Although we sometimes take it for granted in the streaming age, music is a luxury good. When Submotion Orchestra play, that fact becomes perfectly clear. Their albums always sound expensive, high-class cultural excursions made for the benefit not of the super-rich, but all of us mere mortals.
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As the music industry slows down, its alternative end hibernating while the pop-enamoured mainstream hungrily ogles Christmas shoppers, the time has come to look back on a seriously strong year for organised soundwaves. For me, it’s been heavy, intense, and a hell of a lot of fun thanks to the releases listed below.
With so many exceptional contenders in the running for the top spot, the thought of ranking them in order of quality is plainly ridiculous. So instead, I’ve picked out three releases that had memorable impacts on me when I first heard them, and assembled the others in alphabetical order.
The Pretty Reckless’s Who You Selling For – along with previous effort Going To Hell – is conclusive proof (if it were honestly needed in 2016) that women belong in rock music, and are fully capable of kicking ass. The sexists of the music world are like Wile E. Coyote; they’ve run off the edge of the cliff, nothing surrounds them but empty air, they’ve looked down, and they’re panicking. Sonic Boom Six’s The F-Bomb picks up where that image leaves off – it’s cheeky, chirpy, happy and hard-hitting (sometimes simultaneously), addressing a wealth of gender-related issues and providing a great ska-fuelled party soundtrack as only Sonic Boom Six can.
Musically, Dissociation is The F-Bomb’s polar opposite. The Dillinger Escape Plan’s swan song is crammed with brutal and ultra-experimental mathcore – but it’s also Dillinger’s most delicate and diverse album. The Dillinger Escape Plan are living proof that you can achieve great things without compromise, by sticking to your guns and just going for it.
Beyond that point, you’re free to dive into an epic range of albums including solidly grooving rock sets, monolithic slabs of military-grade metal, and progressive masterpieces. Since I’ve not reviewed many EPs this year, I’ve also included a pair of extended-playing mind-blowers in the form of Dorje’s Centred And One and Toska’s Ode To The Author. Dorje specialise in utterly idiosyncratic rock tunes with added progressive spice, while to me, Toska (made up of Dorje’s backline, namely guitarist Rabea Massaad, drummer Ben Minal, and bassist Dave Hollingworth) represent the future of instrumental metal.
Both Dorje and Toska are bands on the rise – and they fully deserve to hit the same peaks enjoyed by the biggest names on this list.
There’s little more to say; for me, this list represents the top albums of 2016. Enjoy the full reviews linked below, follow TMMP on Twitter, subscribe to my brand new YouTube channel, and stay tuned for more world-class music next year!
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Submotion Orchestra’s new album Colour Theory is one of the albums of the year. Granted, it is only February, but I can very safely say that Colour Theory is going to take some beating. Seriously.
Colour Theory has been on near-constant repeat at TMMP HQ after hitting a 100% home run in this full-length review. It’s a genuinely spectacular album – and for this interview, TMMP got SubMo keyboardist Taz Modi talking about the story behind Colour Theory as well as stage invading DJs, keytars, onstage livestock and spaceships… Read more…
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
Over the course of three stellar albums (2011’s Finest Hour; 2012’s Fragments; 2014’s Alium), Submotion Orchestra’s signature sound has been explored in detail and depth. A peerlessly idiosyncratic mix of bass-heavy dub, soul, classical and jazz influences, it’s never been less than spellbinding, immersive, and classy. Since day one, the Submotion Orchestra sound has won over an ever-increasing mass of critics, fans, and tastemakers.
On paper, it would have been very easy for Submotion Orchestra to play it safe on Colour Theory. The normal thing for established bands to do is Read more…
2000 Trees 2015 is fixed to be something very special – and the Skints’ set is sure to be a highlight for many a happy Trees camper. If I don’t hear these guys’ immense new album FM around the campsite, I will be very disappointed. Here, Skints guitarist/vocalist Josh Waters Rudge runs the TMMP gauntlet in record time:
You’re playing 2000 Trees 2015. How’re you feeling about it?
Great! Got lots of festivals to do before then, but come 2000 Trees we’ll be ready for the fun.
What’s the best thing about festivals for you?
Everyone having lots of fun, playing to loads of people who are predisposed to have a great time, watching cool music, outside.
Do you have anything special planned for your set at Trees?
We’re playing about 50 festivals this summer, so it’s probably gonna be Read more…
This show may have been a hard sell for a Sunday, but a sizeable portion of local music fans still made it down to the Boileroom for this show. Earlycomers were treated to Tusks (aka Emily Underhill), a recent discovery who is fast becoming Read more…
Although my heart is forever torn between London and Brighton, the Skints are pulling me firmly in the direction of the capital with FM. A passionate paean to the Big Smoke, FM is a long-playing set of incredibly fine reggae-related tunes – and a must for audio-adoring culture tourists everywhere.
Although personal highlights are too numerous to list in full here (special mentions go to the sublime vocals on This Town (feat. reggae legends Tippa Irie & Horseman); the 8-bit blips on Come To You; and the hilarious episode of Dancehall Dilemmas that opens Friends & Business), the most important parts of the FM experience are Read more…
I don’t normally review covers – but fuck me, this track is the perfect excuse to break the rules. Princess Slayer have been consistently bettering themselves since I first discovered them back in 2013 – and this version of La La La is still another positive step into the future for this Guildfordian EDM duo. Casey Lim’s vocal on this track is Read more…
Bands capable of speaking out intelligently about political issues are few and far between these days. Most seem set on insisting that it’s all about the music and having a good time, rather than encouraging their audiences to educate themselves and act on issues that mean so much to so many, but are often ignored in the age of cheap flatscreens and Xbox Live.
TMMP’s ultimate highlight Read more…
I’ve never heard anything quite like this.
The automatic response to the unfamiliar is often to find a quick way to dismiss it, to chuck it in the metal box labelled Read more…