2016 was no short of good music. As the New Year rolls around, the Auxford Wave staff took the time to reflect on some of their favorite albums of the year.
Sudu Upadhyay / Editor-in-Chief
2016 was hands down one of my favorite years in terms of music. Those who know me well will tell you I say that every year, but I truly enjoyed the albums, EP’s, LP’s and mixtapes released this year. This was a really introspective year for me and I think you’ll notice that by some of the projects I’ve selected. It was also a year that I tried to have as much fun as possible and I think the amount of “bangers” on this list proves that. The “Wave” staff and I discussed picking our favorite 10-15 albums of the year, but I had such a hard time narrowing it down I ranked my top 25, which was super hard, and then threw in a bunch of other albums that I listened to over and over this year. Without further ado, I present to you my top albums, mixtapes, EP’s and LP’s of the year:
- Frankie Cosmos “Next Thing”
- Young Thug “Slime Season 3”
- James Vincent McMorrow “We Move”
- Roy Woods “Nocturnal”
- Angel Olson “My Woman”
- Meek Mill “DC4”
- Future “Evol”
- Local Natives “Sunlit Youth”
- DJ Esco and Future “Project E.T.”
25. Gucci Mane “Woptober”
Since his release from prison in late May, Gucci Mane has released a whopping six projects. That includes one mixtape, three EP’s and two studio albums. That’s typical Gucci though.
Although his studio albums “Everybody Lookin” and “The Return of East Atlanta Santa” have their fair share of dope tracks, his mixtape “Woptober” is the banger filled Gucci project I blared the most in 2016. Glad you’re home Guwop.
24. Mac Miller “The Divine Feminine”
I’m not ashamed to say I have over 12 Mac Miller projects in my iTunes library. I was listening to him back when he was uploading what many call “frat rap” on YouTube. He’s been trying to shake that “frat rap” stigma off for a few years now and I think he finally achieved it with this project.
I loved the tracks focused around Mac’s appreciation and love for his girlfriend Ariana Grande. The instrumentation was awesome, and not only did Mac show his ability to spit, but he also sang a significant amount which was surprisingly pleasant. Standouts were “Planet God Damn,” “Soulmate,” “We,” “God Is Fair Sexy, Nasty,” and of course the album’s highly acclaimed single “Dang.”
23. Bon Iver “22, A Million”
Justin Vernon’s amazing vocals meets extensive voice processing technology. While the album received praise from most critics, I know quite a few Bon Iver fans that hated it. I was sort of in the middle at first but the more I focused on what Vernon was saying the more I fell in love with it.
Once I fully understood the lyrics, I realized the voice experimentation was a method of storytelling. I can’t help but feel that Vernon was heavily influenced by Kanye West, who he has collaborated with before. Vernon has admitted his love for West’s work and West has admitted Vernon is one of his favorite living artists. It makes sense that Vernon decided to use his voice as more of an actual instrument, which Kanye is most well known for.
22. Young Thug “Jeffery”
I don’t know how well “Jeffery” will hold up over time, but I listened to this mixtape everywhere in the second half of 2016. My car, the gym, my room and at parties.
I think this was one of Thugger’s most cohesive pieces of work and definitely his attempt at becoming more mainstream. The songs were more “poppy” than usual but still had that usual Young Thug sound to it with the ad libs, clever lines and his rapid flows.
21. Schoolboy Q “Blank Face”
If you wanna talk about straight up rap with no gimmicks, this LP was it. Schoolboy brought his usual aggressive gangsta rap sound and just spit. The features were cool.
I liked some of the trippy sounding beats and loved the Miguel collab on “Overtime.” I listened to “Blank Face” in its entirety on a few different road trips and never got tired of the 17 track project. In terms of pure rap, this was one of my favorite releases of the year.
20. Lil Uzi Vert “Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World”
I wasn’t a big Uzi fan until “Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World” dropped. This is a really well-produced mixtape that Uzi takes advantage of with his melodic voice and unique cadences. I listened to this entire mixtape every day since it came out in late May until about mid-October.
