While there was a lot that went wrong in the world in 2016, it was, like 2015 before it, an amazing year for new music. Here’s a rundown of the 25 albums that had the most impact for me this year. Unlike last year I’m not going to go into each one individually, but I will add some notes and links.
This year there were three albums for me that were my clear favorites, and I’ll talk about those a bit first and then list the rest.
- Weakened Friends, Crushed / Gloomy Tunes [Bandcamp]
Ok sure technically this isn’t an album, but rather two EPs, but nothing impacted my life more than this record. The second I heard my homie Adam 12 play “95” on RadioBDC this summer I immediately needed to know who was responsible. I could go into more detail but I already talked a little bit about what this band meant to me this year in a previous post. Suffice to say, this band was everything. (Get a copy on vinyl or CD if you can, because it includes the bonus track “Waste” which is a staple of their live show and a kickass track that you don’t get by just buying the digital version.)
- Field Mouse, Episodic [Bandcamp / Topshelf]
Field Mouse’s first album, Hold Still Life, was one of my favorites of 2014, a delightful collection of fuzzed-out dream pop. (Technically it’s their second, not first, but good luck finding 2010’s You Are Here anywhere.) Episodic comes more focused and vicious than its predecessor. Between the face-melting, frustrated lead-off track “The Mirror” and the cathartic final barrage of closer “Out of Context” (possibly the best musical moment of the year, if you ask me), the album shows that Field Mouse successfully fine-tuned their already great sound and, having also become a proper five-piece rather than a duo with help on the other instruments, solidified into a band worth keeping your eye on.
- The Naked and Famous, Simple Forms
I didn’t know what to expect with The Naked and Famous’s third LP. Their first was a grand initial release, but their second seemed a bit of a departure and the consensus seemed to be that it was a bit of a misstep (though listening to it again in the wake of Simple Forms, it looks a lot better to me than it did at the time). What I got was a synthpop album I simply couldn’t stop listening to. Written and recorded in the wake of the dissolution of band principals Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers’ relationship, the songs show a newfound and coincidentally mature sophistication in the arrangements that really gives this release a wonderful edge.
- Carly Rae Jepsen, Emotion Side B
- American Football, LP2 [Bandcamp / Polyvinyl]
- Wye Oak, Tween [Merge]
- Sia, This is Acting
- Tancred, Out of the Garden [Bandcamp / Polyvinyl]
- HOLOVR, Anterior Space [Bandcamp]
- Ian Sweet, Shapeshifter [Bandcamp / Hardly Art]
- Flock of Dimes, If You See Me, Say Yes [Bandcamp / Partisan]
- 2814, Rain Temple [Bandcamp]
- Vapor Lanes, Hieratic Teen [Bandcamp]
- PUP, The Dream is Over [Bandcamp / SideOneDummy]
- Secret School, Heal [Bandcamp]
- Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
- Underworld, Barbara, Barbara, we face a shining future
- A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
- Secret Pyramid, Distant Works II [Bandcamp]
- M. Geddes Gengras, Two Variations [Bandcamp]
- Bob Mould, Patch the Sky [Bandcamp / Merge]
- The Avalanches, Wildflower
- Beyoncé, Lemonade
- Plaid, The Digging Remedy
- Jimmy Eat World, Integrity Blues
Here’s the rest of my favorite albums this year:
This is, of course, just a small amount of the music I heard and enjoyed this year. It was a great year for music, and I can only hope it continues into 2017.