Albums of the Year 2016 – John Preston

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Below Vada brings you the first part of our top 10 albums of the year – counting down from 10 to 6.

10. Beth Orton –  Kidsticks

An utterly unexpected change of direction, whilst also being a return to what feels like a long neglected aspect of her work, Beth Orton’s sixth album is a kaleidoscopic, excitable electronic pop-folk record. Co-produced by Fuck Buttons, this is the perfect collaboration and sets Orton’s elastic, glorious vocals against multi layered and euphoric soundscapes. The Slow-era, Kylie-like ‘1973 ‘is surprising in its immediacy, and ‘Petals’ and ‘Moon‘ are musical partners and dub-wise, bass boomers- both modern and mystical. Kidsticks is a record about family and friendships and Beth Orton is fearless in her approach, both musically and lyrically.

9. Tinashe –  Nightride

Tinashe has not had the 2016 she probably dreamt she might. Her still long waited sophomore album, Joy Ride, was constantly tweaked and pushed back, embarrassingly for the young RnB artist who referred to its release date and completion constantly. As an act of rebellion however, and possible understandable desperation, Tinashe did release an album this year. The full length Nightride appeared suddenly in November and is a sumptuous and sensuous mood piece. Pop songs and occasional bangers are also present but in keeping with the singer’s trademark knack of draping conventional songs in a type of blurred gauze, the effect can be disarming and subversive. The album’s highlight and closer,’ Ghetto Boy’, astounds for precisely this reason.

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8. HiFi Sean – Ft.

Deep, classic, hard, funky, handbag and now tropical; house music really does seem to be lasting all night long. Here HiFi Sean has collected together some of music’s most charismatic and idiosyncratic stars, some already triumphantly affiliated with the genre and some not. He has created an artfully melodic and dazzling showcase for artists as diverse as Crystal Waters, Paris Grey, David McAlmont and Billie Ray Martin and resurrected a version of dance music that seems to be in danger of extinction. Distinctive singers with instantly recognisable traits whose personas was as large as the chorus’ they gave every thing to. Melancholia naturally seeps into this collection and Yoko Ono’s heartbreaking but hopeful ‘In Love With Life’ is the album’s perfect comedown.

7. Dawn Richard – Redemption

One of the biggest music injustices of the last few years is that Dawn Richard’s is still not taking up the amount of mainstream, musical media space that she should be. It’s unlikely that this will change with November’s release of her third and final album in the Heart series, Redemption, and it’s quite possible that this is the way that Richard’s prefers it. Redemption feels less conceptual than Golden and Black and although its first half is frenzied and beats heavy, Richard is just as reflective and thoughtful as before. The episodic and ambitious ‘LA‘ featuring an incredible Trombone Shorty play-out shows just what Dawn Richard is capable off.

6. Hannah Georgas – For Evelyn

Perfect pop which shows a healthy disregard for pressure to confirm to current trends, the Canadian singer-songwriter has made her third album a tribute to her grandmother Evelyn and her enduring sense of adventure. There are glacial and meticulously composed electro-pop songs like ‘Naked Beach’ that are immediately appealing and familiar due to the strength of writing and the full-tilt, honk of ‘Waste’ is reminiscent of Roisin Murphy’s work with Mathew Herbert. The flip side of this are Georgas’ ballads which sad, disarmingly honest and unsentimental. ‘Evelyn‘ marks a considerable leap forward artistically for the singer and like 2014’s Christine and the Queens debut which has things in common with, could be an eventual sleeper hit.

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About John Preston

South London based music obsessive with strong opinions about most things. Doubts Madonna has another good record in her but would love more than anything to be proved wrong.