2016 scythed through song-writers with scant regard for the listening public. Bowie, Cohen, Prince. A grim litany indeed. But 2016 was an astonishingly creative year on the indie scene. In John Peel’s absence, I get my music from The Hype Machine which collates the recommendations of hundreds of music blogs around the world. Here are a few of my favourites from the year which deserve a wider public.
Forth Wanderers – Know Better: A Schoenberg cabaret song that updates grunge for 2016.
Swimming Tapes – Tides: Perfect summer pop. In Real Estate’s absence, this will do.
Japanese Breakfast – In Heaven: Love the slightly flat nasally singing on this. Their ‘Everybody Wants To Love You‘ is like Cyndi Lauper in a hurricane.
Big Thief – Paul: ‘So I swallowed all of it / As I realised there was no one who could kiss away my shit.’ Heartbreaking, in manifold ways.
They – Say When: Expect more of this darkly raging US hip-hop in 2017.
Slow Hollows – Softer: The dead-pan delivery reminds me of Bill Callahan and Leonard Cohen – win-win.
Lord Huron – Hurricane: Alt-country before ‘alt’ became something sinister.
Preoccupations – Memory: If Joy Division were around today, they might sound like this.
Hazel English – Never Going Home: Artist of the Year 2016 Indie Pop that sounds like ‘an old and familiar friend’ (Salinger) after the first play.
Molly Burch – Downhearted: Patsy-Cline inflected vocals and a song destined to become a modern classic.
Frank Ocean – Nights Song of the Year 2016 Its many quirks, circumlocutions, and sidesteps should grate but they never do. Constantly surprising and engaging, Gregg Wallace would say R’n’B doesn’t get any better than this in 2016. He’d be right, too. (You’ll have to click on the name to hear this one.)
Late entry for old friend @thetearooms, Young Scum – If You Say That: jangle pop dreamers.