Best Albums of 2016
selected by Cheng-Chung Tsai

Manic Sheep <BR>“Brooklyn” (布魯克林)

Manic Sheep
“Brooklyn” (布魯克林)

One of the top shoegaze bands in Taiwan, Manic Sheep explore new possibilities on their Brooklyn-inspired second album, “Brooklyn” (布魯克林).

Embracing shoegaze and noise rock with massive guitar sound and steady drumming beats, the four-piece band Manic Sheep have earned great fame because of their memorable melody lines and well-matched chords.

♪♫ Listen: “No More Anger” + album stream (Bandcamp)

Manic Sheep on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube.

Fire Ex. (滅火器) <BR>“Reborn”

Fire Ex. (滅火器)

Fourth album from the most famous and important Taiwanese punk rock band Fire Ex. (滅火器).

In 2016, they held the most successful live concert in Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium, but even on records their songs are full of power, passion and energy.

♪♫ Listen: “Keep on Going” (繼續向前行) + album stream (Spotify)

Fire Ex. on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, www.

Super Napkin <BR>“Rhythmic Lizard Moon”

Super Napkin
“Rhythmic Lizard Moon”

Influenced by lo-fi, grunge and shoegaze tunes like the Microphones, Sonic Youth and Bob Mould, Super Napkin is a superb live band.

But with its fuzzy guitars and heavy drum beats, their debut album “Rhythmic Lizard Moon” is as powerful and inspirational as their concerts.

♪♫ Listen: “Brahe” + album stream (YouTube)

Super Napkin on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Youtube, www.

Eli Hsieh (謝震廷) <BR>“Progress Report” (查理)

Eli Hsieh (謝震廷)
“Progress Report” (查理)

Having emerged from a talent show when he was just 13, Eli Hsieh (謝震廷) has earned great reputation for his singing skills, but later also developed a great songwriting talent. Since

In his debut album, Eli Hsieh (謝震廷) describes his past struggles, the self-doubt he once felt and the helpless state of mind when you are not being understood.

♪♫ Listen: “Roam” (走) + album stream (Spotify)

Eli Hsieh on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram.

Dadado Huang (黃玠) <BR>“Insomniac” (在一片黑暗之中)

Dadado Huang (黃玠)
“Insomniac” (在一片黑暗之中)

This is the fourth album from the folk singer-songwriter Dadado Huang (黃玠), mostly known for his delicate vocals.

Appropriately titled “Insomniac” (在一片黑暗之中), the record will be a comforting experience for all lonely souls.

♪♫ Listen: “Gemini” (你) + album stream (Spotify)

Dadado Huang on Facebook.

Sibongie (嬉班子樂團) <BR>“Wassa Wassa! Beats and Joy from Africa”

Sibongie (嬉班子樂團)
“Wassa Wassa! Beats and Joy from Africa”

Led by Fablan Samory Toure, who went to West Africa to learn Manding music, Sibongie (嬉班子樂團) is a band that focuses on promoting the most original music from Africa.

On “Wassa Wassa! Beats and Joy from Africa” (那些非洲人教我的事), they mix instruments such as Djembe, Dundun, Kora, N’Goni, Balafon, Frute and group dance in a joyful and passionate way.

♪♫ Listen: live performance + album stream (Spotify)

Sibongie on Facebook, YouTube, www.

Doodle <BR>“Endless Dreamless”

“Endless Dreamless”

Second album in 5 years from the prominent shoegaze band Doodle. With amazing guitar wall of sounds they create, they easily capture the misted minds of the audience.

♪♫ Listen: “Self-Doubt” + album stream (YouTube)

Doodle on Facebook, YouTube.

No Party for Cao Dong <BR>“The Servile” (醜奴兒)

No Party for Cao Dong
“The Servile” (醜奴兒)

A band that redefines the term of cool combining elements of post-punk, indie rock and dance-punk, No Party for Cao Dong (草東沒有派對) shows the new power from the doomed generation.

