I prefer to have my yearly favorites posted sooner but I started off 2017 feeling very under the weather (not to mention a brutal phase of Mercury Retrograde). I wanted to make sure I was in a clear frame of mind when I reflected back on which albums I enjoyed listening to the most. I hesitate to call these albums 'the best of 2016' because it would be impossible to say that with any level of certainty. It's a challenge to rank music as it's such a personal thing. I am a hardcore music lover but I would have to devote every waking minute of the year to listening to new releases to truly get a feel for everything. I tend to listen to music regardless of its freshness or relevancy. I also find my music organically and am not influenced much at all by critics or the blogosphere. This list is simply me sharing what I liked, in hopes of connecting with other fans or to someone searching for new sounds who may not be as familiar. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite releases of the past year...
Empire of the Sun, Two Vines. October, 2016.
I've been a major fan of this group for many, many years. Their music makes me happy. I have yet to see them perform live but hope that changes in the near future.
High and Low:
Kanye West, The Life of Pablo. February, 2016.
Personal and professional antics aside, his music is still good.
Angel Olsen, My Woman. September, 2016.
I really like her vocal style and enjoy listening to her music when I'm in a relaxed, but somber mood.
Heart Shaped Face:
The most-anticipated album of the year, Blonde, (or is it technically Blond...?) exceeded many expectations of a sophomore slump.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway. June, 2016.
Hipsters will tell you RHCP aren't cool but I admittedly love the older stuff. Their most-recent albums have been very disappointing but this one was somewhat of a pleasant surprise. It's far from my favorite but Anthony Kiedis can still get it.
Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker. October, 2016.
Farewell to a legend. What an artist. What a man.
You Want It Darker:
It Seemed the Better Way:
Kristin Kontrol, X-Communicate. May, 2016.
The debut solo project from the lead singer of Dum Dum Girls. I really like this new direction.
James Vincent McMorrow, We Move. September, 2016.
Fans of Bon Iver will enjoy this release from the sultry Irish crooner.
I Lie Awake Every Night:
David Bowie, Blackstar. January, 2016.
2016 was a year surrounded by the loss of countless musicians. David Bowie's final studio album, released on his 69th birthday, left fans with one last parting gift just days before his untimely passing.
Glass Animals, How To Be a Human Being. May, 2016.
Glass Animals has an incredible sound that's all their own. It always gets me going. I'll leave it at that.
Gallant, Ology. May, 2016.
Gallant was my favorite discovery of the year. I adore his voice and really loved the style of songs on this debut release.
Talking to Myself:
Weight in Gold:
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool. June, 2016.
A band that needs no introduction, this album managed to make me love them even more.
True Love Waits:
Bon Iver, 22, A Million. September, 2016.
Bon Iver has produced some of my favorite music of the past decade. I was eager to hear the new sounds but much of its overproduction fell short of my very high expectations. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed some of these songs. Even when it's not my absolute favorite style, Justin Vernon creates innovative music. He is easily one of the most talented artists of my generation.
St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Sea of Noise. September, 2016.
This was the first year that I took notice of the southern soul group who hails from Alabama. Stunning vocals and glorious instrumentation, this album is for fans of Motown looking for a modern take on classic oldies.
Midnight on the Earth:
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor's Guide to Earth. April, 2016.
I'm not a major fan of country music but after attending college in West Virginia, I definitely picked up an affinity for certain sounds. If you're open to the genre that blurs between alt, rock and country, Sturgill Simpson is your man. Even if a twang isn't your thing, a true music lover recognizes talent when it's blatantly obvious.
In Bloom (Nirvana Cover):
Brace for Impact (Live a Little):
A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service. November, 2016.
With the exception of the title's atrocious grammar (of course there is a celestial, unknown meaning behind it), this album was a welcomed surprised. A Tribe Called Quest takes me back to my youth in the most simple yet remarkable of ways.
We The People...:
Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine. September, 2016.
Despite Mac Miller being a hometown kid, I never fully connected with much of his music until this release. I really enjoyed the way these songs were produced. And if you've ever seen one of Mac's interviews, you can see that he is not only hilarious but also has such a loving, gentle soul that you really get to hear come through on this album.
Dang! ft. Anderson .Paak:
M83, Junk. April, 2016.
M83 holds a special place in my heart so I am always receptive to a new album. This one wasn't my favorite but there are still quite a few tracks that won me over.
Do It, Try It:
Sunday Night 1987:
Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine. September, 2016.
I've been a fan of The Walkmen for a long time so it's no surprise that I really appreciated this album. Gorgeous vocals and lyrics accompanied with a haunting production, this was definitely one not to be missed.
A 1000 Times:
In a Black Out:
Michael Kiwanuka, Love & Hate. July, 2016.
I have loved this man's voice for a few years and was excited to finally hear what his second album would sound like. It's filled with so much beauty. All of the feels.
Cold Little Heart:
I'll Never Love: