2016: My Year in Music
Music — pt. I
2016 was an exceptional year for music. Well, at least for me it was. Maybe because I got once again hooked on listening to the year’s new albums and searching for new artists. Last time I remember being this into music I was a teenage boy who played the bass and just found out about Classic Rock and Heavy Metal. Of course, the soundtrack of my following years were all those cliché bands that turn you into a pretentious douche for somehow thinking that you have a lot more cultural education than your friends. Fortunately, my musical taste (and attitude, for that matter) changed. Now I listen to a bit of everything, but I feel that hip-hop and electronic have been my genres of choice, as of late.
Spotify was truly a blessing. The organization, the synchronization with my offline music and the ability to have the same tracks on both my phone and laptop makes it more than justifiable to have the Premium subscription. Plus, I get to know so many new artists through my recommendations.
I don’t claim to have listened to everything that was released this year. Besides that, this is just a list from the top of my head (okay, and some help from going through my Facebook and Spotify feed). Also, I am not a music critic of any sorts, so this will only be a few words about each of the albums, not an article on how they changed modern art.
Since I said I’m mostly listening to hip-hop lately, might as well start there.
Childish Gambino’s new album, Awaken, My Love!, is pretty much on every best of the year lists. Released by the end of the year, this album mixes hip-hop with a lot of soul influences. It was a mature work and the expected evolution from an artist that is pretty much a Renaissance Man.
Frank Ocean, who was four years without releasing a new album, decided to drop two this year: the pretty good Blonde and whatever Endless was. But my favorite was probably Malibu from Anderson .Paak. It is so refreshing. The groovy rhythms and the jazzy voice from Anderson just make it stand out.
On the disappointments of the year comes Justice whose new album, Woman, ends up just being rather bland. Fortunately, also from the amazing Ed Banger Records, comes the The Phoenix EP from the still underrated Fulgeance. And has I found out, he also released an album this year (as I said, this isn’t exactly the best list of 2016’s albums).
But talking about underrated. Big Black Coat by Junior Boys is the definition of it. This album is so amazing and I haven’t heard of them anywhere. I mean, I listened to one of their singles on the radio in like March. Haven’t heard of them since. Still, can’t complain about the music I’ve been introduced through Antena 3 and Vodafone FM stations. In this category fall Soft Hair’s homonymous album. A weird project of Connan Mockasin and LA Priest, that ended up being the recipe for one of the funkiest albums of the year. I was also introduced to Mild High Club this year, through their album Skiptracing, an interesting take on the psychedelic genre, like a mixture of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and antidepressants.
The amazing Mangy Love from Cass McCombs was also released this year. Not a lot to say about that. It satisfied my craving for a country rock album. The comparisons with Jonathan Wilson are inevitable, and I think that’s a great compliment.
Now, for albums from longtime favorites. BadBadNotGood released a new album, IV. No surprises here, as Time Moves Slow is one of the most recognized singles of the year. The rest of the album is also excellent! Radiohead also released the follow-up to The King of Limbs, five years later. A Moon Shaped Pool is one of the those good Radiohead albums. And that’s bad, because their albums are either good or outstanding. Still, Daydreaming is timeless, especially with Paul Thomas Anderson’s videoclip. Kaytranada’s 99.9% just reaffirmed him as one of the best hip-hop and electronic producers of the genre. Solid guests and songs tailor-made for the dance floor.
The only album in here I probably listened to just because I saw it popping up on a lot of lists was A Seat at the Table, by Solange. It’s good and it’s way to similar to FKA Twigs or Kelela.
Now, for the bands I don’t know anything about, and probably found out because of Spotify or Youtube recommendations, comes Psychic, an EP by Psychic Shakes. Also, the two releases from the newcomers Jadu Heart: Ezra’s Garden and Wanderflower. They are really good, believe me!
Now, for the few national music I listened to. I’ve only two albums to talk about. First off is Mike El Nite, what I hope is just the beginning of a new wave of Portuguese rappers. O Justiceiro is not only a great album, but is also free. And of course Capitão Fausto’s Capitão Fausto Têm os Dias Contados. This album captures the feelings off all 20-somethings of this country and pours it over the eight songs it contains. It was definitely the most talked about album of the year coming from a Portuguese artist.