Crap Year, Cool Tunes: The Top 10 Albums of 2016

7: Angel Olsen – My Woman

img_20161222_145331Previously a purveyor of doleful indie folk—check out her relentlessly bleak 2014 breakthrough “Burn Your Fire for No Witness” for proof—this North Carolina-based singer-songwriter aims for a  broader, brighter sound on her fourth album. The results are fairly spectacular. “You’ll Never Be Mine,” an incandescent ode to unrequited love, shimmies to a ‘60s girl group beat. “Give It Up” hits the grunge-pop sweet spot between the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nirvana. And “Heart Shaped Face” is a country-tinged weeper that recalls Lucinda Williams at her most poignant. Olsen still occasionally lapses into the Debbie Downer doldrums, especially during the album’s slower second half. (Or side two for you vinyl nerds). And the instrumentation and production are scruffy to a fault. One wonders how someone like Butch Vig might tweak the grunge-y guitar riffs on “Give It Up”— he’s had some success with that after all. But flaws aside, “My Woman” is a damn good, stylistically diverse set that hints at even greater things to come.

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