2016 has been an interesting year for music, often making headlines for the wrong reasons instead of the right ones.
Some great bands made awful albums and other surprising bands put out great work.
Putting this list together was pretty hard work and near misses on the top ten go to CRX, Banks and Steelz, Suede and We Cut Corners who all produced decent records. Next year is already shaping up to be a cracking year with releases planned for Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Beck and Father John Misty, but for now, here are my top records of 2016:
Continue reading: Ben Walton's Top Ten Albums Of 2016
The singer stands against North Carolina's transphobic laws.
Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace is the latest star to take a stand against North Carolina's bathroom bill as she takes to the stage in Durham to burn her birth certificate - a document which lists her as biologically male. She's out to prove just how little birth documents mean to her life.
Laura Jane Grace proves that gender really is over
Florida punk band Against Me! performed at the Motorco Music Hall in Durham, North Carolina on Sunday night (May 15th 2016) and they were keen to make their appearance count. Many stars have been boycotting the state over the recent passing of the HB2 law, or Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act; a law that prevents people using a bathroom for the gender of which they were not assigned at birth. This has raised controversy over the fact that such a law is discriminatory towards the transgender community. But singer Laura Jane Grace had a better idea than just avoiding the area altogether.
Continue reading: Laura Jane Grace Says Goodbye To Gender With Birth Certificate Burning
D'angelo & The Vanguard, Kacey Musgraves and Songhoy Blues join headliners Billy Joel and Mumford & Sons.
More additions have been announced for Bonnaroo 2015 as the June event draws ever closer. D'angelo & The Vanguard, Kacey Musgraves and Songhoy Blues join an already stellar line-up for this 10-stage bonanza, while the full late night sets are also announced.
Adding to a line-up headlined by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Billy Joel and London Grammy winners Mumford And Sons are soul collective D'angelo & The Vanguard, young country star Kacey Musgraves and Mali four-piece Songhoy Blues. As usual, the epic festival - which is set to play host to a massive 85,000 music lovers - presents one of the world's most diverse line-ups as it prepares to hit Manchester, Tennessee this summer from June 11th to 14th.
Continue reading: Bonnaroo 2015: More Thrills Added To The Summer Line-up
Expect some extraordinary upcoming talent from one of the festival's most diverse showcases.
Austin's 2015 SXSW Festival draws ever nearer, with a line-up already rich in upcoming talent and vibrant diversity. There's something for everyone at this iconic citywide musical celebration, and nothing encompasses that more than Hype Machine's Hype Hotel Presented by Feed the Beat spot.
Hype Hotel is set to return to SXSW for 2015
Now heading into its fourth year, we can expect Hype Hotel to be full of yet more talented new bands and artists for 2015. Selected by a variety of different music blogs, the line-up is awash with the very best of all genres including indie, rock, pop, electronic, rap and R&B, who entertain fans of different ages and cultures for five days during the event, which this year takes place from March 17th to 22nd.
It is rare that we see record labels actually bother to put any effort at all into their compilations and samplers these days. Most of the time, labels will scrape together the bare minimum number of tunes by a couple of their flagship acts backed by six to ten cuts from their less well-known artists and chuck it up on their website with little to no fanfare or care for the quality of the product being sold. This is not so for Xtra Mile, the label that brought you Reuben and continues to back the incredible rise of Frank Turner. 'Xtra Mile High Club Volume 5' delivers a whopping 42 tracks for a fiver. That's right: whatever your taste in punk, indie or folk might be, with such a high volume of work on show here, you are bound to find something new to get into for the price of a couple of pints. Winner.
This mammoth compilation kicks off with Against Me! at their thrilling, roaring best with 'Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues'; a song packed to the gills with bite and venom from what is probably the most important punk album of the last ten years. It is a tough act to follow, but the quality on disc one is incredibly high.
You get more rock as Cheap Girls take on a Drive-By Truckers kind of sound on their contribution and recent signing 'Billy the Kid' turns in; an absolute emo gem. Arguably, the two most high profile acts on disc one also bring the guitars with Jamie Lenman putting in a grotesquely entertaining and terrifyingly heavy turn in the form of 'Shower of Scorn' from his 'Muscle Memory' album and Frank Turner slips back into a hardcore sound he has not experimented with since the end of 'Million Dead' on Mongol Horde's nautical 'Blistering Blue Barnacles'.
If you ever feel an arbitrary urge to hit someone over the head with a blunt object, Against Me's sixth album 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' is as blunt as they come. The alt rockers - who have been around since 1997 - have faced a turbulent couple of years since their last release, 'White Crosses'. Following revelations of lead singer Laura Jane Grace (born Tom Gabel) being transgender, the band faced more complications with drummer Jay Weinberg and bassist Andrew Seward departing for unrelated reasons, leading to fears that Against Me! may cease to exist. Indeed, Grace expressed her concerns that the band may not be able to continue under the guise of Against Me!, but would continue to do so because her upcoming record has an important message.
'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' is possibly the band's most personal release yet, addressing the issues transgender people face on a day to day basis. It contains some of the bluntest, most direct lyrics one could ever encounter, while mixing their style up song to song, perhaps to reflect the different moods the subject of this album faces throughout their journey.
The album doesn't particularly roar into life in the manner of their previous releases, with the song 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues' containing a deceptively serene, country-esque melody, accompanied by the particularly frank, downtrodden lyrics which explain the subject's wishes for "them to see you, like they see any other girl".
Continue reading: Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues Album Review