I still listen to “Grab The Wheel” every day. I don’t know why but the line “All my enemies and my opps they getting buried,” just motivates me about life. Overall I think this is Uzi’s best body of work yet. I wasn’t a huge fan of his 2015 project “LUV Is Rage” and I think his latest mixtape “The Perfect LUV Tape” failed to top “Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World.”
19. Travis Scott “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight”
Haters can say what they want about Travis Scott’s work being forgettable but “Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight” was one of my favorite hip-hop albums of 2016. It had really well-produced instrumentals, amazing features and Scott never let himself get buried among the great featured artists. He kept the hype going throughout the whole album.
For most of the fall, anytime I was handed an aux cord at a party I would just play this album and no one ever complained or got tired of it. It’s just got bangers on bangers on bangers. Plus we can’t forget Kendrick’s verse on “Goosebumps,” Andre 3K on “The Ends,” or Cudi on “Through The Late Night.”
18. James Blake “The Colour In Anything”
James Blake is a genius. He finds ways to blend his melancholy and rangy vocals with the perfect instrumentation to create a sound that truly makes you think about what he’s saying. I loved Blake’s sophomore album “Overgrown” so much, I really didn’t think he could outdo it. He blew “Overgrown” out of the water with “The Colour In Anything.”
He fully immersed himself in his feelings and troubled mind and gave us one of the most pleasant sonic experiences of 2016. My favorite James Blake song before “The Colour In Anything” came out used to be “Wilhelm Scream” from his self-titled debut album, but “I Need A Forest Fire,” a collab with Bon Iver, has taken over as my all time favorite James Blake song.
17. Rae Sremmurd “SremmLife 2”
I mean do I really have to explain this one? The ‘Sip boys followed up their successful debut album “SremmLife” with a banger filled sophomore project that everyone from your little cousin to your grandmother has heard. Before “Black Beatles” and “Swang” hit the charts, “By Chance,” and “Look Alive” were already building up hype for the Magnolia state duo’s second album.
Once the album dropped we heard the aforementioned “Black Beatles” and “Swang” but we also got a Kodak Black collab titled “Real Chill,” a twerk anthem with Juicy J titled “Shake It Fast,” a psychedelic sounding song about girls who “Do Yoga,” and another banger titled “Over Here.” We also heard Swae Lee get emotional and focus more on vocals on “Now That I Know,” “Take It or Leave It,” and a pop anthem titled “Just Like Us.”
16. Whitney “Light Upon the Lake”
This past summer our co-managing editor Cody Thomason asked me to go to a show with him at Proud Larry’s here in Oxford. The show was for a band called Whitney. At first, I was reluctant, but he sold it to me when he said “dude their drummer Julien Ehrlich used to play for Unknown Mortal Orchestra,” which was another band Cody showed me a few years ago.
I love Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s “Multi-Love” and “FFunny Friends” a lot. I’m talking favorite album/song of all time level of love, so I agreed to go. I enjoyed the show at Proud Larry’s a lot and ended up getting “Light Upon the Lake” the day it came out. I laid on my bed for 3o-minutes and listened to the entire LP in one sitting and it became one of my favorite records of the summer. It has such an innocent sound but it’s also a little melancholy.
Introspective Sudu fell in love with it instantly. Some nights I would leave my condo without telling my roommates and drive to Sardis Lake with the windows down (a reference to track number six titled “No Matter Where We Go”) just listening to this album reminiscing on random memories. It was a perfect summer album for me. The instruments, the random change of pace in some of the songs and the overall indie folk sound makes it one of the best projects of 2016 for sure.
15. Future “Purple Reign”
Trap mixtape of the year. No argument. Future wasn’t in his chart-dominating 2015 form this year, but he opened up 2016 by releasing this banger filled treasure in January.
I played this mixtape in my car so much that I had to burn another version because it got heavily scratched (yes I still have a CD player in my car). I also had multiple people stop me on the Ole Miss campus to ask me what I was blaring out of my ’06 Toyota Camry.
14. Roy Woods “Waking At Dawn”
Roy Woods hopped on the music scene in 2015 with his EP “Exis.” The OVO Sound signee received a feature from OVO frontman Drake on the EP’s standout song “Drama,” which put him on the mainstream music world’s radar. While “Exis” had a couple of standouts which also included “Get You Good,” his debut album, “Waking At Dawn,” was a complete body of work.
