Smart vocal layering throughout.
It took me a little bit of time to get into this album at first. Joe Mount isn't bound by his past work which is inspiring and I can only hope that for my career. Once I got into the rhythm of this album I could not stop listening to it. Help.
The Magnetic Zeros personA by Anna Hurley
At times bluesy and majestic, PersonA mixes an upbeat sound with profoundly dark lyrics, and I was immediately drawn to that dichotomy.
Rightful comparisons to Television and Wire aside, Omni has a fractured, jangly voice of their own. Deluxe is raw and awkward in the best possible way.
Nostalgic, energetic, and sometimes straight shredding indie rock. Lvl Up has always been one of my favorite bands to see in Brooklyn and this release is their strongest to date.
Even tracks from Kendrick’s cutting room floor are miles ahead of other artists this year.
strange, quirky, dark
I've been a big fan of Dam Funk and Nite Jewel's individual projects, and have been waiting for a true collab between them since they released "Am I Gonna Make It" for XLR8R in 2009. This EP released on Glydezone was exactly what I was waiting for - energetic, funky, smooth jams.
Belgian black metal with a lot more singing and shoegazing than you’d expect. It’s like a three-meat chili whose star of the show ended up being the okra and carrots.
Technically released in 2015, but we didn’t get it in the UK until this year. Jangly, dazed guitar sounds, and low-fi vocals that make me want to go on long summer road trips with friends.
This album is like that moment when you're in a crowded show, standing in the pit, but time slows down, the band grows inaudible, and you turn and look at your friend, and you realize how sweaty you both are.
You can't front on the powerful content, incredible production or Channy's haunting voice on UC. Shout to the Minneapolis fam..
It sounds like the future, but right now.
This EP is short but packed with plenty of chill. It's perfect for a late night ride to In-N-Out.
Ever want to wake up feeling like a badass? Seriously that's the playlist I have with all L.A. witch songs. This 3-woman surf punk group's DGAF vibes & lyrics really gets me motivated during some low times.
Diiv’s 2012 release was on HEAVY rotation for me for quite a while (aka 2012-present). Their 2016 release didn’t disappoint.
Remember hearing ‘Just A Friend’ by Biz Markie for the first time? Well, D.R.A.M. will make you feel the same.
An understated record I kept coming back to this year from two former Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Smith Westerns members.
It's a trip :-)
Did aural collagistes, The Avalanches, take 16 years to lovingly craft this amazing follow up to 2000's Since I Left You, or did it take 16 years to legally clear all the samples?
Cut, chopped, bended, skewed and sizzled. The catchiest anti-music.
I'm in a constant state of soreness from dancing to Work and Consideration.
Sun glitters has always been on my rotation for chilling and zoning out, and they do it again with 'Another Day' - the experimental sounds takes me into a deep creative zone.
Psych-garage stalwarts continue to bring heavy fuzz and creep into the cosmos.
Knxwledge makes beats for days and Anderson .Paak convinced me to buy a Cutlass to play this in. Only time I thought a 19 track album could have used another 19 songs.
Late on my radar I’ve completely fallen in love with this record this season. 10 tracks of perfectly curated and orchestrated classic country covers from Townes Van Zandt to Don Gibson. Even a Bee Gee’s track, all fitting seamlessly together for this unique release.
You feel immediately lulled into a relaxed state. Their glitchy, improvisations bounce between two incredible musicians. Perfect accompaniment for late nights in the studio, or to just before you fall asleep.
So good, so jazzy. Quit your day job and lay in the sun forever kind of good.
Funky and uplifting piano/synth parts.
Will Toledo wears his inspirations on his sleeve and maybe I just like most of his inspirations.
This record sounds like the soundtrack to something weird and mysterious. So you could say I'm into it.
This album makes me miss living in Atlanta a little bit. Makes me think of riding the Marta to MLK Station late at night, heading home. Cabbagetown, Zone 6.
I got hooked on Yumi Zouma through their 2014 EP, and their latest album delivers the dreamy vocals and synthy goodness I first fell in love with.
Requiem has beautifully complex arrangements that really makes me want to dance.
We all fell in the love with the show. The retro styling was so on point and the music played a huge role in the authenticity of it all.
melodic, raw, lo-fi
This is a party favorite. This album brings people together, to the dance floor.
I feel like it’s almost mandatory that a new Radiohead release make the top 10, but I really love this album. It makes me want to go on a drive alone in the fog.
