Slightly late this year. Coming in at number 5, pop pickers….
5. Michael Kiwanuka- “Love and Hate”
Only out for a week, this is a very good album with Marvin Gaye-esque soul and R&B influences. I was initially put off with its lead single “Black Man In A White World”, which suffered from the twin misfortunes of mediocrity and being played to death on national radio. However, give the album a chance and you’ll find some very strong song writing and great production. Unfortunately, I suspect Love and Hate is destined to be played only as backing music to middle-class dinner parties across suburbia, which is a shame.
4. Kendrick Lamar- “Untitled Unmastered”
Kendrick Lamar is a Californian rapper who is rightly causing established popular artists such as Kanye West some sleepless nights. This compilation of unreleased demos and outtakes is short and has some rough around the edges recordings (as is to be expected). However, seek out the diamonds in the rough, such as the almost jazzy number below, and you will be greatly rewarded.
3. David Bowie- “Blackstar”
What can I say that hasn’t already been said?
2. Bat For Lashes- “The Bride”
For me, Natasha Khan is way up there among artists such as Kate Bush, Bjork, Peter Gabriel and David Bowie, as a singer who’s creativity stretches beyond just the musical art form. Her latest album is (dare I say it) a concept album which follows the story of a bride who’s fiancé dies on the way to their wedding. That simple sentence hasn’t really sold it well, but listen to the album (as a whole) and a beautiful piece about love, loss and overcoming trauma will emerge. Really wonderful.
1. Radiohead- “A Moon Shaped Pool”
Continuing to march to beat of their own drum, Radiohead turn out an album of mainly ethereal ballads. In this humble bear’s opinion, beautifully constructed songs with lovely melodies that only reward the most patient listeners (as it should be). Interestingly, they have finally recorded a studio version of True Love Waits, a song that has been knocking around since the 90s, and which they use here as the closing track. Worth the wait.