Five artists who dropped their albums without a care for the End Of Year poll bum-rush
Each year when it hits November and December the arms race begins to see which publication can get their ‘albums of the year’ list out first. That owes as much to the practical production cycles of getting the final issue of a magazine out before Christmas as wanting to reach the summit of Google’s SEO rankings. We’re part of that, too, we guess – we shared ours in the second week of December, which felt about right – not too early but not so late as to interrupt The Big Fat Quiz of The Year. And so, traditionally, December’s a month where very little gets released. The shelves are too full of Bublé singing Frank Sinatra covers and NOW compilations. But to give 2016 some retrospective credit, the final few weeks of the year contained some great albums released bravely and/or foolishly late in the calendar year.
Few of them benefited from appearing in the end of year lists. However, it feels kind of remiss not to acknowledge them before everyone gets fixated with the new music arriving in this year ahead. The one thing they have in common, all these artists have got enough confidence to trust in their fanbase to not worry too much about a traditional release strategy. If you turned off the Internet over the Christmas holidays, then it’s worth tracking back on these.
‘Stillness In Wonderland’
Simz refuses to play the game. She hasn’t come through a music industry machine that fed her releases out at the right level of buzz at the right time for the right tips list or whatever. Her success has been a genuine ‘grassroots’ (awful word) movement. This, her second album, features Chronixx, SiR, Syd, Chip, Ghetts, Bibi Bourelly and is a concept LP based on the story of Alice In Wonderland. It requires close listening – her lyrical interplay is among the best out there, but Simz is an important, independent voice not being broadcast loudly enough just yet.