Well 2016 is coming to a close and that’s probably a good thing. And even though this year had some sucky stuff happening it simultaneously was a year that really great music was being created by a bunch of really great bands / artists. Seriously, so many good albums.
Last year I felt like I had missed a bunch of great music, so this year I literally dedicated my ears to strictly listening to albums that came out in 2016. That’s all I listened to and I still feel like I missed a ton of stuff. Luckily though, B.G.M. has an amazing staff of writers that also listened to a ton of great albums this year. So they helped cover immense amount of tunes that I missed.
Before we start there’s a a few things that I want to point out about our list that I think makes it unique from the thousands of year end / best of lists out there.
- We actually wait until the end of the year to compile our list (not the beginning of December like most sites) so we have actually voted on and included some of the year’s late releases.
- A lot of these albums included on the list have input from a couple of different writers, so you get a couple of different perspectives as to why a certain albums is great.
- We actually have a sense of humor about this type of thing and while we may drop some mild shit-talk on some of these albums that doesn’t mean that we don’t love the music and the people that have made this amazing music. So try not to take our back and forth banter to seriously.
- Our list has a ton of variety and I promise you will find a bunch of albums that aren’t included on other sites and albums that you probably haven’t heard this year.
The Best Albums of 2016: 100 to 51
Long guitar jams that don’t come off as self-indulgent; horn sections and delay pedals. Nods to the Stones and Television’s Marquee Moon. And, when you think it’s all over, a stunning cover of Richard Thompson’s “Calvary Cross.” And you thought classic rock was dead. – M. Milner
This NYC rapper seems to have flown under the radar. Piatto D’oro served as my summer listening “yin” vs. Anderson .Paak’s Malibu taking the roll of “yang”. Direct and furious delivery reminiscent of heroes of the hip-hop past brought nostalgic feelings despite being one of the freshest emcees out right now. – Matt Jamison
Formed in 1985, the Scottish band led a hefty hiatus in 2001 before knocking out three albums in the last four years. The most recent, The Believers, is a surprisingly poignant and uplifting affair. The traditional melodic piano core and vocal interplay between vocalists Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh thankfully remains. The title track lead single is a powerful indie pop track that really throws back to Deacon Blue’s late 80s prime, while “This Is a Love Song” is both a silly and mature take on the trials of modern romance. The Believers is a record that seems to know exactly how you’re feeling at any given moment. – David Dring
Over a half year later, and I’m still unpacking this album. Aesop Rock followed up the lyrically dense and weird Skelethon with an album just as dense and a whole lot weirder. He throws away lines of genius like they’re garbage, assaulting the ears with art-project poetry. Whether it’s a song about watching his little brother play tee-ball or going to the shrink, nothing is as it seems. Just this week, I discovered a line in “Blood Sandwich” (the before-mentioned tee-ball song) I somehow hadn’t heard before, and I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I’ve listened to the song hundreds of times. This is music that needs a cipher to decode, but it’s well worth the time. You don’t even need to like rap to get into it, so get into it already. – Kendon Luscher
I think we can safely say that Suuns have breached unique ground on Hold/Still, in spite of this “revival genre” being somewhat of an oxymoron in itself. No, this is post-punk eeriness in light of Women’s Public Strain, but even more so, it is a morose, eerie trip of sporadic guitar tones and brooding electronics. -Daniel Carlson
These three couldn’t get enough of each other as co-workers at the staple Seattle bar/diner Hattie’s Hat so they decided to make a rock band. Their music doesn’t hide the fact that they enjoy each, other as their collaboration feels effortless. If you want to feel psychedelia yet stay grounded through badass rock Wild Powwers are for you. – Matt Jamison
