Compiling a list of my top items is an immense challenge – I can never quite decide on whether one release is truly better than another. With that said, I will present five releases from 2016 that made the biggest impressions on me.
Seoul Sickness is a logical evolution from Thornapple’s stellar 이상기후. The band’s signature style, a mix of folk and intricate alternative rock, breathes life into five distinct tracks that nonetheless flow together to create a coherent emotional narrative. As usual, Yoon Sunghyun’s powerful voice delivers in spades; his range can be appreciated during the intensity of “석류의 맛” as well as the melancholy of “장마전선.”
18gram’s Maze is a straightforward collection of five excellent rock tracks. I would describe Maze as no-nonsense rock at its best, with taut guitar lines and energetic, dynamic drumming. “미안” and “Good Night Sleep Tight” are slower-paced, and take advantage of their harmonic potency. A high-quality vocal performance tops off Maze’s ear-catching potential.
After nine years, the veterans of Mot have returned with a matured, more accessible sound. Ashcraft is more condensed than previous releases, and perhaps a bit gentler as well. The beautiful, serene “편히” is a stand-out track; along with its other peers, it makes the most out of an intimate environment to tug the heartstrings. Fans of Mot’s jazzy aspect will be pleased to know that the double bass remains a noticeable presence on Ashcraft.
Silica Gel is an innovative, colourful psychedelic rock album with plenty of spirit and a touch of eccentricity. Electronic effects and synths feature prominently in the vast soundscape of Silica Gel. This release is almost dizzyingly good, thanks to its unpredictability and dazzling melodies. A very fun listen that transcends its 50-minute runtime.
130 mood : TRBL, simply put, is sensual, enjoyable R&B. The unique timbre of Dean’s voice is a defining quality of his music. From the primal, yet lush beat of “풀어 (pour up)” to the earnest longing found in “D (half moon),” Dean explores a variety of perspectives on love and romance. The reverse storyline of 130 mood : TRBL offers an extra twist to the archetypal love story.