top songs of 2016 ~ #10 ~ #1

Part two of our comprehensive round up of the best tunes to emerge from these shores in 2016.

If 2015 kickstarted the emo-revival, this past year cemented it, as throughout the uncertainty people seemed to bind together more than ever before. The #IAMWHOLE campaign saw thousands of people unite to combat mental health stigma, football's 'Rainbow Laces' campaign emerged to show the sports support of homosexual players and last years World Mental Health Day (October 10th) gathered more support on social media than ever before.

It was the year Twenty One Pilots frontman Tyler Joseph's open-book lyricism saw his band conquer the planet, Modern Baseball's 'Tripping in the Dark' documentary gave an insight into the stress and damage constant touring can have on bands and closer to home we all felt the loss of Rainy Boy Sleep, honored countlessly and rightfully by everyone who knew him and loved his music.

With this in mind, perhaps that will be 2016's lasting legacy. A reminder that no matter how bad things get, you're never alone. Hopefully next year can build on this hope and we'll be dancing to some new tunes as good as these songs come December 2017.

Here's hoping...

Taylor Johnson

#10. Silences ~ 'Carve Me Open'

 Included in Spotify's 'Best of Folk' playlist recently, Silences have had another momentous year that culminated in the release of 'Luna', their latest stunning EP. At the EP's launch in Bar Sub, this was the tender highlight, as frontman Conchúr White pulled off the mic to serenade the crowd in alost perfect, well, silence. An utterly brilliant track.

Spotify version here

#9. January ~ 'Constantly Hungover'

"You're constantly hungover, we don't talk when you're sober..."

Back in March, Belfast's coolest sadboiz truly arrived on the local scene with 'Constantly Hungover', a nostalgic hurricane of a track bursting with ambition, melencholy and an absolutely epic chorus. Months on from that release they've not only established themselves south of the border, but also recorded 'SWELL' a follow up EP in the same vein as its predecessor, but turned up to eleven. We can't wait...

#8. Robocobra Quartet ~ 'Correct'

If in 50 years it emerged that Robocobra Quartet were the true genius behind Bowie's final studio album 'Blackstar', there would be very few questions asked. Somehow Chris Ryan's outrageous jazz-punk project manage to make the most truly idiosyncratic noise accessable, in a way that can't help but make you feel cooler for listening to it. Correct? Correct.

#7. The Late Twos ~ 'Vanishing Fire'

Rarely does a band do pure unadulterated joy better than The Late Twos. This title track from their latest EP is as close to summer time happiness as you can get without being literally on a beach with your best mates. That said, it's more than just a catchy chorus and explosive drumming; the outro from lead guitarist Ryan Bennett is one of the most moving this band have ever produced. It's more refined, clever and uplifting than ever before.

Listen on Spotify here

#6. Little Arcadia ~ 'Lights'

Since forming in school back in 2012, Little Arcadia have carved out a name for themselves as one of the North Coast's hidden gems. An abundance of energy, an explosive live sound and tunes that stick in your head for days, for years now they've been considered northern headliners and rightfully so. Their latest single 'Lights' finally got them some exposure in the capital this year, with airplay on Radio Ulster and praise from all who've heard it so far. The goal next year? To expand that fan base further and show the rest of the country what they've been missing.

#5. Girlfriend ~ 'don't come to my funeral'  

"i bury all these things so deep it's hard to tell
if buried truths are treasures of just more burden"

We could have picked any track from '3am Rituals', the debut EP from Dublin's most exciting new band 'Girlfriend', to make up this list; in the end 'don't come to my funeral's gentle sway, ghost-whisper backing vocals and beautifully lo-fi production just edged it.

It's a record that demands constant re-listens, opening with the explosive 'kill them all (with your feelings)' and culminating with the deeply moving 'the stuff you think about late at night and never tell anyone about'. It feels like an important record, one that will be re-visited time after time, just as it should be.

#4. Junk Drawer ~ 'Quandary'

'To see the world, or stay inside my head?'

 Despite much of Junk Drawer's clever lyrics going over my head entierly, that hasn't stopped them becoming one of my favourite new bands to come out of the country in recent years. Their dreamy, gloom-tinged indie dips and dives on an EP sounding like it was made by a band already six albums and a strained relationship with the alternative music press in to their careers. With a bit of luck, Stevie, Jake, Brian and Rory Dee will be turning Mojo down for interviews sooner, rather than later.

#3. Ciaran Lavery ~ 'Okkervil River'

This stunning track from the NI Music Prize winning album 'Let Bad In' goes some way to explain the mammoth hype surrounding this incredibly talented songwriter. Incorporating an inspired horn section, Lavery once again trancends the singer-songwriter constraints that a solo musician with a guitar can so easily fall into. An ode to the innocence of childhood and how it felt 'to have everything', this may the hidden gem on an album fully deserving of every accolade it picks up.

#2. Jealous of the Birds ~ 'Russian Doll'

Jealous of the Birds has had an incredible year. Shows as far wide as America and London have seen her break through to a worldwide audience, whilst her NI Music Prize nominated debut album has been streamed over half a million times on Spotify. For us it was a toss up between the lo-fi-punk stylings of 'Russian Doll' and the gentle sway of 'Marcus', with 'Russian Doll' just coming out on top. The beauty of Jealous of the Birds, aka Naomi Hamilton, is her utter commitment to making music as pure as herself. The result is a record of splendid variety, dancing between the lines of indie and folk, pop and bohemia. Next year will undoubtedly be another fantasic year for this extremely talented songwriter.

#1. Hot Cops ~ 'Auto'
'no one really knows their kids
nobody kisses their parents anymore
no one really talks to their kids and
nobody talks to their parents anymore'

Written after a disasterous trip to Amsterdam which included a visit to the home of Anne and Otto Frank, 'Auto' may be Hot Cops most mature release to date. Despite still being very much in love with their old records, the anthemic-power displayed on earlier releases like 'Another Teen Age' sound almost juvenile in comparison to 'Auto's swirling guide to the "isosceles rooftops lining the canals". It remains poetic, visceral and a natural progression if ever there was one.

Taylor Johnson

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