One of the benefits of doing our list so late in the year is that we have the advantage of hearing almost everything 2016 has to offer before we make our final decision. For me NIN snuck in at the last minute. I have been down on Trent Reznor’s output lately, because the majority of it has been soft and unispired. This suprise five song EP shows Reznor bringing the anger, noise, and chaos back a little bit. Look this isn’t a return to form for Nine Inch Nails or anything like that its just a step in the right direction and I am inlcuing this EP in the list hoping for better things from NIN in the future. Oh and super cool self-appreciating guy, Dave Grohl plays some drums on “The Idea of You” and anytime he is just playing drums and not singing his garbage lyrics I am all about it. – Jon
I love the part on track six “The Great Undressing” where a couple of Hval’s bandmates are talking about Hval’s new album (this album) and one of the bandmates finds out that Blood Bitch is about vampires and she responds with “that is so basic”. Well this album is anything but basic. I am not going to try to get into the concepts or deeper meaning of this album or the lyrics because a lot of it has to do with gender and femininity. What I will get into is just how amazing the vocals, compositions, and overall vibe of Blood Bitch is. It so intriguing and relaxing all at the same time. – Jon
Jeff Rosenstock is the hero punk rock needs. While Internet try-hards speculated on all the great punk records that will be released under a Drumpf presidency, Rosenstock was ahead of the curve with Worry, which showcases his ability to tackle subjects personal, global, and universal–often at the same time. Refining the chaotic energy of his early bedroom recordings while revisiting parts of his musical history that have been dormant for a few years (*cough*ska*cough*) Worry is humorous and reflective in a world that is uncertain, and, you know, totally fucking frightening. – Ricky Vigil
91. Ray LaMontagne – Ouroboros
Truth be told, I’d listen to this man sing at the opening of an envelope. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I heard him sing “Jolene” (and no, not the Dolly Parton classic). But this album is probably my favorite of his, and that’s really saying something. It’s as graceful as it is ethereal, and I don’t use either of those adjectives ironically. It’s a haunting, delicious time capsule that harkens back to a time when music was simple, and simple was good. Ray reminds us all on Ouroboros that an unforgettable voice such as his—when paired with gorgeous melodies that get trapped in your mind on a lovely loop—are the sorts of gifts we should give ourselves more often, especially in times like these. – Amie Taylor
Attempting to strike that delicate balance between atmospheric, moody, and melodic shoegaze with metal guitars and bloody murder screams, Gore is the closest the Deftones have come to recapturing the transcendental magic of their opus White Pony, and it reminds us why the band continues to release music and why they continue to be relevant when so many of their peers from the late 90s and early 2000s are not. – Kevin Krein
89. 21 Savage – Savage Mode
When you rhyme “listen to my mixtape” with “ask your bitch how my dick tastes.” That’s a little something I like to call “talent.” –Charlemagne H. St. Linus
The jazz/funk/soul/rock record you didn’t know you wanted and the one you won’t easily forget. – M. Milner
Bob Mould has sort of danced around the legacy of his previous bands Husker Dü and Sugar. That awkward dance may have hurt his solo work but with his latest album Patch The Sky, Mould has come to terms with what fans want from him as an artist, and what he is capable of as a songwriter. Walls of guitar and mid-tempo alternative rock anthems, this album never gives in to fan service or gratuitous nostalgia. Instead, it’s a satisfying journey of battling inner demons that feels natural and organic, unlike albums from other alt rockers over the age of 50. – Aaron Cooper
Expanding beyond the excellent retro-soul they’ve become renowned for, Daptone Records’ adoption of rocksteady revivalists The Frightnrs seemed like a no-brainer. Featuring excellent ‘60s style production and tight, groovy instrumentation, the biggest star of the show is vocalist Dan Klein. His relaxed yet impactful vocal style is reminiscent of the Jamaican greats like Alton Ellis and Ken Boothe while also soaring to the heights of Motown stars such as Smokey Robinson. Sadly, Klein died before the album was released, but Nothing More to Say is a fitting legacy that is just at home on Daptone as it would be on Trojan Records. Props to Daptone for taking a chance and showcasing a genre as widely dismissed as reggae, and hopefully the surviving members of The Frightnrs resurface in a new project. – Ricky Vigil
85. Shura – Nothing’s Real
