Wow. Has it been a while since any posts have been made on here, huh? This year was rough for music when it comes to our fallen heroes. We lost David Bowie, Sharon Jones, and Prince, for Pete’s sake. But we soldier on and praise those still capable of making us smile with their talent. That said here our my top 25 albums of 2016, complete with handy dandy videos for your convenience.
25. Russian Circles – Guidance (Sargent House)
Starting this list off with some local flavor. These guys have been making elite post-metal for some time and this is yet another solid entry in their catalog.
24. Charles Bradley – Changes (Daptone)
I first heard Mr. Bradley in Luke Cage and found out that he shared a label with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. He’s a lot different in his singing style but very effective.
23. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (Loma Vista)
I was not nearly as enamored with this album as most critics were. It was the best Iggy solo album in quite some time, so it had that going for it. There were definitely some great songs, however.
22. The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Third World Pyramid (‘a’)
When Lollapalooza came back in 2005, I was foolish and passed up on seeing the band that I thought had the coolest name. This record is a bit under the radar and can be a bit wearying at times, but definitely worth your time.
21. Metallica – Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (Blackened)
This is a record that definitely benefitted from a second listen. This is definitely the best thing these guys have put out in 25 years. Faint praise, I guess.
20. Bob Mould – Patch the Sky (Merge)
Since good ol’ Bob signed on with Merge, he has done the most exciting work in his solo career. This is the least amazing of the bunch but that is saying something.
19. Pixies – Head Carrier (Pixiesmusic)
After their reunion album, the fact that this is as good as it turned out is an astonishing acheivement.
18. S U R V I V E – RR7349 (Relapse)
My obsession with Stranger Things didn’t stop with the show itself, oh no. The guys behind the soundtrack also gave us this.
17. Cymbals Eat Guitars – Pretty Years (Sinderlyn)
These guys just don’t make bad records. They soften their hard edges but the songs are still damned solid.
16. The Joy Formidable – Hitch (Caroline)
Coming off of a bit of a misstep with their last album, the band appears to be a force once again.
15. Beyoncé – Lemonade (Parkwood)
Full disclosure: I still haven’t gotten around to watch the HBO movie or special or whatever on this. I’ll get to it eventually. Even without that, though, this is the best thing Bey has done since Sasha Fierce.
14. Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow (Relapse)
The second entry from Relapse Records is some shoegaze metal. My lists tend to be littered with My Bloody Valentine-type things but this one balances the pretty and brutal.
13. DIIV – Is the Is Are (Captured Tracks)
Speaking of pretty shoegaze, this is the only one on the list. This is the band’s sophomore effort and it is even more ambitious than their debut. Hopefully, the drug problems are a thing of the past because I want to hear these guys for a long time to come.
12. Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (Jagjaguwar)
Just when it seems like J. Mascis and company have run their course together, they give us a rejuvenated effort on par or better than their first two reunion albums. They have never sounded better, honestly.
11. Savages – Adore Life (Matador)
In a little bit of a down year for Matador Records, they give us this minimalist post-punk gem. Adore Life is even more enjoyable than their first album. If Patti Smith (not Patty Smyth) was in Sleater-Kinney, this is what it would sound like.
10. Haley Bonar – Impossible Dream (Memphis Industries)
I first became aware of Bonar from her side project, Gramma’s Boyfriend. Their last album, PERM, was my very favorite thing from last year. Now, this is not quite as good but still excellent.
9. Mind Spiders – Prosthesis (Dirtnap)
Another entry from another band that is incapable of making a less than stellar effort. Despite their status as a “side project”, I dig them much more than the “main band”, the Marked Men. They are likely the closest that we’re going to get to Jay Reatard again.
8. Psychic Teens – Nerve (SRA)
Not to be confused with Psychic Twins (that happened to me a lot with this), these guys feel as though they are transmitting from the beyond. This was probably the most pleasant surprise of the year and a I badly now need to go through their discography.
7. Honeyblood – Babes Never Day (FatCat)
Admittedly, I took this one from the list of Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis. I had never heard of them but DeRo was right, as he is more often than not. More straightforward punk and less stark than Savages, with a bubblegum twist.
6. The Besnard Lakes – A Coliseum Complex Museum (Jagjaguwar)
Despite so many entries from Jagjaguwar (with one to go), that was not intentional. These guys are the first band I knew of from that label and this record is a step back in the right direction. This is my preferred band to accompany hallucinogenic drug-taking. Just say “yes”, kids. You’ll be fine.
5. Preoccupations – Preoccupations (Jagjaguwar)
Not sure what the effect of changing their name from Viet Cong was but it seems to be serving them well.
4. Dark Blue – Start of the World (12XU)
Somehow, John Sharkey is making better records than he did with Clockcleaner or Puerto Rico Flowers. Those were all fantastic so, needless to say, so is this.
3. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree (Bad Seed Ltd.)
An album that is as sorrowful as David Bowie’s farewell, Blackstar, but (I really am sorry) far more listenable. Cave will break your heart in these songs but you’ll beg him to do it over and over again.
2. Kristin Kontrol – X-Communicate (Sub Pop)
The Dum Dum Girls are no second rate act but this side project eclipses all of their work. Not the most innovative but the most irresistible pop record of the year.
1. Angel Olsen – My Woman (Jagjaguwar)
This woman just never ceases to amaze me. She continues to evolve and up her game. It’s scary to think that she may not have reached the peak of her powers yet. Just a phenomenal talent. She even directs her own music videos, which are tremendous.
There you have it. Hopefully, I have helped you find your new favorite artist in here somewhere (no matter what you’re into). That’s what I’m here for, folks, to spread the love.