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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Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room review

Laura Mvula’s powerful and nuanced Sing to the Moon was a remarkable album made even more remarkable by the fact that it was her debut. Her second album doesn’t manage the all-out excellence of her first time, but it still a superb album in its own right that shouldn’t be missed. Continue reading

Best albums of 2013: top 10

Aaron's best albums of 2013 collage 10-01 (2500x1000)Here we are. The final 10 and my chosen favourites. Over the first and second parts of my album round-up, there have been disappointments (yep, no Bowie, no Kanye), there been surprises and there has even been some grief.

A picture may tell a thousand words, but music can paint a million different images. Which is why no amount of text could ever capture how those moments of musical elation feel. Still, if you’ve faced struggles and doubt this year, then, in their own way, each of these 10 albums offer reasons for you to press on in search of better days to come. Continue reading

Is the Mercury Prize 2013 shortlist ‘too commercial’?

Laura Mvula in WFUV studio, by WFUV (Apr 2013) (585x329)

If it was any other awards ceremony, commercial success would be applauded. But it’s the Mercury Prize, so, naturally, it’s another reason for the pundits to get their soapbox on.

There are no obligatory ‘token’ albums from folk and jazz acts this year. And no indie starlet, sneaking in at the last minute to become the bookies’ favourite – as The xx and Alt-J have done in the past. Continue reading