There’s no two ways about it, Shura conquered the world this year. 2016 was a damn fine pop year, personified by Shura’s debut pop masterpiece Nothing’s Real. The title track might as well be Madonna in her peak taking a trip to the roller disco. “What’s It Gonna Be?” is hands down my favourite track (as well as video) released this year. Nobody wears a NASA shirt and encapsulates what the 80’s was all about as well as Shura. It’s hard to imagine this is her debut album because it sounds ridiculously well defined, each track sounding both like a throwback and a fresh move forward. I waited more than half the year for this to drop and it more than delivered. Can I also go on record and say that listening to “Space Tapes” is the most out of body experience I’ve had since I first watched David Lynch’s Eraserhead. – David Dring
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. – Brandon Perras
These three ladies were meant to sing together, and this album they’ve created is dripping with some of the best harmonies I’ve heard in a very long time. The songs are earnest and beautiful, and have a throwback sound to them that I really dig (see “Honey and Smoke”). This is an album best enjoyed with a glass of wine, and about 45 minutes to listen, chill, and ponder the loveliness created by k.d. lang, Neko Case, and Laura Veirs pooling their considerable talents. – Amie Taylor
Life isn’t fair sometimes and we look to our favorite albums for comfort and consolation. Where most artists understand this and give us records that act as a big hug, PUP beats you up, knocks your teeth out, insults your girlfriend, and pees in your sink. This unflinching honesty and insatiable desire to set fire to every single bridge isn’t off putting though, it’s liberating! The Dream Is Over knows the struggle of failed relationships and bad decisions but teaches the listener that sulking isn’t as fun as screaming profanities at adversity. This is the kind of punk record this country needs after a year like 2016. – Aaron Cooper
81. Autolux – Pussy’s Dead
An unfortunate title, but a pretty great amalgamation of shoegaze and electronics from the nearly enigmatic trio. – Kevin Krein
Autolux not only put out one of my favorite albums of the year but they also put on one of my favorite performances of the year at Sasquatch! Music Festival. Their production on Pussy’s Dead was damn near perfection. Their ability to bring these songs alive made me love it that much more. Carla is mesmerizing both in your headphones and on stage. – Matt Jamison
Best album cover of 2016? Yes. – Jon
The Birdman has been around a long time and done a lot of different things, but he’s never done something quite like Are You Serious?. Tunes like “Capsized,” an album-opening Bill-Withers-influenced soul shuffler, and “Left Handed Kisses,” a multi-movement duet with Fiona Apple(!), showcase Bird’s continued search for new aesthetics and conceits he can mold into his signature sound. Other tracks, meanwhile, deliver the Birdman goods with a slight, welcome twist, as in this case with “Truth Lies Low” and its dynamic shifts and jammy instrumental coda. Complex and unique without being unnecessarily challenging or obtuse, this is Bird at his best. – JP Gorman
The first time I heard him whistle was the last time I really came. –Charlemagne H. Saint Linus
The Tame Impala cover was dope. – Kevin Krein
The final bonus track on Anti, “Sex With Me” as Ri Ri puts it “is so amazing.” Stay up off her Instagram. Jam of the year. – Jon
Self indulgent and boring, Drake gives us a reminder that it’s difficult being rich and successful and that it is lonely at the top. Yes there is as lyric about The Cheesecake Factory and that’s supposed to humanize him, or make us laugh, or whatever but god damn, what a forgettable record. I didn’t even remember this actually came out in 2016 until now. -Kevin Krein
When Drake gets exactly this emo, that’s when my soul feels like a butterfly. –Charlemagne H. St. Linus
77. Andy Stott – Too Many Voices
Whenever I want to feel absolutely terrified, I strip, cut the lights, smash a bunch of broken glass, and put on Andy Stott… that’s when I try to masturbate (but I never can). –Charlemagne H. St. Linus
The second album from London’s premier DIY noise-punks was a fevered speedball of scattershot riffs, distorted vocals and pummelling rhythms, Meat House took the punk’n’roll blueprint of their debut, The Carvery and cranked everything to ear bleeding new levels. It’s their frenetic balls-to-the-floor live show writ large across wax and the consolidation of their position as everyone’s favourite band you’ve never heard of. – Steve Wheeler
75. Angel Du$t – Rock the Fuck on Forever
If I Against I-era Bad Brains sang songs about girls instead of followed H.R.’s crazy cosmic brainwaves, they would’ve released Rock the Fuck on Forever. Punchy and catchy, it is one of the most fun punk albums that anyone calling themselves “punk” in 2016 probably hated. Also, best album title of the year. – Ricky Vigil
