Christine & The Stephen Kings - Beep Beep Yeah
Manufactured in a factory built on top of an ancient Indian gas station, it was only a matter of time before this automobile named “Christine” developed a mind of its own and went on a bloodthirsty rampage. The spooky car honked its horn, screeched its wheels, tried as best it could to learn some very complex choreography and mercilessly ran over anyone who stood in the way of its ambition to transgress the limitations of its metallic chassis and blossom into a precocious French pop star.
David Bowie - Blackstar
As David Bowie shuffled off this mortal coil he left a parting gift to us in the form of Blackstar, widely recognised as his greatest accomplishment since 1998’s Mechanical Animals. As it turned out, Blackstar was the gift that kept on giving, especially in its vinyl format. As investigative fans soon discovered, if you leave the gatefold sleeve in the sun, the “black star” image transforms into a glowing constellation. Not only that, when exposed to a blacklight, the cover’s colour changes to fluorescent blue. Finally, if you reflect lava-lamp light off one side of the record at a specific angle while standing on one leg, humming like Noel Fielding in a leotard and juggling pineapples using telekinesis, then a projection appears on the ceiling declaring: “Cease dicking around with this tawdry old LP jacket, go out in the fresh air and start living a little, yeah? Love David xx”
Francis Drake - Sea Views
At a whopping 20 tracks long, Francis Drake’s fourth full length felt longer than circumnavigating the globe in a creaky galleon. Essentially it was yet another album of Renaissance bangerz about how dreadfully tough it is being Francis Drake, covering the usual subject matter of scurvy, tobacco, mutineers, Spanish treasure, lethal dysentery and the mixed messages he’s been getting at Queen Elizabeth’s pool parties.
Iggy Pop - Post Homme Depression
The greatest trick Josh Homme ever pulled was convincing the world he was a hip rockin’ dude as cool as a cryogenic Fonze. In reality, the man is a curse. A malevolent scourge of all that is musical. A hex put on our planet to ruin, diminish or destroy any artist he touches, like an MOR King Midas. Screaming Trees never managed another album after touring with Homme. Alex Turner hasn’t written a single relatable lyric or nifty riff since Homme began co-producing The Arctic Monkeys. And the less said about The Eagles Of Death Metal the better. Then came the turn of Iggy Pop. It takes a special sort of genius to make the most wildly badass, permanently half-naked feral frontman of all time sound like a pampered bloodhound crooning over a discarded Thin Lizzy demo reel, but Josh Homme managed it all right. For that, he should be applauded. Then promptly exiled back to the desert to think about what he’s done.
The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It And It Also Means That I Can Just Talk Uninterrupted Which Suits Me Fine Because As You Can Tell From The Length Of This Album Title I Am The Most Important Man On The Planet
Sounds more like 1985 to me. Specifically INXS, Simple Minds and all those prats who enjoy a good yacht.
Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch
Did you know that if you book a group of avant-garde musicians into a single recording studio, they all start their period concept albums at the same time? Jenny Hval’s LP wasn’t just about menstruation of course. It also explored gender politics, capitalism, madness, failure, infatuation, love, loneliness, art, identity and vampires. Sadly, after the first appearance of the P word most male listeners went immediately pink in the face, stared into the distance pretending not to hear and hoping the conversation would swiftly return to the masculine merits of the latest Radiohead video.
Biffy Clyro - Ellipses
Craig David - Following Meh Intuition
2016 had its fair share of disasters, from America electing its first furiously illiterate tangerine president to the UK referendum on whether there should be a 12.5% hike in the price of Marmite (in the end, the “Marmexiters” triumphed, leaving many “Remarmiters” feeling distraught, hopeless and drastically less yeasty). It was a good year for R&B, however, especially thanks to the pioneering work coming out of the US. Rather than getting too bogged down in Beyoncé’s black power break-up record, Frank Ocean’s jazzy weed jams or The Weeknd’s subversive cocaine pop, here in the UK we welcomed the return of Craaaaaig David. He had a hit single in collaboration with Notorious Big Daddy, his album debuted and number one and he won best male at the ceaselessly credible MOBO awards. Like everything else that happened in this year, Craig David’s comeback showed us that British culture is only ever truly interested in getting a re-rewind.
Billy Corgan - Siddhartha
Let’s be honest, this release was way better than David Bowie, Radiohead, Frank Ocean, Savages, Swans, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, The Avalanches, Bat For Lashes, Bon Iver, Angel Olsen, Leonard Cohen, Shirley Collins, Michael Kiwanuka, Kendrick Lamar and Suede all put together. A five-vinyl box set recording of Corgan’s solo ambient synthesizer jam inspired by Hermann Hesse and retailing at a mere $375? What’s not to like?
Remember, this is the guy who released an album for free on the internet before most of his contemporaries had even signed up for a Hotmail account, hooked up with Courtney Love, fell out with Courtney Love, got back together with Courtney Love, wrote some songs with Courtney Love, posed on the cover of a magazine for cat lovers, thinks that words such as “Smashing Pumpkins” and “Zwan” are serviceable band names, once made an acoustic-based pop-goth album while addicted to amphetamines, went viral simply by sitting on a rollercoaster looking a like a sad child, founded his own pro-wrestling company, was appointed Senior Producer of another pro-wrestling company only to fall out with them and start suing them a few months later, believes that swine flu was a part of a government conspiracy and runs his own tea shop called Madame ZuZu’s.
At last year’s Glastonbury Festival, Kanye West claimed to be the “greatest living rock star on the planet”. Yeezy remains light years behind the pure batshit genius that is William Patrick Corgan.