♪♫ Listen: “Wayfarer” (山海) + album stream (Spotify)

No Party for Cao Dong on Facebook, YouTube.

Various Artists <BR>“Dragon‘s Dynamite” (食龍煙花)

Various Artists
“Dragon‘s Dynamite” (食龍煙花)

Third compilation from the independent label Dark Paradise Records, which collects music from the most talented bedroom electronic musicians in Taiwan.

♪♫ Listen: album stream (Soundcloud)

Dark Paradise Records on Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube, www.

DJ Mykal (林哲儀) <BR>“Elektroteque Bass Weaponz Vol. 1.1”

DJ Mykal (林哲儀)
“Elektroteque Bass Weaponz Vol. 1.1”

The most famous DJ in Taiwan, DJ Mykal (林哲儀) once again presents his great talent of mixing various influences and tunes into one style that could be only described with his own name.

“Elektroteque Bass Weaponz Vol. 1.1” brings the listeners energy, passion and power.

♪♫ Listen: “Steppin’ Forward Remixes” + album stream (Spotify)

DJ Mykal on Facebook, Soundcloud, YouTube.

Jacky Chen (陳建瑋) <BR>“Columbia” (古倫美亞)

Jacky Chen (陳建瑋)
“Columbia” (古倫美亞)

One of the best Taiwanese singer-songwriter in these 10 years, Jacky Chen has already appeared in our Best of 2014 list.

His second album, titled “Columbia”, reviews the history of Taiwanese music, combining many different elements together to an energetic and catchy result.

♪♫ Listen: “Black Bird” (黑鳥) + album stream (Spotify)

Jacky Chen on Facebook, YouTube.

Chung Yufeng & David Chen “Fade to Blue” (藍掉)

Chung Yufeng & David Chen “Fade to Blue” (藍掉)

Chung Yufeng (鍾玉鳳) is the greatest Pipa player in Taiwan. Recently, he has collaborated with an amazing blues guitar player David Chen (陳思銘).

Their debut live album, “Fade to Blue” (藍掉), shows that different kinds of instruments may still get into harmony. You’ll easily hear the passion these two amazing musicians have when staying together on one stage.

♪♫ Listen: “Tea and Whiskey” (茶與威士忌)

Chung Yufeng/David Chen on Facebook.

Various Artist <BR>“Rhapsody in Hakka”

Various Artist
“Rhapsody in Hakka”

Born in 1932, Pi-Hsia Lai (賴碧霞) was a legendary Hakka folk singer and researcher. Especially after she retired, she devoted himself to collecting, documenting and performing traditional Hakka music.

Exactly one year ago, she died at the age of 82. “Rhapsody in Hakka” (山歌浪想-向賴碧霞致敬) is a tribute to this unique musician by a unique big band jazz ensemble.

♪♫ Listen: “Rhapsody in Hakka” (山歌浪想) + album stream (YouTube)

Pi-Hsia Lai in Wikipedia.

Guntzepaula (槍擊潑辣) <BR>“Black Lotus” (黑色蓮花)

Guntzepaula (槍擊潑辣)
“Black Lotus” (黑色蓮花)

Skillful and novel, Guntzepaula (槍擊潑辣) is a power trio consisting of prominent musicians. Compared with how bands in Taiwan sound generally, the music of Guntzepaula is more experimental and progressive with harsher and dissonant sounds. However, their unique approach to explore creative sparks related to music structures brings lots of joy.

Their second album, “Black Lotus” (黑色蓮花), tries to build solid bridges between bass, guitar and drums, pushing themselves to an extreme world fused with funk, jazz and metal jams. Singing in Taiwanese, the poetic lyrics of Guntzepaula reflect the status quo and dark sides of Taiwanese society challenging the moral standards, social ideology, and all kinds of biases.

♪♫ Listen: “Stand by Me” (站作伙) + album stream (Spotify)

Guntzepaula on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Sangpuy (桑布伊) <BR>“Yaangad” (椏幹)

Sangpuy (桑布伊)
“Yaangad” (椏幹)

Originally a member of the legendary music group Feijuyuenbao Synectics, Sangpuy has shown his great talent through singing, playing the self-made nose flute and jaw harp.

