This Weeks Music Video with David Bowie, Sting, The Weeknd, Slowdive, Georgia, Cherry Glazerr and Cage The Elephant 

Musicandotherthingz Best Album of 2016

Our final and biggest category had a wide spread of votes for all the albums featured on it and this is testament to the closely matched level of excellence from all of our nominees on the long list. This meant a lot of them came close to reaching the top of the voting pile with Childish Gambino’s late addition, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, Blood Orange Paul Simon and Frank Ocean all getting close, but not as close as our top three who feature in descending order. 

3. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (11.11% of the vote)

As Q-Tip suggested, this will be the groups final album and was only recorded because of their anger and dismay at the world around them. Their sixth album was started in secret just after the Paris attacks and completed in November this year at the peak of this dismay. With a long list of collaborations and excellent, diverse production, they were able to produce an album as relevant as ever and a defiant shout of unity amongst a nation and a world that’s tearing itself apart. If that is their final album, it’s an album that will be rated as one of their best. 

2. Christine and the Queens – Chaleur Humaine (18.00%)

Since she’s featured so highly in almost every category she was placed in, you are probably very familiar with all the superlatives attributed to her. She is a magnificent performer, lyricist, vocalist and producer and throughout her debut album, there are no points of weakness. Each song is its own beacon to a particular set of thoughts, set to slick and ambitiously minimalist music or gracefully arranged pieces. The album is bursting with emotion and eccentricity in equal measure and this is perhaps key, for these two traits are often so divorced from each other, yet she winds them together with style and confidence. 

1. David Bowie – Blackstar (22.22%) 

Bowie left a terrifying and wondrous parting gift to the world with Blackstar. It was an album made up of complex fusions, melodies and rhythms as if the creation of a mad scientist of which Bowie must serve as the closest musical equivalent. What’s more intriguing about the album, and this is something not widely picked up on, but it’s his most personal album. Amidst the great characters and stylistic personas of that thread through Bowie’s career, his final album showed him to be just as vulnerable, scared and curious as the rest of us. Amongst all of the seemingly invincible and otherworldly alter-egos, Bowie playing the role of a mere human is perhaps the most powerful character of all. 

Owen Riddle 

Musicandotherthingz Best British Act of 2016

For British music, there has been a strong resurgence of legendary artists with Bowie, Radiohead and PJ Harvey all featuring in our list of nominees. Wild Beasts and Bat For Lashes further established themselves with solid albums and both came close to the top three along with Radiohead and their wistful and poignant album. They’re in the long list below and out top three follows them. 

3. The Coral (9.76% of the vote) 

The long standing Merseyside group returned with an accomplished reinvention for their seventh studio album Distance Inbetween. James and Ian Skelly kept it close to home, recording in Liverpool and put together their own brand of British psychedelia, with roots in the classic British psychedelic pioneers of the Sixties. They decided to keep their music close and tight around the traditional instrumentation, focusing their manipulated and wiry sounds instead of gradually fading them out in vast acres of space. They rightly received a great deal of credit for this.

2. Blood Orange (17.00%) 

Dev Hynes is already established as a talented and in demand producer so when he takes centre stage, you can expect some exciting and vibrant music and that’s exactly what he delivered as Blood Orange this year. The album Freetown Sound was a celebration of his own Sierra Leone heritage and a close look at the difference views of heritage between Black Britons and African Americans. Whilst understandably, there has been a lot of anger fuelled music in response to the dangers and controversy faced by African Americans, Hynes often took a more emotional and personal look at the events from his own point of view. From this, he channeled the tragedy of the situation with eloquent vocals, soft production and a fusion of Pop, Soul, Hip Hop and Funk. A masterful work which was astoundingly underrated.

1. David Bowie (54.00%)

Again, it is only fitting that Bowie towers over everyone else with a fifty year legacy as a cultural icon and a symbol of British creativity around the world. Blackstar was beautiful, terrifying and poignant and was a strong response to his comeback album The Next Day which wasn’t universally understood. He created dark, ethereal tones and fused conflicting instrumentation as he’s always done. He often generated alternative, complex melodies and hooks that were so obscure, it took a second or third listen to understand. When you did, the rewards were endless. His ominous lyrics reflected the music and the timing of the release, just days before his passing was eerily just like Bowie; an unpredictable superstar. 

Owen Riddle 

Musicandotherthingz Best Act of 2016

This year we’ve added a popular vote to determine your best act of the year. The list of nominees was compiled from the popular reaction each act received from articles they’ve been featured on. We had a great response from you all so thank you for getting involved! 

