Staff Pick CDs – Best of 2016

John, Axel & Jonathan weigh in with their favourite library CDs from last year…Lots of different genres here so hopefully a bit of something for everyone, and the possibility of discovering something new from last year that you missed at the time.

John’s Picks
Cover imageThe catastrophist. Tortoise
Featuring characteristically complex, shifting arrangements, not quite jazz and not quite rock, it is a pleasure to hear these precise and playful musos creating such compelling music 20 years into their career.

Cover imageWhy choose. Shopping
This post punk inspired London trio present 12 songs, average length 2.5 mins which, while danceable, have an edgy urgency about them, and dealing with consumerism, confusion and post-modern relationships, as they do, offer a taut, smart and refreshingly familiar take on indie-pop.

Cover imageHuman performance. Parquet Courts
Despite the obvious influences of The Fall and Wire, it’s a relief to know that bands are making smart, spiky slacker rock like this in our troubled post-millennial times and this may well be the perfect soundtrack.

Cover imageBig black coat. Junior Boys
Junior Boys bring the romantic institution of the suave, lovelorn playboy firmly into the 21st Century with their fifth album, which extends their sleek, minimal electro pop onto the dancefloor.

Cover imageIs the is are. Diiv
New York based Diiv have an obvious love for indie rock and make music that has the ability to remind keen listeners of the power, beauty and pure pleasure that the simple line-up of bass, drums and guitars can summon.

Cover imageThe ship. Brian Eno
Brian Eno’s 25th solo release is a strange, captivating and enthralling journey that stands as a highlight of his later career.

Cover imageVoid beats/invocation trex. Cavern of Anti-Matter
Former Stereolab main man, guitarist and synth boffin Tim Gane, and his long term drummer, Joe Dilworth, have a new band, and offer an absorbing journey into a range of contemporary krautrock and experimental compositions.

Cover imageGood luck and do your best.Gold Panda 
Electronic producers such as Gold Panda from the UK do a great job of keeping the IDM flag flying and on his fourth album he excels with an off-beat but very catchy work, great for both the dancefloor and the armchair, and that’s no small achievement.

Cover imageLife of pause. Wild Nothing
While the sound of a talented outsider finally getting his turn in a state of the art studio can often take a few listens to get used to, here the effort is rewarded, as lurking within the highly polished arrangements featuring grand pianos, marimbas, backing vocals, and saxophones surrounding Tatum’s plaintive vocals, the songs are as good as ever, they just require a little more perseverance to reveal themselves.

Cover imageA moon shaped pool. Radiohead
Featuring outstanding production, dense and detailed arrangements, electronics, strings, grand pianos and acoustic and electric guitars swirling around Thom Yorke’s vocals that sound better than ever, this is an immersive listening experience capturing a band that has matured yet continues to explore and expand.

Cover imageIn a moment:Ghost Box. Various Artists
This double disc compilation celebrates the 10th anniversary of the label that pioneered the concept of ‘hauntology’ and the sounds brim with scientific optimism and the promise of a better world, but there is also poignancy, because something went horribly wrong with the plan – no one’s in control after all and the space age is held together with sellotape and velcro.

Cover imageThe digging remedy. Plaid
By turns, gorgeous, moody, wistful, majestic and exciting, these complex instrumental compositions are easy to get lost in and are able to remind the listener just why electronic music remains cutting edge and so cool.

Cover imageThe last panthers. Clark
UK electronic artist, Chris Clark’s first fully ambient work is for the moody UK crime mini-series – ‘The Last Panthers’ for which he uses piano, strings and electronics to create a suitably sparse and foreboding soundtrack of strange beauty.

Cover imageLevitate. Lone
Young UK producer Matt Cutler, aka Lone, is representative of a new generation of electronic producers who have grown up on dance music and on ‘Levitate’ he shifts focus slightly, paying tribute to the early ‘90’s rave scene, exploring a breaks based sound to drive his subtle and intelligent take on dance.

Cover imageHeads up. Warpaint
The third album from the LA based female quartet finds them further exploring their downtempo art-rock, with surprising grooves lurking beneath the reverb drenched harmonies, distorted guitars and electronics.

Cover imageLa araña es la vida. Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds
Veteran guitarist of legendary bands, The Cramps, The Gun Club and The Bad Seeds, Kid Congo delivers a wildly varied raucous, joyous noise that has to be played loud to be really appreciated.

Axel’s Picks
Cover imageCheetah EP. Aphex Twin

Cover imageLove streams. Tim Hecker

Cover imageUntitled unmastered. Kendrick Lamar

Cover imageThe ship. Brian Eno

Cover imageApe in pink marble. Devendra Banhart

cover imageInnocence reaches. Of Montreal

Cover imageAcoustic recordings 1998-2016. Jack White

Cover imagecase/lang/viers. case/lang/viers

Cover imageTropix. Ceu

Cover imageAnother splash of colour : new psychedelia in Britain 1980-1985.Various Artists

Cover imageYou and I. Jeff Buckley

Cover imageAzel. Bombino

Cover imageEyes on the lines. Steve Gunn

Cover imageEmotional mugger. Ty Segall

Cover imagePhase zero. Morgan Delt

Cover imageSocrate/Erik Satie.

Cover imageGolden sings that have been sung. Ryley Walker

Jonathan’s Picks
Cover image David Bowie

Cover imageSkeleton tree/Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

Cover imageThe Hope Six demolition project. P. J. Harvey

Cover imageA moon shaped pool. Radiohead

Cover image22, a million. Bon Iver

Cover imageThe glowing man. Swans

Cover imageUntitled unmastered. Kendrick Lamar