Musicandotherthingz Best Production of 2016

We kick off our (prestigious) awards with Best Production of 2016. Now for all the categories bar the Popular Vote, a sizeable list of writers, musicians, bloggers and friends have all been busy voting on the various categories. Each individual received a first choice vote worth two points and a second choice vote worth one. From this, we’ve got our results! 

From Emmy The Great to Frank Ocean there has been a diverse range of production techniques and methods on show in 2016. With the likes of Kanye and Childish Gambino coming close in the list. They either mastered their tracks to manipulate classic sounds or featured producers who used every available sound to forge their instrumentation. The long list of nominees are followed by the short list below.

3. Bon Iver – 10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠ (15.00% of the vote) 

This was by far Justin Veron’s most ambitious Album to date. He looked to force baroque and folk elements into the kind of juddering and hammering electronica reserved for EDM and heavy dance tracks. Somehow this odd coupling worked when combined with his whirring vocal effects to create a beautiful sound out of this musical mutation. 

2. Frank Ocean – Nikes (22.50%) 

The hazed and oscillating soundscape created here almost lulls you into a daydream. The gliding beats acoustic chords along with the sweeping electronica sifts and shifts around Frank’s almost hypnotic pitch shifted vocal. It almost sounds as if it was recorded in an echo chamber, but this was all generated by a consistently feathered production. 

1. Christine and the Queens – Narcissus Is Back (27.50%)

Heloise Letissier from Nantes is our winner for Best Production of 2016. For her stage Act of Christine, she forms minimalist and sparse arrangements, so this placed greater emphasis on her producing ability and it shines on this track and throughout the album. This track is fundamentally a set of different beats and little more, yet she is able to make each one glisten with sound and energy with the help of only a slight distortion and the perfect isolation of her vocal. She has done so much with so little here and is a deserving winner following on from last years winner Kevin Parker; who is a ‘Do it all yourself’ musician and Heloise is truly the embodiment of that philosophy. 

Owen Riddle

Bon Iver – 22 a million Review

Remember Skinny Love? Yeah, those were the days; when modern folk music could pass as a few strums on an acoustic and flurries of beautiful harmonies. For Bon Iver, the traditional approach seems to be too outdated, exemplified in the new album 22, A Million, in which the otherworldly distortions of pretty much everything is the new norm.

From the superfluous use of symbols in the titles to the meanings so deep you could swim in them, the album is full of exciting details. It masquerades itself in techno galore, but when you strip away its warped complexities, there is an underlying anxiety that never quite disappears. This is evident from even the first song: the repetition of “it might be over soon” in 22 (Over S∞∞n) makes you think “soon” could be the conclusion of the track. 713 – CR∑∑KS’s vocals lurch forward then apologetically retreat, as if out of fear of retaliation. Vernon muses rich, profound thoughts throughout the album, mostly surrounding his faith. The album’s final song 00000 Million embodies this in its gospel notions, while 33 GOD, despite the electronic fizzes, feels undeniably, gorgeously raw in its Psalm-like format. In an album that is so instrumentally powerful, there’s a sense that the man behind the mic is in fact very vulnerable. The disfigured harmonies of 713 – CR∑∑KS wrap around Vernon’s natural vocals like ghosts. The album is as experimental as a mad scientist’s wildest dreams, but, for example ___45____ seems a little messy, and 21 M◊◊N WATER pushes bewildering bursts of all sorts of electronic surges: it’s like the aliens are finally taking over. But I like this: Vernon’s emotions are alive in the chaos of it all. Isn’t that what an album is meant to be? Both lyrics and instruments illustrating what the artist feels at that time, making it so incredibly personal but also something the listeners can both relate to and appreciate in its cleverness.

Even though Justin Vernon has dived into a more electronic approach here, there are reflections of the more simplistic past of Bon Iver. 22 #Strafford APTS has taken it back to basics, with mellow acoustic and piano chimes introducing the sweet marriage of Vernon and a female vocalist’s voices. The subtle string section that backs the song makes for an effortlessly lovely number. There is, however, a gush of distortion as Vernon’s voice swells to the high-notes towards the end of the track that makes me squint; it doesn’t quite sit right with the rest of the song. 10 d E A T h b R E a s T □□ is fairly distinct from the rest of the album, with a percussion opening sequence that calls Glass Animals’ Life Itself to mind, and a distorted bass that wouldn’t be out of place on any pop record, but also melts perfectly into this avant-garde chant. Some recent albums have tried to be so innovative, the tracks become repetitive in an effort to fully exhibit the style, but 22, A Million hasn’t: both lyrically and instrumentally, each eclectic song demonstrates a different take on this new electronic attack.

22, A Million both is and isn’t what I expected. Of course, I was ready for the moving trance that encapsulates each song, but I wasn’t ready for what the songs would sound like at all. And the answer is: really, really good.

Bon Iver – 22, A Million: 9/10

By Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Bon Iver – 33 GOD

Justin Vernon has not released a Bon Iver album since 2011, with only the occasional single or feature being proof of his musical existence. He had been part of the Hipster’s handbook of instant street cred, but much has changed for Vernon since then and it is had a big impact upon his album. Perhaps trying to ditch that hipster tie, he has seemingly took on sampling and electronica and applied it it his mellow tones. This is certainly the case with ’33 GOD’ which involves these elements along with a steady trap drop and a ringing falsetto with elements of auto tune and voice manipulation. It is hard to pin down the sound and at the moment this seems to an issue. Once he can get those conflicting. Parts in order, then perhaps we will have a promising prospect on our hands with his third studio album 22, million. 

Owen Riddle

This Weeks Music Video with Courtney Barnett, Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West, Wild Beasts, Crystal Castles, Death Grips and Chvrches feat. Hayley Williams

This Weeks Music Video with Coldplay, Pet Shop Boys, Iggy Pop, Super Furry Animals, Metronomy, James Blake and Lucius

Single Review – Bon Iver – Heavenly Father

Bon Iver

Justin Vernon returns with Bon Iver’s first new material in three years and it’s another addition to the highly commendable Wish You Were Here OST from Zach Braff. Last week we showcased The Shins contribution to it and today is Bon Iver’s turn in what is a very shrewd way to promote a film with it being tied in so much to it’s music. Both entities intertwined to add to each visually and audibly. Through the looping drones and washes of analogue electronica; Justin’s quaking, yet calm and soaring vocal reverberates and rises far above the disjointed loops and acoustic rattles atop of it. The song crawls forth in a sad and limping fashion as the vocals guide it along as they sweep across it. This combination emphasises the soaring and hopeful boasts yet are anchored down by the unfamiliar and disjointed reality of the looping tracks. Something I’m sure will be even more vivid in the film. The lyrics are sobering and reflective as they reveal the lingering fears he sings of and so brings it back to the unfamiliar and disjointed loops again. That uncertain undercurrent throughout what is a simple yet completely effective track. Another great addition to Zach Braff’s upcoming film.



Here is a video of Chicago hip hop band Sidewalk Chalk completing a live mash up of Beyoncé’s ‘Drunk In Love’ and Bon Iver’s ‘Perth’. It was recorded and filmed at Studio Delux in Chicago and see’s them clashing several genre’s of soul, hip hop and jazz with a live band behind them. Take a look!