2016 has been an interesting year for music, often making headlines for the wrong reasons instead of the right ones.
Some great bands made awful albums and other surprising bands put out great work.
Putting this list together was pretty hard work and near misses on the top ten go to CRX, Banks and Steelz, Suede and We Cut Corners who all produced decent records. Next year is already shaping up to be a cracking year with releases planned for Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Beck and Father John Misty, but for now, here are my top records of 2016:
Brian Fallon - Painkillers
The Gaslight Anthem frontman makes his solo debut, channelling Springsteen and Dylan on this sombre Americana album which doesn't stray too far from his old band's sound. Standout tracks included Among Other Foolish Things, Rosemary and Nobody Wins. With the distortion largely removed, Fallon's song writing really shone through.
Asylums - Killer Brain Waves
Southend's newest indie exports Asylums debut album lit up 2016 for fans of anthemic guitar music. Taking in influences from Blur to Nirvana, this was a vaguely nostalgic trip of a record. Heavy on the socio-political lyrics and pogo-ready tunes, this was a debut to be reckoned with. Bonus points for pressing it on bright pink vinyl.
Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis
By Biffy's standards, Ellipsis was a conventional LP, but it was still a challenging pill for long-time fans to swallow. Out went the weird, jagged riffs, time signatures and (for the most part) the obtuse screamed lyrics. In their place came trap beats, kid's choirs, and big pop sing-alongs. Biffy Clyro are just nuts enough to pull anything off, and, though Ellipsis is by no means their best work, it is still a fantastic listen by Britain's biggest rock band.
Crocodiles - Dreamless
After a couple of years of turmoil, Crocodiles came out swinging with a brave, bold, sneering statement of intent with Dreamless. Gone is the wall to wall distortion as the band experiment with different sonic flavours, and they sound more alive than ever. Tracks like Telepathic Lover, Go Now and Jumping On Angels showcase a band who can probably survive anything at the absolute best they have ever been.
Giraffe Tongue Orchestra - Broken Lines
Through various line-up changes, a Giraffe Tongue Orchestra record had been rumoured and teased for years. The prospect of a Mastodon/Dillinger Escape Plan/Mars Volta/ Alice in Chains supergroup was mouth-watering. This album was worth every minute of the wait. It is brutal, diverse, and completely off the wall. The standout tracks Blood Moon and Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want demonstrate a group of world class musicians exploring new territories. William DuVall puts in an absolute star turn on the vocals.
Against Me! - Shape Shift With Me
It's hard to focus on the music of Against Me! As they always seem to be in the headlines for speaking out, as all good punk bands should about gender issues and their politics. Shape Shift With Me is a very solid band, and sounds like a band having a huge amount of fun. Some of the band's best stuff is on show - Norse Truth, Rebecca and Dead Rats stand up with anything that this powerhouse work horse band have put out.
Scott Sorry - When We Were Kings
Punk rock journeyman Scott Sorry's first proper solo LP was a total triumph of blistering punk tunes. Every song here is brilliant, from the full throttle Broken Hearts and 45s to the melancholy Turning Ashes. You need to hear this album.
Weezer - Weezer (White)
If not the best album of the year, certainly the most surprising. After years of banging out LPs which ranged from mediocre to utter shit, Weezer strung together an incredibly strong and vibrant 10 song opus. The quality doesn't drop throughout this concise pop record which reminds you why you loved Weezer in the first place while taking their sound somewhere new, adding a 60s-pop vibe to proceedings. Weezer are back to their loveable best.
The Posies - Solid States
Following the death of their drummer, The Posies pushed themselves to new heights on their first album in 6 years. The sound is more keyboard heavy and textured than their early work, but the song-writing on show is faultless and the musicianship is ridiculous. Fans of 'Solar Sister' are in for a shock, but Solid States is an incredibly bold, brave album.
Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression
In a year where so many legends have left us, the fact that Iggy Pop continues to breathe, never mind putting out the record of his career, is a miracle. Enlisting Josh Homme as part of the band, Iggy's 17th studio album is a triumph from beginning to end. From the sweet, slinky, synthy Gardenia to the spitting, snarling Paraguay, the album does not let up. Long live Iggy.