Jam of the Week: The Hempolics – Me Love to Sing

Closing out the bitter slog that was 2016 are a band who are bringing the sunshine grooves of the Caribbean to the urban metropolis. The Hempolics are a little-known ska band from London, who have steadily been crafting their sound for over a decade now. They have received attention from radio, not to mention the fellow musicians, such as La Roux, Eliza Doolittle and Paolo Nutini. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Marika Hackman – Driving Under Stars

British folk singer Marika Hackman released her haunting debut album, We Slept at Last in 2015. That album was all original material, none of which appeared on her trio of EPs which preceded it.

Continuing her zeal for new music, Hackman has come up with spins on some Christmas favourites and a couple original songs for her first ever holiday EP. Continue reading

Best albums of 2016: top 10

Here we go. The top 10. Every one of these albums is a veritable buffet of sounds and sensations. There’s love, there’s soul, there’s rhythms and words to help you reach higher.

A special mention must go to Xylaroo for their debut album, Sweetooth, which appears to be the best 2016 album practically no one has heard.

What have your albums of the year been? Tweet me with your thoughts via @aarnlee.

10. Xylaroo – Sweetooth
9. Skepta – Konnichiwa
8. Nao – For All We Know
7. Frank Ocean – Blonde
6. Shura – Nothing’s Real
5. Billie Marten – Writing of Blues and Yellows
4. Alicia Keys – Here
3. Solange – A Seat at the Table
2. Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
1. Anderson Paak – Malibu
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Jam of the Week: Bonobo – Break Apart (ft. Rhye)

The return of electronic downtempo supremo Simon Green, better known as Bonobo, is imminent. His previous albums Black Sands and The North Borders are two of the finest collections of travel music you can find. Continue reading

Best albums of 2016: 20 to 11

In my penultimate 2016 albums post we have David Bowie’s final album, crisp hip hop from Kano and Common, Bat for Lashes’s latest art piece, Kate Tempest’s thunderous spoken word epic, plus we two of best hidden gems in the form of Tall Black Guy’s second LP and the debut album from London jazz-hip hop collective, Fur.

20. David Bowie – Blackstar
19. Corinne Bailey Rae – The Heart Speaks in Whispers
18. Common – Black America Again
17. Fur – Soon at the Latest
16. Tall Black Guy – Let’s Take a Trip
15. Bat for Lashes – The Bride
14. Kano – Made in the Manor
13. Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
12. White Denim – Stiff
11. BadBadNotGood – IV
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Best albums of 2016: 30 to 21

In the first third of my top 30, we have the return of De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, two exceptional jazz albums, plus debut albums from newcomers Låpsley, Lion Babe and Christine and the Queens.

30. Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room
29. Lion Babe – Begin
28. De La Soul – And the Anonymous Nobody
27. Låpsley – Long Way Home
26. Jordan Rakei – Cloak
25. Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution
24. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
23. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
22. Christine and the Queens – Chaleur Humaine
21. Terrace Martin – Velvet Portraits
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Best albums of 2016: 40 to 31

The countdown continues with shining albums from superstars including Drake and Beyoncé, sublime first-time releases from Ray Blk and Izzy Bizu, and a bold political album from independent musician, Anohni.

40. Kendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered
39. Ray Blk – Durt
38. Lady Wray – Queen Alone
37. Drake – Views
36. Wild Belle – Dreamland
35. Beyoncé – Lemonade
34. Anohni – Hopelessness
33. Izzy Bizu – A Moment of Madness
32. Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
31. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive
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Best albums of 2016: 50 to 41

This year’s albums of the year round-up kicks off with R&B hot sauce, fuzzy garage rock, smooth jazz and hypnotic 80s-influenced pop. Here we go…

50. Exmagician – Scan the Blue
49. Daughter – Not to Disappear
48. Rihanna – Anti
47. NxWorries – Yes Lawd!
46. Katy B – Honey
45. Hinds – Leave Me Alone
44. Gregory Porter – Take Me to the Alley
43. Kaytranada – 99.9%
42. Boulevards – Groove!
41. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
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