Woods does a great job of using his vocals to fuse rap and R&B to create a really pleasant sound. He switches from a smooth and soft voice to a gritty texture filled voice that our staff writer Taylor Shelley has compared to that of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, which is a completely fair comparison. The spacey and ambient instrumentals compliment Woods’ vocals perfectly to create a truly great pop/R&B/rap album.
13. Vince Staples “Prima Donna”
One of the best hip-hop EP’s of the year. Vince does a great job of getting his depressive thoughts across in really well-produced instrumentals courtesy of James Blake, DJ Dahi, John Hill and No I.D. Vince Staples is super underrated and I don’t understand why.
The dude is a great lyricist that has some of the most clever lines and metaphors of any young rapper out right now. Not to mention his dope flow. My goal in 2017 is to show everyone as much Vince Staples as I can. Dude deserves way more respect than he gets.
12. Isaiah Rashad “The Sun’s Tirade”
Despite almost being dropped from TDE three times while recording “The Sun’s Tirade” (for drug and alcohol addiction problems), Rashad kept it together and put out one of the best lyrical hip-hop albums of the year. Although he’s the youngest member of Top Dawg I think in the long run Rashad might end up being more successful than many of his label mates.
Right now SchoolBoy Q seems to be the number two franchise player behind hip-hop’s current champion, Kendrick Lamar, but if Rashad keeps developing he could be right beside K.Dot as one of the label’s top heavyweights.
11. Anderson .Paak “Malibu”
This album is funky, it’s jazzy, it’s R&B, it’s hip-hop and it showcases Paak’s versatility. He can sing with his strained and raspy voice but he can also flow with the beat. Paak was definitely one of my favorite artists of 2016 and this album showed me how truly talented he is. A well-produced album.
10. Lo Noom “Pretty Woman”
You know what’s impressive about this EP? A kid named Andrew Newman, currently a freshman at Ole Miss, put it out when he was a senior in high school. What’s even more impressive is he wrote, recorded and produced the entire EP from his bedroom in Hattiesburg, Miss., as a senior in high school.
The six-song EP about his girlfriend sounds like a Kevin Parker (front man for Tame Impala) unedited recording session, but that’s just how talented Newman is. The kid’s got a talent for sampling, he’s skilled at multiple instruments and has the kind of voice that you hear and instantly realize is meant to be recorded somewhere outside of a bedroom. I still regularly listen to this EP.
9. Saba “The Bucket List Project”
I first heard Saba on Chance The Rapper’s “Angels.” I really didn’t think much of him. He did the hook for the song, and I thought it sounded good but I wasn’t compelled to go look him up. In late October my boss of all people called me to tell me about this new rapper he just heard about. His name was Saba and he just put out an album that my boss said reminded him of Kendrick Lamar.
So being the huge Kendrick fan that I am, I had to go check this album out. I sat in my room before my 1 p.m. class and started listening to “The Bucket List Project.” I got so into the album that I skipped the class so I could finish listening to it. While I don’t think you can call Saba the next Kendrick, “The Bucket List Project” does have a pre-“Good Kid MAAD City” vibe to it.
Saba is lyrically outstanding. The instrumentation on the album combined with Saba’s style, which I honestly don’t even know how to describe, is something all hip-hop fans should take a listen to. Truly an outstanding album from a rapper that I really hope makes a bigger splash in 2017.
8. Kanye West “The Life of Pablo”
I mean what can I say about “TLOP” that the entire internet already hasn’t said? Kanye graced us with over an hour of some of the best tracks of the year. “TLOP” was the first Kanye album since “Graduation” and his collab album with Jay Z “Watch The Throne” that I listened to in its entirety over and over again.
7. dvsn “Sept. 5”
The most underrated duo signed to OVO is dvsn. Pronounced “divsion,” dvsn consists of producer Nineteen85 and Toronto vocalist Daniel Daley. The duo was shown to me by my friend and “Wave” staff writer Taylor Shelley, who is a huge OVO fanboy. The moment I heard “Sept. 5” I fell in love with it immediately.
