My Favorite Albums of 2016


Another year gone by, another year filled with musical delights. We lost quite a few musical legends starting in December of 2015 – Scott Weiland, Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, Prince, Sharon Jones, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael to name just a few (and let’s not mention an overall list of artists who have left us in 2016). I lost my Aunt unexpectedly back in February the morning after attending a Black Sabbath show. The year was filled with unexpected highs and unexpected lows for me. As with anything in life, sometimes you have to feel bad to feel good (and vice versa). I made some friends, lost some friends, and reconnected with some old friends. Throughout it all, I had music playing. Here are my top albums of 2016:

  1. David Bowie / ★ and Leonard Cohen / You Want It Darker – David Bowie released his strongest album since 1980 on January 8th, 2016. He passed away on January 10th. Lyrics that hint at his battle with cancer, the afterlife, love & loss. Electronic imbued pop jazz. A top 5 Bowie album that sounds unlike anything else he has done. Leonard Cohen released his final studio album on October 21, 2016. He passed away on November 7th. Another album seeped in darkness, it is a moving album to listen to. Menacing in places, mournful in others.
  2. Beyoncé / Lemonade – the hype almost scared me away, but once I got over that I was fully immersed in this album. Haunting, fierce, angry, inspired. This is an exhilarating listen that will leave you wanting more.
  3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds / The Skeleton Tree – A deeply personal and sad record, no doubt inspired by the loss of Cave’s son Arthur.
  4. Minor Victories / s/t – Featuring members of Slowdive, Editors, and Mogwai, this is an inspired debut. Shoegaze elements brush up against post rock and post punk.
  5. Radiohead / A Moon Shaped Pool – the sound of middle-aged sadness. The sound of perfection.
  6. Pet Shop Boys / Super – The boys continue their 32 year run of excellence. My mantra for 2017 is from this album “It’s a long way to happiness, a long way to go / but I’m gonna get there, boy, the only way I know”
  7. Paul Draper / EP 1 + EP 2 – we were gifted with 8 tracks from the former lead singer of Mansun, which makes for a compelling teaser for his upcoming full length. Some of the best stuff he’s done – prog, Britpop. Whatever.
  8. Red-Sided Garter Snakes / Blue Lake – The former drummer for The Chameleons returns with his 2nd album in 18 months. John Lever & company offer up a compelling mix of post punk & melodies that demand the listener’s attention. Full review coming in 2017.
  9. Iggy Pop / Post Pop Depression – Iggy returns to the sound of his Berlin Bowie albums with help from members of the Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, and The Dead Weather. For my money, it was Pop’s finest album in over 35 years. I was fortunate to see these gentleman in concert, which was a delight.
  10. Pete Doherty / Hamburg Demonstrations – 1st single I Don’t Love Anyone (but You’re Not Just Anyone) is the finest single Pete Doherty has ever been involved with. Surprisingly, the rest of the album is just as good. An amazing gem that defies characterization. Scott Walker-ish on some tracks, Beatles-ish on others. And of course, The Libertines.
  11. Charles Bradley / Changes – THE soul album of the year. Every song hits you like a ton of bricks. Changes (the song) now belongs to Charles. Sorry, Ozzy. Also was an amazing concert.
  12. The Monkees / Good Times – I loved just about every song on this, the 1st studio album from The Monkees in 20 years. Also their finest in 50 years. Including Davy Jones on a touched up unreleased gem from the 60’s was a brilliant move.
  13. The Anchoress / Confessions of a Romance Novelist – I’ll admit that I bought this because of the Paul Draper connection, but fell in love with it on its own merit straight away. Where else can I listen to a beautiful, piano led tale titled P.S. Fuck You?
  14. Dinosaur Jr. / Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not – A classic album from Dinosaur Jr., the band offers up a mix of noise, melancholy, and Neil Young worthy solos. Strangely enough, my favorite song was the Lou Barlow penned Love Is…
  15. A Tribe Called Quest / We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service – released a few months after founding member Phife Dawg passed away, it is one of the strongest albums in the group’s discography. Who can argue with a sample from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory? Not I.
  16. Sneaks / Gymnastics – a true heir to The Slits, The Raincoats, and Liliput. This is dub heavy female post punk. It’s a short album but packs a punch.
  17. Suede / Night Thoughts – if I close my eyes while I listen to this album, I swear it is 1994 all over again. Another Britpop glam masterpiece.
  18. Viola Beach / s/t – what can I say about an album delivered to us from a group of lads who were all killed in a car accident before its release? They had so much potential. Pop, classic rock, indie. Who knows what the future held? This is the sound of living out your dreams not knowing what tomorrow brings. I was so happy Coldplay covered this band in front of thousands of fans.
  19. Anthrax / For All Kings – a bit of classic rock is seeping into the mix w/ these thrash metal legends. And I like it. Scratch that – I love it. 2nd masterpiece in a row.
  20. Anohni / Hopelessness – A shocking change of direction from her former identity as part of Antony & the Johnsons. Gone are the torch songs, replaced with military beats, pleas from the heart, political opinions & facts. A leader in the transgender community, Anohni offers up her worldview with shocking honesty.
  21. Mourn / Ha, Ha, He. – a dark sophomore post punk masterpiece from this group out of Spain
  22. Banks & Steelz / Anything But Words – what do you get when Paul Banks from Interpol and RZA from Wu-Tang Clan team up? A multilayered, fun, hip hop masterpiece.
  23. Cat’s Eyes / Treasure House – a girl group inspired masterpiece from Fadwan Badwan (The Horrors) and Rachel Zeffira.
  24. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions / Until The Hunter – drugged out melancholy, as she does with Mazzy Star. But, this album might be the best thing she has ever done.
  25. Death Threat Cassette / Dial M for Masham – a dark album that explores the gutter, it also has pop hooks in spades. Grunge-ish in parts, I loved this album.
  26. The Lovely Intangibles / Air & Numbers – kind of a kindred spirit w/ the Hope Sandoval album, this album was an inspired indie release
  27. Nutopians / What Does The Future Sound Like? – this father and son duo offer up post punk in the vein of The Chameleons and The Sound. I loved every second of this album.
  28. De La Soul / and the Anonymous Nobody – De La Soul’s 1st album in 12 years offers up a bleak narrative that warrants repeated listens. It’d be a stretch to call it a masterpiece, but I found myself replaying verses to let the words sink in.
  29. Honeyblood / Babes Never Die – Girl power, riot grrrl, melodies. This album has it all. An inspiring 2nd album from Honeyblood.
  30. Metallica / Hardwired…to Self-Destruct – I’ll admit that I love St. Anger OK? Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, this is the 1st full length studio album from Metallica in 8 years. A double disc / 12 song affair. A return to the earlier thrash years, it is a great album. Welcome back, boys.
  31. Moby & The Void Pacific Choir / These Systems Are Failing – I’ve made no secret that I enjoy Moby’s punk outings more than his techno outings. This is his best album since Animal Rights. A bleak worldview in tandem with an aural assault. I love it.

That’s it for me. So long, 2016. Album reviews will start-up again in early 2017. Until then…

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