The Best Albums 2016: 30 to 21 (part 1/3)

30 Aaron Lee Tasjan – Silver Tears

Released October 28, 2016
Genre Alternative Country-Rock, Americana
Label New West Records
Producer Eli Thomson
Silver Tears has a deep, multi-layered sound that puts Tasjan in the same
league with fellow Americana innovators Robert Ellis, Brittany Howard and
Parker Millsap — paradigm-shifters who challenge any boundaries purists would try
to put around this rapidly expanding genre.

-Ann Powers (npr.org)
“I sing jokes and call ’em songs, nobody knows where they belong”
-From the song “On Your Side”
A truly colourful album with sounds of country, folk, blues, and different rock sub-genres.
Always interesting, sometimes challenging and filled with different emotions.
On my favourite song, the lovely “Memphis Rain”, he sounds like a twangy Roy Orbison
– and we all LOVE the Big O!
-Egil
Best songs: Memphis Rain, Hard Life, Little Movies & 12 Bar Blues.
End year lists:
# 18 – American Songwriter
# 40 – NPR Music
# 5 – Dust of Daylight
Memphis Rain (official video):

29 Richmond Fontaine – You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To

Released March 4, 2016
Genre Alt. Country
Label Decor Records
Producer John Morgan Askew
A last musical dinner shared by like-minded friends, Richmond Fontaine has never sounded more at peace. While Vlautin’s characters may never come close to grasping the brass ring of life, the band’s final reading approaches perfection; an Americana capstone, artists present and future should aspire to reach the heights of You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing to Go Back To.
-Eric Risch (popmatters.com)
On this, announced as their final album, we get more of what we´re used to. Still songs about washed-up, lonely and miserable characters. Trapped in meaningless lives and destructive routines. Not a party album exactly, but great music to help you appreciate your own life situation. The band sounds rock solid & Vlautin’s voice is well adjusted to the lyrics.
-Egil
Best songs: Wake up Ray, A Night in the City, Easy Run & I Got of the Bus
END OF YEAR LISTS
# 86 – Fopp
# 63 – Uncut
# 1 – Dust of Daylight
A Night In The City” at their farewell London gig:

28 Radiohead – A moon shaped pool

Released May 8th, 2016
Genre Indie pop, art rock, electronica
Label XL
Producer Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
These 11 songs pit very different sensibilities against one another: Yorke’s emotionally bare vocals and cyclical, murmuring melodies; Johnny’s queasy orchestral figure-eights; Colin’s asymmetrical bass glyphs; and Ed’s swinging backbeats. Even the more muted tracks culminate in a mass of swirling, difficult-to-parse activity, whether with dueling detuned synths and pianos (“Daydreaming,” “True Love Waits”) or just the axes they rode in on 25 years ago (the acoustic guitar arabesques of “Desert Island Disk,” the interlaced fingerpicking of “Present Tense”). In 2016, Radiohead refused, as ever, to either stagnate or awkwardly chase contemporary trends; A Moon Shaped Pool feels as much like a new beginning as a clever continuation of past triumphs.
– Winston Cook-Williams (SPIN)
This is Radiohead at their most accessible and melodic since OK Computer, it’s great to have them back in form. Heartbreakingly beautiful haunting melodies and sombre lovely arrangements makes this one of this year’s most pleasant surprises.
– Hallgeir
Beste låter: The Numbers, Burn the witch, Daydreaming
END OF YEAR LISTS
# 35 – American Songwriter
# 13 – Consequence of Sound
# 9 – Drowned in Sound
# 5 – Gorilla vs. Bear
# 11 – MOJO
# 5 – Newsweek
# 22 – NME
# 6 – Paste
# 10 – Pitchfork
# 2 – PopMatters
# 6 – Q Magazine
# 6 – Rolling Stone
# 8 – SPIN
# 13 – Stereogum
# 10 – The Guardian
# 6 – TIME
# 30 – Time Out London
# 2 – Uncut
The Numbers:

