Something You Said’s top 20 albums of 2016

It’s that time where our contributors vote for their favourite things from 2016. Over the next few days we’ll bring you the best films, songs, gigs and TV shows from the last 12 months. First up though, the top albums of the year, as voted for by our team:

1. DAVID BOWIE – Blackstar
Looking back in retrospect about Blackstar, I try to recall what I thought of the album when it was released. I try to think of it as the brilliant but challenging record that took me ages to love rather than in the context of the black hole that Bowie’s passing subsequently created in the world. Accompanied by a phenomenal backing band, this is the sound of an icon creating something very special with total disregard of past glories or expectations of his sizeable global fan-base. From the mysterious opening title track through to the sorrowful I Can’t Give Everything Away, this is an album that takes many, many listens to seep into the brain and heart. Bowie’s passing put a mirror up to our own mortality, yet his final act was to produce something so dense, you couldn’t not return multiple times and give it your undivided and repeated attention. Gary Page

2. CAR SEAT HEADREST – Teens of Denial
This is an indie-rock masterpiece. Filled to the brim with inspired guitar-riffs, anthemic ballads, and clever reflections of 20-something life, it’s the type of album that you can listen to repeatedly and still find a rapturous sense of beginning anew. I’ve listened to this album every day since it was released in May and every day I find something new that I love about it. But these subtleties are not by accident, they’re the work of a deft, meticulous and incredibly talented songwriter. Thank you, Will Toledo. Rhosian Woolridge

3. JAMES BLAKE – The Colour in Anything
This album had the capacity to transport me from an intimate cosy Woonona setting amongst friends one wintery weekend to a world of spiritual solitude and peace. It starts with the chilling howls of Blake from the track Radio Silence, which manages still to force my eyes shut and the hair on my neck to stand. The Colour in Anything is a blend of lonesome echoing keys, synths and easy beats, making it one of my go to chill albums of all time. Melissa Barrass

4. A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – We Got it From Here…. Thank You 4 Your Service
2016 saw Tribe fans having to deal with the immense loss of Phife Dawg the “Five Foot Assassin” but also the highs of a brand new sixth album, their first since 1998. A lot of greats have sadly passed this year but personally I think this one hit me most, having grown up with the sounds of Tribe from the early 1990s and having hugely influenced my eternal love of hip hop. Bearing in mind that this is their last ever album, it had a lot to live up to. Within the first few bars though it was clear that there was nothing to worry about and that this was going to be a fitting tribute to Phife. Classic samples re-flipped, heavy beats, Busta Rhymes growling like he did on Scenario, a role call of legendary artistsand absolutely on point political commentary. “Who can come back years later, still hit the shot?” raps Phife. Tribe can! 25ThC

5. SOLANGE – A Seat at The Table 
A Seat At The Table is a stunning piece of righteous soul music. Essential! Neil Martin

6. RADIOHEAD – A Moon Shaped Pool
A new record from Radiohead is always a seismic event and the ninth studio album by the Oxfordshire band was no exception. Thankfully, A Moon Shaped Pool didn’t disappoint. Bobby Townsend

7. ANDERSON .PAAK – Malibu
This incredible album is a melting pot of old school soul, futuristic hip hop and psychedelia all held together by Paak’s formidable charisma. Neil Martin

8. JULIA JACKLIN – Don’t Let the Kids Win
On Don’t Let The Kids Win Julia Jacklin demonstrates a vocal which is equally warm yet haunting, with lyrics displaying fine storytelling. One senses that this is just the beginning of something very special. Bobby Townsend

9. JIM JAMES – Eternally Even
Eternally Even sees My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James at his psychedelic best: weaving fuzzy vocals through intensely groovy bass lines and stoned drums to create a highly enjoyable listening experience. Opener Hide In Plain Sight sets the tone for a sublime album oozing with songs that strike a fine balance between sleaze and excellence. Matt Lengren

10. THE LEMON TWIGS – Do Hollywood
Teenage brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario hail from Long Island, New York and in Do Hollywood they have delivered a record which is fun, colourful, attention-grabbing and a bit nuts. Bobby Townsend

11. REMI – Divas And Demons
I got onto Remi’s Divas and Demons relatively late (last week in fact), but it’s been on repeat since. Sensible J killed it, he had specific vision for this release creating bubbles of musical context for the complex anecdotes of the man himself. With guests like Sampa the Great and Homebrew’s Tom Scott, it came together real well. Travis Jordan

The Scottish band’s tenth album is also their first in six years and is filled with the kind of warmth and beauty that is desperately needed at the moment. Bobby Townsend

13. GOLD PANDA – Good Luck And Do Your Best
Holding onto his hip-hop roots, world music and soft minimalist elements of dance music which come in different forms throughout each track; Gold Panda has really outdone himself. Travis Jordan

14. XIU XIU – Plays The Music of Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks is a twisted love letter to soap operas with a fittingly odd sweeping jazz and soft rock soundtrack accompanying us. Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks is a frightening descent into the nightmarish reality of the world. Hypnotic and disturbing. It’s truly special. Riley James

15. MESHUGGAH – The Violent Sleep of Reason
Like, yeah, new Meshuggah was pretty cool mengs maybe my favourite. Fucken headbanged my forehead into a chair while dancing in my room on account of it so yeah probably an okay 10/10. Mitch Elliott

16. PJ HARVEY- The Hope Six Demolition Project
Sweeping majestic brilliance. Daring in topic and execution, PJ could craft an LP about a broken coffee machine and it would be transcendent. G William Rex 

17. KATE TEMPEST – Let Them Eat Chaos
Give Kate Tempest a listen at the earliest possible opportunity. The feeling of connection and engagement is almost tangible and you will know that you are listening to a genius. A genius with fire in her belly and love in her heart. Bobby Townsend

18. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS – Skeleton Tree

19. FRANK OCEAN – Blonde

20. LEONARD COHEN – You Want It Darker

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