Buro 24/7 Malaysia's top albums of 2016
Sounds of the year
Esperanza Spalding, Emily's D+Evolution
If you delve into this album expecting the same sounds from Spalding that won her the Best New Artist Award (she was the first jazz artist to do so) at the Grammys five years ago, you'll be in for a pleasant surprise. In this album, her first in four years, she sings through the alter ego of Emily—her middle name—and pulls of a 14-track gem that is a brilliant blend of contemporary jazz, art funk and math rock. Yep, there's some intense guitar shredding in there.
Must-listen tracks: 'Good Lava', 'One', 'Ebony And Ivy'
Norah Jones, Day Breaks
Norah Jones, on the other hand, returned to the jazz sounds of her 2012 breakthrough debut (Come Away With Me) with Day Breaks. The title track is one about deep loneliness and backed by an understated, dreamy groove. In this. Jones, now 37, showcases her piano accompaniments that are as beautiful and soothing as her vocals in this elegant and more nuanced album.
Must-listen tracks: 'Flipside', 'Day Breaks', 'Sleeping Wild'
BadBadNotGood fourth studio album introduces longtime touring partner and collaborator multi-instrumentalist Leland Whitty as a formal member of the progressive jazz band. Their modern, distinctive sound continues to shine through, and while it is their most "jazz"-sounding album yet, it also features genre-blurring collaborations with the likes of Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring, electronic producer Kaytranada R&B singer Charlotte Day Wilson.
Must-listen tracks: 'Speaking Gently', 'Times Moves Slow', 'Chompy's Paradise'
Frank Ocean, Blonde
It took four years for Frank Ocean to release a follow-up to Channel Orange - but the wait was well worth it. With almost no drums, the tracks floats with Ocean's romantic, melancholic and philosophical sentiments in all its intriguing, lyrical, abstract yet melodic glory. The music slip between themes and sounds, and collaborators range from French electro-house producer Sebastian to Beyoncé (who sings the backing vocals on 'Pink + White'), but they are commonly bound by Ocean's raw, poetic storytelling.
Must-listen tracks: 'Nikes', 'Solo', 'White Ferrari'
David Bowie, Blackstar
Early this year, David Bowie dropped the bold and compelling album that is Blackstar on his 69th birthday, then unexpectedly passes on from liver cancer two days later, leaving the world with a bittersweet parting gift. The pop culture icon goes out on a high, as his musical farewell flits between experimental rock and avant-garde jazz, and some fans and critics have interpreted it as a goodbye letter to the world, with hints sprinkled throughout the album - "Look up here, I'm in heaven", he sings in 'Lazarus'. "I've got scars that can't be seen."
Must-listen tracks: 'Blackstar', 'Lazarus', 'I Can't Give Everything Away'
This is our bet for the 2017 Grammys' Album of the Year award. With Lemonade, Queen Bey rightfully claims her throne with a stunning visual album that is deeply personal and confessional. She manages to tackle both emotional and political themes in a masterpiece that sees her maneuvering through genres - from rocking out with Jack White on 'Don't Hurt Yourself' to the reggae fusion sounds of 'Hold Up'.
Must-listen tracks: '6 Inch' (featuring The Weeknd), 'All Night', 'Formation'
What were your favourite albums of 2016? Tell us in the comments section below.