I'll listen to (and probably love) whatever Dev Hynes makes (except for Test Icicles). Plus this record produced my favorite single of the year.
A thoughtful emotional production.
Whenever you drive to Oakland queue this album, roll down your windows and turn the bass up.
Perfect music to work to. Who couldn’t love a track with the line “I’d like to watch you run, but I’ll never touch your bum…”? Poetry.
This is in my headphones at times renders me incapable of sitting still...eyes must close, face must smile. Was really hard to pick a favorite song.
It's crazy to me that it took moving to San Francisco to hear of this band, but I've been a fan for a few albums now. It's hard to pick a favorite track, but I lean toward Thao's dancier / groovier songs.
Theres a dark and angsty vibe this record has thats just fun to listen to. Does this make me cool?
Malibu was great but .Paak and Knxwledge is an unstoppable collaboration
I'm not sure why ethereal is not as popular as he should be. His music, with a touch of jazz, layered with his melodious rap, is great to relax to... on top of being an amazing lyricist.
The up-and-coming Canadian's infectious thumping will leave your ears and soul stirred. 99.9% guaranteed.
Not too many rappers can say they have a flow named after them. These guys are steady blazing trails and setting the pace for what's next in rap and also slang that your Aunt will eventually start using.
cheesy, wacky, synth-heavy
At 1:49 is when all the dudes point at the lead singer and yell the lyrics.
A feel good album, a pretty good way to start your day.
Psychopomp refers to the escort that guides the newly deceased from this mortal coil to the afterlife. In memory of her late mother, Michelle Zauner's debut album transcends the terrestrial realm, guiding our souls from a solemn state of grief to a transcendent and radical joy.
Breezy in sound, yet soulful in content, M. Ward's voice always makes me feel warm.
A perfect hodgepodge of 90’s R&B and multi-colored footwork music. Apparently she filled her producer’s apartment with tropical plants during the writing process in order to combat a possible radon gas leak.
I wish this man would put out a full album. Lamentations is just another taste of his work, and this EP in particular feels airy, introspective and ethereal.
Some of my favorite psychedelic rock songwriting. Lyrical hooks and guitar riffs to last all year, all around solid record.
Sweden’s own brand of electronic pop music has always captured something so polished and yet so cathartic in the same sticky-sweet bubble gum snap. The Radio Dept.’s first record since 2010 follows suit all the same.
This is such a strong album, and this is her first! I’m excited to see everything she goes on to do.
Jessy Lanza is sexy as fuck. If you ever see her live, this unassuming, small-framed girl in sweatpants & cap has the most sensuous voice in the world, paired with some deep beats & a ton of energy. I love listening to her in any occasion, especially when I'm feeling mischievous.
Good for any occasion this album always deliver and will put a bounce to your step.
This album is romantic, soft and synthy - a combination sure to warm many a winter night.
In my experience, whenever a band first releases a string of incredible EPs before their debut, that debut is almost always a clunker. Yumi Zouma listens like a guilty pleasure, but deserves to be on this list considering how much I've played this one.
I love me some mellow indie pop. Listening to this album makes me feel like I'm back in art school in the best way. I'm more of a mix-tape girl than a cover-to-cover album listener, but it's impossible to not listen to Frankie Cosmos albums the whole way through.
nostalgic, bright, layered
An album that quickly brings back memories of driving through the suburbs.
Psych rock with a strong groove and classic rock hooks. Their fullest and most solid release to date.
Closing Shot builds and resolves in such a satisfying way, it's downright masterful.
“Tried to lose myself in the primitive, in Yosemite, like John Muir did. But his eyes are blue and mine are red and raw.”
Solange's incredible release was beautifully consistent sonically and visually, and couldn't have showed up more on-time. Baby sister isn't in someone's shadow anymore.
I can’t get why new Radiohead albums seem to be so divided in opinion. This is just a solid album from an incredibly solid band. Definitely a lot darker than previous albums, so it maybe didn’t get enough plays this year as it deserves, but I also didn’t want to have too many depressing days in the studio.
I've listened to Thrice since I was in High School. This record stirred up a batch of bad hair and thrift store t-shirt nostalgia.
Just a groovy, happy little album that makes me feel like smoking weed and going roller skating.
Worried this album would feel like ATCQ trying hard to be relevant or a heavy handed Phife tribute. Glad to be so so wrong.
