Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Justin's Favorite Music Albums of 2016 Part 4.

And so we come at last to the end, I have to admit it's been a bit of a chore, but it's also been kinda fun. I've enjoyed getting to talk about some great artists (albeit briefly) and introduce people to them. If you're interested in catching up on parts 1 - 3 as well as figuring out how I'm formatting this and whatnot check out the links to the right under the dates, these have all been posted in December of 2016.

I'll probably be going back to 25 or less next year, but hope you've enjoyed this and not just been overwhelmed or bored.

And now we finish this:

76. Run the Jewels - RTJ3

Playing a little fast and loose here because while Run the Jewels did release RTJ3 digitally in 2016, their physical release won't be til 2017. Despite that, I'm allowing it on my list because it's just such a fun, good rap album, as all their albums are. El-P and Killer Mike are masters.****

77. School of Seven Bells - SVIIB

A beautiful album of dream pop tunes that might be this band's last album, though I hope not, cause it's one of their best and only shows potential for greater and greater heights.****

78. Seth Bogart - Self - Titled

The titular Hunx from Hunx and His Punx, Seth Bogart creates infectious pop that is as much garage rock as pop. His newest album, and first true self release is both a celebration and critique of the celebrity culture that he lives in, with bouncy synth pop tunes and crunchy garage rock numbers. Throughout Bogart's sexuality (he is openly gay and even considers himself part of the "queercore" genre) plays a backdrop to his experiences of life around him, as is true of all of us, our identities always affecting our worldviews. It makes for an affecting, honest, happy album.***

79. Shearwater - Jet Plane and Oxbow

Shearwater plays that rare mysterious sound somewhere between rock and indie folk, not alt-country, more indie rock with folk influences. This continues on Jet Plane and Oxbow which derives as much influence from the 80's as from the indie folk from their past album. With help from music composer Brian Retzell (known for composing music for The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, and other films) this new album has a more cinematic and richer sound than they've ever had before.****

80. Shura - Nothing's Real

I heard of Shura while having a discussion about Carly Rae Jepsen believe it or not, who some friends were arguing that her newer album had a good synth sound. Someone mentioned Shura, and after listening to her I was in love. Synth pop that is infectious and fun, and even a little contemplative. With Kylie Minogue-esque sound and a strong sensibility for what makes good pop, Shura is sure to become a well known name in the music industry up there with Jepsen and others while also playing music worth listening to.***

81. Sin Fang - Spaceland

Like the name implies Spaceland is like an ambient electronic tour of the stars, and other worlds. Hailing from Iceland, and a part of the ensemble Seabear, Sin Fang usually plays a more earthy chamber pop/folk, but Spaceland is an adventure into a more electronic "future R&B" sound that is reminiscent of How To Dress Well, and other indie pop musicians. It's a really good album, and a nice new fresh direction for Sin Fang.***

82. Sound of Ceres - Nostalgia for Infinity

Being a major fan of the band Candy Claws, I was rightly excited when I heard that they'd branched off to form Sound of Ceres. And they did not fail to impress, Nostalgia For Infinity is a beautiful, stratospheric dream pop shoegaze record that feels very "infinite" and big. The album also features members from The Drums and Apples In Stereo, truly adding on to make a full, rich, sound that takes you on an adventure through the stratosphere of time and space.****

83. Springtime Carnivore - Midnight Room

"In my midnight room, I'll never stop dreamin of you." so says the title track, and the music is dreamy in just the same way, jangly, dreamy, folk pop with pianos and guitars that is a little bit Beach House as much as its own sound, and Greta Morgan's great voice to round out this amazing album. Definitely a great album that shows the potential for these artists.****

84. St. Lucia - Matter

One of the first albums I listened to in 2016, and still one of my favorites. Loud pop that is like a jolt of coffee, danceable and fun.****

85. Still Corners - Dead Blue

A little darker than their previous albums, Dead Blue is as much darkwave with it's synths as it is dream pop with its indie rock. It truly feels like the kind of album you might be listening to on a night drive through a dark and spooky forest like the cover shows. Spooky-pop, that should be a genre name.****

