Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Justin's Favorite Music Albums of 2016 Part 1

It's here!

I'm going for 100 this year. Maybe I'll divide these up into 2 or 4 posts. Yes, 25 each Wed, it works out!

Okay, so I know that choosing from 100 albums will be hard, so I'm doing this alphabetically...not numbered based on favorite etc

I'll indicate by asterisks how much I liked an album, with 4 stars (asterisks) being highest. Also picture have links to bandcamp pages where you can purchase the album if applicable.

Alright, without further adieu

1. Absolute Valentine - Police Heartbreaker

Police Heartbreaker follows the story of Absolute Valentine, a cop on a mission of finding his wife's killer, and apprehending him without succumbing to the darkness of revenge. It's straight out of an 80's cop flick with sound and everything, part of the growing synthwave genre (made popular by shows like Stranger Things), Absolute Valentine delivers up a cinematic delight that takes you back to a different time. ****

2. Agnes Obel - Citizen of Glass

With influences ranging from Roy Orbison to Erik Satie, Danish singer Agnes Obel is not your conventional indie folk artist, her music is as ambient as it is folk, piano and guitar overshadowed by her quiet voice that adds beauty to the tunes. ***

3. Angel Olsen - My Woman

My Woman is Angel Olsen's best album yet. Her music is pop rock at its best, crunchy, raw, and big hearted. ***

4. Animal Collective - Painting With

Animal Collective is always a favorite, and this one is no different, with fun indie rock/pop like the song Floridada. ****

5. Aoife O'Donovan - In The Magic Hour

Aoife O'Donovan is the lead singer of the folk band Crooked Still, and this is her second solo album. Her music is enchanting and beautiful. ***

6. Basia Bulat - Good Advice

While not as much of a favorite as 2013's Tall Tall Shadow, Good Advice is a great indie folk album with the always amazing voice of Basia Bulat. Her music is powerful and beautiful, reminiscent of Joni Mitchell. ****

7. Bat for Lashes - The Bride

Another concept album, Natasha Khan aka Bat For Lashes writes an album about a young woman on her way to her wedding with her fiance, when they are in a car wreck and he is killed. The woman chooses to go on her honeymoon, and the album follows her process through grief. It's a beautiful, haunting album. ****

8. Benji Hughes - Songs in the Key of Animals

Hughes plays wierd quirky Beck-esque pop rock that isn't for everybody, at least one reviewer gave it only a 4.8, but if you like weird pop like I do it's totally your cup of tea. ***

9. Beyonce - Lemonade

Lemonade's true power is that it isn't just trying to be another hip hop album, but it truly is a "black" album, full of black female empowerment. Beyonce can take just about any sound and make it all her own, and the lyrics are without shame. This is Lemonade's true power, and why it is so high on so many year-end lists. ****

10. Bleached - Welcome the Worms

Punk rock is a hard genre to get perfect, I'm sure, so much of it sounds the same, and for punk fans that's enough, but for me I need some diversity of sound, some sense that true artistry and experimentation are taking place. Welcome the Worms does this in spades for girl fronted punk rock, and Bleached rock. ***

11. Blood Orange - Freetown Sound

Funky, poppy, Michael Jackson-esque, Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange has crafted an album with all the power of black humanhood. With moments like Ashlee Haze reading her slam poetry about black feminism, segments of interview with Ta Nehisi Coates, and chants from Black Lives Matter protests the production on the album is all about black empowerment. The title is a homage to his father's birthplace, Freetown, Sierra Leone, and in Hynes own words he wrote the album for those who had been told they were "not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way." ****

12. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

While keeping their signature indie folk sound, 22 A Million is Bon Iver's adventure into experimentation with electronic music, and it yields a beautiful sound. Even the song titles themselves reflect experimentation and secret codes, almost as if someone in the band had been studying cryptography recently. ****

13. Broncho - Double Vanity

Psychedelic bluesy indie rock. ***

14. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial

Car Seat Headrest has a huge back catalogue of lo-fi indie rock, but with 2015's Teens of Style, they began getting some recognition and polishing up their sound a bit, Teens of Denial is their second real studio release and their indie rock sound is great. ***

