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2016 in Music: A Retrospective

2016 was a mixed bag for music (which is still substantially better than it was for a number of other fields, most notably politics). We lost a horrifyingly large number of beloved musicians from David Bowie to Prince to Leonard Cohen, but there were a number of absolutely stunning releases this year. I'm posting this thread to review some of them. I will probably post detailed thoughts on both releases this year and people we've lost later tonight. First off, though, a preliminary list of strong releases this year, in no particular order apart from the first two being probably my top two:

1. David Bowie - Blackstar
2. Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas - Mariner
3. Moonsorrow - Jumalten aika
4. Deathspell Omega - The Synarchy of Molten Bones
5. Gorguts - Pleiades' Dust
6. 40 Watt Sun - Wider Than the Sky
7. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
8. Alcest - Kodama
9. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation
10. Babymetal - Metal Resistance
11. Meshuggah - The Violent Sleep of Reason
12. Nocte Obducta - Mogontiacum (Nachdem die Nacht herabgesunken)
13. Panopticon / Waldgeflüster
14. Nokturnal Mortum / Graveland - The Spirit Never Dies
15. Ulcerate - Shrines of Paralysis
16. Blut aus Nord / Ævangelist - Codex obscura nomina

This is not a complete list and will be updated eventually. Anyway, let's talk about music, since despite the number of tremendous losses this year, there's still a lot of great new stuff being released.

ff · tmv · reds · lj · · soundcloud · pm for facebook (which I never check)

“The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

“I never knew a man could tell so many lies
He had a different story for every set of eyes
How can he remember who he’s talking to?
’Cause I know it ain’t me, and I hope it isn’t you”
-Neil Young, “Ambulance Blues”
I’m armed to the teeth
Like a fucking animal
I ruin everything
I get my bony hands on

And here we go now over the bridge of sighs
We will get a cross like Christ, crucified
It’s like a birth but it is in reverse
Never gets better, always gets worse
Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose vis-à-vis an introduction, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.
Vaulting, veering, vomiting up the values that victimized me, feeling vast,
feeling virginal... was this how he felt? This verve, this vitality... this vision...

La voie... la vérité... la vie.
The Dead Flag Blues
The car is on fire, and there’s no driver at the wheel, and the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides, and a dark wind blows. The government is corrupt, and we’re on so many drugs with the radio on and the curtains drawn. We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death. The sun has fallen down, and the billboards are all leering, and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles.

It went like this: The buildings tumbled in on themselves; mothers clutching babies picked through the rubble and pulled out their hair. The skyline was beautiful on fire, all twisted metal stretching upwards, everything washed in a thin orange haze. I said, “Kiss me, you are beautiful; these are truly the last days.” You grabbed my hand, and we fell into it like a daydream or a fever.

We woke up one morning and fell a little further down; for sure it’s the valley of death. I open up my wallet, and it’s full of blood.
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Smashing Pumpkins
we can watch the world devoured in its hate.
The late prophet Bill Hicks
I’m so sick of arming the world and then sending troops over to destroy the fucking arms, you know what I mean? We keep arming these little countries then we go and blow the shit out of ’em. We’re like the bullies of the world, you know. We’re like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing the pistol at the sheep herder’s feet: “Pick it up.” “I don’t wanna pick it up, mister; you’ll shoot me.” “Pick up the gun.” “Mister, I don’t want no trouble, huh. I just came downtown here to get some hard rock candy for my kids, some gingham for my wife. I don’t even know what gingham is, but she goes through about ten rolls a week of that stuff. I ain’t looking for no trouble, mister.” “Pick up the gun.” Boom, boom. “You all saw him. He had a gun.”

moar I’ll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. “I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.” “I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.” “Hey, wait a minute, there’s one guy holding out both puppets!” “Shut up! Go back to bed, America! Your government is in control. Here's Love Connection. Watch this and get fat and stupid. By the way, keep drinking beer, you fucking morons.”

All governments are liars and murderers. Go back to bed, America! Your government has figured out how it all transpired. Go back to bed, America! Your government is in control again. Here, here’s American Gladiators. Watch this, shut up! Go back to bed, America! Here is American Gladiators; here is 56 channels of it! Watch these pituitary retards bang their fucking skulls together and congratulate you on living in the land of freedom! Here you go, America: You are free to do what we tell you! You are free to do what we tell you!

The Supreme Court says pornography is anything without artistic merit that causes sexual thoughts, that’s their definition, essentially. No artistic merit, causes sexual thoughts. Hmm… Sounds like… every commercial on television, doesn’t it? You know, when I see those two twins on that Doublemint commercial? I’m not thinking of gum. I am thinking of chewing, so maybe that’s the connection they’re trying to make.