Focusing on collecting and researching the aboriginal culture, they sing songs against the cultural colonialism, capitalism and unfair treatment from the han people.

Powerful and spiritual, Sangpuy’s new album “Yaangad” (椏幹) continues the appealing journey of what a living music could be. Through Sangpuy’s soulful voice, you may regain the long lost feeling of our nature.

♪♫ Listen: “Sadeku Na Senan” + album stream (iTunes)

Sangpuy on Facebook.

Chairs’ (椅子) <BR>“Cheers! Land”

Chairs’ (椅子)
“Cheers! Land”

Led by a young talented singer-songwriter Chou Chiu, Chairs’ is an indie-folk trio that tries to explore endless possibilities of even wider range of music.

Their debut album “Cheers! Land” is composed of stories that happened in the beautiful island of Taiwan. By inviting modern jazz musicians, they give the folk music a different meaning and sound imagination.

♪♫ Listen: “Annual Ring” (年輪) + album stream (Spotify)

Chairs’ on Facebook, YouTube.

Abao (阿爆)<BR>“vavayan. 女人”

Abao (阿爆)
“vavayan. 女人”

Soulful, playful and joyful. Using different approaches to combine traditional aboriginal music with a more pop flavor, Abao’s solo debut album “vavayan. 女人” is definitely on a top notch as one of the best albums in 2016.

The album is produced by the award-winning producer Arai Soichiro (荒井壯一郎) and co-arranged with other talented musicians. The result – the Paiwan-language based album “vavayan. 女人” – gives the audience a different feeling of rhythms inducing the impulse to dance.

We may regard Abao as a music diva since her music will give you fresh feelings about life.

♪♫ Listen: “izuwa 有” + album stream (Spotify)

Abao on Facebook, YouTube.

DJ Didilong (李英宏) <BR>“Taipei Didilong” (台北直直撞)

DJ Didilong (李英宏)
“Taipei Didilong” (台北直直撞)

Mixing elements of hip-hop and various forms of rock’n’roll, DJ Didilong (李英宏) started writing his own music already when he was a teenager.

He used to be a member of a hip hop band called Da-Xi-Men and has been a guest vocalist on multiple singles from famous hip hop crews such as Soft Lipa and LBC.

A self-trained musician, DJ Didilong is capable of producing electronic and funk/soul music. Listening to his works, you may find yourself shaking your head and your body movin’.

“Taipei Didilong” (台北直直撞) is the debut album about the real riff raff, lowlifes and family relation. DJ Didilong is a true genius representing the new generation of Taiwanese musicians.

♪♫ Listen: “Taipei Didilong” (台北直直撞)

DJ Didilong on YouTube, Facebook.

Sheng-Xiang & Band (生祥樂隊) <BR>“Village Besieged” (圍庄)

Sheng-Xiang & Band (生祥樂隊)
“Village Besieged” (圍庄)

Sheng-Xiang Lin (林生祥) is one of the best singer-songwriters in the history of Taiwanese music.

HE teamed up with a famous poet Yong-Feng Zhong (鍾永豐), Japanese guitarist Ken Ohtake (大竹延), bassist Toru Hayakawa (早川徹), percussionist Alex Wu (吳政君) from Sizhukong (絲竹空樂團), drummer Noriaki Fukushima (福島紀明) and Suona (嗩吶) musician Po-Yu Huang (黃博裕). The big band brings the audience more delicate sound structures and meaningful Hakka lyrics.

On their new double-disc concept album, “Village Besieged” (圍庄), they try to make people more aware of the environment pollution and the huge damage that petrochemical industry might bring. With the combination of Beiguan (北管) and punk music, there is no doubt the album “Village Besieged” will start a new chapter in the history of the Taiwanese music scene.

♪♫ Listen: “Village Besieged” (圍庄) + album stream (Spotify)

Sheng-Xiang & Band on Facebook, YouTube.