December 26, 2016

2016 Year End Music List

Other Years: 20162015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.

There was a lot of good music this year! Some years, creating this list is simple. Other years are difficult. Due to so many good releases this year, it wasn't easy.

Honorable Mentions
This year, we saw a lot of legendary acts return with new material. I was hopeful about A Tribe Called Quest's release and it delivered!  Iggy Pop put out a great album. Surprisingly, Metallica returned with an album that was 75% of a return to their sound 25 or more years ago.  Paul Simon returned with a solid album. The Rolling Stones returned. (... sorry, I still don't get Leonard Cohen, may he rest in peace.)

Other acts that have been active through recent years put out good albums. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds put out a beautiful, sad album. Wilco offered Schmilco on the heels of last year's Star Wars. This is the first year that Radiohead has released an album that will not be on my top ten. I liked A Moon Shaped Pool. In fact "Burn the Witch" is one of my all time favorite Radiohead songs! I did not, however, find the rest of the album as powerful as the first track. While it isn't on my top ten list for the year, let's be honest, a mediocre Radiohead is still much better than the best releases of most bands.

Childish Gambino surprised us with a great funk and soul album. Speaking of soul, Frank Ocean and Solange released wonderful albums that are redefining soul and R&B, as well as, The Weeknd. (Can someone please start a Starboy cover band called, The Wednesdy!) Then there's Beyoncé... that's all that needs to be said.

In the punk arena, I've been enjoying the new albums from Super Unison, Touché Amoré, Nothing and Praise. In fact, I almost added Nothing's Tired of Tomorrow to the list but I've limited myself to ten. Also enjoyed new albums from Pinegrove, Y La Bamba and Xenia Rubinos.

The List
As in previous year's, I have a simple rule: my top ten list is made up of the albums I've listened to the most out of all the releases that year. These are not listed in any particular order.

1. Run The Jewels - RTJ3: Dang it, RTJ! I had this list figured out weeks ago and then, I check my email early Christmas morning. There it is: the new Run the Jewel's album is out! These two just can't quit. Few sophomore releases blow away the break out first album. Fewer artists put out a third release that stands on it's own. This album is as fierce as the last! Tight production. Wicked smart lyrics. So good. (Get it!)

2. Vanishing Life - Surveillance: Few albums have made me cry. Joshua Tree was one. Quicksand's Slip was another. I've longed for the return of Walter Schreifel's quirky vocals paired with heavy, jangly riffs. This isn't Quicksand but that's okay. I shared my excitement about this release back in October. It's a great album for anyone that was a fan of the melodic post-hardcore genre of the 90's. (Get it!)

3. A Tribe Called Red - We Are The Halluci Nation: ATCR is one of the most unique musical artists out there. Their ability to fuse heritage, culture and electronic music does something more than create good music. It conveys a powerful, even if wordless, message. As I said last month, I'm surprised that they are not more widely praised. (Get it!)

4. PUP - The Dream is Over: This album is not much more than an extension of what PUP did on their self-titled release. That doesn't matter. It's a roll-down-your-windows-and-crank-it-up punk rock album. It's loud. It's fun. And, like I said, it's catchy. You don't need much more from this band. (Get it!)

5. Thao + The Get Down Stay Down - A Man Alive: Thao Nguyen has developed a noticeable "sound." Yet, each release brings a newness that displays further development as an artist. This album was produced by Tune-Yard's Merrill Garbus, whose influence pairs well with Thao's style. (Get it!)

6. Slingshot Dakota - Break: Chances are, you haven't heard of Slingshot Dakota and that's a shame! They're an indie rock pair out of Pennsylvania. The female/male duo bring a noise level that's easily mistaken for a larger line up. The melodies hearken back to some late 90's and 00's artists but they certainly stand on their own. (Get it!)

7. Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book: Confident. Happy. Smart. Catchy. Those are just a few words that come to mind when reflecting on what Chance brought us this year. Technically, not an album I guess but this was a great release. (Get it!)

8. Show Me The Body - Body War: What is this?! Punk? Hardcore? Art rock? I've been trying to figure this out since discovering this back in August. I still don't know but its amazing! (Get it!)

9. Kvelertak - Nattesferd: You can tell that Kvelertak draws deeply from the many sub-genres within metal these days. They don't take themselves so seriously that they would limit using that range of influence to make the great music they do. They're fun. They're Norwegian. They're metal! (Get it!)

10. David Bowie - Blackstar: We lost many legendary artists this year. Bowie's loss was simply eerie following the release of this album. Nonetheless, this is one of his best albums in years. It's dark. It's unique. It's beautiful. And it's executed flawlessly by his backing band. He will be missed but this album makes me grateful for such a genre/gender-bending artist. (Get it!)

2017 Most Anticipated
Really excited to hear the next P.O.S. album, Chill, dummy. There's word that Zach de la Rocha is releasing something, which has me absolutely giddy. Moses Sumney is underrated and I look forward to what he puts out. And I like what I've heard from Strand of Oaks so far.