This is a list of 40 songs I enjoyed from 2016 so far, 10 of which are “ranked.” These are all incredible tentative decisions. These 10 songs were arranged at 2am on a weeknight. These are definitely songs that I really like a lot, but I’m unsure if they’ll stay my ultimate favorites for this year by the end. Who knows? Who cares? Only time will tell. Should you listen to all of them? I’d definitely say so. Will you like all of them as much as me? That depends. Either way, I hope you have a good time trolling through this thing here. Let’s go.
1. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl”
This one wasn’t too hard to pick as my favorite. Mitski always completely hits the nail on the head when writing love songs and excels in the art of the satisfying buildup & release. Wouldn’t you know it, this is a building love song with as satisfying of a climax you’ll find all year, but one that leaves certain things unanswered, beckoning repeated listens. The lyrics have a personal enough feel to make them sound like exclusively Mitski’s, but relatable enough that people listening can easily place themselves into the “little spoon” position talked of in the song. Mitski, you’re the best.
2. LUH – “$ORO”
There is nothing else out like LUH. There was very little out in 2011 that was like WU LYF either, where lead singer Ellery James Roberts previously pumped his blindingly passionate vision into last. It’s no surprise that he’s consistent. With Ebony Hoorn, they’ve made a colossal album centerpiece with “$ORO,” featuring titanic, booming instrumentals and an autotune effect that can barely keep its constitution under Roberts’ wild voice. There’s also an intense rave breakdown in there at one point? Yeah this track is so crazy. Please let there be more music later in 2016 that hooks me in as much as this does.
3. Sarah Neufeld – “Where The Light Comes In”
This is my violin bias shining through. This is the closing track on Neufeld’s great The Ridge and it leaves things off on such a beautiful, melancholic note. It’s a straightforward track, consisting purely of violin and some rumbling ambiance to tell the concluding tale. Neufeld wraps up the overwhelming tension that pervaded the album up until that point wonderfully here, burning it all down in an elegant flame at dawn. It’s the little things. Or in my case, it’s the violin things.
4. Whitney – “Dave’s Song”
Oh hell yeah. The musical equivalent of seeing a dog stick its head out a car window. A song that sounds as good on overcast days as it does on nice days. The most dad-rockiest song on this list. Hell yeah, you hear that trumpet? Hell yeah, you hear that sexy guitar solo? You hear that “woo!” in the background at 2:27? This song is great and it’ll make you feel great. It’s a pure cinnamon bun, too good for this world. (Shout out to Radio K for providing the only video of this song on the internet right now).
5. Hundred Waters – “Forgive Me For Giving Up”
Can’t have a top list from Trev without Hundred Waters on it, right? Dedicated to David Bowie, Hundred Waters traverse back to the sound that made me first fall in love with the band, with subtle electronics and lush string & piano arrangements naturally coexisting. The song is incredibly sad, something Hundo isn’t really known for (see: “Show Me Love Remix” from this year for more their wheelhouse). It’s drop-dead gorgeous. Just read the lyrics and hug the people you’re close to, you’ll see.
6. Clams Casino – “Blast”
The first taste of Clams Casino’s debut record brought all the warm fuzzies I first felt in 2011 when I listened to his Instrumental Mixtape. Clams kind of shied away from the spotlight in the past few years, but I’m so glad he’s back with this. The two other cuts out right now, featuring Lil B and Vince Staples, are making this upcoming record a definite Album Of The Year contender.
7. ANOHNI – “Drone Bomb Me”
I’ve always admired ANOHNI’s voice in electronic contexts. Hercules & Love Affair? Great. That’s probably why I love this new album as much as I do. This song is political, but is more of a storytelling narrative rather than an obtuse statement set over music. Also Hudson Mohawke & OPN collide in their best and most balanced moment of the record.
8. PUP – “DVP”
This emo/pop punk style of music is not my forte at all. In fact, I’m not completely sold on rest of the PUP album. But this song? Hoo boy, this song. One of the best pump-up rock songs I’ve heard in a long, long time. The fact that it gets me to sing along to it by myself really shows that. Just such a BANGER. So much fun.
9. El Guincho – “Parte Virtual”
In the year 2016, using “futuristic” to describe things usually isn’t all too common. However it’s the perfect descriptor for “Parte Virtual,” which starts hot right out the gate with a bouncy burst of bass, then jumping into other mind-bending electronics, contorting the track and exploding colorful textures at a breakneck pace. It’s really unlike anything else I’ve ever heard before, but I’m sure it’ll catch on in a decade or so.
10. Kevin Morby – “Destroyer”
Kevin Morby’s new one is chock full of gorgeous cuts, but I found this one the most striking. “Destroyer” is a simple song, as most songs from Morby are, but the little details on here make it for me: the delicate strings, the saxophone solo, the minimal, yet colorful piano, the little bursts of euphoric vocal harmony, and of course Morby’s calming voice. This song just came at a really good time for me and I’m glad to have it in my life.
:: 30 MORE SONGS, ALPHABETIZED ::
- Baauer – “Temple (ft. M.I.A. & G-DRAGON)”
- Chairlift – “Crying In Public”
- Chance The Rapper – “No Problem (ft. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne)”
- Death Grips – “Giving Bad People Good Ideas”
- Frankie Cosmos – “Embody”
- Future – “Inside The Mattress”
- Holy Fuck – “Shivering”
- James Blake – “Radio Silence”
- Jessy Lanza – “Going Somewhere”
- Julianna Barwick – “Nebula”
- Kanye West – “Real Friends”
- Kaytranada – “Lite Spots”
- Kedr Livanskiy – “Razrushitelniy Krug (Destructive Cycle)”
- Kendrick Lamar – “untitled 05 | 09.21.2014”
- Let’s Eat Grandma – “Rapunzel”
- Lionlimb – “Tinman”
- Mt. Si – “Baby You’re The Best”
- NZCA/Lines – “New Atmosphere”
- Porches – “Be Apart”
- Radiohead – “Daydreaming”
- The Range – “Five Four”
- SALES – “thurs 6-25”
- Sheer Mag – “Worth The Tears”
- Sturgill Simpson – “Breakers Roar”
- Sunflower Bean – “Wall Watcher”
- Tim Hecker – “Music Of The Air”
- Troller – “Storm Maker”
- White Lung – “Dead Weight”
- Wild Nothing – “Reichpop”
- Ytamo – “You Me”
Check out this Spotify playlist for more songs. No promises that I’ll regularly update it, but it’s there.