The way Ab-Soul calls himself the abstract asshole is one of my favorite things. For me this was the second best rap album of the year. It potentially could end up higher on my list considering I’ve had less than a month to digest it. Some gritty imagery is spit on this beast of an album. Get with it. – Matt Jamison
I’m going public with my girl crush on Alison Mosshart. She’s a bad-ass singer/songwriter with an amazing voice who also writes children’s stories for charity, and wears a motorcycle jacket like a motherfucker. Not only is she the lead vocalist of The Kills, but she also fronts the blues rock band The Dead Weather, where she gets to hang out and jam with Jack White. I know, right? Some girls have all the luck. This is the fifth album from The Kills, and Ash & Ice will be the one going in the history books as the record that helped this rad band break through to a more mainstream audience. It’s brimming with catchy hooks, dirty guitar riffs, and wicked-good songs that caught a lot of indie radio play this year. If you’re not craving a cigarette and/or a whiskey on the rocks after listening to it, you have no soul in my book. I’m seeing them live at the Fox Theater in Oakland with my bestie in 2017; it’s my birthday gift to myself. Happy Birthday to me indeed. – Amie Taylor
Another band on this list that came back stronger from a lengthy break is Billy Talent. That’s not to say they were ever in danger of stagnating in the first place though, more that Afraid Of Heights is as tight and raucous as we’ve ever heard the band. They bring the fist to the sky chorus with “Big Red Gun” and “Ghost Ship Of Cannibal Rats” among others. Benjamin Kowalewicz is as poetic as ever, joined arm in arm (or word in word?) by guitarist, back up vocalist and Johnny Bravo impressionist Ian D’Sa. There is definitely no shortage of hook on Afraid Of Heights, despite their obvious political agenda which never once becomes contrived. – David Dring
Certifiably charming, the light, summery guitars pervading Light Upon the Lake soundtracked many a Summer playlist. Even better, the ashes of Smith Westerns have now been reformed courtesy of members of that band and Unknown Mortal Orchestra coming together. Attribute their talents large in part to pop and indie acts anywhere from Hall & Oates’ pop sensibilities, to more recent staples of country-infused indie acts like Wilco. – Daniel Carlson
If you need some immediately-pleasing but ultimately-empty sugar rush melodies you’ll have no problem ignoring while picking up the house, driving to the grocery story, or doing some other innocuous task, here’s your record. Otherwise, this much-hyped debut is the sonic equivalent of buying a plastic tub of tap water with a cucumber in it for $8.50 at Whole Foods: something that seems like a good, nutritious idea but is in fact shockingly, almost-obnoxiously pointless and wasteful. – JP Gorman
My introduction to Mr. Hecker. It feels like the work of a madman that has been awake for 5 days straight. Overwhelming at times but also surprisingly relaxing. Would love to witness this music in a small club show setting. – Matt Jamison
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. – Brandon Perras
It’s the morning after Donald Drumpf’s presidential victory and only two things keep ringing in my ear: Bruce Springsteen’s line “poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king” and Solange’s “Cranes In the Sky.” Against a moaning string section and a slow rhythm section, she sings about trying to fix things: “I tried to keep myself busy… I slept it away.. I read it away… away, away, away.” But nothing seems to work. In a dark year, Solange’s LP clicked for me in a way few records have: they seemed to fit circumstances nobody could’ve predicted and hit an emotional sweet spot. For about a week, I listened to nothing else. – M. Milner
Whenever I am slaving away editing all the randomness that the B.G.M Staff turns in for publication (just kidding I love it and we have really talented writers) i like to find a random Soundcloud song and then let it auto-play from whatever its supposed recommended tracks are. Well not sure what track I started with, but this was the recommended track that caught my attention. Cross Record is the creative output of Emily Cross and Dan Duszynsk and it is like folky, trip-hop, post-rock, ambient bliss. I love Cross’ vocals. Wabi-Sabi is slept on and Cross Record deserves more attention! – Jon
Emma does it again. As a fan of Red Sparowes I was worried about what Marriages would bring. Marriages completely won me over and became my favorite of the two. Then I was worried when she started doing solo albums. Some Heavy Ocean proved me to be a worry wart for no reason once again. With Marked For Death I just knew greatness was on it’s way. She is a spectacular musician. – Matt Jamison
