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Mushroom Wrap: 12 Best Album Releases of 2016

We’re shutting down and wrapping up 2016 with a comprehensive double take on the year that was. From ARIA #1 winning albums, to the most inventive triple j ‘Like A Versions’ and all of the comeback singles in between, the Mushroom family flexed to all new levels this year.

If only the Christmas jangle spoke of 57 gifts, because then we wouldn’t have to limit the amount of epic records released this year. But alas, we needed to painstakingly select 12.

First up was the drop of Hills End – DMA’S hugely-anticipated debut album. Production-wise, it was pretty DIY as the majority of the record was written, tracked and recorded in Took’s flat in Newtown. Big melodies, noisy guitars and foreign sounds (Mason whipped out the ol’ Guzheng – kind of like a “Chinese piano”). Due to said production efforts, Took was evicted from the digs, so Hills End became a valentine to Buckland Lane. And a parting-fuck-you-gift to pissed-off neighbours. Our win.

In March, we were gifted All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, a hauntingly dark yet beautifully up-beat debut record from Aurora, a 19-year-old Norwegian singer/songwriter. With a sound that was full of anthemic synths, driving vocals and melancholic lyrics, it was truly fantastical – and it gained triple j feature album.

Violent Soho followed, unleashing WACO – the Mansfield legends’ fourth studio-record and their most acclaimed work to date. The album is a product of ten weeks spent recording in ‘The Shed’ – a ridiculous term for what is actually the band’s world-class recording studio. With entrusted help from their longtime friend and producer, Bryce Moorhead and countless froffies, WACO debuted at #1 on the ARIA album charts, in which the band discovered that said ARIA award isn’t just for aesthetic purposes.

In May, Brooklyn singer/songwriter, Margaret Glaspy, released Emotions & Math – a fiercely raw, guitar-driven pop record. Proving to be an incredible songwriter and delicate guitarist, her debut record explored destructive impulses with refreshing clarity, which cemented her as a sterling (and very talented) realist.

Thick As Thieves followed in June, the third record from eminent indie-rock band The Temper Trap. The Aussie four-piece shrunk from five, but that didn’t stop them from making anthems.  Dougy’s signature falsetto returned, so did the soaring guitars and crooning melodies and the record earned the band their second #1 ARIA award.

The same month saw veteran American-Scottish band, Garbage, release their sixth studio-album Strange Little Birds. Showing zero signs of slowing down, “The guiding principle was keeping it fresh, and relying on instinct both lyrically and musically”, explained frontwoman Shirley Manson. The record was appropriately scuzzy and glitchy, torched with the band’s familiar industrial-rock tinge, that was “less fussed over” than anything Garbage had ever produced before.

In July, Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist, Emma Louise, released her hugely anticipated sophomore record Supercry – a stunning album full of silky, lush beats. ‘Illuminate’ is about coming out of a dark time and being determined to turn yourself around for good. It’s about breaking out of a shell and being like “wassup world I’m back motherdfuckers!” – a true testament to the record as a whole and message from such an eminent Aussie artist and creative.

Californian punk veterans, Blink 182, also reentered our lives that month with their seventh studio-album, California, 20 odd years since their first. Sixteen songs in total marked a generous offering, yet they created a comprehensive and considered collection of tracks that were perfectly littered with good times, punk songs and dick jokes.

Newcomer and Blue Mountain-raised singer/songwriter, Julia Jacklin, gifted the world Don’t Let The Kids Win in October. A crooning alt-folk opus, toplined with relatable AF lyrics and tales of breakups, growing old and random realisations. Jacklin’s storytelling is penciled with effortless beauty, charming wit and honest reflection and the kids might win one day, but we’re the real winners for now.

On the same day, Castlemaine wizard, D.D Dumbo, unveiled his extremely-anticipated debut record, Utopia Defeated – a gorgeous fusion of blues roots and infectious textured-pop. With the warmth of acoustic instrumentals and the chill of the varying electronics, it was an explosive experiment that earned him triple j’s Album of the Year award – for good reason.

Last month welcomed the official release of Archie Roach‘s tenth studio-album, Let Love RuleA powerful record and prayer from Australia’s most celebrated musical and spiritual leader to strive for a shared humanity, a reminder that goodness will triumph over adversity.

And number twelve concludes with the long-awaited release of Childish Gambino‘s third full length album Awaken, My Love!”. A fresh fusion of funk, jazz, soul, hip-hop, blues and RnB, in which the Californian-based singer/songwriter, producer and actor unearthed all new sonic territories by blending the ever-enticing aspects of an old-school flavour with only the finest of modern day techniques.

It’s been a supreme year for new music. Check back in tomorrow for Day 11.