15. Carter Tanton - Jettison The Valley

Tanton has played with such diverse bands as Lower Dens, Twin Shadow and Marissa Nadler, but Jettison The Valley is a straight up indie folk record, more similar to Nadler's music, and quite lovely. Opening number "Twentynine Palms" is something you might find yourself listening to during the quiet moments on a long road trip. ****

16. Chairlift - Moth

I came across Chairlift a couple years ago, and have loved them ever since, Moth is a great synth pop album. Favorite songs include "Polymorphing", "Ch-Ching" etc. As an added bonus you should also check out their collab with Beyonce, 'No Angel', off her 2013 album Beyonce.

17. Charlie Hilton - Palana

From Nico-esque psychedelia to dream pop similar to her main band Blouse, Palana is an adventure of sound, and with lyrics exploring the ephemeral nature of identity (is there anything that's something all the time?), it's truly a record to take a listen to.****

18. Childish Gambino - Awaken, My Love

I bet many year end lists are kicking themselves for not waiting til December to publish, cause Awaken, My Love came out of left field for us all. While Childish Gambino has produced some great rap albums, the funky psychedelic soul of this his third album is something different entirely. And it is amazing. Fresh off the success of his hit show Atlanta on FX, Donald Glover is showing himself to be a true black artist that people need to take heed of. One can hope he continues the sound he's honed here, but if recent interviews are any indication where Glover says it was not a fun album to make, we can probably expect something new on the next work of art. But a work of art it surely will be as I am learning to trust Glover to craft something amazing, no matter what it is.****

19. Cullen Omori - New Misery

With the dissolution of Smith Westerns, a lot of us weren't sure we'd be getting anything new from the men of that band, but one part went one way to form the AM radio esque indie band Whitney, and the other part, Omori, went off to write solo albums. This is his first, on Sub Pop, and it's great glam rock similar to Smith Westerns, and psychedelic indie rock like Tame Impala. Truly a treat to listen to. Sort of if David Bowie and Beatles had formed a power group.****

20. Dance With the Dead - The Shape

Synthwave (or outrun) is a genre that mines the 80's for musical influence. Bands like Dance With The Dead play music like what you'd hear off of an 80's horror movie, but with a synth/industrial twist. Like Absolute Valentine above, they are mostly instrumental cinematic music. My favorite genre right now, so a few made it onto this list as you'll see.****

21. DIANA - Familiar Touch

Another awesome synth-pop band, DIANA's Familiar Touch is such a great album. With the 80's becoming cool again, and genres like synthwave taking the full dive, many indie pop bands are experimenting with synth music too, and DIANA is one of the better ones. Truly a treat to listen to. Guardian didn't know what it was talking about when it called this album "criminally boring." it's not boring at all.

22. Dinner - Psychic Lovers

Dinner is Danish singer/songwriter Anders Rhedin (formerly of Choir of Young Believers), and the first thing you might notice about his lo-fi synth pop sound is how different his voice sounds, a deliberate choice on his part. I like it. But it is different. The music is good, and well done chillwave synth pop, but it's his voice that really establishes it as his own sound.***

23. DMA's - Hills End


90's Brit rock a la Oasis is probably not on many people's list of "music they just must have being made right now." but if it was DMA's would be the band to listen to. I love it, but then I love Oasis.***

24. Doug Tuttle - It Calls On Me

Ex-MMOSS singer Doug Tuttle writes awesome psychedelic indie rock/freak folk. Favorite song, "Make Good Time." ***

25. Drugdealer - End of Comedy

Drugdealer's End of Comedy is a pastiche of 70's sound, from Carol King-esque piano, to Burt Bacharach to Laurel Canyon folk to even New York subway jazz from Michael Collins (RUN DMT, Salvia Plath), and while it's not my most favorite album of the year (though it might grow on me), it's on the list for the amazing song 'Suddenly' featuring Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood, which is my favorite song of the year.***  

stay tuned next week for 26-50 


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