The Best Albums Of 2016
I should start out saying that I really only discovered 10 or so of these albums on my own. I found the rest on over 20 different lists of the best music of 2016. So, I looked at all the albums that the professionals listed as being the best and I listened to them and then ranked them according to how I thought they should be. I excluded a lot of albums that are on many best albums list this year because I didn’t like them and thought they were pretty overrated and her hyped. Most of these albums are just the albums that I loved front to back and listened to repeatedly. That’s the mark of a great album to me. Can you put it on from song number 1 and just let it play through the whole way? do you feel the urge to listen to it repeatedly every day?
and for me this year, it was no competition. The album that I played over and over again and my pick for the best album of the year is:
1. Anderson .Paak: Malibu
My Top 30 albums of 2016
1.Anderson .Paak: Malibu
This album had it all. To me this album has pretty much everything I want to hear. It’s hip-hop, it’s jazz, its soul, funk, gospel, its soft rock, its R&B.Its amazing.sometimes musicians try and copy a sound of the past and it winds up sounding exactly like that, just a copy. with paak, it sounds like he really is a new fresh artist that borrows from all different types of genres old and new and manages to sound like something fresh and exciting. I tend to like more electronic sounds but I’m a sucker for brass and drums and when I found out that Anderson plays the drums and sings, I was sold. I love the story that this album plays out as well. Its a story of struggle, trials and tribulation and success. This album is a full play through track 1 -16 of pure bliss. Its deep and emotional and fun and funny and you can hear all the emotions in paaks voice which is a very unique voice in music right now. This is the perfect album to listen to anytime anywhere. most importantly, its feel good music. Its uplifting and inspirational.
This is the best beatmaker, chill vibe dance music DJ out right now. This is the merge of hip hop and dance music I’ve been waiting for. All the sounds I love are right here on this album. It’s psychedelic hip hop dance music that is done perfectly right. This is another full listen through for me. It’s relentlessly chill with great beats, unique sound, and great features from Vic Mensa, Aluna George, Craig David, and Anderson Paak. For me Vic Mensa absolutely crushes it on Drives me crazy. It’s one of the sickest flows I’ve heard in a long time. I can listen to this album solo with my headphones on or throw it on at a party and let it roll through. I’m going to be listening to Kaytranadas 99.9% for a long time.
3.Bon Iver: 22, A Million
What can I say about Bon Iver? The dude is doing something no one else is doing. He’s making indie folk electronic rock/r&b/ I don’t know what. It’s almost ethereal at times and at other time it’s a mess of weird offbeat sounds and noises but somehow manages to maintain a consistent awesomeness throughout.His old stuff is amazing, but this growth that he shows here is impressive, unique and captivating. One thing Bon Iver does better than anyone else is his use of the human voice to communicate emotions and layer them at different tones and sounds to and thus creating instruments out of vocals. He’s living in the future on this one and will most likely inspire other artists to emulate this new future folk sound.
4.Danny Brown: Atrocity Exhibition
Danny Brown is like the Kevin Parker of Hip-hop. Kevin Parker of Tame Impala is a one man show, and so is Danny Brown. (Actually, they should do a collab together. That’d be interesting) The beats are dope, the emotion is raw and real, and the rhymes are tight. But, Danny Brown isn’t typical pure “beats” It’s a very unique sound and rhythm and tone.There’s no one in hip hop that sounds like Danny Brown. I think He’s got a very good vision of who he is and what he likes and he sticks to that. This is a mix of a Detroit psychedelic techno, punk rock with a touch of gangster rap. It’s not so heavy handed though, there’s a sense of humor and absurdity in browns music. It’s very complex, and like Bon Iver, Browns use of his vocal range is used as an emotional instrument. Danny brown Is the type of musician I would want to party with.
5.Kanye West: The Life Of Pablo
Kanye West is an insane person. I don’t know what this man really thinks. Does he really have this big of an ego and is he really this insane or is it all a show, like a character that he creates to handle his level of fame because he’s really an introverted nerd. maybe he’s a bipolar manic depressive? I don’t know but if there’s any album that seems to fit that mental description its The life of Pablo. It’s a manic mess. But it’s great. It sounds like a creative burst with no real direction, just bursts of greatness and dare I say, genius? this word gets thrown around Kanye a lot and I think there’s truth to it. theres no doubt about it the man is a musical genius. His influence on music and hip-hop specifically has been game changing. All of Kanye’s albums have been thematic and major. Yeezy, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, 808’s and Heartbreak, Graduation, etc.. but this one feels appropriate for Kanye’s moment now. He’s already peaked, now he’s on the way down. Its inevitable. that’s the way it goes for all artists in music, film, comedy, etc. Having said that Kanye’s worst is still better than many others best. there’s a lot fo great songs on this album. It’s pretty much a straight listen through with a few exceptions that feel out of place,, but I love the manic, megalomaniac and chaotic feel of this version of Kanye. I like my Kanye to be out of his mind.
