Charts have always kinda overawe me. That’s why I happily share my Top 5 albums released this year, because they surely made my 2016 better. I’d rather prefer not to let anyone down, but somehow I was struck by just some of them, and choosing made it very clear to me. Have a good listen and I wish that 2017 will give us a ton of amazing records!
We could expect the “same old heart wrenching folk” from him, but it wouldn’t have been Justin Vernon, the same musician who has been able to keep up easily with two different identities: Bon Iver, and the band Volcano Choir. This third album doesn’t disown his past, since he enriches it with a clear need of research and experimentation toward electronic music. At first glance with those cryptic titles and the cover full of symbols, it looks very tough, but the more you approach it, the more it becomes easy to read. 22, a Million shows a different perspective every time you listen to it, and it’s amazing.
I call him “the flimsy-paper poet”, because his unsure and delicate way of whispering the lyrics, along with his beautiful and moving melodies, make him fragile, with no filter between himself and his music. He bends when he plays, he wears heavy coats, but he never hides his overwhelming sensitivity. If you wanna listen to him, you don’t have to be scared to handle all of this, because Keaton Henson gives a whole world. Intense. Very much. A real poet, with protruding bones.
With that voice, he could literally do anything. He’s very versatile: he can swing effortlessly from an elegant jazz, to a phony r’n’b, having fun in the meantime. Everything turns around his voice, the real orchestra soloist, and it couldn’t be otherwise. Telluric is one of those everlasting albums, an evergreen from the first note, even though it’s very modern in the most positive way. A little hint: enjoy it with your favourite wine.
If Iceland itself wasn’t enough to fill your eyes with an inexplicable astonishment, this album will do the rest. Olafur Arnalds, with his own fingers and piano, can transmit what this beautiful and pure land instills to the people who live and travel there. Melancholic, romantic, perfect in each aspect. Starting from his classical studies and keeping them as a solid background, the Icelandic composer wrote a complete and personal play, so awesome it takes your breath away, just like Iceland.
I’m well aware it’s the only band I chose and I did it for affection. It’s like sitting on your mom’s lap, listening to your family stories, from a different and more mature angle. American Football were with me at the end of my teenage years with their first album, released in 1999, and now they’re back with the second episode, 17 years later. In the meantime, the singer started his solo career as Owen, whose presence is very strong also in this album. They’re still American Football, bonded to a 90’s math-rock, but endorsing a magical quietness. I can’t help smiling when I listen to this record.
image cover © olafur arnalds and nils frahm