It would be nice if a greater number of famous, popular white people from “red states” were willing to call bullshit on the more-heinous aspects of contemporary American culture and politics, but that’s not the country we live in. So then, Drive-By Truckers’ leaders Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood, proud sons of the American South, deserve a lot of credit for taking it upon themselves to do the heavy lifting where others won’t. Without its political themes, American Band would still be a solid record, but its social consciousness pushes it over the top into the realms of the Great. The jittery, bouncy organ following each verse of the Black Lives Matter-supporting “What It Means” might at first seem out of place, but conceive of it as a sort of second line for all the Good and Right things white folks who know better haven’t done these past few years, and everything the country now stands to lose as a result, and it’ll make your grown-ass cry. Little moments like that abound on this brave, profound, and (not for nothing) kick-ass record. Turn off the news and rock this shit instead. – JP Gorman
There’s a line in the 1973 Grand Funk Railroad single, “We’re An American Band”, a semi-biographical ode to the touring life of American entertainers, that recalls our heroes rubbing elbows with the Freddie King — a blues guitarist known equally for combining from Texas and Chicago’s West Side and his hectic touring schedule complete with hard-partying lifestyle. King was a paragon of a rock’n’roll lifestyle that had more to do with the entertainment industry than anything distinctly American. “We’re An American Band” reads like Danny Brown’s “Die Like a Rockstar” on the lyric sheet and its booming chorus is a red herring. A treatise on what being touring musician meant in the midst and aftermath of peace and love, “We’re An American Band” has always sounded bombastic and so ripe for any play on words that I’m surprised some socialist wiseasses didn’t try it during the Bush years.
With the political pendulum completing its swing to the right this year, Athens, Ga.-based pro-worker rockers Drive-By Truckers turned in their second album with two songwriters. Given their past output, it is no surprise that the focus shifts from the band side of the equation to the American side. The target is America’s shoot first, ask questions later culture and at a concise 46 minutes, chief songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley never miss. The buzzing guitars on opener “Ramon Casiano” all the way down to the restrained 15+ minutes that make up “Ever South”, “What It Means, and “Once They Banned Imagine” make for a superlative southern rock album like none released in years. It’s workmanlike, if not stellar pacing and musicianship considering how much of this album’s acclaim are on account of its lyrics.
For whatever differences between American Band and its namesake, the common thread between the two are death. If the 1973 single was about the comparatively benign reality of the nouveau riche killing themselves with hectic schedules and substance abuse, the point here is to outline the Second Amendment’s subtext: police, gun lobbyists, and an entire legion of white people will continue to get away with the murder of people of color in this country under the current conditions. This is a bitter truth worth being fought at all costs as we descend into unified conservative government when the calendar flips. – Mickey White
If the unthinkable were to occur and we lost all the great music from the 80s; thankfully we’d still have Tegan and Sara. And from from their life’s work we could probably recreate the sound of Madonna armpit-farting the tune to “Borderline.” – Charlemagne H. St. Linus
The Life of Paul is an extended version of Pablo that includes all the missing songs from the session.
A bloated hot mess. That’s how I’ll always think of Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. From it’s maddening and confusing roll out full of false starts and take backs, to it’s cut and paste aesthetic that wore down my patience with each subsequent listen, the album will more than likely be remembered for the fiasco surrounding it rather than the content found within.
While a bulk of it is forgettable and/or regrettable, there are moments that shine: like the “I’mma fix it” version of “Wolves” that leaves Sia’s and Vic Mensa’s contributions intact, or the layered take on spirituality found in the staggering opening track “Ultralight Beam,” or the album’s finest moment, “Real Friends,” which finds West at his most honest and, more importantly, his most identifiable.
