Here are the 30 best albums of 2016 so far
5. Deftones – Gore
There’s a tension in the Deftones between their moody, downbeat, after-the-party comedown side and their riff-heavy monsters of metal side. It’s personified in the band by the conflict between frontman Chino Moreno and guitarist Stephen Carpenter and sometimes in the past it’s resulted in discordant albums – their 2006 release Saturday Night Wrist in particular – where they bounce from one sound to the other in a way that’s jarring and unsatisfying.
Gore is not one of those albums. Gore is a synthesis of those two opposed poles. There are still occasional extremes like the thundering ‘Doomed User’ and the gentle ‘Hearts/Wires’ but more often Gore finds a middle ground in songs that feel like comfortable combinations of both like ‘(L)MIRL’. And from that middle ground they then branch out into territory and influences they haven’t explored before, whether it’s the Iron Maiden-esque intro to ‘Pittura Infamante’ or finding space for a Jerry Cantrell guitar solo on ‘Phantom Bride’. – Jody Macgregor
4. The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free
We said: “The Drones treat Feelin Kinda Free as a prime chance to remake themselves. After all, they’re popular enough now that their fans will follow them pretty much everywhere. And so we get the strangest, most uncompromising album by a major Australian band that you’ll hear this year. You don’t so much unpack it over time as you expose yourself to it and embrace the radiation burn.
Itching madly for something beyond the kneejerk catharsis of rock songs, The Drones have scratched so hard that they’ve broken through to a raw new skin.”
3. Beyonce – Lemonade
We said: “Lemonade is Beyoncé’s gift to and from black womanhood, a story passed down from generations of mothers to their daughters. Her lesson is simple – no matter how flawless you are, you can be hurt. But no matter how broken you might feel, you can be healed. You can play the scorned woman, and you can stand by your man – as long as those are choicesyou make. Through her songs, Warsan Shire‘s poetry, and countless images of black women living their best selves, Beyoncé reflects their strength back at them. For all that black America’s suffered, there’s enough within black culture to heal their wounds. As for everyone else? We’re just blessed to have her.”
2. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
We said: “It’s the sound of a band at once vital, inspired and relentless on the attack; hungry for more despite a canon of work that would leave most bands in a state of complete creative exhaustion. One of the key problems with Quarters! was that it would waste a lot of its runtime in an aimless, meandering state. There are no such issues with Nonagon – it is a record that can safely be described as airtight. Now to see if they’ll ever attempt to play the whole thing live.”
1. Camp Cope – Camp Cope
It’s only been a year since friends Georgia Maq, Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and Sarah Thompson rehearsed for the first time and became Camp Cope. In the relatively short time that the band has been in existence they’ve released their first album, debuted at an impressive #36 on the ARIA charts and become three of the loudest voices on issues within the musical community. At it’s heart the album is a realistic portrayal of the challenges that come with everyday life, written with a sincerity that is both empowering and eye-opening. The passion behind Maq’s lyrics transfers into her commanding vocals which are accompanied by instrumentation that perfectly captures each song’s emotive power. Standout track ‘Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams’ comments on the nature of victim blaming and when played live is introduced with a request for all the women to come to the front of the crowd. Their fans mirror the band’s passion, singing along to every word not merely as an act of recitation but because they truly believe in Maq’s lyrics.
All that the band have achieved comes down to the fact that they’re three individuals who believe that music can be a positive force that leads to change. The band use this platform to educate and inspire, striving to make the music scene that has embraced them one that prioritises respect and safety. That they’re able to do all this through their music is remarkable and for this reason alone, Camp Cope’s debut deserves to be celebrated for many years to come. – Holly Pereria