I grew up on 90’s and early 00’s R&B so when I heard dvsn, I literally said “oh my god, they’re going to save R&B.” The album is overall a very sexually explicit one that features some of the most impressive male R&B vocals I’ve heard in a long time. It reminds me of old Usher fused with a more modern Trey Songz type sound. It’s truly remarkable. This album went completely under the radar because OVO did a poor job of marketing it, but if you love R&B this is a classic to have in your library.
6. Childish Gambino “Awaken My Love!”
Donald Glover took Childish Gambino out of retirement at the end of 2016 and returned to put out one of the most sonically pleasing albums of the year. The 11 track funk/soul/R&B project was different from anything Childish Gambino has ever done, and further proved Donald Glover’s brilliance as an overall artist.
He brought back a 70’s funkadelic sound that I had no idea he would be capable of doing. We’d heard Glover sing on his previous albums and EP’s but nothing quite like the vocal range he employed for “Awaken My Love!”
(tie) 5. J. Cole “4 Your Eyez Only”
Growth is probably the most overused word when it comes to describing a new release by an artist. Critics always say “so and so didn’t show growth from the last album” or “so and so’s new album shows his or her growth and maturity.” Cole’s new album goes with the latter expression. In my opinion “4 Your Eyez Only” is his best studio album to date.
Cole took his hunger to remain as one of the top hip-hop artists of today and truly outdid his double platinum album “2014 Forest Hills Drive” released in 2014. I’ve always like Cole’s music but I’ve never been a true fan. I’ve never been able to listen to an entire body of work from him. I’ve always chosen my favorite songs from an album and never again bothered to touch the songs I didn’t like.
“4 Your Eyez Only” was different. Maybe it was the story Cole told, about his now deceased friend James, but something was truly different about this album. I’ve always appreciated Cole’s writing skills but he outdid himself on this one lyrically. I can’t even count the number times I’ve listened to the whole album since it was released in early December.
(tie) 5. Drake “Views”
The production on this album is insane. Every instrumental on this album brings out the best in Drake. In terms of the OVO boy himself…meh. Not his best by a longshot. That’s not to say I didn’t like “Views.”
I listened to this album in its entirety for more than two months after it was released. It just didn’t meet my expectations. I still consider it one of my top five albums of the year just because of how much I listened to it.
4. Chance The Rapper “Coloring Book”
As soon as the trumpets blared on “All We Got” and I heard the famous Chance shriek, I knew I was gonna love this album. Hands down the warmest. fuzziest, and happiest album of the year. This was a blessing in the truly awful year 2016 was. From the instruments to the features, the choir, everything about this album was perfect.
You want to talk about growth of an artist, look no further than Chance The Rapper. Since “Acid Rap” he has shown an exponential growth and that growth brought us “Coloring Book.” I mean, I can’t find one song I don’t like on this entire album. It’s got love songs, bangers and even gospels. Truly great project.
(tie) 3. Solange “A Seat at the Table”
Solange conveyed her angst, anger, concerns, fears, joy and pride about being black, particularly a black woman in America in the most beautiful and powerful manner possible to create 2016’s best R&B/neo-soul album. Before I heard “A Seat at the Table” I was familiar with some of her work, but I had never quite realized how amazing of a singer Solange actually is.
Standouts are “Junie,” “Mad,” “Don’t Touch My Hair,” “Don’t Wish Me Well,” “Cranes in the Sky,” “Weary” and “Don’t You Wait.”
(tie) 3. Frank Ocean “Blonde/Endless”
After a year-long delay, Frank Ocean gave us not one but two separate projects. One was a visual album titled “Endless” and the other was his main release “Blonde.” Like I said in my intro, 2016 was an introspective year for me. I spent a lot of time listening to melancholy music and songs that made me look inside of myself. “Blonde” and “Endless” were perfect for that.