The Life of Paul, an internet creation by someone with too much time on their hands, surfaced in November. It takes the original album and expands it even more (because that needed to happen) and adds in non-album tracks like “Saint Pablo,” and last year’s “All Day” and “Only One.” It also unpacks some of the samples that West and his stable of producers and collaborators chose to work with on Pablo, which makes all the songs longer, and changes them structurally to interpolate the source material back in. For those who are interested in sampling culture, it’s a nice bit of ephemera, but for everyone else, it just makes The Life of Pablo a little longer, and a little bit more difficult to tolerate.
We all had a shitty 2016. Kanye West had possibly the worst 2016. Pray for Paris. Pray for the parents. #Pray4Kanye. – Kevin Krein
Leave it to Kanye to make an album that’s a bloated mess, only available via a streaming service and keep it constantly in a state of flux – and then to make it far from the most controversial thing he’s done this year. Seperate his music from his personality and what do you get: some good tracks, a bunch of weird bits of filler seemingly designed to make people angry (what else is his “I miss the old Kanye” if not a shot at critics) and two moments where things click in a mix of paranoia, anxiety, and vulnerability. “You wanna ask some questions about some real shit,” he raps, “like I ain’t got enough to deal with,” before pointing fingers at fake friends and retreating back into the studio, where he engages Kendrick Lamar and moans to be taken out of the spotlight as a sample slides and distorts behind his slurring, frustrated voice. He’s done everything since to keep me from listening, but I can’t shake these two. – M Milner
I saw Kanye West headline Glastonbury festival in 2015 and I would put it right in my top five live experiences, it was quite simply life changing. I was even okay with his admission of him being the greatest rock star on the planet, because y’know what fuck it, for all we know he might be. The Life Of Pablo represents a very different side of Kanye than I would be inclined to recognize however. Not very much of it makes sense and the more you listen, the more you struggle with the consistent battle you’re having between the fact that either all of this is an incoherent mess or Kanye really is a genius and our puny mortal minds just can’t comprehend it. I have a feeling I’ll still be contemplating this in years to come. – David Dring
I’ve listened to this and the extended version way more than I’d like to admit. – Jon
Vince Staples can do no wrong. I’ve listened to this EP dozens of times since it was released, and Staples’ haunting rendition of “Let it Shine” followed by a loud, jarring gunshot still creeps me out. The repeated sample of Outkast’s “ATLiens” that opens up “War Ready” combined with the intro shows Staples exploring his own weirdness while still reveling in the gangsta rap of the ‘90s that he has made very clear he doesn’t care about (see “Pimp Hand”). “Loco” is a ripper. I’m excited to see what Vince Staples does next. – Ricky Vigil
Comprised of songs that either didn’t make the cut for 2014’s Shriek or the duo’s pending fifth (proper) album, Tween is, self-described by Wye Oak as a “sideways step in time.” Heavy on the synths and experimental arrangements–”No Dreaming” sounds like a St. Vincent outtake– it’s a relatively slim effort that finds Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack reincorporating some of the dreamier elements from Wye Oak’s early days that they left behind as they progressed from album to album.