6. Run The Jewels: RTJ3
I had to re-do this list to include this album. I didn’t realize it dropped on Dec 24th. So, I just listend to it and, Its amazing! Killer Mike brings the heat on the lyrical front and EL-P drops the hammer with the beats. On their previous RTJ albums I felt like there were some song that I skipped over, but not on this one. This one is song to song amazing. Great features by Zach de la Rocha again, Danny Brown, and Kamasi Washington. It’s sonically complex and filled with energy and excitement at every turn.
7.Glass Animals: How To be A Human Being
“Pineapples are in my head” is one of their lyrics. This is just fun with no meaning, and its great.Glass Animals are a band that seemed to get overlooked this year. I don’t know why. They are making very unique and exciting music. This Album is not as great as their debut album a few years ago, Zaba, but It’s still great. They may not have anything important to say, but who cares. This is the kind of music I love. I love this sound. I don’t know what they are, but I like it. They seem like a tropical house indie rock band. Whatever it is it sounds good to my ears. There doesn’t seem to be anyone making this kind of complex genre-defying music. I also like how remixable they are. there seems to be a ton of remixes of their songs and that’s pretty cool to em as well.
8.A Tribe Called Quest: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
I may not totally agree with some of the things they say in their lyrics like when they sing about needing more”che figures” I don’t think we need any more murderers in this world, so I’ll pass on that. But the music is good so I can overlook some of their missteps. I’m judging based on quality of music first and subject matter is secondary. This is great hip-hop with chill vibing beats and great rhymes from old school mcs. It’s a breath of fresh air to me amongst all the mumble rappers talking nonsense. These guys take a hard political stance and represent their culture and opinion with style and grace. I think Roger Daltrey of the who said that rock n’ roll is dead and that hip-hop is where everything important is happening. I think I have to agree with him on this and that’s what this album feels like. an important thing happening.I hope this influences new hip hop artists to make more music as cool as this.
9.Kendrick Lamar: Untitled Unmastered
Really not a huge Kendrick fan, although I loved last years To Pimp A Butterfly. I didn’t love this. That being said, I still think its a pretty great album. Its a lighter and quieter and more minimal album. more of a headphones album than speakers album. To pimp a Butterfly had way more life to it. This just seems like the extras that weren’t good enough to make the cut.But like Kanye’s Life of Pablo , Kendricks worst is better than all the others best. I’m just being highly critical of him in comparison of last year’s smash hit that was nearly perfect.
10.Whitney: Light Upon the Lake
It feels like a 60’s soft rock album. Its chill and subtle. It’s good indie folk rock that you can play anywhere. I think this is a headphones listen or a long car ride. It takes me back to maybe a fictional past in small town America, when times were simpler and life was easy going and quiet.
11. Blood Orange: Freetown Sound
This is one of those albums that I feel like is already a classic upon first listen. Everyone loved Frank Oceans album blonde and hailed it as the best new R&B, but I didn’t like it. I thought it was too singular and quiet. Blood Orange is expansive, funky, soulful, smooth, and political but not so in your face. It has great songs, great beats, its upbeat at times and smooth and downtempo as well. He’s got a great voice, and there are some good features.This is my favorite kind of R&B. Deeply personal but examining the world at large and the culture, touching on importing issues and celebrating his race with pride. It’s a great album.
11. The 1975: I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
I can’t quite think of who they remind me of. They don’t sound like the talking heads but they sound as inventive and bold as them. Maybe like Duran Duran but more intelligent and deeper. Not quite Bowie. Maybe more like Hot Chip? I don’t know. They’re like some kind of pop punk shoegazing 80’s rock band mixed with a synth pop band that you’ve heard before but from the future. I feel as if I’ve heard these songs before, but I haven’t and that’s why this album is great. It could’ve been a hit in 1984. They have a ton of great songs on this one and it feels familiar without copying.I actually didn’t like them when I first heard them in 2013, I thought they were just a tween fad, but they are more complex and mature on this one. It was hard for me to include them this high up because I originally thought their songs were fun and good but not great, then when I started replaying it over and over I had to admit that my guilty pleasure is the 1975.
The beats are great, and the vocals are smooth.I found myself listening to this in my headphones often. I knew it was going to be one of my favorite albums because of the repeat listens. Each song has great flow, rythm and vocals. It glides from one end to the another without interruption like butter. I can relate to the singer’s desire to be included in the party but also alone. I mean, this is the kind of music I would listen to alone anyway. This isn’t party music or gym music. More like rainy November depression music. I can just listen to this an enjoy it all the way through and that’s the mark of a good album for me. Its smooth and feels effortless but there’s a lot going on and it pops in all the right places. I like the really weird detached music videos too.
13.James Blake: The Color in Anything
I dunno. Not much to say about James Blake. At first I hated him , but then I was high one night and listened to his soulful style croon into my headphones and accepted the fact that this pasty white brit can make some emotional and powerful moving music that has slow building and deep crashing beats. To me, this is solo headphone music. If you’re going through some shit, maybe in a relationship, throw on some Blake and chill out for a Lil bit, he’s going through the same thing too.
