I’m especially excited to put together my personal list this year, because 2016 has been an incredibly diverse year for music. Music across all genres has been really good. Indie mainstays like Radiohead and Bon Iver delivered on expectations while young’uns Car Seat Headrest and Pinegrove are leading the new generation of indie rock, hip-hop saw several surprises (beginning with untitled. unmastered. and ending with “Awaken My Love!”), and even country got its due with Sturgill Simpson. Not to mention the farewell records from David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, both foreboding in their own ways. I always like when I go outside my rock comfort zone, and there were so many good releases this year across the board to aid my discovery.
The stigma in our society is that being sad is a choice and a weakness. But as Mitski said in her interview with Brooklyn Magazine, “What I think everyone is looking for right now is to be able to be not good or not okay, and not have that devalue them in any way.” What Mitski has taught me with Puberty 2 is that to be not okay is okay.
2. Car Seat Headrest – Teens Of Denial
Indie rock anthems for Generation Z. Songs about fighting depression and drunk driving are lyrically and musically beyond any rock album this year.
3. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank U 4 Your Service
One of the biggest surprises of the year was the announcement of a new album from A Tribe Called Quest, particularly so soon after the death of integral member Phife Dawg. Needless to say, the album’s message coinciding with the gravity of this year’s election makes it one of the most important pieces of art from this year.
4. David Bowie – Blackstar
The Starman left us with his magnum opus – an album that transcends “genres” and is meant to last, along with David Bowie’s magnificent legacy as an artist and human being.
5. Blood Orange – Freetown Sound
Blood Orange ended last year with the release of “Sandra’s Smile” in memory of the injustice in the death of Sandra Bland. Continuing in his path of social justice through music, Freetown Sound is a stark painting of what it is like to live as an black man in New York City. The grooves, synths, and stories are undeniable.
6. Bon Iver – 22, A Million
7. Mothers – When You Walk A Long Distance, You Are Tired
8. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
9. Pinegrove – Cardinal
10. Deerhoof – The Magic
Extra Favorites Songs of the Year:
Lambchop – “The Hustle”
Angel Olsen – “Shut Up Kiss Me”
Mal Devisa – “Sea Of Limbs”
AURORA – “Conqueror”
Kishi Bashi – “Hey Big Star”
Maggie Rogers – “Alaska”
Wilco – “Normal American Kids”
Margaret Glaspy – “Aphasia”
Sturgill Simpson – “Oh Sarah”/”In Bloom”
James Blake – “Radio Silence”