I never paid much attention to her music until people kept relentlessly requesting her music when I was DJing over the last few years. I got into the hits, but never thought much of them. I listened to ANTI right when it came out and was really impressed. There's so much depth to the songwriting, construction, and overall approach.
Walter Martin is so fun and silly and lovely that I'll pick up and listen to just about anything he does.
Psych-y, garage-y, dead-y, blues-y all by way of Nashville, TN. They’ve got it all.
Freetown Sound is a melange of feelings, textures, and collaborations, and this album in particular feels especially powerful with its collaborations and production.
Poetic, powerful and brutally honest a contemporary soul masterpiece.
Funk is alive in Minneapolis! This group came out of nowhere and blew everyone in our city away. Can't wait to hear what they give us next.
My love for modern-sloppy-psych-garage-rock is so extreme. I think listening to it just makes me feel cooler. This Allah-las album is poppier than their last release, but it still makes for excellent campfire or poolside grooves.
I like this version of Béyonce. There’s strong emotions - mostly rage that comes out rather beautifully.
So chill. "Close To You" is such a bonfire song on a starless night. Best played in West Texas.
A I refuse to justify my love for Bey.
Kubla Khan is sweet and easy listening, I found myself tapping my feet to it quite often this year.
An extraordinary finale from the life and career of a remarkable man.
Dang. Angel just keeps getting better... every new album like the shifting of a gear. The engine roars a little louder on My Woman.
funky, psychedelic, hazy
If you like music with beeps, boops and dings you'll probably like this. I obviously do since its in my top 10.
A complex production of analog and digital approaches tied with heightened vocal textures.
As an ATCQ fan, I was expecting to not really care for this record. I was way off on that assumption.
Bibio feels like the perfect soundtrack to the English Countryside. The low-fi guitar tracks on this album make me want to put on some wellington boots and walk around the Yorkshire dales with a flask of tea, before enjoying a picnic on the roof of my houseboat.
Bon Iver's music is always unique in its sound, and interesting to contemplate, in regards to the layer of his various vocals and instruments. I feel this album especially was him breaking out of his mainstream shell, and really just telling it, making music, as pure as bon iver himself.
Best TDE record of the year. Smooth flows occasionally doused with lighter fluid.
You know all those records you're embarrassed to say you listen to? This isn't one.
I could see myself dancing to this. Thankfully no one will ever have to witness that.
As its title suggests, this album washes over you and makes you feels energized and fresh with that good old fashioned boogie funk sound.
expansive, ethereal, haunting
Sparse yet lush? Dark, but still somehow hopeful? Modern while simultaneously evoking nostalgia? It's Immaterial navigates these polarities without going grey.
A super diverse record from an already solid songwriter. The soft songs are softer and the harder songs are heavier.
I really like this album. It’s super catchy with so much substance, I’m on genius.
Beautiful singing and production work.
From quiet ethereal moments to pulsing motorik beats Sirens is captivating
This record came out of nowhere and blew me away. Don't get me wrong, I loved Lemonade, but this is the better album.
The sign out front says, “Norwegian black metal,” but hear me now: this is soft-top-convertible-heavy-metal. “1985” was an unsuspecting favorite track (and music video) from all of 2016.
Pleasant find from ATL :-)
Mavis Staples is wonderfully joyful, reflective, and optimistic—I needed this album a lot this year.
This album feels like a gift to help drag us out of the hell that is 2016. RIP Phife, and thank you, Tribe.
Ultimate 90's nostalgic vibe. Basement is amazing live too.
Another group that makes me feel like a bad ass, but mostly because of their moody 80s vibe is perhaps why i love the KVB so much. Of Desire creates an atmosphere that makes me feel like I'm in a different time and place entirely.
What's left to say about this one?
A deliciously produced sound with hooks on every track and a solid trifecta (r&b/rap/pop) of a genre album .
I can't get enough of Santi. Her attitude, style and voice, mmmmm. And this album's all about consumerism. A good reminder for the holidays.
An electro rnb dance party for all the shy boys and girls.
I found myself liking this album as much as his eariler ones. I regret not going to see him live. T_T
powerful, necessary, and inspiring.
I watched these dudes perform in Vancouver a few years ago and love hearing them grow and develop so much depth to their music. There's such a cool and creepy undertone to this record.
They really shouldn't wait this long in-between records, or maybe they should.
*insert the most metal emoji there is* - This record shreds and the vocals are super sexy.
