My Top 11 Albums of 2016: An Eclectic Set.
O, hai there.
It’s been a lingering minute since I decided to write something for myself. Last year, for the first time in four (or so) years, I skipped out on writing a ‘Top 10 albums of the year’ because…well, I don’t know why. Maybe I was in a weird place, or something? Hard to say.
In any case, 2016 was such a cool year in music, I couldn’t help but to sit down for a minute and reflect on all of the amazing stuff that’s popped up in what is being infamously referred to as ‘the year the music died.’
Since everyone is being such a Debbie FRICKIN’ downer, I decided I’d pick 11 records this year instead of ten. Sue me.
So, without further ado, let’s begin.
#11: Bad Suns — “Disappear Here”
Some hometown-ish heroes, Bad Suns, came out with their sophomore album, Disappear Here, in September, boasting some incredible and anthemic sounds that have really highlighted the end of my year. I’m a big fan of the way these guys developed their sound between their 2014 debut, Language & Perspective, and this newest collection of songs. With any luck, we’ll be listening to a new record from these dudes every couple years for a long, long time. Favorite Tracks: Disappear Here; Heartbreaker
#10: Logic — “Bobby Tarantino”
Logic dropped this bad boy back in July to the surprise of many — this is Logic’s 5th mixtape overall and follows his November 2015 sophomore album, The Incredible True Story. Tarantino hits hard but doesn’t cut very deep — at least, not in the same way that his two previous records did. One of my favorite tropes in Logic’s lyricism is his speculation on other rappers who base their craft almost exclusively on the size of their pocket books. This one is making it on my top ten not because it follows that trope, but rather, because of the production value, and because of how cool I feel when I bump this on my way to work. Favorite Tracks: Slave II; Super Mario World.
#09: Eyes Eat Suns — “Alive EP”
North Carolina pop outfit, Eyes Eat Suns really jumped up ten notches with this new release. Granted, I started listening to them this year, but I’ve been hooked on their newest EP, and have given their earlier release, Pow!(R) a thorough listening as well. Alive is equal parts soulful and heavy — I truly feel like the dynamic in this group is going to bring them further than the US tour they embarked on earlier this year. The power behind vocalist Ayisa Adderley has that ‘it’ factor…something unique. In any case, I can’t wait to hear a full length from Eyes Eat Suns. Favorite Tracks: Alive; Priceless Faces.
#08: Green Day — “Revolution Radio”
What’s there to say about Green Day that hasn’t been said? Well, I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that this is the first Green Day record that I’ve enjoyed in quite a few releases. In fact, I only marginally enjoyed 21st Century Breakdown. American Idiot was probably the last truly ‘great’ record I thought they were going to release…especially when they announced a few years ago that they were leaving punk behind. While Revolution Radio still dances on the edge of that mainstream rock we got in Uno, Dos and Tre, this album kicks as hard as Nimrod, and stings your political self in a place you just can’t scratch. In other words, they’re baaaaaaack. Favorite Tracks: Too Dumb to Die; Bang Bang.
#07: Dance Gavin Dance — “Tree City Sessions”
So, as a relatively newer Dance Gavin Dance listener, I’ve given most of their discography at least a cursory listen. Safe to say, I’m not a Jonny Craig fan…and I definitely prefer Tilian to Kurt. Just wanted to clear that up. I have to say, not only is this a fucking amazing live session album, it’s a pretty fantastic place to pick the band up if you ask me. I get the impression that Tilian is going to be with the band for a loooong time to come, and hearing his studio renditions of some of their older material is gratifying in a way that older listeners may not appreciate in the same way. I dunno. Favorite Tracks: Lemon Meringue Tie; Thug City.
#06: Descendents — “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”
Holy freaking pop punk crap, Batman — this record is delicious and if you disagree, you’re wrong…shut your face and go listen to the Dead Kennedys album that came out before you were born 5,000 times again. Suck a butt. This record is SO. DOPE. It marks the first Milo spotting in 12 years. It’s got this weird vibe like… “Yeaaaah, this is a Descendents record that came out in 2016 and you can tell because of the production value,” but it may just be the key to making Pop-Punk good again? Favorite Tracks: Victim of Me; Comeback Kid.
#05: This Wild Life — “Low Tides”
Another stellar sophomore album — Low Tides finds itself supah frickin’ high on this list because my bud Kev is a bearded Tat Daddy making beautiful sounds with his mouth and fingers, and also because I broke up with my girlfriend of 2 and a half years, like, two days before this came out and helped me cry alone in my car like a little baby for 5 weeks afterwards. Seriously haven’t connected with lyrics in the way that I connected with this one in YEARS. Buy this record and try not to lose faith in love. Favorite Tracks: Break Down, Pull Me Out.
#04: Emarosa — “131”
I firmly believe that this is the record that solidifies the fact that Bradley Scott Walden is, and always will be the best thing that ever happened to Emarosa. He’s the most technically sound singer that the band has seen, and he’s got the rawest live show in the game right now, and the most visceral feeling behind that beautiful voice. 131 is the album that made every other Emarosa album (except Versus) irrelevant. Favorite Tracks: Cloud 9, One Car Garage.
#03 Bayside — “Vacancy”
Anyone who knows me knows that Bayside is my favorite band of all time. If they came out with a record this year, you can expect to see it on my top 10. Frontman Anthony Raneri has been super candid about the divorce that inspired a lot of the songwriting on this record — a leap in a different direction from 2014’s CULT, which dealt primarily with leaving a lasting legacy. I gotta be honest, this record could not have happened for me at a more perfect time. I needed every second of this album in a way that is a little too painful to write. So I won’t. Favorite Tracks: Two Letters; Mary.
#02: Abhi The Nomad — “Catharsis EP”
Abhi The Nomad’s catharsis is an introspective journey into the life and mind of the Southern California based soon-to-be giant. The flow is unreal, the vocal prowess of this man is untouched. Abhi understands music on a level that most of us don’t. I’ve listened to this EP about 13 times, and I still don’t want to miss a single beat. Pause it when your boss walks up to ask a question, don’t let it roll w/out you. You’d be making a mistake. Favorite Tracks: TSA x NSA; Travel Song.
#01: Dance Gavin Dance — “Mothership”
This hasn’t left the CD player in my car since I bought it on the day it came out. Mothership is one of the best albums I have ever had the sonic pleasure of hearing in my entire life. Total ASMR chills every time. Perfect mesh of complexity and listenability. If people are surprised about why this is the bestselling DGD album of all time, I guess I wouldn’t know what to tell ’em. Some of it is incomprehensible in the best way — I need more, and will be hungry for more until they drop more fire. Riding a rhino, Pico De Gallo. Favorite Tracks: Flossie Dickie Bounce, Betrayed by the Game.