My Favorite Albums of 2016
2016 was a garbage year, but there were some great albums, so let's focus on that for now.
- •Weyes Blood 'Front Row Seat to Earth'Light orchestral pop was not my mood this year, or anyone's mood it seems. Yet, Weyes Blood made its way into heavy rotation to give me a bit of bittersweet softness amidst all the doom and gloom.
- •David Bowie 'Black Star'It's the last album every musician probably wishes they could make, new, uncompromising, and purely Bowie. It also manages to be loaded with gallows humor that only Leonard Cohen's swan song several months later could come close to matching.
- •Radiohead 'A Moon Shaped Pool'The best Radiohead album since the last great Radiohead album is really good. It manages to scratch every itch you want from the band without falling into a predictable retread rut.
- •Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani 'Sunergy'Calling it ambient or drone seems disrespectful. It might be the year's prettiest album and every sound seems to find its perfect place.
- •Car Seat Headrest 'Teens of Denial'Rumors of the death of indie rock have been greatly exaggerated. Parquet Courts, Mitski, and others made great records this year, but CSH stands above them all. Every song here feels like it could be a hit if rock radio existed. Since it doesn't every song feels like a possible mix tape mind blower waiting to borough into your ears, head and heart forever.
- •Kanye West 'The Life of Pablo'Kanye's messiest album also happens to be one of my favorites of his. The best album maker of his generation made something that feels very 2016, in a good way.
- •Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 'Skeleton Tree'This thing leaves a mark. In a year when some of music's darkest visionaries reckoned with their own mortality Nick Cave gets stuck stewing in the worst kind of loss. It's a gut wrenching listen that eventually becomes surprisingly healing.
- •A Tribe Called Quest 'We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service'Not a throwback and not a modernized cash grab, this album feels vital, alive and new without selling out one of rap's greatest groups. A welcome breeze of positivity right when we needed it most.
- •Beyoncé 'Lemonade'Lemonade's tabloid narrative turns out to be the least interesting thing about the album. The mastery of diverse sounds and the pop perfection Beyoncé manages to squeeze out of each is what keeps me coming back.
- •Jenny Hval 'Blood Bitch'The discourse was incredibly hostile to women this year and it's nice to hear a woman dish a little hostility back. That said this album dips into incredibly pretty terrain even as it explores its themes of vampires and menstruation. It's all over in a very tidy 36 minutes that encourages us(me at least) to dive back in for another listen.