December 30, 2016

HCTF's best of 2016 (5-1)

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: final countdown from number 5 to 1.

Go here for 10-6 | 15-11 | 20-16.

5 Greg Uhlmann's Typical Sisters: Typical Sisters

Impressive progressive improv jazz from the Windy City.

Typical Sisters has shards of progressive rock (After Thought is the prime example), straight up jazz and freak-out avant-garde. The abstract, adventurous textural explorations will be appreciated by jazz buffs, while their tidbits of more accessible noodlings might seduce less advanced listeners to step into their sonic maze.

» Full review

4 Martha Jane & the Talisman: Hello Demon

Dutch rockers hit the ground running with a steamy stew of sexy swap rock.

Guitarist Maarten van der Grinten can make his instrument wail like a banhsee or conjure up the image of inesect-infested swamp lands with just a few choice notes. Singer Martha Jane Settler has the husky presence of PJ Harvey and the I-don't give-a fuck attitude of Grace Slick. Earth being invaded by Demons? Something nasty lurking the shadows in Ghost Town? For a moment it sounds perfectly plausible.

» Full review

3 The Luck of Eden Hall: The Acceleration of Time

Chicago psychedelic rockers with a flawless four sides concept album.

This an album on which time, the main theme, is captured in song and production values of yesteryear: tapes played backwards in the prog rock instrumental You Asked About Water On Mars, the panning effects in Channel 50 Creature Feature, the call-and-response vocals and bubbling keyboards in the angry stomper The Happiness Vending Machine (bonus points if you can name all the nods to Pink Floyd in this one), and swirling washes of mellotron throughout.

» Full review

2 Deleyaman: The lover, The stars & The citadel

French-American darkwave duo take on classic poems amidst a wealth of originals to create a piece of art.

Multi-instrumentalist Aret Madilian and singer Beatrice Valantin don't take shortcuts. (...) The lyrics are laid out on a bed of intricate soft music, augmented by carefully sound effects - a door opens, the drop of needle. All the shopping in the library of great French poetry aside, their own material is of the highest standard also.

» Full review

1 Anat Spiegel: South of Somewhere

Classic training pays off in spades for a singer who laughs at pigeonholing.

The three part Slowness (with lyrics by librettist Krystian Lada) is a mini-suite for strings and voice, that should be featured prominently in the program of a modern day classical music event.(...) South of Somewhere is a bold statement of a musician who doesn't believe in genres, but carves her own niche. It's a trip through 20th Century music - an amazing noisy rock, acoustic, jazzy, neo-classical extravaganza.

» Full review

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