David Bowie’s legendary impact both in his death, but also with a wonderfully evocative album in Blackstar. Beyoncé would have featured more widely across the other categories had she made her music more widely available. She had a landmark year with a bold album in Lemonade and bold performances. Christine and the Queens swept on to the scene on the back of huge commercial and critical success in France with thought provoking lyrics and functional music. With well performing singles and a large fan base, The Weeknd fared well in the vote, seeking greater depth in his sound. 

Owen Riddle 

This Weeks Music Video with David Bowie, Death Cab for Cutie, Chance the Rapper and Tim Hecker

Sunday Suggestion – David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes

As we reach the end of the week in which David Bowie moved on to the next phase of his career somewhere new, back on earth we’re still looking back at the life work of one of the greatest solo artists of all time. It’s difficult for me to pick an absolute favourite track but ‘Ashes to Ashes’ acted as the centre-point of his career as Major Tom neatly returns after 1969 and to his final appearance just last year. As well as this, this music in it’s experimental form encases in New Romantic aesthetic mirrors the experimentation of Blackstar. It was in 1980 with his return from Berlin, he used techniques such as cutting and pasting for lyrical content and embraced Electronica in a distinct and innovative fashion; moving the genre on from Kraftwerk, Numan and Foxx. The song tracks an elaborate path to it’s melodies and the lyrics meet in unaccustomed places. It brings the experimentation and peculiarities of Strawberry Fields and goes full circle in applying such methods to the cold electronic genre. This song and Scary Monsters (And Super creeps) was just another successful shift in the music life of Bowie and more where to come beyond 1980.

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

This Weeks Music Video with David Bowie, Savages, The Last Shadow Puppets and Blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

BOWIE

Our featured singles and album for the week usually begin on Monday, but today is David Bowie’s day. For once this article is very brief so as to let the man himself do the talking and so we’ll leave you with our simple thanks to the man and his influence and some favourites of ours…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Bowie – Blackstar Review

Blackstar is the twenty-fifth studio album from David Bowie, released on his birthday on January 8th and almost two years after his surprise twenty fourth album The Next Day. That was an album that split the opinion of many with some claiming that the acclaim was mislaid in the shock and delight of his return after a decade-long hiatus. So it is not like Bowie has nothing left to prove despite his experience. People want to be challenged again by Bowie’s music as they were throughout the Seventies, but how easy is it for someone to come up with something new with success after such a long and inventive career?

 

The marathon single that is the title track features eccentric and soft instrumentals and whirring vocals. The song then shifts towards a neo-soul direction with nudging bass-lines and shimmering production and this sound eventually merges back into the initial sound by the songs end. It is a haunting and unnerving song with Bowie’s whirring vocals resonating throughout the track in it’s various guises. Most of these guises are rather open and expansive, so accentuating Bowie’s vocals in a subtle unison. Though it is a lot to take in at first, it begins to make more sense with further immersive listens. ‘Lazarus’ is a piece of experimental jazz music that features the slow, dropping bass line, the light percussive beat and the Saxophones. On top of this, however are the ragged, distorted guitar parts that energise the song in a whole different way. The song remains solemn and bold simultaneously and the musical environment suits Bowie’s vocals much more. As the song rises towards a peak, his vocals rise to the challenge too. All in all it is a cool and effortless track which is leaps and bounds ahead of what he had produced two years previous musically and lyrically.

 

With ‘Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)’ he continues to bend the Jazz rules and applies a metal bass line and wild moments of electronica to the standard elements that are reshuffled themselves. The song moves back and forth between peaks of heavy handedness and more expansive moments. The deliberately ill-fitting lyrics compliment the song for the most part as some kind of anti-harmony to the music. It’s undoubtedly strange, but it ultimately works. ‘Girl Loves Me’ is another haunting track with the interplay between Bowie’s distant and unsettlingly close vocals. The music steadily trudges into a progression and Bowie throws in some unexpected rhymes into a meandering lyrical order. The track ends with an electronic flourish. We find ourselves in more traditional Jazz territory with ‘Dollar Days’ but Bowie adds a theatrical delivery into the mix here. ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ is a Electronic environment that suits Bowie’s vocal style and ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore’ is perhaps one of the hardest songs to function with due to the unrelenting, though impressive rise of the instrumentation, which again take a Jazz formation with Electronic features.

 

This is without doubt an improvement on The Next Day and not only that, but Bowie has seemingly challenged himself with this album and the experimentation on the album has worked here. It is indeed arguably his most Experimental album as he shakes up genres and pitches seemingly un-matching genres together and making it sound good. The production and lack of it is in perfect proportion and the arrangement is too for the most part. Bowie has crafted these songs whilst tailoring them to his current vocal limits which he failed to do two years ago. A positive start to this year of music.

 

David Bowie – Blackstar = 8.5/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

This Weeks Music Video with David Bowie, Chvrches, Julia Holter, METRIC and Ducktails