Beat's Top Albums of 2016
There were many great albums to come out in 2016, but the Beat team have cut down the list to pick our favourites.
It was tough, but someone has to make the big decisions.
Album Of The Year:
Editor's Note: In the face of tragedy, Time Is Golden shines — against all odds —as a beacon of optimism and hope. Musically, passion spills forth from every note. It's a reminder for all of us that beauty can be born from hardship and above all, that to look for it is something worth striving for. Something worth preserving. For all this and so much more, it takes out Beat's Album of the Year.
Why We Love It:
Big Smoke’s debut album could only ever be called Time Is Golden. A true testament to vocalist Adrian Slattery’s love of music and creating with his bandmates, the album was recorded throughout his battle with cancer that he sadly lost in May.
Opening track Something Good is a buoyant number with an addictive country flavour and organ style keys, while Best of You stuns with its gigantic chorus, culminating in a grand outro that feels life affirming. When You Dance is an eight-minute epic that dazzles with its harmonies before reaching its crescendo, the song carried out by a saxophone that provides a moment of pure bliss. Closing track Honey I is gloriously triumphant, but knowing the album is at its end is an aching reminder that this will forever remain the only Big Smoke album we’ll get to hear.
Time Is Golden is the product of five people relishing in the art of collaboration, acknowledging that while life can throw you some challenges, there’s still a chance to make something beautiful out of your difficult experiences. Thank you for sharing your phenomenal talent Adrian, may your memory live on through this tremendous album. - Holly Pereira
Why We Love It: Tribe’s youthful message of optimism proclaimed on Can I Kick It is still intact, if seen through the somewhat weary eyes of grown men in troubling times. On their strongest output since Midnight Marauders, A Tribe Called Quest’s final album is one of the year’s most important artistic statements about American race and class politics, unity and loss. -Alex Watts
Why We Love It: There’s no room for obscure literary references or complicated metaphors on this album. Instead you get eight songs that document the trials and triumphs of everyday life set against the backdrop of Melbourne’s western suburbs. Camp Cope write and record music because they give a shit about what’s happening around them, and they’re quickly establishing themselves as one of the loudest voices in Australian music. -Holly Pereira
Why We Love It: Bowie steadfastly brushes past what might be expected, and the album doesn’t contain what might be deemed a hit. Dollar Days adopts a familiar descending chord progression and melodically alludes to English folk music. As the album progresses you forget that this is David Bowie – an artist with so much pop cultural history and artistic significance – and fall under the spell of a masterful innovator. -Augustus Welby
Why We Love It: You mightn't become aware of how much you needed Kaytranada full-length until you hear him working his magic. 99.9% is unbelievably well-crafted, encompassing vocal-led hits and instrumental wonders. Bursting with a lineup of guest vocalists and instrumentalists including AlunaGeorge, Anderson .Paak, Karriem Riggins, Little Dragon, Syd, BadBadNotGood and Vic Mensa, the record shows off the best of these powerhouse talents while retaining Kaytranada’s magic touch. - Ali Schnabel
Why We Love It: Afterlife, the second album by Melbourne collective No Zu, is a party. A very well thought out and expertly delivered party, designed to hit you deep in the pleasure glands, as the music shifts and reveals its changing layers. The tracks are built around simple grooves and insistent kick drums and topped with layers of synths, re-pitched and chanted vocals, percussion, gated snares and horns. These elements come and go throughout, with the focus always remaining on the beat. - Alex Watts
Why We Love It: It’s an adrenaline rush of an album, full of the sticky rush you get after doing something ever-so-slightly illegal, and the punch-a-wall chorus of Totality has an ear-hooky brilliance solely of its own. Indeed, even when songs wade knee-deep into human filth and stupidity, as on Rayguns, there’s still a grit-yer-teeth dignity about the piece – something that defies evil and comes bloodily birthed into the world with its mangy head held high. - Joseph Earp