2016 turned out to be a pretty crummy year for the human race. Many great talents departed, a whiny toddler was given the most powerful role in the United States, and a trailer for a fifth Transformers movie was released, just to name a few unfortunate incidents. But shining through all the muck of the world is the art created by human beings. I'm obsessed with it and I really love cataloging it. To start with, I've tried my hardest to pick 15 great music albums from this year. Television and movies will follow, but the movies bit will probably come later since most of the great last few movies of the year are never available to me until January.
Before we begin, I should state I am not a musician or an expert on music in any way. I tried to be a musician as a teen and then realized I have absolutely no attention span for learning how to play. I have always had a deep affinity for music though and many songs, albums, and artists mean a great deal to me. Anyway, keep that in mind if you know more about music than I do. I'm just a fan, and these were the albums that made the biggest impression on me in the year 2016. Okay, here we go.
Holy Ghost by Modern Baseball
This was an incredibly brave move from Modern Baseball, to wear so many things on their sleeves in one album, but it truly works. Emotional, touching, and inspiring.
Favorite Track: Everyday
The Well-Intentioned Virus by Zao
This one came right out of left field in the last couple of weeks and it was like a wonderful slap to the face of just pure unadulterated metal. This is a welcome return for the Hardcore legends. Blistering, brutal, and relentless for a full 42 minutes.
Favorite Track: Broken Pact Blues
Puberty 2 by Mitski
Mitski is a new name for me, but I've instantly fallen in love with her music. These aching fuzz rock ballads are to die for.
Favorite Track: Your Best American Girl
Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
I'll admit to the fact that I couldn't really get into the first couple of Car Seat Headrest albums but this one is so unique and fresh and distinctive that I immediately fell in love.
Favorite Track: Vincent
Real by Lydia Loveless
Lydia Loveless taps into a particularly beautiful strain of deeply personal, honest, and yet still undeniably fun Americana music, even when it's bleak.
Favorite Track: Out On Love
Cashmere by Swet Shop Boys
Riz Ahmed and Heems together is a collaboration made in Heaven. Hooky, snarky, witty, and insanely danceable all at the same time.
Favorite Track: Aaja
Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Nick Cave is a knight in shining armor of dark, lyrical, haunting poetry. That poetry takes on a new form after the death of his son. The power and emotion of personal tragedy has shaped one of the most emotionally powerful albums in a long time.
Favorite Track: Magneto
Awaken, My Love! by Childish Gambino
Has to be one of the most amazing and successful artistic 360's in a long, long time. Sweet, soulful, and groovy.
Favorite Track: Redbone
Painting of a Panic Attack by Frightened Rabbit
This one grew on me. At first I wasn't sure if I enjoyed it as much as their previous work, but it has solidified itself in my mind as another Frightened Rabbit masterpiece.
Favorite Track: I Wish I Was Sober
A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead
Another welcome return from a band on a hiatus that felt much too long. It was worth the wait though. Radiohead are haunting science fiction geniuses.
Favorite Track: Daydreaming
The Dream is Over by PUP
Pure, chaotic, melodious, angsty punk rock. What more can I say? Maintains an energy that is hard to keep up for the length of a full album.
Favorite Track: DVP
Telefone by Noname
An amazing debut album. I cannot wait to hear more from her.
Favorite Track: Diddy Bop
The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock
Aesop is a legend. This will go down as one of his finest works.
Favorite Track: Kirby
Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper
This is the most pure distillation of joy I've ever heard in my life. Chance is an angel.
Favorite Track: No Problem
Blackstar by David Bowie
Oh Captain, my Captain! You were too pure for this Earth. We were so lucky to have you as long as we did. Your swan song will live on as a true musical masterpiece. Sleep well, Thin White Duke.
So there you have it. Feel free to agree and disagree as much as you like. This was honestly very very difficult. There were too many great albums this year. Just because I'm a fair sport, a few great Honorable Mentions:
- Lemonade by Beyonce
- Anti by Rihanna
- Thursdays with The Battlin Nelsons by The Battlin Nelsons
- I Don't Think It Is by Say Anything
- Adore Life by Savages