “Lights The Way” just to remind yourself there are melodies as well

Hold On! – The James Hunter Six – terrific English blue eyed soul guy with that strange jazz inflected soulfulness that was apparently invented by Georgie Fame. Terrific stuff

Long Play – The Wealthy West – Alt-country but don’t leave yet, Brandon Kinder, for it is he, has a terrific voice, and the songs are wistful sad beauties

Sweet Charity Original London Production – Various Artist – Juliet Prowse’s 1966 turn, pretty darn good for the late Elvis cohort on “GI Blues”. Juliet’s “If My Friends Could See Me Now” is one of the best

Summertime – Willie Nelson – I am not a fan of either Bonnie or Willie, but I am affair of Gershwin and even as a nonfriend, there is a great spirit behind these covers. You wanna stick Willie in a room with Bucky Pizzarelli, somebody to give him just a touch more swing. Still, at 82 years of age this has life and real power to it


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