My picks: 16 albums and 16 EPs of 2016
With the end of another year comes another (impossible) task of picking the records that influenced me the most during 2016. (Of course, there were more than 32 records that I blasted this year—for a full list of favorites, check out my Spotify playlist at the end.)
In alphabetical order, here are the 16 albums and 16 EPs that I couldn't get enough of in 2016. Happy listening.
My Picks: Albums of 2016
The 1975—I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It
Why you should listen: The 1975’s sophomore effort is the alt-pop record that took everything I loved about the self-titled and tossed in an extra dash of ‘80s influence to tie it all together in an album that reverberates off every heartstring.
My pick: “She’s American”
Against The Current—In Our Bones
Why you should listen: Against The Current’s sugary sweet debut album bleeds everything a solid pop-rock record should: catchy anthems, vocal charm and a ready-to-dance-along beat. (Read my full write-up for AltPress here.)
My pick: “Forget Me Now”
Bad Suns—Disappear Here
Why you should listen: Hook-heavy pop/indie rockers Bad Suns seemed to have continued in the trajectory from where their freshman record left off—the catchy riffs and a thoroughly addictive beat, all melted together with Bowman’s dreamy vocals, has been on repeat since its September release.
My pick: “Daft Pretty Boys”
Why you should listen: Brits Bastille continued their blur between pop and rock (and hell, taking a deeper stab at EDM) sensibilities with their second full-length—with a bigger sound that lives up to the success of Bad Blood, Dan Smith’s catchy, poignant tunes have found a way into my playlist (and memory) once again. (And film lovers, take note—Smith's continued arts & culture references are utterly brilliant.)
My pick: “The Currents”
Chase Huglin—You Deserve An Island
Why you should listen: Chase Huglin’s You Deserve An Island doesn’t stray from Huglin’s lush, endearing acoustic tunes that we’ve grown to love. But it’s evident that there’s a special precision, with each track existing as a piece of standalone art, but combined, each individual song creates a storyline that progresses fluidly from start to finish. (Read my full review here.)
My pick: “Here Right Now”
Fossil Youth—A Glimpse Of Self Joy
Why you should listen: Though Fossil Youth’s record is tinged with an introspective take on personal heartbreak and finding yourself, it thrives in its raw relatability. It’s brutally honest, a sincere effort from a band who has already taken it to the next level. (Read my full review here.)
My pick: “Late Night Swim”
Why you should listen: In a year filled with stellar sophomore efforts, nothing seemed to blow me away more than Microwave’s Much Love—intricate guitar and smooth as silk hooks meld perfectly into Nathan Hardy’s cozy yet distressing vocals, which seemingly embody every bit of doubt and raw intensity of simply trying to figure it out, making it one of the most relevant releases of my 2016.
My pick: “Whimper”
Modern Baseball—Holy Ghost
Why you should listen: Jake Ewald and Brendan Lukens split is brought together through love and loss and every struggle along the way—it’s an all-embracing, vocal reminder that none of us are going at it alone, no matter how shit life may be.
My pick: “Mass”
Why you should listen: After a successful run supporting I'll Keep You In Mind, From Time To Time, Moose Blood’s Blush combines everything to make it my favorite album of the year: striking lyrics, fluid guitar and Brewerton’s emotive vocals that remind us just why we fell in love with the emo-rockers in the first place.
My pick: “Honey”
Panic! At The Disco—Death Of A Bachelor
Why you should listen: Expertly walking the line between magical pop-rock and Sinatra-inspired classic, Panic! At The Disco proves that Urie can find a way to blend both old and new—without ever losing the extraordinary songwriting and theatrics that we fell in love with in the first place. (Read my review of the music video for “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” here.)
My pick: “House Of Memories”
Why you should listen: Pinegrove’s Cardinal seems to bring with it a dose of heartbreak and happiness all at the same time—bleeding sincerity, everything from the twanging guitar and mesmerizing lyricism make you consider every relationship, of special relevance when you’re just trying to figure it out (like me).
My pick: “New Friends”
PUP—The Dream Is Over
Why you should listen: Canadian punks PUP have thrown us one of the most blunt and fiery albums of the year—trenchant lyrics, screaming guitars and vocals to match all come to a close with a collective sigh to prove that PUP have made an album that we simply needed.
My pick: “Can’t Win”
Why you should listen: ROAM deliver irresistibly gruff vocals, riffy guitars and thundering rhythms, with tracks like “Head Rush” booming with serious pop-punk finesse alongside songs like “Tracks” proving that they can slow it down for an acoustic track just like the best of them. (Read my full write-up for AltPress here.)
My pick: “Deadweight”
Why you should listen: Bleeding California, SWMRS produced an album that carries the riffs, rhythms and tongue-in-cheek lyricism all blended together with a hint of Cali cool that kept these punks on my playlist all year long.
My pick: “Palm Trees”
Tiny Moving Parts—Celebrate
Why you should listen: The album of the year contender bleeds the energy of a basement party overflowing with cheap booze, authenticating the idea that life is all about perspective. (Keep an eye out for my profile on Tiny Moving Parts for Track 7, launching next month.)
My pick: “Breathe Deep”
Why you should listen: Waterparks are basically impossible to throw into a set genre, and that’s why you’ve gotta love ‘em—with an electronic take on pop punk, the band proves they can both knock up the dance-ability with tracks like “Take Her To The Moon” and slow it down in tracks like “21 Questions” with total ease.
