For all 3 of my friends that read this, it’s time for my Top Albums of 2016! I am thankful for another great year with everyone at Bearded Gentlemen Music and I look forward to more.
The reason I make these lists, aside from the odd reason that I really enjoy making them, is to help get these bands names out there and introduce them to people looking for new music. Again, these are just my opinions, and again, lets not take everything I say so seriously. Have fun. Laugh. Read the list, and hopefully discover something you like.
1. Oranssi Pazuzu– Varahtelija
Throughout the duration of my first listen of Varahtelija, I had goose bumps; the kind you get when you’re completely enthralled by the brilliance of a piece of art or an unnatural occurrence that is slightly outside of your scope of reality- like my friend’s house that was infested with ghosts and you felt like you were walking through water every time you were there. This is a whole new branch of metal summonsed into existence by the hands of Oranssi Pazuzu. It is an assault on all aspects of the genre and will definitely become a classic in the annals of metal. If you’re looking for an extraterrestrial, psychedelic, galloping through space and time, this album is for you.
2. Finished– Cum Inside Me Bro
Load Records- 2016 was stingy with the noise rock this year and only gave us a handful of quality albums, Cum Inside Me Bro being one of them. It’s just the right amount of trash rock meets the perfect amount of drug fueled noise rock; kinda like when Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan were totes bff’s, (pre Nicole). Raucous, deviant, smut that will lure your ears into a back ally and shank them with a sharpened toothbrush. Read my full review and interview with these deviants here. (Music video directed by Johnny Ray)
3. Purple Pilgrims- Eternal Delight
This album is like that videotape from The Ring/Ringu; once you listen to it, you will forever become haunted by it. Sisters Clementine and Valentine Adams, who make up Purple Pilgrims, will come crawling out of your speakers and into your psyche; at times unnerving you and at times inducing a euphoric bliss. Eternal Delight is a flawless album and I want the rest of the world to be just as spellbound as I was; here is my full review and interview with the band.
4. Boy Harsher– Yr Body is Nothing
I wish I listened to this album more before we assembled the Best Of 2016 list for Bearded Gentlemen because I currently cannot stop listening to it. Along with one of the best live shows I have seen in a long time, (I guarantee that you will not be able to abstain from dancing), Boy Harsher is going to be a name you are going to see a lot more in the upcoming year. It is deeply infectious electronic music with some darkwave/cold wave flavors. Androgynous vocals in the vein of Katrina Ford of Jaks and Celebration, echo and course the pulsing ryhthms of each track. “Morphine” and “Save Me” are two of the most addicting songs I have heard in years. I can’t wait to hear the new album which I heard comes out this year.
5. Deathspell Omega– The Synarchy of Molten Bones
One of my favorite metal bands of all time decided to secretly release another chapter in their flawless discography and it may be their best album yet. Closest in sound and style to their previous album Drought, The Synarcy of Molten Bones is a satanic odyssey through their distinct brand of blackened, post-metal complete with their snarled vocals that seem to just bubble up through the cracks in ceiling of Hell. Why this wasn’t on our Best Of Metal and Noise Rock List of 2016 is criminal.
6. Helms Alee– Stillicide
Sargent House- Helms Alee’s career has been fun to follow; their first couple full lengths, Night Terror and Weatherhead ended up just being appetizers for their current mastery of thunderous and lumbering post rock. As the band evolved, you can tell that they really spent a lot of time finding ways to make their already monstrous riffs even more gargantuan, as showcased on this album and the previous release Sleepwalking Sailors. Stillicide is by far their heaviest and most aggressive. The drum work is top notch. I mean, it normally is, but on this album especially; I think it’s what really separates this band from other bands in this genre. The vocals on this album are also some of their best. Ben Verellen goes from sweetly singing my panties off to howling like a sasquatch caught in a bear trap (and it gets me every time). It’s rare when a band’s new album is your favorite of their career, but this is some of the most thoughtful and brilliant rock I have heard in a long time.