“Endless” was filled with hollow instrumentals and Frank’s echoing vocals, which made you feel like you were in some deep meditative state or an endless dream of sorts. “Blonde” was a little less hollow. Almost like you woke up from the dream that was “Endless” and it’s raining outside so you just stay in bed and think about things. Frank’s tremendous vocals with or without various effects guide you through the things going on in your mind. Truly remarkable projects from ‘ole Lonny Breaux.
2. A Tribe Called Quest “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service”
Months after the death of Phife Dawg, ATCQ returned for their final studio album. I first fell in love with Tribe when I was in the sixth grade. I heard “Check The Rhime” from the group’s second album “The Low End Theory” and I was immediately hooked. The trumpet filled song with a thumping bass and the cleanest flow I had heard at that time courtesy of Q-Tip and Phife Dawg gave me goosebumps. Since then I’ve gone through most of Tribe’s discography and listened to some of their best hits.
When “We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service” dropped I didn’t know what to think. The group was returning with their first album in almost two decades and it was dropping after the 5-foot assassin’s death. Luckily the album sounds like Tribe never broke up. Tip was in old form, Phife was in old form and Jarobi rejoined the group for the album’s recording after leaving the group following their debut album.
In today’s hip-hop world muddled by mumble rap and gimmicks Tribe’s new album was a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong, I love today’s rappers but the same old trap beats and muddled auto-tune vocals can get tiring sometimes.
It was great to hear Tribe spit complex bars about today’s social climate behind instrumentals that featured actual instruments and cool samples.
“We The People,” “The Space Program,” “Whateva Will Be,” “Dis Generation,” “Enough,” “Mobius,” “Black Spasmodic,” “Movin Backwards,” “Conrad Tokyo,” “Ego” and “The Donald” were all standouts.
1. Kendrick Lamar “untitled unmastered”
It’s no secret that I’m a huge Kendrick Lamar fan. In my eyes, there is no better storyteller in rap than K.Dot right now. Therefore his throwaway tracks from “To Pimp A Butterfly” are better than any other album put out his year. That’s it. Plain and simple.
He’s lyrically a genius. He switches up his flow without notice. He’s not afraid to go outside of his comfort zone. Kendrick Lamar is the most skillful rap artist out right now. “untitled unmastered” proves that.
Zoe McDonald / Managing Editor
2016. What a year. It certainly had its ups and its veritable downs. Music-wise, the world lost some brilliant creators like Leonard Cohen and David Bowie. The world also received some great musical gifts — female hip-hop forces like Kari Faux and Princess Nokia, a new Danny Brown album, and Stevie Nicks’ re-releases.
It took me a month to sift through my favorite music from this year, but I narrowed it down to 10 albums. (Only because I couldn’t do 11.) If I had gone further, No. 11 would have been Danny Brown’s gritty but strangely addictive “Atrocity Exhibition.”
10. H.E.R. “H.E.R. Volume 1”
One of this year’s best R&B albums by a female artist is rich, real, and very well done. The record caused a buzz after it was released in September by an artist only known as H.E.R. Whomever she is, her talent is undeniable, and she proves she doesn’t need celebrity to succeed in music.
9. The Avalanches “Wildflower”
The Avalanches first album after 16 years provided a mishmash of retro samples and breezy funk sounds, along with hip-hop and psychedelia throughout. It’s fun and slightly more fractured than their debut, but that’s okay, because 2016 was pretty fractured, too.
8. Jenny Hval “Blood Bitch”
“Blood Bitch” is, in short, a concept album about periods. Other than being viscerally relatable, the album is also beautifully done, and Hval’s wit and personal experiences are woven nicely throughout.
7. Kari Faux “Lost En Los Angeles”
When Issa Rae’s brilliant and smart new show “Insecure” aired on HBO, ears around the world were just as pleased with her choice of music as her relatable comedy. Kari Faux, whose songs “No Small Talk” and “Lie 2 My Face” were featured on the show, stuck out. Fierce and fun, Faux’s “Lost En Los Angeles” proves she might just be the next force in the sphere of female hip-hop.
6. Hinds “Leave Me Alone”
By the looks of their album covers and the sounds of their songs, the girls of Hinds know how to have fun. Fun permeates throughout “Leave Me Alone,” an album that seems to capture a sunniness that comes with female friendship while also touching on love and adventure. Don’t sleep on these Spanish girl-rockers.
5. Angel Olsen “My Woman”
Angel Olsen broke any mold that had been cast upon her with “My Woman” this year. She proved that females feel and deal with shit without sacrificing their agency or dreams. She makes claims plainly in “My Woman,” and allows us into her world — one part Olsen taking what’s hers and another part Olsen’s reminiscence on time past.
4. Kendrick Lamar “Untitled Unmastered.”
The emergence of “Untitled Unmastered.” in early 2016 set a tone that begged a listener to return to certain tracks as the year went on. Filled with considerably less social commentary than “To Pimp a Butterfly,” “Untitled Unmastered” gave a sometimes sunny, sometimes dark and smoky glimpse into everyday life not just in Compton, but in California itself — a good example of this broadness is Lamar’s straightforward approach to race in “untitled 03.”
3. Nicolas Jaar “Sirens”
Nicolas Jaar’s “Sirens” is perhaps one of the most artful albums of the year. Of the experimental albums on this list, “Sirens” takes the cake for its attention to the smallest of details, little sounds that seem to make the entire album change form. “Sirens” manages to be energetic while also testing the listener’s patience, as small sounds stretch for minutes on certain tracks, sometimes building up to an almost danceable beat. “Sirens” is one not to be missed from 2016.
2. Mitski “Puberty 2”
Mitski’s “Puberty 2” captured a feeling of both growth and innocence. Her multifaceted voice and production style take a pop album and twist it into something more layered. Some tracks seem to revisit the child inside, while others seem to represent a hardness that takes over in adulthood.
1.David Bowie “Blackstar”
No other album seemed to capture the darkness, loss, and shrinking glimmer of hope in 2016 than the late David Bowie’s “Blackstar.” Made as Bowie battled cancer, the album captures a feeling of succumbing while saluting. Bowie’s last piece of art offered closure to many upon his death, and it almost seemed to represent a sort of wink from Bowie. As if it was his own tribute to his matchless style and musical charisma that still draws fans young and old.
Honorable Mentions: Aside from Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and Solange’s “A Seat at the Table,” a number of other great albums came to the fore in 2016. Among them: Leonard Cohen’s “You Want it Darker,” NxWorries’ “Yes Lawd!,” Kanye West’s “The life of Pablo,” Rihanna’s “Anti,” Twin Peaks’ “Down in Heaven,” Adam Torres’ “Pearls to Swine,” and Tinashe’s “Nightride.”
Cody Thomason / Managing Editor
It’s tough to limit my favorite albums 0f 2016 to a list of just 10, with artists like Kanye West, The Growlers, Anderson .Paak, Lucius, Dead Gaze, Twin Peaks, Lo Noom, Local Natives, David Bowie, Saba, Rae Sremmurd, Frank Ocean, Wilco and many more artists releasing great albums this year, but I’ve done my best to narrow it down to my top 10.
10. Yohuna “Patientness”
It didn’t come out until September, but Patientness quickly became one of my favorite albums to listen to while studying. Johanne Swanson’s debut album is a fantastic synth-pop record, with songs like Apart and The Moon Hangs In The Sky Like Nothing Hangs In The Sky being some of the standout tracks on the album.
9. Seratones “Get Gone”
The Shreveport, La. band has been making frequent stops to Oxford since they played their first show at Proud Larry’s in March of 2015, but they didn’t release their first album until May of this year. A mix of soul, punk and Rock and Roll, the instrumentals are fantastic but Singer A.J. Haynes puts the band over the top with her powerful vocals. Seratones puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, and Get Gone lives up to it in every way.
8. Childish Gambino “Awaken, My Love!”
I was taken aback when I first heard this album. It’s nothing like any of Gambino’s previous releases, but it might just be his best one yet. Gambino had finally found mainstream success with his album Because The Internet, but on “Awaken, My Love!” he eschews the hip-hop style he’d crafted for years and goes deeper, creating an excellent funk/soul album. The album shows off a vocal ability he had flashed in his previous work but never really harnessed completely before, and the results are fantastic.