I have this feeling man, ’cause you know, it’s just a handful of people who run everything, you know… that’s true, it’s provable. It’s not… I’m not a fucking conspiracy nut; it’s provable. A handful, a very small elite, run and own these corporations, which include the mainstream media. I have this feeling that whoever is elected president, like Clinton was, no matter what you promise on the campaign trail – blah, blah, blah – when you win, you go into this smoke-filled room with the twelve industrialist capitalist scumfucks who got you in there. And you’re in this smoky room, and this little film screen comes down, and a big guy with a cigar goes, “Roll the film.” And it’s a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you’ve never seen before that looks suspiciously like it’s from the grassy knoll. And then the screen goes up and the lights come up, and they go to the new president, “Any questions?” “Er, just what my agenda is.” “First we bomb Baghdad.” “You got it…”

They don’t want the voice of reason spoken, folks, ’cause otherwise, we’d be free. Otherwise, we wouldn’t believe their fucking horseshit lies, nor the fucking propaganda machine of the mainstream media and buy their horseshit products that we don’t fucking need and become a third world consumer fucking plantation, which is what we’re becoming. Fuck them! They are liars and murderers. All governments are liars and murderers, and I am now Jesus, and this is MY compound.

The world is like a ride at an amusement park. It goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly coloured and it’s very loud and it’s fun for awhile. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question, is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, “hey – don't worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride…” And we… kill those people. Haha. “Shut him up. We have a lot invested in this ride. Shut him up. Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This just has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. Jesus murdered; Martin Luther King mudered; Malcolm X murdered; Gandhi murdered; John Lennon murdered; Reagan… wounded. But it doesn’t matter because it’s just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace. Thank you; you’ve been great.

ACF awards an' shit Best Member Rep · Best Signature · Most Respected · Best Poster · Best Debater · Most Intelligent · Most Political Knowledge · Second Most Literary Knowledge · Third Best Male Member (Tie) · Third Most Likely to Get Modded (Tie) · Third Most Likely to Become the Next Admin
I haven't listened to any of those. I've spent the year becoming acquainted with Dwight Yoakam, Janelle Monae, and Roberta Flack.
Killa Sicx
I agree with Cult of Luna and Ulcerate. didnt know Gorguts had a new album out
1. No
2. Great, easy top 10.
3. Great.
4. Also Great. Above that even.
5. Haven't heard. Colored Sands wasn't convincing. Almost bland. Will give it a try eventually.
6. Liking the Slowcore approach to this album. Good.
7. Definitely no.
8. Great, possible top 10.
9. Nah
10. plsnol0l
11. No.
12. Haven't got around to listening to these guys yet.
13. Great, would be top 10 in my list if I included splits.
14. Also great.
15. Great, top 10 stuff.
16. Great.
You can't make an omelette without ruthlessly crushing dozens of eggs beneath your steel boot and then publicly disemboweling the chickens that laid them as a warning to others.

I haven't taken much of an academic approach to 2016 as far as music because the world was on fire all year, but the 2016 releases I listened to the most were:

Light Upon the Lake by Whitney--the one I listened to the most, and I almost feel guilty admitting it's my favorite album of 2016. It's so light and inconsequential, and I feel like so many albums that came out this year, especially by a lot of my favorite artists, were really dramatic and self-important. Not that that's a bad thing, but I really connected to a simple folk-pop album. I saw them live twice this year and both shows were fantastic. I almost always have some light, folksy album floating near the top of my list, like Hippies by Harlem in 09, but they never end up being my absolute favorite.

Then, in no particular order:

Blackstar by David Bowie
We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest
The Life of Pablo by Kanye West (probably his worst album, but the worst Kanye album is still probably gonna make my list)
Atrocity Exhibition by Danny Brown
A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
Wildflower by The Avalanches

Then there are a handful of albums that I've listened to once and need to revisit. Thee Oh Sees released two albums this year that I listened to one time, same with Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, Leonard Cohen and Chance the Rapper.

Further, this has been a year where I mostly just kept to artists I already know and like and didn't spend much time digging around finding new artists. I finally got deep into Danny Brown, but that's about it.

Again, the world was on fire. I spent a lot of time listening to news, politics and policy podcasts. I'll catch up on music later.
1. Panphage - Drengskapr
2. Eternal Champion - The Armor of Ire
3. Legacies Unchain - Satan Is Strong and Always Near
4. Blood Incantation - Starspawn
5. Tarot - Reflections
6. Lord Vicar - The Gates of Flesh
7. Barrow Wight - Kings in Sauron's Service
8. Legendry - The Mists of Time
9. Demon Bitch - Hellfriends
10. Inquisition - Bloodshed Across the Empyrean Altar Beyond the Celestial Zenith
All the Witches Dance

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