This Year In Records 2016

What made 2016 tick, from ANOHNI to The xx.


June 3rd: Beck – ‘Wow’

Speaking of Grammys, Beck’s 2015 Album of the Year victory for Morning Phase is one of the most baffling (and magical) triumphs in a major awards ceremony that I can recall. Before Sturgill Simpson inevitably follows his lead by pinching the big prize from Adele, Beyoncé, Drake, and Justin Bieber, enjoy his celebratory return to the world of swirling wackiness.

June 10th: Spring King – Tell Me If You Like To

Guitars. They were a thing in 2016, I’m told.

On a (more) serious note, although the spotlight to anoint the annual saviours of Radio X listeners fell on Virgin EMI’s synthy Stockport outfit Blossoms and their chart-topping “smörgåsbord of pseudo-covers,” Spring King, four fellow Mancunian counterparts over on Island, sounded like they were having far more fun in the process. Opening with ‘City,’ a riotous kick to the eardrums that Zane Lowe correctly thought appropriate for Beats 1’s first ever track, Tell Me If You Like To charges through with sumptuous chaos, barely pausing to fixate on themes for long enough for anyone to notice. Whereas many indie hopes prefer to fester in the tour van building a large audience before unleashing the extended fruits of their studio sessions through some niche yet respected imprint, Tarek Musa’s gang has no time to wait around to observe your conventions and is all the more memorable for it.

June 17th: Disclosure – Moog For Love EP

When Disclosure’s Caracal dropped last September, I was far from the only one left a little jaded by its all-star blandness. Thankfully, everything the brothers Lawrence have put out since has been far less unsettling. Initially, they returned to remixing, albeit reserving the treatment for their own releases ‘Nocturnal’ and ‘Magnets’ before retouching Flume’s ‘Never Be Like You.’ Then, Al Green stems appeared and everything looked so much more comfortable. Moog For Love may only comprise three tracks – ‘Feel Like I Do,’ which weaves a shining web around Green; ‘Moog For Love,’ a traditional house tune with Eats Everything more akin to ‘The Mechanism’ than anything they’d done alongside Lorde or The Weeknd; and ‘BOSS,’ which throws Howard’s voice back down into a sweaty club to make sweet music with wobbling bass – but it is a clear breath of fresh air, even from a pair that had so recently with Settle given birth to Sam Smith and a new lease of life to the very concept of garage, providing genuine signs of joy and promise to a dance music community getting overrun by charges into the abyss fuelled by the scent of cash.

June 24th: LANY – kinda EP

It’s quite fair to say that the morning of June 24th was a fairly bemusing one for approximately 48% of the UK’s population. After all, how could we have all been adequately prepared for Dizzee Rascal and Calvin Harris trying to steal the thunder from Riff Raff and Rastamouse’s album launches? At the end of it all, an unexpected third EP release from Nashville/LA/NY chaps LANY, following the surprise release of single ‘yea, babe, no way’ just a week before, was the most enjoyable portion of the whole palaver – with pedigree on these shores from arena shows with Ellie Goulding and a big old tour of their own and a rich supply of endearing and genuinely infectious pop songs, the full album via Polydor promised for the new year gives something tangible to look forward to.

Author: Xavier Voigt-Hill

I write words. Sometimes say them on the radio too.