7. Merso– Red World
Good To Die Records- Being a fan of their previous band, Leatherdaddy (go to their Bandcamp and download The Plague House for 3 tracks of pummeling and catchy post rock), I was curious to see what this new project was all about. What we got was one of the more bizarre albums of the year; imagine some of the art-damaged, slower jams of late era Shudder to Think and Eureka Farm cross bred with spastic, mathrock bands like Lynx, Don Caballero and Volta Do Mar mixed with proggy undertones of King Crimson. This is also one of the only times where falsetto vocals work; not all the vocals are sung in falsetto, but when they do, they soar majestically over the sonic landscapes. Unclassifiable and a fun listen, Red World is an epic first album as well as a total musical anomaly.
8. Danny Brown– Atrocity Exhibition
Warp Records- Rap and hip-hop are typically a genre I don’t spend a whole lot of time with, but for some reason Danny Brown has become a regular on play lists and his last two full lengths along with this one, often find themselves in rotation during my commutes to work. Again on Atrocity Exhibition, the lyrical content covers similar territory to his previous works; drugs, sex and social/political commentary; all delivered with his trademark, nasally, rapid fire, lyrical acrobatics. The feel on this album is slightly more abstract than his usual; then again, he did site Captain Beefheart, Aphex Twin, Talking Heads and Joy Division as influences. I saw Brown tour on this album and the live show was charismatic and intense; he barely took a break and barreled through the set which was made up of all the upbeat and faster paced tracks; by the end of it I thought they were going to have to hook him up to oxygen and take him out on a stretcher. Danny Brown has raised the bar on hip-hop once again with this album. No matter how silly his lyrics can be, he is a true artist and I’m always looking forward to how he is going to mutate and evolve the genre.
9. Altarage– Nihl
Spain’s Altarage gave us one of the heaviest albums of the year, Nihl is an onslaught of blackened-sludge-death and was a pleasant surprise in the early portion of 2016. The incessant brutality dominates every second of every track; you can actually hear the physical demand this music puts on the band; it is on the constant verge of wrists breaking, fingers tearing and throats shredding to ribbons. Keep an eye out for them if they tour the states.
10. Heron Oblivion– s/t
I am still baffled about the lack of coverage and attention this album got; the stoner-rock/psych-folk thing was huge this year, but many of those bands went in one ear and out the other and I didn’t see this album on many “Best Of” lists. Heron Oblivion’s debut is a psychedelic and drug fueled journey through pastoral landscapes, Hobbit holes and bearded dudes with magic staffs and pouches that know where you can get some killer acid and nitrous balloons for barter or cash. Members of Comets On Fire, Howlin’ Rain, and Espers so you can just imagine.
11. Ululatum Tollunt– Order of the Morningstars
Oh wow, another black metal band you say…but this is one is just wretched, like making a snow angel in road kill gross, like this album will make your house smell like Leftover Crack just played a show in it gross. Rotten, gnarly, and cruel, Order of the Morningstars is the probably the most metal album released this year; It’s Ululatum, Miss Tollunt, if you’re nasty.
12. UXO– s/t
AmRep worship, post rock/metal wrecking crew with members of today is the day and Unsane; plucking the best elements from both of these bands has created some of the most, tense, thoughtful and crushing post rock you’ve heard in a long time- read my full review here.
13. Pill– Convenience
There was a bit of a nod to Brooklyn style no-wave this year; bands like Naked Lights and Foster Body both released quality records, but the free wheeling, saxophone driven, manic, post-punk of Convenience stole the show; bands like X-Ray Spex, Destroy All Monsters, and Subtonix come to mind. Swashes of guitar noise splash against a plodding rhythm section while squalls of sax zig- zag in and out of site all being lead by the commanding vocals of Veronica Torres. If you’re in the mood for some up beat and gnarly art punk, this is your album.
14. KLS– Superpop
This is the type of band that is always stuck on bills loaded with boring post hardcore bands, but when they finally play, the crowd goes bananas- spilling your Xanax martini all over your new Joy Division crop top; what a time to be alive. This band and album are today’s answer to combatwoundedveteran, Das Oath, Usurp Synapse, Jerome’s Dream, Harry Pussy, Palatka, early Daughters, etc. Super nice dude’s making quality, nihilistic, spazz-core. Read my full review here.
