And here we get to it, the beefy stuff. The top 10 albums of 2016 begins!
10. Mizuki Ohira- TRUE ROMANCE
Mizuki Ohira‘s debut album is a gorgeous, gentle, soothing and overall unforgettable experience. Songs are painstakingly constructed, and Ohira really shows a lot of attention to detail and love for her craft throughout. Every song lives in its own little universe and is warm and organic. New listeners may recall artists such as Salyu or perhaps even Deep River era Utada Hikaru, with its super nice instrumentation and subtlety sexy vibes throughout the entire album. Ohira’s voice is beautiful and her level of control of her compositions is to be commended. One of the best new discoveries for me this year, and deserves its place in my top 10.
9. BPM15Q- BPM15Q ALL SONGS
BPM15Q‘s album, for lack of more appropriate word- is a BEAST. From it’s very opening track to its finale, there is not one thing stopping this train from reaching it’s destination. Sporting some of the wildest, most fun J-pop tunes you’ll find anywhere this year (or perhaps any year for that matter), this EDM/Future Bass influenced record is bound to win many people over. I called it’s lead single “Hakuchuumu” the Jpop song of 2016– and I stand by that, its truly the most infectious, nod along, hell, dance in your seat tune you’re gonna find anywhere. This album is rad, and I can’t get enough.
8. PJ Harvey- The Hope Six Demolition Project
After her amazing “Let England Shake” project, PJ Harvey returns with this release, a kinda-sorta expansion on the ideas and issues raised with Let England Shake, but this time reaching for a more modern and global scale. The instrumentation here is her ‘rockiest’ in years- with many songs (such as lead single “The Wheel“) having guitar up front and center and it’s such a hard hitting release after her more subdued last few efforts. Some portions of the album are so downright powerful that they sent this listener reeling. It might not sit well with some listeners (lyrics are occasionally a little clunky for sure) on first listens- but give it time to warm up and it really is one of the most rewarding albums you will find this year. It’s certainly one of my top listened records in 2016 and I can’t wait to see the live incarnation early next year.
7. never young beach- fam fam
never young beach last year released one of the most charming breaths of fresh air with their album “YASHINOKI HOUSE“, and was on my end of year list. This year they brought “fam fam” which to many- was the sound of their summer. It’s chock full of those indie/surf rock inspired ditties that fans have all come to love- and this time it feels more rock-centric, with the focus on the right here, right now rather than giving a sense of wanderlust. It’s a nice little touch and makes this album stand apart from the previous one. All of it’s singles are great and once again, vocals and instrumentation are impeccable. Really damn good stuff.
6. Bokutachi no iru tokoro.- Gomi
Bokutachi no iru tokoro. are fast becoming one of my favorite ‘dirty rock bands‘ and for good reason- they always just do what they do best- stick to the core roots of what makes rock music ROCK. Again, they give us a tight, concise short album of catchy tunes all brought together by that incredible vocalist that is Jinsei Dame Ko. The production value this time is ever so slightly ‘cleaner’- but it actually works pretty damn well for them. Tunes are far more catchy this time round too- you will no doubt be humming these long after you’ve finished playing it. If there’s one down to earth rock album you’ll wanna listen to this year, this is it.