My Favorite Music of 2016
Seeing that 2016 is now really over, I can finally look back at a full year of discovering and listening to music. 2016 marked the return to the biggest love of my life: music. And I have the listening statistics on Last.fm to prove it.
My taste in music has always shifted, and the last couple of years I was mostly focused on electronic music. But In 2016 I started connecting with different genres again, with some great discoveries as a result.
Radiohead has officially become one of my favorite bands. I slowly started becoming a fan with “In Rainbows”, but it was “A Moon Shaped Pool” that really made me understand why people think they are the best band in the world. It’s such a beautiful, rich and cinematic album. I also started to dig into their older albums, especially “Kid A”. But it was the song “Present Tense” that quite quickly became of my favorite songs of all time. The beauty, buildup and lyrics of that song just grab me every time, and it helped me heal my heart.
“In You I’m Lost”
And that acoustic version just makes it even better:
This one was weird. I was a huge R&B and soul fan in the 90’s and early 00’s, but never really listened to those genres after that. I really liked Frank Ocean’s first album “Channel Orange”, especially the song “Lost”. But then he released his new album “Blonde” and it just went on repeat for months, slowly becoming of my favorite albums of all time. Every time I discovered a new track, a new part, a new corner of the album I had somehow missed. And that journey still isn’t over. It’s hard to call it R&B, it’s just so much richer and deeper then that. But what a delight to hear something so minimal and yet so colourful at the same time.
One of my favorite discoveries of 2016 is Leon Vynehall. Unfamiliar with his music I started listening to his brilliant debut album “Music for the Uninvited”, with the track “It’s Just (House of Dupree)” instantly becoming one of my all time favorite songs. But then I discovered he had just done an Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 (which is also one of my favorite mixes of 2016 and made it to the shortlist of best Essential Mixes of 2016). And then I also discovered he just released a new album “Rojus (Designed To Dance)”! I couldn’t have been much happier with so much great new music. “Rojus (Designed To Dance)” is just a brilliant house album filled with summer dance floor anthems. If you hear it, you just want to dance.
Klangstof / Whitney
One of the best rock bands to come out of the Netherlands in the last couple of years is Klangstof. I discovered them just before Lowlands and their live performance was just amazing. Their sound is described as “Radiohead-esque”. Which is not entirely true, but they sure sound really, really good.
Whitney is one of those bands that just have that easy going sound you’ll enjoy for years to come. Their vibe reminds me of The Whitest Boy Alive.
So here’s my top 5 of best albums of 2016, with each album’s highlights.
- Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
True Love Waits
- Frank Ocean - Blonde
- Klangstof - Close Eyes To Exit
We Are Your Receiver
- Leon Vynehall - Rojus (Designed To Dance)
- Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
Light Upon The Lake
~ Listen to these albums in my playlist on Spotify!
Or check out my statistics for all albums on Last.fm.
Special album mentions
Various Artists — DJ Koze Presents Pampa, Vol. 1
I was really looking forward to this compilation. With such great artists contributing, it just had to be good. And it is. It’s full of great tracks with that relaxed Pampa sound. But with 19 tracks there are also a handful that are good, but not great. That makes you skip some tracks, which is a shame.
A Tribe Called Quest - We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
A great album which almost made the list, but a double album was just a bit too much. But still, releasing such a great hip-hop album after 18 years is just awesome.
Willow - Workshop 23
Ok, it’s not really an album, it’s an EP. But these four tracks just sound so good and distinctive, I just had to mention it.
As always in recent years, all the loose tracks are mostly electronic. So I made two lists, sorted alphabetically.
The electronic one features a lot of house, deep house and disco-ish tracks. With Midland taking the top spot with three tracks. And a lot of tracks from the DJ Koze compilation.
Ada - You and Me
Acid Pauli - Nana
Axel Boman - In the Dust of This Planet
Bambooman - Feel
Bonobo - Kerala
Champion & Four Tet - Disparate*
Champion & Four Tet - Flip Side*
Dinky - Casa (Axel Boman Dub Mix)
Doms & Deykers - It’s You I See
D.Y.A - Do It
JMII - Thrills
JMII - Tightbrass
Lianne La Havas - Lost & Found (Matthew Herbert Remix)*
Mano Le Tough - Energy Flow (DJ Koze Miles and More Remix)
Midland - Blush
Midland - Decompression Suite
Midland - Final Credits
Ola Kvernberg - The Mechanical Fair (Todd Terje remix)
Project Pablo - Closer
Michael Kiwanuka - Love & Hate (Leon Vynehall Love rework)
Tee Mango - Time Is Up**
Tiga - Don’t Break My Heart
Tiga - Make Me Fall In Love
Weval - I Don’t Need It
Willow - Untitled A1
*Only on YouTube
**Only on SoundCloud
~ Listen to these tracks in my playlist on Spotify!
And the Non-Electronic list features all kinds of genres, but some tracks still have that electronic vibe going on. Make sure to check out the live version of Tom Grennan’s “Something In the Water”.
A Tribe Called Quest - We The People….
James Blake - I Need A Forest Fire (ft. Bon Iver)
Julie Byrne - Natural Blue
Klyne - Water Flow
Local Natives - Dark Days
Maggie Rogers - Alaska
Massive Attack - Ritual Spirit
RY X - Deliverance
Sarah Neufeld - The Ridge
Tom Grennan - Something In the Water
Warhola - Red
~ Listen to these tracks in my playlist on Spotify!
A great mix can be a adventurous musical journey. Midlands’ Essential Mix is such a journey. You can compare it to Nicolas Jaar’s eclectic Essential Mix from 2012, but with a different vibe. Beautiful Swimmers have become one of my favorite DJ’s. After hearing so much about them, I caught them live and was blown away by their uplifting but still underground sound. Their podcast for Dekmantel is a great example of their unique style.
So here’s my top list of best mixes of 2016.
- Midland - Essential Mix (Best Essential Mix of 2016)
- Leon Vynehall - Essential Mix
- Beautiful Swimmers - Dekmantel Podcast 045
- Dixon - Resident Advisor Podcast 500
- John Talabot - Lente Kabinet Festival (28/05/2016)
- DJ Tennis - Boiler Room
- The Black Madonna - Dekmantel Festival 2016
~ Listen to these mixes in my playlist on SoundCloud!