And here we are at the Top 10, starting with a little-known album that came out at the end of 2015: Junun. This album, a collaboration between Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, and the Indian ensemble The Rajasthan Express, is crazy good. Produced by Greenwood and recorded, mixed and engineered by longtime Radiohead producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich, these songs have an other-worldly sound that transports my severely under-traveled ears to many unexpected places.
Like George Harrison’s commitment to the Maharishi in 1968, Greenwood and Godrich have immersed themselves of the sounds of India and the Middle East, producing something that is a blend of culture and sounds unlike any other. Certain songs on the album have a distinct Greenwood / Radiohead feel to them, specifically “Allah Elohim,” (shown above) which features a typical Greenwood bassline propelling the song forward, some quiet guitar sounds and his trademark playing of the ondes martenot, an instrument that is akin to the theramin and appears on many Radiohead albums. “Allah Elohim” may very well be my favorite song of 2016. It’s… it’s just perfect.
Across the album, the horns, percussion, backup vocals and harmonies brought into the mix by The Rajasthan Express give power to these songs. This is a large group of skilled musicians, each stretching in their craft and producing something beautifully layered and unique. It will get you moving, and send you on a trip unlike any other. I can’t recommend it enough.
11. The Hope Six Demolition Project by PJ Harvey
12. Amen & Goodbye by Yeasayer
13. Sea of Noise by St. Paul & The Broken Bones
14. You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen
15. Painting Of A Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
16. Why Are You OK by Band Of Horses
17. Not To Disappear by Daughter
18. Sunlit Youth by Local Natives
19. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
20. ★ by David Bowie
21. Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights
22. This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
23. LNZNDRF by LNZNDRF
24. Puberty 2 by Mitski
25. Light Upon the Lake by Whitney
26. A Corpse Wired for Sound by Merchandise
27. Away by Okkervil River
28. case/lang/veirs by case/lang/veirs
29. Love Letter for Fire by Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop
30. Barbara Barbara, We Face a Shining Future by Underworld
31. Preoccupations by Preoccupations