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A Magazine for Sheffield

The Cream of '16

2016 was the year of death, as social media bores won't tire of telling us. That hackneyed adage has overshadowed all the great new music born this year, both from emerging talents and long-time favourites, peaking with Skepta beating the bookies to win the Mercury. Below, our writers share with us their favourite sounds from the last 12 months. Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos If you didn't see the Beeb's footage of Kate Tempest performing Let Them Eat Chaos, bad luck. Go and buy the album instead. If Tempest had closed her set by saying she was marching on parliament, I'd have asked only how many torches and pitchforks she wanted me to bring. Paul Graham Raven Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being 2014’s Zaba, a jungle odyssey that could be a sonic accompaniment to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, marked Glass Animals as ones to watch. The Oxford quartet’s suitably slick second record shows they’ve matured and experimented. Inspired by the life stories of people the band met on tour, the excellently named album toys with retro 8-bit rhythms and (slightly) more intelligible lyrics. Dan Rawley Laura Gibson – Empire Builder Between the tragic backstory and optimistic yellow cover of singer-songwriter Laura Gibson’s fourth album lie ten songs that are despondent but determined, self-aware but graceful, vulnerable but wise. Gibson’s voice is delicate as snowfall, her melodies sprinkled with downward trills that send you crashing to the floor and lyrics that raise you right back up again. Nat Johnson A Dead Forest Index – In All That Drifts from Summit Down Using only a minimal palette of sounds, A Dead Forest Index create a vast, perfectly orchestrated expanse of sound, with lush vocal arrangements permeating all of this album’s many highlights. Vocalist Adam Sherry’s confident yet airy melodies and harmonies loop and layer gradually, carrying you away softly on rich, warm textures to beautiful, organic zeniths. Resolutely next level indie music. Richard Spencer GHSTLY XXVII – '3310' This track has quickly become one of the most played songs in my music library. On a heavy and imposing instrumental created by MistaKay, GHSTLY XXVII demonstrates that he has an ability to stand out in a way that is reminiscent of a time of unbreakable phones and talented MCs who couldn't be seen but needed to be heard. Akeem Balogun Huerco S. – For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) Beautiful second album from the US producer that sees him shifting away from more rhythmic music and setting into bloom a collection of shimmering, mesmerising sheets of ambience that feel as poignant and human as they are abstract. An engrossing, wildly imaginative work. Thomas Sprackland Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani – FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy Sunergy on the RVNG label, the result of a cross-generational collaboration between two US composers, maps the complex and often semi-spiritual relationship between humans, the sea and the sun. Ciani and Smith deploy luminous modular synths that glimmer where sunlight hits the Pacific, creating an ambient opus of near infinite scale, impossible depth and limitless beauty. Sam Gregory Solange – A Seat at the Table After a three-year recording process, Solange finally released her long-awaited third studio album. The lengthy 21-track record explores issues of race close to the artist’s heart. ‘Cranes in the Sky’, the most indulgent and teary track, reflects on the way we distract ourselves from problems through the noise and speed of hectic modern life. Essential listening. Jennifer Martino Psychic Twin – Strange Diary The last five years have been a rough ride for Erin Fein, but instead of falling apart she poured her life into a magnificent debut album. Strange Diary is a brutal art pop statement coated in electronica war paint, a celebration of falling down, rolling downhill and then coming back stronger for a second round. Samuel Valdéz López )

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