The 10 most overlooked albums of 2016
It has been an eventful year for music in ways both good and bad. While the year has offered us a seemingly constant string of exciting material in the underground and the mainstream, an unbelievable amount of legendary artists have also been taken from us in a single year.
It is near-impossible for one person to stay on top of everything as it is, and the extra amount of positive and negative events that transpired in music this year made it even more difficult. That being said, this list is a look back on albums of a variety of different genres from this past year that sadly did not end up receiving enough attention, despite their quality.
LOK 03+1: “Signals”
“Signals,” a collaboration between Aki Takase, Alexander von Schlippenbach, DJ Illvibe and Paul Lovens, is one of the most interesting sounding free jazz albums in years. DJ Illvibe contributes prominent elements of turntable music, introducing a musical element entirely alien to free jazz. A truly innovative fusion.
The Kill Devil Hills: “In on Under Near Water”
One of the world’s most underrated alt-country bands for over a decade, The Kill Devil Hills released this year’s best country album in general. “In On Under Near Water” has a dark and moody southern atmosphere that reinforces the group’s status as one of the best acts in the gothic country scene.
Mara Balls: “Vuorten Taa”
On “Vuorten Taa,” Finnish artist Mara Balls tried her hand at a solo release and came out with a noisy and psychedelic head-trip of a debut album. “Vuorten Taa” is a caustic cocktail of every drugged-out rock genre there is, including garage rock, heavy psych and acid-rock.
Elliott Power: “Once Smitten”
UK-based singer Elliott Power made his entrance into the young singer-songwriter arena with his debut album, “Once Smitten.” The album exhibits a fascinating marriage between downtempo music and synthpop, two genres that are usually complete opposites. Power’s hushed and salacious Massive Attack-inspired rap flow also brings trip-hop to mind.
Pierrot Lunaire: “Dog Chakra”
It seems that tape music has thankfully found a home on, well, cassette tapes in recent years. Pierrot Lunaire’s new tape, “Dog Chakra,” is one of the finest examples to come out of this new resurgence. Lunaire’s emphasis is on drone, free improvisation, musique concrète and noise, rather than repetition.
blank body: “EASY PREY”
blank body is one of trap’s better artists, but his sophomore record, “Easy Prey,” was criminally overlooked. These are straight-up hard trap beats, and it is one of the most well-produced albums to come out in the genre all year, and he’s not even from the U.K.
Western Skies Motel: “Settlers”
Folk music is all about sounding organic and intimate, but instrumentalist Western Skies Motel has attempted something completely new by melding atmospheric ambient music with contemporary folk music. The two genres are bridged through the incorporation of chamber folk and more avant-garde American primitivism, and the result is astoundingly beautiful.
Phobocosm: “Bringer of Drought”
This past year has been packed with great metal releases of the most extreme caliber, and rising band Phobocosm emerged to put out one of the heaviest displays of doom metal that the genre has to offer. “Bringer of Drought” embraces both slow and fast riffs to gargantuan effect.
Moor Mother: “Fetish Bones”
The sheer amount of styles that Philadelphia rapper Moor Mother tackles on this album is mind-boggling. His entirely unique brand of hip-hop is abstract but intensely political, saturated in the aesthetic of industrial music, noise and power electronics. He even abandons his rap flow at times to recite beautiful poetry on the record.
Poison Headache: “Poison Headache”
The amount of effort that went into the production on this hardcore punk band’s self-titled debut album is quite impressive. Punk generally sounds best when it’s raw, so most underground bands do not fine-tune the production on their albums to this extent, but Poison Headache should be recognized for going above and beyond the norms of the genre.
Alexander Beebe can be reached at email@example.com.