15. Pinkshinyultrablast- Grandfeathered
What a colorful, disorienting, otherworldly, kaleidoscoping, collage of sounds, shapes and dimensions. Every listen you will discover a different species of bioluminescent, phantasmagoric creature or simply just enter Lisa Frank’s drug addled mind. The album spirals through swirls of dreamy shoegaze to sudden walloping rock riffs all landing softly on their feet. One of the more innovative releases of the year.
16. Indricothere– III
Fuck you haters! Yeah it’s Colin Marston and yeah this album sounds like his usual canoodlings…and his usual cannodlings are mind-blowing, blackened, math metal. For fans of Krallice, Behold the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia but definitely not Gorguts, that’s the band he’s in that’s not gay.
17. Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions– Until the Hunter
Hope Sandoval is a mythological creature with a voice that is otherworldly; in fact it may be my favorite voice of all time. With that said, like Mazzy Star, The Warm Inventions set the perfect stage for this shy and enigmatic being to do her thing, which is to create the most alluring and beautiful vocal melodies and lyrics you’ll ever hear. There are some outstanding, super naturally gorgeous songs on here; “Into the Trees”, “Let Me Get There”, “Salt of the Sea”, and “Isnt it True”, but a handful sounded too similar to some tracks on Through the Devil Softly, which is a flawless full length.
Seeing Mazzy Star a few years back in Boston, (and almost getting hog piled by a bunch of horny, Bostonite, bro-guy, bouncers for trying to take a picture of this elusive cryptid) and watching her timid and detached stage presence, only added to her mystique and folklore. I am fascinated by her and will forever look forward to any project she is a part of.
18. Doomsday Student– A Self-Help Tragedy
Three One G- Doomsday Student are a gateway drug; this is the type of music that gets kids hooked on Satan worship, cough syrup and sexual experimentation with inanimate objects. Constantly teetering on a complete mental prolapsing, A Self-Help Tragedy may be that final straw that unravels you completely, causing you to set fire to your shitty office job over the weekend, faking your own death, and opening a pina colada stand in Turks and Caicos. A Self-Help Tragedy is by far their most deviant, maintaining their title of most discordant and maddening noise rock band to date.
19. Big Ups– Before A Million Universes
Exploding In Sound Records- There has been a lot of interesting genre mutts popping up this year; the June of 44, Slint, early Thumbnail meets METZ and Crain sound of Before A Million Universes is a combination that has yielded interesting results. The album bounces in an out of angular and aggressive post punk/post rock into the signature sounds of the “slowcore” bands on Touch and Go Records and Quarterstick Records from the late 80’s and 90’s; feels new and nostalgic all at the same time.
20. Solange– A Seat at the Table
With hints of Minnie Riperton’s honey-sweet vocal stylings sailing atop soothing R&B rhythms’ and hooks, you almost forget how punk this album actually is. In fact, probably the punkest thing you’ve heard in a long time. This is the mainstream album that finally tackled the themes of being both black and a woman in modern America; themes we assumed Beyoncé and clown artist Nicki Minaj would make an entire album about.
I have read a lot of comments from white people stating “this album isn’t for me”, and “I can’t speak about this album.” I understand this sentiment, but this album is for you, and other white people. A Seat at the Table is here to educate white people and empower black people. Black people are already more than familiar with these struggles and themes; they live it in their day-to-day lives. White people need to hear these stories and realities and start empathizing with these experiences and doing what they can to become allies, and that starts by listening. Do you think Kathleen Hannah’s Riot Grrl movement, the “Girls in the front, boys in the back” was to only be heard by girls? She’s also speaking to the men in the room, the ones that need to hear it the loudest.
“Mad” is my jam, by the way, listen to that song and I promise you will want to hear the whole record.