27 Charles Bradley – Changes


Released April 1, 2016
Genre Soul
Label Daptone Records/Dunham Records
Producer Thomas Brenneck
Changes somehow feels more natural, in which Bradley comes off as an obvious star, like he’s belonged here the whole time. Surrounded by talented revivalists half his age, the singer remains a precious commodity: the real thing. He’s not reenacting or revisiting, he’s on his first run through. And it’s still inspiring to watch him live it out at last.
-Jay Balfour (pitchfork.com)
The Album title & one of the best songs on the album is a cover version of an old Black Sabbath ballad (from their 1972’s album “Vol. 4”). It´s beautiful cover version, passionate singing (as always) & with tight band backing him. But there much more great stuff here on this old-school soul album, it sounds very much like the classic Stax/Atlantic stuff.
-Egil
Best songs: Changes, Nobody but you, You Think I Don’t Know (But I Know) & Ain’t it a Sin
End year lists
# 22 – Esquire (US)
# 20 – Fopp
# 39 – Gigwise
# 14 – MOJO
# 43 – Paste
# 79 – Piccadilly Records
# 41 – PopMatters
# 5 – Rough Trade
# 39 – The Line of Best Fit
# 66 – Uncut
Ain´t it a Sin (official video):

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26 Tom Roger Aadland – Blondt i Blondt

Released September, 2016
Genre Rock
Label Embacle
Producer Lars Voldsdal
This is the second time Aadland has made a Norwegian version of a classic Bob Dylan album. First out was a Norwegian “Blood On The Tracks” -> “Blod på spora” (2009), now we have a Norwegian “Blonde on Blonde” -> “Blondt i Blondt”. He´s done a great job translating the often surreal (but always brilliant) lyrics on “Blonde On Blonde” and he´s got a wonderful band backing him. The album has received universal praise in Norway, even the hardcore Dylanheads have approved.
-Egil
Best songs: Sitje fast i Strileland med sentrumsblues i kveld, Eg må ha deg, Sorgsame kvinne ifrå Jæren & Mest truleg går du din veg og eg min
Eg må ha det (I Want You) (official video):

——

25 Robert Ellis – Robert Ellis


Released 15 July 2016
Genre Country, Folk
Length 45:05
Label New west
Producer Robert Ellis
Anchored by Ellis’ nimble tenor, virtuosic guitar playing, and knack for turning a phrase, Robert Ellis takes listeners on the entire painful journey of a relationship’s end, from the awkward purgatory before ties are fully severed (“Drivin’”) to the unfamiliar beginnings of a new courtship (“Couples Skate”). A masterful intersection of emotion and musicianship, Robert Ellis is one of 2016’s finest.
Brittney McKenna (Spin)
This is traditional but fresh! Maybe not as good as his former album, but still great! Wonderful voice and very good songs, looking forward to what Robert Ellis is gonna do in the future.
– Hallgeir
Best songs: California, Drivin’, The High road, Elephant
END OF YEAR LISTS
# 22 – American Songwriter
California:

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24 Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

Released December 2nd, 2016
Genre Soul, Funk, Jazz
Label  Vestkyst Records
Producer
“Tripped-out ballads like “Me and Your Mama” and “Terrified” bump up against massive jams like “Riot” and “Boogieman,” and totally oddball moments like “California” match up well with heartfelt songs about fatherhood (“The Night Me and Your Mama Met,” “Stand Tall”), which give the album its heart. Empowering pop-soul songs (“Have Some Love”), gloomy tales of the entertainment biz (“Zombies”), late-night detours into true love (“Redbone”) — everything Glover tries comes off just right and every note on every song is perfectly placed.”
Tim Sendra (allmusic)
The bastard son of Miles, George, Booty and Prince Rogers Nelson (I know, it’s very male but hell, it’s very feminine as well) this is gorgeously complicated and sweeet. I’m sure that if it was released earlier this year it would’ve been in the top ten. This is some funky stuff! I was thinking that Childish Gambino was rap only, but these are some radical songs. So assured, so confident and so true to the tradition. The musicianship is astonishing, how does Donald Glover do it all??
– Hallgeir
Best songs: Redbone, Terrified, Me and your Mama
END OF YEAR LISTS
# 22Clash
# 26The 405
# 8Uproxx
# 15Variance
Redbone (on Jimmy Fallon):

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23 Hiss Golden Messenger – Heart Like a Levee

