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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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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Best EPs of 2016

EPs are to albums what starters are to main courses. Or, at least, that’s how it has traditionally been. These days, EPs take all kinds of forms, from two-track 12” records to mini-albums.

In the past, I’ve included selected EPs within my main album round-up. Now it’s time I gave these releases a spotlight of their own.

Soultress Lianne La Havas, house artists Disclosure and Snakehips, rapper Lizzo, enigmatic R&B singer Abra, and so many more have released some superb EPs. As always, I wanted to include more – especially the aforementioned artists, as I have had many of their tracks on repeat this year. But here’s my choice selection of 10 which have stayed with me, and all offer something special in their own right.

10. Sinead Harnett – Sinead Harnett EP
9. Flawes – Ctrl EP
8. Shakka – The Island EP
7. Throwing Shade – House of Silk EP
6. Marie Dahlstrom – 0.0 EP
5. Kojey Radical – 23Winters EP
4. Jodie Abacus – For Real Life and Not Pretend EP
3. Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW EP
2. Jorja Smith – Project 11 EP
1. Kesley Lu – Church EP
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Best albums of 2015: top 10

AOTY 2015 10-1 college: Ghostpoet, Andreya Triana, Little Boots, Blur (1448x815)Here we are: after 40 albums, we’ve reached 2015’s top 10. Before we get to the albums themselves, allow me to briefly reflect on the year that was and what it meant for music.

In more ways than one, 2015 has been a year of conservatism: UK voters elected the Conservative party for its second consecutive term; acts of terror have caused many to adopt conservative, even prejudicial, attitudes towards those that do not share their skin colour, beliefs or culture; and, in the world of music, known quantities continue to attract the most marketing dollars, media attention and consumer sales. On the surface, it would seem that the nonconformists, the mavericks, the idealists and those that would dare to dream have all been ignored.

Accept they haven’t. From the millions of artists and creators honing their talents and sharing them with the world via the numerous online avenues, to musicians and technologists combining their expertise to change the business of music royalties, and perhaps make it easier for people to make a living off of their creativity in future, 2015 has been a year of perseverance.

Hopefully these final 10 albums will express what I mean by that, each in their own way.

10. Ibeyi – Ibeyi
9. Benjamin Clementine – At Least for Now
8. Little Boots – Working Girl
7. Blur – The Magic Whip
6. BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
5. The Skints – FM
4. Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin
3. Denai Moore – Elsewhere
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
1. Andreya Triana – Giants
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