Here are the 100 greatest LPs of 2016, according to Crack Magazine. Visit 2016.crackmagazine.net for more end of year coverage over the coming weeks.
Craig DavidFollowing My Intuition Speakerbox / Insanity
At the mention of ‘Craig David’, some people still picture that Bo’ Selecta! sketch: the Avid Merrion caricature complete with marker pen beard, Yorkshire accent and plastic kestrel. It’s full credit to the UK garage crooner that he fashioned such a successful comeback for himself in 2016 through hard graft, positivity and a passion for chart toppers at their most infectious. Too much can be said for nostalgia, but Following My Intuition proved that Craig is at his best when he (re-re-)rewinds it back.
PAYROLL GIOVANNI & CARDOBig Bossin Vol.1 Self-released
As an energetic exercise in traditional street rap, Big Bossin Vol.1 didn’t concern itself with breaking new ground. Instead, Texas producer Cardo provided a selection of sun-soaked G-funk beats that inspired Detroit’s Payroll Giovanni to write detailed rhymes which read like a dealer’s diary entries. Maintaining a high standard throughout, Giovanni churned out classic hip-hop tropes with imaginative flair: “Shout out to my jeweler cause he crowned me/ if all this ice melted it’d drown me”.
Swallowing your pride is never easy, but when Viet Cong found themselves in the middle of a heated debate around their name, they conceded gracefully. And I’m so glad they did. Despite making changes elsewhere, Preoccupations have managed to remain uncompromising in their vision, and their self-titled debut was one of the year’s most claustrophobic, caustic and cohesive releases. Fuelled by anti-melody and personal trauma, this record was absolutely, crucially bleak.
When Gonjasufi released his debut album A Sufi and a Killer in 2010, the Californian musician and yoga teacher expressed that he wanted his music “to hurt a little bit.” Finally, six years after his debut, we could fully realise his notion of hurt with Callus. An onslaught of lo-fi drums, overdriven bass guitars and a vocal performance that was half way between George Clinton and a particularly agonised Tom Waits, Callus was a satisfyingly grim display of distortion.
FUTUREPurple Reign Freebandz
Once Future stopped trying to infiltrate the pop world and got lost in his own vices last year, an army of loyal fans began to rally around him. Musically and thematically, Purple Reign felt like a continuation of Future’s remarkable 2015 run. And what Purple Reign lacked in reinvention, it made up for in focus. Showcasing his knack for turning a boast into a cry for help, it indicated how huge Future has become by pursuing a relatively uncommercial sound.
ETHEREALLook At Me Awful Records
A low-key gem among Awful Records’ busy 2016 release schedule was Ethereal’s Look At Me, which the producer/rapper wrote, recorded, engineered and mixed at the Awful House headquarters. The warm grooves of Ethereal’s lo-fi beats gave the project a welcoming feel, while particularly inspired contributions from Awful affiliates Abra, Alexandria and Father complemented his high-pitched raps, furthering his reputation as one of the Atlanta collective’s most respected members.
KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH + SUZANNE CIANISunergy RVNG Intl
Electronic pioneer Suzanne Ciani and contemporary synth composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith made this album in Bolinas, California. Bolinas is hemmed by the ocean. This constant idyllic image, along with the lingering sun, drapes Ciani’s mirrored studio where this album was created. Much of Sunergy deals with these primal forces of energy, with sparkling ambient emanating from their buchla synths; ultralight beams animated through a network of patch cables. It’s impossible to imagine a creative collaboration could sound this convincing without a spiritual unity between the two artists, and between their synths.
JESSY LANZAOh No Hyperdub
For Oh No Jessy Lanza borrowed influence from 80s japanese pop and shangaan electro. It Means I Love You experimented with the latter genre’s giddy rhythm and pitched-up vocals, the title track featured a spontaneous break-down that took you into the bonus layer of Donkey Kong and Could Be You returned to the old Jessy Lanza of her debut Pull My Hair Back – sexy, sultry and minimalist. This was a sophomore that was off the kilter and simmering with sass.
This year saw Manchester’s hardest affirm their commitment to an ‘anything goes, so long as it bangs’ approach. Road-rap opener Look Who It Is lurched with grimy menace, while Rowdy Badd picked up the pace with bass-inflected UK funky. Others reached into straightforward disco and soul territory – How 2 Party even had one of them Peter Frampton voiceboxes on it. Ridiculous and much-needed fun.
WHITNEYLight Upon the Lake Secretly Canadian
Former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek and former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlic teamed up to release a head-bobbing, heart-warming debut album that was made to be wafted out onto the summer breeze in June this year. Given room to soar without the esoteric shackles of their former outfits, their easy-going rock ’n’ roll, splashed with classic riffs and warm brass sections, was sunny pop done impeccably well.