It’s that time of year again, where we all reflect and ponder on what we thought were the highs and lows of the year. For me, I do a top 20 list every year, and usually would have kicked it off by now. However, there are still a few releases coming up over the next few weeks so it’s only fair to wait them out before I can finalize everything. However, I do have some albums that are great in their own right, but just couldn’t possibly fit in the list I have lined up for 2016:
Mono- Requiem For Hell
Mono‘s latest album is somewhat of a return to form for the group, and also a return to working with long-term collaborator Steve Albini. For the most part, the album is typical Mono fare, but it’s hard not to be impressed by it regardless. They have a great knack for creating huge crescendos and for most of these tracks, that’s in where the main enjoyment lies; seeing how massive they will take it before falling back into a beautiful and serene calmness. No other track works better than the swooping title song. Well worth a listen if you are into post rock, one of the years better offerings.
Megumi Wata- Blindman
Megumi Wata‘s mini album from this year came quite early (February) and still manages to charm on any repeat listen. It’s tiny, quaint and has a neat mix of city pop and alt/electro that fits right in this current climate of ‘alt-girls’ emerging from the Japanese music scene. It’s not something that you will revisit often, but when you do it’s always a beautiful and compelling listen, that feels over before it begins due to it’s short length. It might even take a few spins to digest it properly. An interesting newcomer to the scene, it will be worth keeping eyes on her in the future.
Opeth‘s new album is their third foray into the more 70s prog/psychedelic style and this time they’ve also brought along elements of stoner and doom. And it, for the most part, works wonderfully. The title track is a real highlight with it’s fantastic chug-a-lug main riff and tracks like “Strange Brew” really hold up on their own. The album isn’t perfect and could do with some tightening of the screws- but it certainly is the best Opeth album since Watershed. I personally have had many hours of enjoyment out of this one.
French post rock/death metal band Alcest return with their latest “Kodama”, and it’s absolutely gorgeous, definitely one of the best in its genre all year. Songs reach huge emotional and auditory apexes, and generally its an easier listen than the last few releases by the group- possibly a great starting point for new listeners. While it may not scream for repeat listening, it’s still a rewarding and satisfying listen nonetheless, and definitely deserves an honorable mention this year.
KOTO- Tenkomori Mini Album
KOTO‘s main release this year collects six of her live only singles into one neat little package. For the most part, all the tracks have something to offer, and is a wonderful addition to the catalog of one of the quirkiest idol acts around. The new wave inspired sound is something quite fun to take in and this album is just that- a genuinely enjoyable bit of fun. Recommended.