Now that LA Music Blog has announced its Top 50 Albums of 2016, it’d be a good time to take a look around town and see who else has taken an inventory of the best albums of the past year.
KCRW DJs unveiled their Best Albums of 2016 on Tuesday night at Apogee Studios in Santa Monica, on the eve of the release of their year-end accolades. Hosted by Jason Bentley (and Jason Bentley’s pants), the evening was at once a celebration of a lot of memorable music, an opportunity to lament the loss of many greats, and a first chance for a holiday gathering.
After a brief video introduction that took us inside the halls of the soon-to-be replaced KCRW studio space at Santa Monica College, Bentley reflected on a year of loss (David Bowie, Prince, Sharon Jones, Phife Dawg, and Leonard Cohen) that is ending in “high anxiety.”
The Apogee Studios stage had been transformed from its usual look as a performance space into a music lover’s living room; vinyl hung on the walls (e.g., Dark Side of the Moon, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit), and it even had a functioning lava lamp. It was here that Jason Bentley invited KCRW’s DJs to the stage to help count down their Best 10 Albums of 2016.
Marion Hodges praised the work by the team of producers on Solange’s A Seat At The Table, namely Raphael Saadiq, Questlove, Q-Tip, and TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek. Autolux’s Pussy’s Dead (KCRW’s #9) was also deemed “most awkward title to say on radio” by Dan Wilcox, who also lauded the album’s drum work by “the best rock drummer there is,” Carla Azar.
Liza Richardson recognized Bon Iver’s 22, A Million as a standard bearer for the “hip hop folk blend” that is prevalent these days. The self-proclaimed “alternative to the alternative” DJ Eric J. Lawrence admitted that his own #1 was The Peace & Truce Of Future Of The Left by Future Of The Left, before introducing KCRW’s #7, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool.
The night’s biggest surprise came with the inclusion of the relatively unknown Andy Schauf’s The Party at #6. The LP tells the story of one party in a collection of “personal vignettes.” Karene Daniel called it a great bedroom record and deadpanned that it is “good, inexpensive therapy — you can get it on Spotify.” Bentley called out its syncopation and hip-hop groove.
Raul Campos overflowed with love for Wilco and their 2016 album, Schmilco, as did Garth Trinidad and Jeremy Sole for A Tribe Called Quest’s swan song LP, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your service. “The great thing about the new Tribe record is it’s an old Tribe record,” said Sole. He waxed on, saying, “They don’t have to think outside the box. There is no box with Tribe.”
Anne Litt mourned the loss of David Bowie as she discussed #3, his Blackstar. Litt herself learned of his passing while listening to KCRW one night and noticing that Dan Wilcox “was playing a lot of Bowie.” Litt’s somewhat surprising choice for #1 was the soundtrack to Hamilton.
Although he was due on the air in only 40 minutes, Travis Holcombe stopped by to introduce #2, Kaytranada’s 99.9%, an album that “works as singles and as a complete album.” Bentley added that Kaytranada has a “great individual sense of rhythm” and that this was his own personal #1.
Anthony Valadez playfully outted Jason Bentley as having never visited Highland Park, current home to the artist with KCRW’s #1 album of 2016, Anderson .Paak. Valadez and Bentley recently visited Paak in his Highland Park studio to tape an acceptance speech that the affable Paak was visibly thrilled to record: “I’ve always wanted to do an acceptance speech via satellite,” he joked, having won for his excellent Malibu.
For those keeping score at home, of KCRW’s top 10 albums, 7 appeared on LA Music Blog’s own year end list (Wilco, Andy Schauf, and Autolux did not).
See you in 2017!
KCRW’s Best Albums of 2016
1. Anderson .Paak – Malibu
2. Kaytranada – 99.9%
3. David Bowie – Blackstar
4. A Tribe Called Quest – Thank U 4 your service…we got it from here
5. Wilco – Schmilco
6. Andy Schauf – The Party
7. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
8. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
9. Autolux – Pussy’s Dead
10. Solange – A Seat at the Table