Two of electronic music’s most innovative masters (albeit 40 years apart) of the modular synthesizer. Working together for RVNG Intl.’s “Frkwys” collaboration series.
King Kendrick with the curve ball.
Off Beat beats that'll stay stuck in your head forevvverrrrrrrr.
Bluesy and warm acoustic guitar backed up by classic rock accents. Just good music.
Gloomy sounds mixed with great song writing and a beautifully, powerful voice. Bonus points for being a Berlin band.
Not gonna lie, I wasn't a fan of Childish when he first came out - something felt fake about him. This album really changed my mind and made me realize that first part of Childish was part of the process. He was able to bring some 70s, indie, trippy sounds into his music and mix it in a way I've never heard of before. Not to mention Atlanta, damn, Donald Glover is one talented dude.
Kaytranada is an incredible producer, and this album is so colorful with its crisp sounds and many collaborations. Track Uno really sets the tone of what a listener's in for.
If the Blue Ridge Mountains were turned into an album it would be Cardinal.
emotional, sparse, minimal
Leonard Cohen is king.
I was in Brighton earlier this year and wandered into a record store. They were playing this album, which looks and sounds like some forgotten psychedelic garage band from the 60s/70s—turns out the album was released in 2016 by a group of young dudes from Madrid. It's my top recommended album this year, mostly because no one on this side of the Atlantic has heard of them, and because it’s impossible to not scream "No Me Gustas, Te Quiero" at the top of your lungs.
Night Melody really feels more like art than music. More like a composition than a song. Akin to movement... or something. I was confused by how hard I fell for this album.
Kick your shoes off, time to dance.
I saw Pup at a small, outdoor venue over the Summer. It was so humid and the show was right after a rain. Temps were in the mid-nineties. I couldn't breathe but also couldn't help but scream all the songs with everyone else. I definitely accidentally grazed my arm on some tall guy's ultra-sweaty back. This whole album describes that single moment.
The dream team of Knxwledge and Anderson.Paak come together in full force on this album with its soulful samples and gritty, yet tender, lyrics. I couldn't get the image of a 1970s Oldsmobile Cutlass out of my head.
I wore out Angel Olsen's 2014 release Burn Your Fire for No Witness, so I was chomping at the bit for this release. She is so talented, and this album is so good.
soulful, introspective, powerful
I like music with big riffs ok. Deal with it.
Nostalgic R&B at the surface. Gutting and poignant at its core.
He's on fire right now.
If Will Toledo isn't rock's best hope for the future then rock might not have a future.
Full disclosure: The Walkmen were my favorite [contemporary] band and I was really, really bummed when they broke up.
Full of personality and pop, Regina Spektor's voice is truly breathtaking.
Nicolas Jaar has a way to carry me away to somewhere timeless, completely imaginary, and dreamlike - into somewhere that is me, stripped from all aesthetics, facades and left with barebones & pure creativity.
There are very few musicians in pop culture who look like me. These guys talk candidly and with humor about living in a post 9/11, Brexit and now Trump era. But they have other fun tracks too!.
The perfect record for a rainy day or cold walk. Morbys voice is comforting, almost familiar sounding, and his writing is ripe with hooks without being cheesy.
Again, jangly guitars and upbeat, low-fi vocals (and brass!) make it a great summer album.
A bold, gritty, gospel experience.
Maybe the coolest fucking old man, ever.
Anderson .Paak is unfuckwithable. The follow-up to his groundbreaking album "Venice," this one's way more melodic and experimental, and I'm excited to see where dude goes next.
BBNG continues to expand their sound with some great collaborations with folks like Colin Stenson and Kaytranda.
This is a deep well rounded album from start to finish on both the lyrical and sound side of things.
experimental, glitchy, beautiful
Blood Orange's Cupid Deluxe was my soundtrack through some dark times of a breakdown, a breakup- a personal death in many ways. Two years later at a very different and much more stable stage of life, Freetown Sound reminded me of all I've learned, all that's changed and everything that guided me to a new revival.
A band I started listening to in college some 15 years ago is still making surprising music in 2016 and how badass is that?!?!
His almost breathless delivery of "...and one more time with feeling" gets me every time. A beautifully bleak album.
I love jazz, and the arrangements and collaborations on IV were fun to listen and vibe to. These guys really go hard live, and sound even better IRL than they do on the album.