14.Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Ears
I don’t know what this is, but It sounds pleasing to my ears.I like it and I wish it was longer.
15.Swet Shop Boys: Cashmere
To continue on the lead singer of the who’s quote “everything important is happening in rap” This album is fucking great. It’s funny, political, its got amazing beats that you will not hear anywhere else and it’s an important album. Plus, it’s got star wars rogue one castmember, Rez Ahmed. Awesome! I’m a huge fan of what we here in the west call “world music” I love African, Indian, Caribbean and south American music among others. This album takes the cultural roots of its middle eastern mc’s and lets them shine trough modern hip hop beats and political rhymes that touch on heavy subjects but also contain a light humorous feel to them that makes it easy to bop your head to and rap along.
16. Aphex Twin: cheetah
great electronic music
17.dvsn: Sept 5th
r&b that I can actually listen to. These are the guys behind Drakes beats, and I did like some Drake songs this year I didn’t love his album.This is the kind of Album you can put on and get busy to.
18.The Range: Potential
chill dance music
19.Mndsgn: Body Wash
funky and chill.
20.Paul Simon: Stranger to Stranger
It’s paul Simon! Paul Simon is one of my favorite artists of all time. He’s back with a legit good album. Graceland is one of my favorite albums of all time and this is Graceland-esque
21. Carseat headrest: Teens Of Denial
I really don’t like rock music anymore. I kind of put this up here because I feel like I can’t totally let it go. So, there were a few rockers that I thought were good but I think car seat Headrest was prob the best. It just sounds too familiar to me and done already. he sounds like Julian Casablancas, and I feel like I’ve heard all these songs already but fuck it.I liked it.
22. Sturgill Simpson: A sailor’s guide to earth
Im suprised how much I like this. It took me a few listens before including this one becasue I really dont like country music. but its good. and its more than typical country music.
It’s got hits and misses. maybe more misses than hits but the hits are really good. so, fuck it. I’m sure I could find an album that I could rationalize putting here instead of Drake but I’m not going to exclude it just to be contrarian because it’s too mainstream. If its good, its good. I kept saying I wasn’t going to put Drake on this list because I only liked a few songs on his album. I wish the album was only 12 songs instead of 20. It would’ve been way better. It’s too familiar, monotone and repetitive. The stand out for me is one dance and of course hotline bling. you can’t deny the popularity, impact and quality of these songs.
24.LVL Up: Return To Love
I had this one on and off multiple times but fuck it, I like it and I’ll give it a spot on this list. They’re good but they just sound so familiar and not in a good way. Its like a copy. they sound like the pixies and pavement.
25..Rufus Du Sol: Bloom
solid dance album all the way through
26.Childish Gambino: “Awaken my love”
borrowing from a George Clinton sound, its funkadelic for sure and fun
The guys behind stranger things music let the synths shine here.
feel good music. They’re like the electronic version of Explosions in the Sky.
29. Lindstrom: Windings
If you like Todd Terje you’ll like this. It’s fun and upbeat electro syhtn pop.
30. Anohi: Hopelessness
I really didn’t even want to include this album up here because her voice sucks. It’s way too overdramatic and it just doesn’t sound good at all. In fact I kind of hate it, but I included this album up here for its production, its beats and most importantly, its subject matter. No one is making anti-war/ anti-state music like this nowadays, and they should be. So congrats for taking that on and making it appealing.
Most Overrated Albums:
1.Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool
I mean its ok. I guess. To me, it just seems like Thom Yorke making long extended noises that he thinks is singing. It just doesn’t work for me, and My favorite Radiohead album is In Rainbows. That to me was a masterpiece and everything else they’ve done since just seems like its trying to copy that style and it just hasn’t been able to live u to it. I think that was their peak. It’s been all down hill from there, but everyone’s too afraid to say that Radiohead sucks now.They don’t really suck but they’re just not making interesting, inventive music anymore. It all sounds the same to me. The only song I like from the album is Full Stop and I put that on my best songs list.
2.Chance The Rapper: Coloring Book
I really don’t get the hype at all. I don’t really know what else to say. I think chance is good as a guest feature on other tracks but his own album is too much of him. I just don’t find him to be interesting or compelling at all.
3.Frank Ocean: Blonde
I can’t believe all the hysteria around this album. I really am not impressed at all. It just seemed so quiet and monotone. Nikes is horrible. I hate that chipmunk voice. I wish he had done that song in his regular singing voice or auto tune. To me, Channel Orange is lightyears better than this.
4.David Bowie: Blackstar
David Bowie died this year. Look, his old stuff was amazing it was great. that is when David Bowie was in his musical prime and relevant as an inventive boundless artist, but this isn’t good. Just because he died this year doesn’t mean this album is good.
5.as for Beyonce and Solange and other female artists. Its hard for me to judge because I just don’t listen to it. Maybe its good, but not for me.
The Best Songs Of 2016
Check them out and follow my spotify playlist. Also Check out my favorite songs from 2015 on Spotify as well.