2016 Recap

In which I gather in and present tracks from the 25 best albums I've heard all year—a sort of personal yearbook of listening. If you would like to subscribe to future episodes of sndlgc, copy this link.

Powell featuring Jonny: Jonny
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down: Slash / Burn
Field Music: Don't You Want to Know What's Wrong?
Radian: Blue Noise, Black Lake
Memotone: All Collapsed
Andy Stott: Forgotten
NHK yx Koyxen: 1048
Factory Floor: Dial Me in
Ash Koosha: Fool Moon
Tomutonttu: Studioon Astuu Haavoittunut Ystävä
Grumbling Fur: Perfect Reader
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Arthropoda
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Magneto
Autechre: Spaces How V
Anarchist Republic of Bzzz: Dark Mirrors
Guy Andrews: Spirit Ritual
Tangents: N-Mission
David Bowie: Dollar Days
Fire! Orchestra: Ritual
DKV / The Thing: Cards
Deerhoof: Life Is Suffering
Oren Ambarchi: Hubris
Supersilent: 13.3
Lambchop: JFK
Sarah Louise: Silent in Snow

I'm not going to lie: in many respects, 2016 was an utter shit year. You could look at the uncommonly high death toll of legendary figures or the global rise right-wing nationalism, if you needed proof. Luckily, I found more than enough new music to take some solace (if not retreat) in.

I've compiled here, my own, highly personal mix of favorites. Therein you will find old standbys—artists who have made regular appearances here—as well as some I've only recently discovered.

Normally, I find it hard to pick a single album as my favorite. It's so many apples and oranges. My pick might not necessarily be the record I've listened to the most times, but one that surprised me or changed my perspective. 2016 turned out to be no contest: I was completely obsessed with Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's EARS.

That's not to say there weren't other strong contenders: Lambchop turned in an startlingly original album in FLOTUS. The sophomore Anarchist Republic of Bzzz was as angry and confusing as this whole last year was. Oren Ambarchi delivered a masterwork that seemed to square the circle on his wide-ranging career. Factory Floor's 25 was utterly relentless. Fuck, David Bowie's carefully considered farewell was not only deeply moving, but the best, most daring record he'd made in decaades

…and yet, nothing compared to EARS. I knew Aurelia Smith's record would at least make this list before I finished my first listen. I was slack-jawed—not that I'm all too easily impressed. Analog synthesis has been all abuzz in the underground for years now and a wide swath of it is half-hearted, boring bandwagoning. Aurelia Smith's record was lush, vibrant and mysteriously alive.

I was so taken with her record, I saw Aurelia Smith twice this year (which I rarely do). I ceaselessly promoted it to friends. EARS was clearly a defining and landmark moment in drift pop's rise to underground prominence.

This is also the tenth of my yearly Recap mixes. They're always challengingly fun to assemble. They force me to try and make some sort of general sense out of my haphazard aesthetic and ranging interests. So many artists turned in such divergent records, I made nearly seamless connections that seemed unlikely: Nick Cave leading into Autechre? Lambchop chasing Supersilent? C'est impossible!

I hope you'll enjoy my Recap of 2016, maybe more than you did the year itself. Here's to a better year, by hook or by crook.