Not really intended to attract new fans or listeners, Tween is an album for someone who has stuck with Wye Oak over the last nine years; the kind of listener who can appreciate the juxtaposition of the hypnotic guitar noodling and synthesizer explosions of a song like “Better (For Esther)” (the album’s finest moment), as well as the surprisingly sunny and brisk-tempoed “Watching the Waiting.” – Kevin Krein
Honestly, an album that I forgot about this year. Not in a bad way either. Tween just feels so right for Wye Oak I didn’t remember that is was released in 2016. This album is one of my go to listens whenever I’m in the car, headed to the store or something. It is a killer listen and I personally think it should have ranked much higher! – Isaac Atencio
Oddisee is a madly underappreciated artist in the hip-hop world. Alwasta shows Oddisee’s lyrical prowess along with his dope beats. The Odd Tape just showcases his excellent composition skills. Both are worth your time. – Jon
The first release from a reconfigured Cobalt is one of a few records that is still in constant rotation from the opening months of 2016 and one of a few albums that can keep my attention for almost 90 minutes. Cobalt‘s newest effort is its own brutal beast, a double-album animal. Slow Forever sheds the black metal moniker in favor of a more encompassing style of metal that draws inspiration from everything from different extreme metal, to Americana, psychedelic/progressive rock, and punk. Wunder handles all instrumentation for Slow Forever while Fell focuses on all of the vocal arrangements. It is a new start for Cobalt. – Cody Davis
I did not listen to this record, but this is the best album title on this list BY FAR. – JP Gorman
Bazan does once again what Bazan does best: address the human condition with blunt and heartbreaking honesty, over music. I dare to listen to this album late at night and not cry by the end at “Little Motor.” I admit, I’m a latecomer to the world of Bazanity, but after Blanco, I’m a convert. Some of these songs are not entirely new to 2016, but on this album they feel new with each listen, and they will last for decades. Bazan both references his own life, the lives of others, and imagined situations with ease, perfectly timed rhythms, and melodies that merge with acoustic and electronic elements. Live, with one guitar on stage, this work is even more musically and emotionally devastating. Check out his latest Christmas album if Blanco isn’t enough Bazan for you in 2016. – Kelsey Simpkins
Khemmis doesn’t need me to say anything else about how great they are, but I’m going to. Huntedwas electrifying. The Denver quartet channeled more of the classic rock and metal titans like Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden for their sophomore album. In turn, they gave rise to the year’s most infectious riffs and melodies. Hunted was the result of a total group effort from Phil, Ben, Zach, and Dan during the album’s creation. It is wonderfully reflected in its five songs. Every moment is focused, exacted, and executed in clinical fashion. Khemmis are in the early stages of building a monumental legacy. The maturity in their sound and knack for excellence are highly indicative of it. – Cody Davis
Unlike their My Bloody Valentine inspired debut, The Lees Of Memory’s sophomore effort is fueled on Revolver era Beatles and the works of Big Star. The beats are heavy and the hooks delicious, yet this Nashville supergroup still manage to expand upon their sound with psychedelic experimentation with tracks like “Artificial Air” and “Square Up”.It’s hard to wrap your head around a sitar, a mellotron, and a pedal steel being utilized in a single song, but that’s the magic of this band. At it’s core, Unnecessary Evil is still a rock record but thanks to slick production by Nick Raskulinecz and frontman John Davis’s near 30 years of power pop experience, The Lees Of Memory have released the kind of album mainstream acts can only dream of creating. – Aaron Cooper
Given the cult status as sort of a “The National lite”, Frightened Rabbit surely have their own repertoire of indie-rock sadboy anthems. Thus, it only seems fitting that Aaron Dessner produced the newest output from the Scottish quintet, wrought with rocking numbers (“Get Out”) and slow burners (“Die Like A Rich Boy”) throughout. By all means, Scott Hutchinson’s music has always been rather depressing, and it’s been a long year for him. Dating back to around Painting of a Panic Attack’s release date, not soon after the start of their tour did he post a rant on his Twitter about how being in the band had taken an extreme toll on their personal sanity, and they were to immediately call it quits. In essence, Frightened Rabbit was no more. That’s putting it lightly, but needless to say, an apology was delivered to a confused fanbase, and here we are now. Sad, but it’s apparent his depression has caused an episode or too, and although the tour was cancelled for a time, the band remains intact. Frightened Rabbit is still going, the songs are still relatable sad, and Scott is still a Scottish madman capable of creating incredible indie-rock jams. -Daniel Carlson
I love Whores. and guess what?! I didn’t even know this album came out until like three weeks ago. I guess I don’t really love Whores. as much as I think I do, but here is the thing. I really do love Whores. I actually love Whores. a lot. I wanted to see Whores. a couple of weeks ago, but I have twin children that are eight months old and sometimes they freak-the-fuck-out at night and won’t sleep. So my fear of twin insomnia prevented me from seeing Whores. in real life.
Gold brings all the Whores. magic but this time around in a full-length LP. All 10 songs on it are super legit noise-rock punch your yourself in the pants aural gold. Literally this albums is sonic Whores. gold. Go get Gold and start loving Whores. as much as I do. – Jon