Irish Album of The Year
Jealous Of The Birds - Parma Violets (Rough Trade ) - JOTB is 19-year-old Armagh singer-songwriter Naomi Hamilton. A considerable gift for melody, her knack for a catchy chorus, a poetic lyrical ability, and ease in ranging from Steven Malkmus-like slacker rock to delicate indie folk-pop, without ever sounding unfocused, makes this startling debut Irish album of the year.
Galway Album of The Year
Oh Boland - Spilt Milk (Volar Records ) - Niall Murphy, Eanna MacDonnchadha, and Simon McDonagh finally delivered the album we all knew they could - rough tough garage rock sweetened by anthemic choruses, earworm melodicism, and slice o'life observational lyrics.
Best International Albums of 2016
The Goon Sax - Up To Anything (Chapter Music ) - These Aussies are aged between 17 and 19 and have produced a masterpiece of DIY, loose sounding jangle/garage indie rock - think a mellower Pastels - about adolescence while still in adolescence. Humour, depth, great stories, great songs. Another outstanding debut.
David Bowie - Blackstar (Columbia Records ) - In 'Dollar Days' Bowie declared: "I'm dying to push their backs against the grain and fool them all again and again." His music always will - a kaleidoscopic body of work restricted by no one interpretation, but a generous invitation for us all to explore and find out about ourselves.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd ) - a work of dark beauty, tremendous sadness, and the struggle not to be overwhelmed by the grief. Raw and powerful.
The Prettiots - Funs Cool (Rough Trade ) - underneath the delightful kookiness on this debut are real pop smarts; a mischevious sense of humour; and a determination to keep these sensibilities wedded to the anti-folk and lo-fi indie traditions.
Låpsley - Long Way Home (XL Recordings ) - the Liverpudlian fuses singer-songwriter, indie, chillwave, UK garage, and ambient excellently. A new alternative-pop star has arrived.
Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial (Matador ) - This is 23-year-old Will Toledo's 13th album, a tale of 20-something lives and 90s influenced American indie rock par excellence. Beck and Dinosaur Jr fans will appreciate.