This is my list of 50 records for the year. This is the seventh year I’ve made one of these – isn’t that crazy? But back to the present. I thought music this year was pretty mediocre compared to other years, contrary to so many other people claiming that this was the best year in music of the decade. Many overhyped albums, that’s for sure. Perhaps the deluge of awful from this year polluted my mindset when it came to a lot of these records, but I dunno. Just seemed like there weren’t as many albums that made me step back and reassess my life like other years.
But what about 2016 did I actually like? Stop being a dang sourpuss all the time, Trev! Well, I guess there are a few things. Seemed like dadrock, or Steely Dan worship, reached an all time high with me, with records from bands like Lionlimb, Sam Evian, Andy Shauf, Kevin Morby & Whitney harkening back to some old-fashioned soft dude rock. I dunno, no real trends. You can make some if you want. Do some analytics. Well, here’s 50 albums from 2016, ranked by one guy.
50. Mitski – Puberty 2
49. Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
48. Ytamo – Mi Wo
47. The Range – Potential
46. SALES – SALES LP
45. Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo
44. Lionlimb – Shoo
43. LVL UP – Return To Love
42. Vesuvio Solo – Don’t Leave Me In The Dark
41. Sarah Neufeld – The Ridge
40. Tim Hecker – Love Streams
39. Ian William Craig – Centres
38. Angel Olsen – My Woman
37. Sam Evian – Premium
36. Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing
35. Charlie Hilton – Palana
34. Young Thug – JEFFERY
33. Kornél Kovács – The Bells
32. Kero Kero Bonito – Bonito Generation
31. Andy Shauf – The Party
30. David Bowie – Blackstar
29. Solange – A Seat At The Table
28. Merchandise – A Corpse Wired For Sound
27. IAN SWEET – Shapeshifter
26. Clams Casino – 32 Levels
25. Crying – Beyond The Fleeting Gates
24. Nicolas Jaar – Sirens
23. Frank Ocean – Blonde
22. Chris Cohen – As If Apart
21. Radiohead – A Moon-Shaped Pool
Although the online persona of Porches’ frontman, Aaron Maine, became supremely annoying as the year went on, the low-lit romantic vibes I’ve associated with Pool did not burn out. Will likely associate this record with driving to my girlfriend’s house on a cold winter night for many years.
An album made for the city. An album made for the night time.
With Emotional Mugger, Ty Segall starts evolving his presence from not only a prolific creator of garage rock, but to a manic wizard of the genre, whipping up janky spells of fuzz & distortion to cast upon unwitting victims. He’s a Dr. Frankenstein of sonic carnage on Emotional Mugger, creating mangy titans of noise that ride the edge of falling apart and logically should sound horrible, but somehow stay intact long enough to terrorize the public with stellar riffage.
The grooviest, most soulful country album I’ve ever heard. There’s also a dang Nirvana cover.
Blinding, proud and powerful in its imperfections. A champion of the small-voiced.
Psychopomp runs the emotional spectrum table over its short length, from ecstatic elation (“Everybody Wants To Love You”), gut-wrenching catharsis (“In Heaven” & “Jane Cum”), sweeping wistfulness (“The Woman That Loves You”) and quiet dreaminess (“Triple 7”). The highs here are outrageously high and the lows are virtually invisible.
Plug this into your frontal cortex and let it do all the work for you. 10 compact bursts of neural activity bundled into each battery pack to help you function in this post-capitalist society. The energy provided will yield increased heartbeat, accelerated respiration, dilated pupils, knotted muscles, stiff joints, restless limbs, shifting eyes, memory loss, hypnosis, lowered platelet levels, headaches, and an overwhelming sense of euphoria.
An underdog through and through. Infinite Summer is a killer synth pop record that connected with me on a deep, primal level. Each song is a pristine pop banger with a diverse array of textures and melodies to dispose of. Seems like a ton of people wrote this one off, but I implore you to check it out again.
If a record makes me mutter “I fucked you in half” along with it, that should be a good sign. Or a bad sign. Either way, Bottomless Pit is Death Grips’ best album since The Money Store. I didn’t think I had it in me to get into another Death Grips album after three years of mediocrity, but this one hooked me in effortlessly.
I’m not sure if they could have made a better and more timely final album. My only small gripe is that sometimes it’s too long, but who the hell cares? I’m not sure if anyone could have thought it would be this good. RIP Phife.
An expansive sonic playground for your mind to wander around in. A brilliant fusion of synthetic and organic textures. Incredibly rewarding on repeated listens. Fun to imagine the cover as some micro world of many small, shifting parts, or just letting your imagination run free for a bit. Just let it take control.
Like finding a hidden oasis on an arduous journey. A kaleidoscopic 70s tunnel of love. A house of mirrors into the heart (sorry). A lava lamp of emotion. It melts me. The time I saw them perform in a church a few days after the election will go down as one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen.
I may like Chairlift’s previous record Something as a complete album more, but Moth has the edge with consistently impressive and catchy songs, as well as a newfound swagger from lead singer Caroline Polachek that’s just infectious. Tracks #2 – #8 are pop songs of the highest caliber and might be the strongest string of consecutive songs from 2016.
I assure you, you ain’t heard it like this before.
The moment I realized I loved this album was on an early-morning bus to DC, where I blearily watched a Wawa billboard pass by while listening to the chorus of “Conceptual Romance.” Or maybe it was the time I was listening while at a dollar slice spot on a cold night, watching the steam rise off of hot pizzas and people burning their mouths on molten cheese. It was a great backdrop for many sights this year.
My album of the summer. Arrived just as I moved to NYC and was my soundtrack to many subway rides, walks in the park, nights alone in my apartment, driving around back home and keeping me sane & grounded during work. A dream vacation to a fantastic, technicolor world whenever you need it.
A waterfall of shimmering, bright jewels cascades into a space cave, reflecting fluorescent light on the jagged walls. Below, an alien rave taking place with universal pop grooves bridge foreign barriers, ushering interstellar peace on the dancefloor. That’s what this album is. An interstellar peace treaty. So many different rhythms and beats melding together under one unified pop orb.
Making up for the Bob Dylan phase I never had, or something like that. A masterful album that I’ve listened to heavily throughout the whole year.
At 23/24, this record came out at the perfect time for me. All previously stable aspects of life are in flux at this age, especially relationships. The close network of friendships & camaraderie that was nurtured throughout schooling years has been fractured. It’s still present, but spread across long distances, physically and mentally. Seeing best friends of the past is now a planned art, an exerted effort. Tickets have to be bought, time is taken off work, weekends are put aside, Skype dates have to be coordinated, and text messages are sent & forgotten. Having a record like Light Upon The Lake in this time, a record that sounds like the most essential and healing reconnection with a close friend, is that special something that was needed during those periods when I didn’t have any close friends nearby. In a year of music where not too many things felt personal, Whitney made up for all of it.
A clinic on how to best utilize guest features, Kaytranada’s 99.9% was the ultimate vacation salve from the miserable slog that was 2016. It’s consistently great from beginning to end. It feels like fun music without gimmicks. It’s dynamic in sound but Kaytra maintains his identity throughout the entire project. It’s something to feel good about for a bit, for once. It probably wouldn’t have been my AOTY in any other year, but 2016 was hellish enough that this beacon of positivity was forced to the top to fight for my sanity.