December 29, 2016

HCTF's best of 2016 (10-6)

Where's ...
David Bowie, Radiohead, Nick Cave? Or that album that you liked so much?

Simple. HCTF picked the 20 best albums that were actually reviewed on this blog.

HCTF lists the 20 albums that will be in regular rotation for many years to come.

2016 was a memorable year for music lovers.

  • Vinyl is back.
  • The majors are still running around in circles, trying to keep their cashflow alive.
  • streaming is now big business (for the artist not so much).
  • "Self-released" has become a regular tag. Even big time acts go for crowdfunding to cover the costs of making an album, sometimes aided by a small network of indie labels to carry the load of distribution.
  • Software is catching up with the studio as a means of home recording - untrained ears will have a hard time to hear the difference.

One thing will never change: independent music is where it's at when you are on the look out for something interesting to listen to.

Sadly some of the greats are no longer with us - David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen as well two of the finest sidemen - Scotty Moore and Bernie Worrell. As 2016 drew too a close underrated Stus Quo rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt and singer George Michael also checked out.

Today: countdown from number 10 to 6.

Go here for 5-1 | 15-11 | 20-16.

10 Jumble Hole Clough: This Salty Armada - music for imaginary puppet shows volume one

The doyen of the Hebden Brigde avant-gardists has his eyes on movie scores.

Robinson follows just one rule: there are no rules. Everyday events and mishaps are captured in slices of freak-folk like I may have to wash my hands again, off-kilter persuccion meets progr guitar in Warming up the engines of solidarity and rage and the robotic electro-funk of Gentleman's Relish (this salty armada).

» Full review

9 Black Sugar Transmission: In The City's Arms

Guitar virtusoso delivers a multi-layered dance-rock extravaganza that digs deep.

While the whole industry is clinging to singles and EP's, proclaiming that albums are dead, he took a sharp left and offers a 24 track double album. Tapping into the energy of the Big Apple, Blacksugar's hands-on, in-your-face approach is an ode to the bright and dark sides of living in a city that offers plenty of opportunities, but also can be a Hell on Earth for the less fortunate.

» Full review

8 Thee Koukouvaya: Ancient Race of Techno-Voyagers

Exquisote elecrtronic experimentalism and pushing hte boundaries.

(...) a litmus test for avant-garde post-dance fans, taking cues from Krautrock, Dead Can Dance and minimalist pioneers such as Terry Riley. Cutting edge, inspired electronic music, bridging the gap between 20st century classical music and current left-field dance

» Full review

7 Johnny Dowd: Execute American Folklore

The perennial outsider updates his output with an assorted array of gizmos.

So whatever happened to the left-field country artist of yore? That guy left the building a couple of albums ago. Dowd has embraced technology or more accurately is stretching it to its outer capabilities, banging his gear into submission and messing with preprogrammed presets in peculiar ways. He is more of a wrestler than a player. Title track Execute American Folklore is heavily distorted call to arms for a revolution that will never happen, but at least there is anthem just in case.

» Full review

6 Mike Keneally: Scambot 2 + Inkling

The guitarist's guitarist unveils his 17 years in the making sedond part second part of a trilogy. And adds an essential bonus disc.

Scambot 2 is a story, but there is no need to fully grasp the story line - no one can, but when approached as a study in mood swings it comes close to the musical equivalent of a shouting match between Jackson Pollock and the Pre-Raphaelites. There are wild guitar excursions with prog rock time signatures and skewed, gentle pastoral passages that will keep musical students throwing up their ams in amazement and horror. What the fuck is going on? Keneally is part Svengali and part storytelling uncle, a shapeshifter, a serious composer and a musical prankster.

» Full review

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