You know what, 2016 has been a bumper crop. We’ve had Kanye, Kendrick, Radiohead, James Blake, Chance, Rihanna, Drake, BADBADNOTGOOD, Bowie—like holy crap that’s bonkers. 2016 has probably been the best year for the sheer quantity of good music released in a long time. But this isn’t about those huge names. This is going to be a quick little list of things that you should probably listen to from people you might not know exist. I’ll try put something in for everyone, and if you think I missed something leave some angry comments on the Salient facebook page ;).
Good Willsmith—Things Our Bodies Used to Have:
A modern take on impromptu free jazz. Good Willsmith has been making absolutely radical tapes for the better part of a decade, and this is by far their best release. If you’re into some seriously experimental music, then this is the place to start: it’s not too far gone that you’ll find yourself questioning if it can even be considered music, but I can still pretty safely guarantee that you will never have heard anything like this before.
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There’s music designed for almost every activity. You’ve got your workout tunes, your study tunes, yada yada. This is far and away, music to fuck to. Everything about this album just oozes sex. The vocalist Daniel Daley breathily urges you along, while the heavy RnB bass lines and keys keep you in time. Enjoy, the music and the sex.
Sampling has always held something of a soft spot in my heart. From hearing Dre rip soul samples and chop them into aggressive, pounding drums, to The Avalanches taking everything they can and turning it into a mind bendingly good dance album. But this is a drummer’s dream. Taking these samples and building some incredibly varied and interesting drum lines to fill the pieces out makes this album an incredible listen.
There should be a clear distinction between grime, and records that sound like they’ve been unearthed from the filthiest back alley in existence. Closer to drill than anything else, this is an album that makes you feel uneasy. But it is so definably London; it’s a record that in any other time or place simply couldn’t have come about. But it’s here, so for a look at the darker deeper underbelly of London, the London where you’ll get knifed over a fiver, this is where to go.
Andy Stott—Too Many Voices:
If you’re a fan of techno, but feel it sounds too 90s, then this is what you need to listen to. An electronic album that doesn’t rely on bass drops or strange quirky sounds; this is a clean electronic record that still manages to sound modern. Interesting production techniques help add to the allure, and before long puts you in quite the trance.
Now, fair warning, I am a MASSIVE Oneohtrix Point Never fan. So when I heard he’d helped out on the production, I was interested. But more than just the production, I was impressed by how much finesse this album showed. Political without being cheesy, and with some of the most interesting vocal tones I’ve heard in a long time, Anohni has made some incredibly moving music.
Vaporwave was something I was initially super interested in, especially after the release of Macintosh Plus. After the genre seemed to peter out I lost interest, but this came back and hit me in the gut like a jilted ex lover. Echoing Arca and FKA Twigs, this electronic inspired trap-esque RnB is a lot of fun.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know about Anderson .Paak until I heard his absolutely phenomenal features on Dre’s Compton. So with this being his third album, I was behind the ball. This is a soulful album, an album driven by community, both in production and in spirit. A celebration of a culture scorned, and an excellent achievement in songwriting. While this isn’t the most lyrically impressive album of the year, it certainly comes close.
So there you go—eight albums that are, in my opinion, worth being listened to.