Never Twice calls back all of my favorite R&B sounds of the 60's in an unrelentingly catchy set of songs.
Utter verbosity. I listen to Aes like I read Lewis Carroll, to get lost in language.
Uplifting and solidly positive.
It's been a pleasure to see/hear Angel Olsen evolve as a recording artist. This one's her most ambitious and best to date.
In a perfect world Lite Spots was the song of the summer, no doubt. In a perfect world a lot of other things would have happened to...
Daniel Romano used to be in a punk band called Attack in Black during the mid-late 2000's that will always be my favorite band. I find it hard to describe his new music as "country" because the style of album is so different from one another. His lyrics blindfold you with so many emotions – mostly songs about loneliness and loved ones, but some so ridiculous that they leave you lost and confused. Long live the King of Mosey.
This album is raw, heart breaking and seductive at the same time. I don’t think I can talk about it intelligently but give it a listen because it’s more than worth it.
Thank you, Helado, for being alive and wonderful.
A sinister and cinematic ocean of synthesizers. You’ll be dragged into the dark and torn apart by its swelling beauty.
An absolute guitar melting, drag race of a record. Double drums, shrieking vocals. Hell. Yes.
I have to admit—I didn’t really get the hype over this album at first. It was a slow grower. I'm including it more because literally every human I know couldn't shut up about it than because it personally knocked my socks off. That said, I have a feeling that this is one of those albums that will take me months or years to truly fall in love with and then I'll look back and think of how silly and naïve I was to ever deny its amazingness.
Look. I'm not gonna get all thinkpiecey here, but if you listen to this entire song and still say the kid can't rap, then get the fuck outta here.
This record has so much chill that I listened to it for 3 weeks straight when it released. Just try it. I know you want to.
A self reflection record with equal parts of dark and light moments.
The wait was worth it, but I don't really want to wait that long again.
Morby writes that “This release is dedicated to and written for all the people I have never met but have only read about.” It’s beautiful and haunting, heartbreaking and peaceful.
On April Fool's Day, Hamburger Helper released a rap mixtape. We all thought it would be hilarious, not realizing the opening track from Minneapolis rapper Bobby Raps was about to be the best damn song of the year.
A funk infused production that makes you want to dance and shake.
Solange created the soundtrack of 2016 with A Seat at the Table. It captures what it feels like to be a minority in a America.
I remember walking around a snowy Berlin the day this came out, imagining Bowie walking the same streets 40 years earlier. His death hit me more than I thought a musicians death would. As Tony Visconti said, it was his 'parting gift.'
I'm friends with the lead singer and this record rips. Their last record has also been in the CD player of my car since 2013.
This album is truly fantastic. It’s impossible to pick a favorite track because they all bring something different. I know this will be in a number of people’s top 10, so I'll share my personal favorite tracks, the block from White Ferrari to Godspeed.
This album is in constant rotation. It’s subtly serious and really God damn elegant.
This album breathes with life, in a crap year it’s a testament to the uplifting power of good vibes.
It's impossible to pick a single favorite song from this album. This was released around the time that I went to Alaska for the first time. The feeling of listening to this album while driving down the Alaska Route 1 between monstrous glaciers is hard to describe.
Rich Chigga only has 3 songs under his belt but he is a 17-yr old kid in Indonesia, learned how to speak english from youtube, a huge loner, a (true) weirdo because he is antisocial as hell, made fanny packs a thing and not just some ironic bullshit thing - but his thing. At first you'd think the song is just a parody, it is actually really, really good. He is my favorite person of 2016.
Midwest magic. A transcendent blend of the known and the new.
complex, political, genre-defying
Are you Serious is profoundly moving, thrilling, sorrowful, and beautiful.
I was surprised at how good this album is - Iggy is STILL the man.
Thirty-six vignettes from the Netflix Summer monolith. As a cynical and an admittedly pretentious aficionado/doofus of “synthesizer music,” the incessant comparisons of this score to Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter made me more than skeptical. In the end, every ounce of praise heaped upon Dixon, Stein and the rest of their crew for their body of work is more than warranted.
Leonard Cohen (1934–2016) left behind such a gift with You Want It Darker. Providential almost, if I believed there were a hand at the helm. For this cover I've combined graphic elements from his seminal albums and completed the arrangement with an ensō, the zen buddhist symbol representing enlightenment. Cohen's music played an important role in my life, and I am thankful for his poetic wisdom.
If you don't like this album we can't be friends.