Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

My favorite albums of 2016

An eclectic mix of favorites from 2016.

Covers of favorite albums of 2016

Bill Evans, Some Other Time

Weird to be writing about a new Bill Evans record, but 2016 saw the first release of this fantastic session. The recording, pressing and packaging are immaculate, and the liner notes delve into the discovery and production of this instant classic. Released on Record Store Day but a level above most of the swill that turns up in that event.

Christian Löffler, Mare

Meditative techno that keeps one foot on the dancefloor and another in the living room. The earthy synths, breathless vocals and sublime beats play beautifully across crystalline production. Fans of Jon Hopkins, take note.

The Boxer Rebellion, Ocean by Ocean

A quality follow-up to 2013’s Promises, this finds the band further shedding the angsty guitars and manic pace of early albums into something quite beautiful. The songwriting continues to adhere to stringent pop structures but the melancholy harmonies transcend beyond radio trash.

Covenant, The Blinding Dark

After a series of totally forgettable albums, Covenant recapture their 90s EBM glam with a release that demonstrates both the band and the genre still have something to say. Their best album since 2002’s Northern Light.

GoGo Penguin, Man Made Object

This contemporary jazz trio redefines “jazz” in ways that haven’t been done since Ninja Tune birthed acid jazz in the 90s. Blending impeccable playing across songs that are almost organic drum’n‘bass, the shifting rhythms propel gorgeous piano into something almost beyond genre pigeonholing. So. Frigging. Good.

Coil, The New Backwards and The Ape of Naples

Originally recorded over a decade ago in Trent Reznor’s studio, these gorgeous re-issues and remasters breathe new life into Coil’s last proper recordings before the core band members passed away. While other segments of Coil’s discography receive most of the critics’ breathless hyperbole, these are crucial recordings that capture a musical flame on the brink of its last light.

Savages, Adore Life

On one hand, it’s easy to forget that this January-released LP arrived in 2016; on the other hand, it’s impossible to forget this LP, period. This singular post-punk statement crashes and sways across ten tracks of feminist empowerment, subversive tenderness, and aggressive compassion, throttling ears and hearts with a grip as fierce as barbed wire.

Warhaus, We Fucked a Flame into Being

Smashing together National-like vocals, half-drunk horns, bombastic drums and Euro-hip swagger, Warhaus capture a sound, a moment, a feeling, that is instantly familiar but totally fresh. Nihilistic but affectionate, maybe?

Leisure, Leisure

This shit blew up my playlists in 2016. A volatile, addictive cocktail of funk, pop and glam, every song is a hit of butt-shaking sing-along audio crack.

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