86. STRFKR - Being No One, Going Nowhere

I like to think of STRFKR as a sexier Passion Pit, but since I'm pretty sure they've been around longer than Passion Pit (or another similar band MGMT), you might say that those two are poppier versions of STRFKR (or their more NSFW name Starfucker), which plays funky indie pop that is danceable and head bobbable. This latest album is just as fun as the rest of their music, and just as danceable.***

87. T.O.L.D. - It's Not About The Witches

A good pop album that shows great potential to come. I also like to refer to this as "that album with the guy who looks like Joseph Gordon Levitt on the cover"***

88. Tancred - Out of the Garden

Definitely the most straight meat and potatoes rock of all the albums on these lists, Tancred is the solo work of Now, Now's guitarist Jess Abbot. A pure 90's "modern rock" sound. Gritty, grungy, and fun.***

89. Tasseomancy - Do Easy

Psychedelic indie folk that feels a bit like a drug trip (or so I'm sure, I wouldn't fully know lol). This is a very pretty album with atmospheric enchanting vocals.****

90. Thomas Cohen - Bloom Forever

Cohen was only 23 when his fiance, Peaches Geldof, died of heroin overdose. Throughout Bloom Forever Cohen uses late 70's-ish indie rock sounds to talk about grief, loss, and renewed hope. It's a sad and beautiful album.****

91. Tinpan Orange - Love Is A Dog

Pretty indie folk from this Melbourne Australia brother/sister duo who have made quite a name for themselves in Australia. ***

92. Tor Miller - American English

Few albums feel more "New York" than American English, with piano pop that you feel you might hear in a backroom bar, or on the stage of a local venue. It's a beautiful sound that feels like you're driving down the New York strip as the sun goes down, and the town is being lit up in electronic glow.***

93. VHS Glitch - Moral Decay

Rounding out my group of synthwave releases that I loved this year comes Moral Decay, another cinematic concept album about a cyberpunk dystopian future. With pulsing beats and synth sounds it stands out on its own merits as one of the best synthwave albums of the year.****

94. The Weeknd - Starboy

While Blood Orange channels Michael Jackson's more funky sound, The Weeknd is just straight up Jackson-eque pop and soulful hip hop/r&b. I'm a huge fan.This is definitely his most rap and r&b influenced album, and it's pretty great.***

95. Wet - Don't You

Sort of R&B influenced indie pop that has become popular these days with bands like Polica, Rhye, How To Dress Well, and Broods etc. Wet doesn't manage to inspire or enchant nearly as much as these other bands, but their brand of synth pop/r&b is always fun to listen to, and Don't You shows a lot of potential for the future.***

96. Weyes Blood - Front Row Seat To Earth

Well, if I were to pick any one album to be my favorite of the year, I think it would be this one (possibly tied with Kyle Craft). Every year I discover a new female voice that just enchants me, like Sera Cahoone, Tiny Vipers, Orenda Fink, Alela Diane, Basia Bulat, or Yowler in the past, and this year it's Natalie Mering aka Weyes Blood. Her voice is low and beautiful. Her music is straight up 60s/70s folk. And this album is my favorite of the year. **** #1

97. Wild Nothing - Life of Pause

Another one of my perenially favorite indie rock bands that consistently make great albums. Life of Pause is no exception. ****

98. Wymond Miles - Call by Night

The second solo album from Fresh & Only's guitarist, its a great psychedelic folksy rock album. ***

99. Yndi Halda - Under Summer

Probably the most anticipated album of well, the past several years, for me is Under Summer, and it does not fail to disappoint. A truly beautiful post rock record that unlike most bands in that genre also includes vocals. Post Rock is cinematic orchestral music, and this band is probably one of the most beloved of that genre. They've only put out one other album, and the wait in between was almost ten years for this their second album. A whole decade. But it was worth it, this album is everything good about the genre while also pushing it to new creative heights in a period where there seems to be a lot of stagnation. I'd put this at #2 on my list this year if we're going to tie Kyle Craft and Weyes Blood at #1. **** #2

100. Yuck - Stranger Things

Last, but not least, is Yuck's Stranger Things (no relation to the tv show). It's a great, loud, melodic rock record that continues in the indie rock shoegaze tradition of their earlier albums. ****

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