My pick: “Gloom Boys”
My Picks: EPs of 2016
Beach Weather—Chit Chat
Why you should listen: Beach Weather released an EP in November that I can only wish was released back in June—it bleeds summer with the searing hooks and Santino’s irresistible vocals, making it the perfect addition to any playlist in next year's beach weather.
My pick: “Goddess”
Bonfires—A Reason To Get Home
Why you should listen: A Reason To Get Home is everything we could have wanted from Bonfires—poignant lyrics blended with Harvey’s sandpaper-rough vocals, backed by potent guitar and clean rhythms. If this EP proves anything, it’s that this band has taken a distinctive step towards a more emo-driven rock at the core, making me all the more excited to see where the band goes from here. (Read my previous review here.)
My pick: “Sympathy”
Can’t Swim—Death Deserves A Name
Why you should listen: You would ever guess that this is Can’t Swim’s first-ever release—or that they have hardly been a band for a year at this point. Each track on Death Deserves A Name lingers with a kind of dark, impassioned honesty that leaves me excitedly anticipating the group's debut full-length, Fail You Again. (Keep an eye out for my profile on Can't Swim for Track 7, launching next month.)
My pick: “Right Choice”
Why you should listen: Creeper should have been the band of 2016—The Stranger proves these Brit punks have the intricate strings, expert lyricism and vocal vivacity that seemingly embody the fact that misery never goes out of style—not as though we’d want it to.
My pick: “Valentine”
The Happy Alright—Vacancies
Why you should listen: Stretching across indie rock and pop-punk lines, Vacancies proves that The Happy Alright are finding their own niche in a genre where it's easy to become monotonous—a blend that’s as captivating as it is charming. (Read my profile with The Happy Alright here.)
My pick: “Throwing Darts”
Why you should listen: With piercing vocals, poignant lyrics and searing guitar riffs, Homesafe are growing with their sound—Evermore could easily be the record to propel the band forward in the most powerful way. (Read the premiere I wrote for AltPress here.)
My pick: “Exoneration”
Why you should listen: Michigan emo-rockers Hot Mulligan’s end of year release melds intricate strings and subtle-yet-powerful percussion, all packed with poignant lyricism, proving they are exactly what we'd want (and need) to close out this year of releases with a bang.
My pick: “Wait For It”
The Japanese House—Swim Against The Tide
Why you should listen: With every release, The Japanese House somehow finds a way to transport listeners to a world all her own. Amber Bain's strikingly euphoric aesthetic is once again achieved, and even expanded, in her infectious synth-pop 2016 release.
My pick: “Face Like Thunder”
Why you should listen: In an impressive release from my home state’s own Kayak Jones, the quartet prove that they have made their mark—with intricate strings and subtly driving rhythms all sealed with Tyler Zumhof’s impassioned vocals, we already can’t wait to see what their next move might be.
My pick: “It Hurt A Little”
Why you should listen: After finally stumbling upon LANY this summer, I realized there is no better time for that to have happened—the Cali group’s dreamy pop sound and Klein’s romantic vocals make me wonder if it’s possible to have a crush on a song, because if I could, that song would be “pink skies.” (Editor’s note: I have no shame in admitting this.)
My pick: “pink skies”
Life Lessons—I Know What I'm Not
Why you should listen: If Life Lessons isn’t on your radar yet, this year proves that they should be—I Know What I'm Not exudes everything a pop-punk record should: ardent vocals, dynamic guitar and driving rhythms, all oozing emotive lyricism that demands to be blasted at full volume. (Read my profile of Life Lessons here.)
My pick: “Reflecting” (or “Reflection” if you’re feeling extra emotional)
Why you should listen: Infused with La Dispute-inspired post-hardcore prose, and Balance and Composure’s emo-soaked rock, Movements pull from elements that are equal parts emotionally enthralling and brutally honest. (Read my full profile with Movements for CLRVYNT here.)
My pick: “Worst Wishes”
Sleep On It—Lost Along The Way
Why you should listen: 2016 has been the year for Chicago alt rockers Sleep On It—after their introductory “Burning At Both Ends” in early 2016, Lost Along The Way gives us spirited choruses and empowering lyrics tied together with a pop-inspired energy, clearly promising something incredible for their debut full-length set to be released in 2017.
My pick: “See You Around”
Sorority Noise—It Kindly Stopped For Me
Why you should listen: It Kindly Stopped For Me may be an emotional 11-minute listen, but the lullaby-like ambiance with a subdued kind of sadness streams fragile tears through speakers—it’s emotional, introspective and, most importantly, an honestly empathetic look at loss.
My pick: “Fource”
Tiny Kingdoms—I'll Wait Around
Why you should listen: Taking an acoustic spin on their most recent release, Tiny Kingdoms’ I'll Wait Around is a thunderstorm of emotion, presenting an emotionally-driven, openly raw side of the band from the powerful Stay, released earlier this year.
My pick: “Odds”
The Weekend Classic—When You Had Nothing / Forever Is Irrelevant
Why you should listen: Forever Is Irrelevant delivers anything a good pop-punk record should—intricate riffs, hard-hitting rhythms and fervent vocals. But their September release, When You Had Nothing, propelled the group forward with a sharper sound that’s distinctly their own. (Read my profile with The Weekend Classic here.)
My pick: “Monachopsis”
What are your thoughts on my end-of-year picks? Let me know what you think by shooting me a Tweet: @Maggie_Dickman.