21. Cultes Des Ghoules– Coven or Evil Ways Instead of Love
Thrashy, horror themed black metal complete with witchy-goblin vocals. Relentlessly fiendish riffs and wickedness aplenty.
22. Darkher– Realms
Heavy, haunting and earthy doom-folk from the UK. Brilliantly assembled, gloomy and epic tales sung by a ghost with a chorus of ghosts. I know there has been a lot of this going around these days, but Realms is definitely the treasure you are seeking.
23. Cognizant– s/t
One of my bff’s Josh from Vermont turned me on to this band; well they have the drummer from Phobia and Gridlink, so how does that grab ya? As you can imagine, this is ferocious and grind metal played at light speeds amidst thoughtful song writing, which separates this from the herd. Recommended for fans of the bands previously mentioned, Discordance Axis, Magrudegrind, etc.
24. Anicon– Exegeses
Members of Krallice and Yellow Eyes playing music similar to their bands, which is not a bad thing. Sprawling, pitiless and all enveloping like the forest fire on the cover. Recommended if you are a fan of either band mentioned above.
25. Thee Oh Sees– A Weird Exits
When most bands write the same record over and over again, you tend to lose interest; however Thee Oh Sees for some reason have the ability to keep beating their dead horse into glue and I don’t care. With the exception of Drop, which I thought may have been that final coffin nail, they’ve consistently created fun and intelligent rock records. I look forward to each release, along with some of the best album artwork ever. A Weird Exits is nothing new at all but you’ll be bobbing your head and craving a beach day with hallucinogens in no time.
26. Skaphe– s/t
In terms of inhumane metal, this is the band that placed that dog in that cage that Sarah McLachlan is singing about. This is about as blackened as you can get metal to be. The album never lets up on the cruelty and your ears will be looking for a Forever Home by the end of it. (That’s why you should adopt a dog!)
27. Cellular Chaos– Diamond Teeth Clenched
They’ve done it again!; a post punk no wave assault preceded by the imperious and passionate vocals of Admiral Grey. This album is raucous, catchy and even more confrontational live. Weasel Walter bleeds noise and knows how to mutilate rock like no other.
28. Full of Hell and The Body –One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache
What a match up! This power couple made one ugly fucking baby; a baby that will slowly devour your soul while it nurses and drink your blood while you’re sleeping. This collaboration really brought out the darkest elements of both bands; grotesque, desolate, landscapes wrought with pain and suffering. This album has definitely sold millions of copies in hell and I am sure Satan is nailing the platinum record to his wall right now right next to Azealia Banks’, Broke With Expensive Taste.
29. Miserable– Uncontrollable
There couldn’t be a more appropriate intro track for this album; sounds of rain and dabbling’s on a piano, setting the stage for the dreary, dreamlike, despondency that radiates off Uncontrollable. Miserable is the solo album of King Woman’s vocalist Kristina Esfandiari. As overcast as this album is, there is a constant yearning of hope and a glimmer of light buried with you in the comforters on this cold, damp day.
30. Piss Vortex– Future Cancer
Aside from being the name of my first born, Piss Vortex delivered us a mathy, post metal, grind-death spattering of rabid tempo shifts and an amalgam of aggressive riffs and break downs. If you’re looking for a band doing something fun with blast beats, check these guys out.
Honorary mention because I don’t know what year it is and thought this was released last January- this would have made my top 10 otherwise.
Pissgrave– Suicide Euphoria
Profound Lore- Constipation is quite and inconvenience; in some severe cases, shit can back up to the point of “fecal vomiting”, http://www.steadyhealth.com/topics/i-think-im-vomiting-feces. Suicide Euphoria is the intestinal obstruction of death metal; it’s a crude, violent, repugnant, stinking, rapid-fire stream of filth spewing directly into your eardrums. The human-pudding album cover accurately encompasses the look and feel of the music. Death Metal tends to not be my favorite kind of metal, but Pissgrave stuffs the genre into a rusty meat grinder and churns out a grindier-noise tinged version that’s light on the corny guitar solos (which is a good thing in my book) and heavy on the meaty riffs.