7. Run the Jewels “RTJ3”
Run the Jewels caused me to make some last minute changes to my list with their Christmas day release, but what a great gift the album was. With top-notch production by El-P once again, he and Killer Mike have struck gold with their third album, and featured some awesome guests like Danny Brown and Kamasi Washington on the record as well.
6. Mitski “Puberty 2”
I hadn’t heard Mitski before hearing Puberty 2, but by the time I heard Fireworks and Your Best American Girl I was hooked. The songs flow beautifully and the lyrics do the music justice, as Mitski delivers a smooth, powerful performance with her instrumentals and her vocals.
5. Angel Olsen “MY WOMAN”
With MY WOMAN, Olsen moves further away from the stripped down folk feel of her 2012 album Half Way Home, and the result is yet another incredible album. Shut Up Kiss Me is one of my favorite songs of the year, and while there’s a fuller sound to many of the tracks, Olsen doesn’t lose any of the style that made me love her sound on Halfway Home or 2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness.
4. Car Seat Headrest “Teens of Denial”
Its impossible for me to think of a better follow up to 2015’s Teens of Style than Teens of Denial, which was released in May of 2016. It’s Car Seat Headrest’s first studio album with a full band, and Will Toledo’s songwriting is at its best on this record. Lyrically, the album is a slam-dunk, and tracks like Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales and Fill In The Blank make this my favorite indie rock album of the year.
3. Whitney “Light Upon The Lake”
I was pretty upset when Smith Westerns broke up, but drummer Julian Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek joined together to form Whitney and took their music to another level. Light Upon The Lake is a stellar debut that I honestly like better than anything Smith Westerns released, and I can’t wait to see what this band does next.
2. Kendrick Lamar “untitled unmastered.”
It just goes to show how great Kendrick Lamar is when a collection of his throwaway tracks is one of the best albums of the year. Kendrick is up to his usual standards with the album, flowing excellently throughout it and adding poignant lyrics to many of the tracks as well. Untitled 02 is probably my favorite hip-hop song of the year, and Untitled 07 is an instant classic as well.
1. Frankie Cosmos “Next Thing”
Co-founder Zoe McDonald introduced me to Frankie Cosmos early in 2016 and I’ve been hooked on her music ever since. Next Thing is a stellar album from top to bottom, chock full of short, melodic indie pop songs. I honestly love every song on the album, but Sinister and Fool are my two favorite tracks on Next Thing, which keeps the bedroom pop, DIY feel Frankie Cosmos has built over her large self-recorded discography while still showing the improvement in sound production that comes with recording in a studio. Its tough to really pinpoint what my favorite album of 2016 is, but Next Thing was the record I always found myself coming back to this year, so Frankie Cosmos has earned the top spot on my list.
Will Crockett / Assistant Editor
Due to some conflicts, Will was unable to go in depth with his top album choices but he did want to preface his choices with this statement: “I hate lists. I can’t really rank mine so these aren’t really in order, but Carseat Headrest is number one. Pinegrove made emo cool again. Kanye did everything right on T.L.O.P. except for the line about the ‘bleached asshole.’
Chance single-handedly saved 2016 for me. ‘Teens of Denial’ was the record I found myself howling along with in my car while questioning who I really am as a person. Porches made me want to be alone the entire year in the best way. Angel Olsen kicked my ass. White Lung kicked my ass. (Those girls kick ass.)
Sturgill Simpson continued his quest to save country music. Kevin Morby put out a sleeper record that everyone should listen to if they haven’t already. JPKS genuinely made me cry. Parquet Courts helped me get it all out. Whitney was the perfect summer record and I have been humming “Follow” ever since the record came out.
If the music wasn’t as great as it was this year I probably wouldn’t have survived 2016. I could have put 10 other records on that list and still been happy with it.”
Carseat Headrest “Teens of Denial”
Whitney “Light Upon The Lake”
Chance The Rapper “Coloring Book”
Kevin Morby “Singing Saw”
Kanye West “The Life of Pablo”
White Lung “Paradise”
Angel Olsen “My Woman”
Sturgill Simpson “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth”
Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster “Constant Stranger”
Parquet Courts “Human Performance”