Released 7th October 2016
Genre Country, Folk, Soul
Length 42:54
Label  Merge
The writing of the songs that became Heart Like a Levee started in a hotel room in Washington, DC, in January of 2015 during a powerful storm that darkened the East Coast. At that time I was feeling—more acutely than I had ever felt before—wrenched apart by my responsibilities to my family and to my music. Forgetting, momentarily, that for me, each exists only with the other. How could I forget? Though maybe my lapse was reasonable: I had just quit my job, the most recent and last, in a series of dead-end gigs stretching back 20 years, with the vow that my children would understand their father as a man in love with his world and the inventor of his own days. They would be rare in that regard. And then—driven by monthly bills and pure fear—I left for another tour, carrying a load of guilt that I could just barely lift. But in that snowy hotel room I found the refrain that became my compass: I was a dreamer, babe, when I set out on the road; but did I say I could find my way home?
— M.C. Taylor (aka Hiss Golden Messenger)
Despite its many references, Heart Like a Levee is just not a throwback record. Taylor combines, inhabits, and adapts his inspirations in the present through the strength of his writing. His melodies are basic; his words are anything but. They bridge the temporal to the eternal, the carnal to the divine, the homespun to the historic; they resonate directly through the grain of his unaffected yet emotionally expressive singing voice. Due to its bright, open production and quirky presentation, Heart Like a Levee is a watermark for Hiss Golden Messenger. Seldom have hard times sounded this uplifting.– Thom Jurek (allmusic)
When I listen to Hiss Golden Messenger (which I’ve done for many years) I’m struck by the spiritual aspect of his music, it sounds like gospel infused indie country – it’s a great mix! I’m calmed by the words and the melodies, they make me reflect on my own existence (no less) – they’re beautiful!
– Hallgeir
Best songs: Cracked Windshield, Heart Like a Levee, Biloxi
END OF YEAR LISTS
# 24 – American Songwriter
# 50 – For The Win
# 45 – Paste
# 94 – Piccadilly Records
# 18 – The Independent
# 16 – Uncut
Cracked Windshield (Live on KEXP):

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22 Margo Price – Midwest Farmer´s Daughter

Released 25 March 2016
Genre Country, Folk
Length 39:57
Label Third Man
Producer Alex Munoz
This tension between the head and heart, between the country and the city, is what fuels Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, placing it on a warm, hazy plane that feels simultaneously sophisticated and down-home.
– allmusic
Brian Ritchey told me to check out Margo Price, “She’s the real deal”. And I did and she is, this is solid work and great art. What more can we ask for? Great songs sung in an earnest traditional style  but still feels fresh. This is a very good country/folk album!
– Hallgeir
Best songs: Tennessee Song, How the mighty have fallen, World’s greatest loser
END OF YEAR LISTS
# 3 – American Songwriter
# 11 – Cosmopolitan
# 48 – Double J
# 15 – Entertainment Weekly
# 25 – FLOOD
# 14 – Fopp
# 33 – NME
# 20 – NPR Music
# 12 – Paste
# 30 – PopMatters
# 21 – Rolling Stone
# 3 – Rough Trade
# 17 – Slant Magazine
# 32 – The Guardian
# 23 – Uncut
# 22 – Variance

Tennessee Song (SxSw 2016):

21 Darling West – Vinyl And a Heartache

Released August 26, 2016
Genre Folk, Country, Acoustic
Label  Vestkyst Records
Producer Even Ormestad (Jaga Jazzist)
“Darling West’s second album has it all. Great vocal, lovely harmonies, beautiful melodies, good lyrics all through, a crystal clear production and , really, it sounds like American artists grounded in Virginia , North Carolina or East Nashville – inspired by Gillian, Emmylou, Sturgill and Jason – and produced by Dave Rawlings.” – Rune Letrud (Dust of Daylight)
I saw Darling West supporting Sam Outlaw in the spring of 2016, they were a revelation! This is what Gram Parson coined as cosmic music, and it is, in the widest and best sense of the term. They’re as good as the best American acts, and deserve a big international audience. The best Norwegian album this year by a mile.
– Hallgeir
Best Songs: The Sweetest Tune, Vinyl and a Heartache, No More
The Sweetest Tune:

Part 2 is on it´s way…

-Hallgeir & Egil

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