January 26, 2017

QuickCrit's Top 25 Albums of 2016

1. Frightened Rabbit - Painting of a Panic Attack

“No one sells depression and pain better than Scott Hutchinson. If you need richly toned songs about lives half-lived, crumbling relationships, and regrets, this album should be your first stop.”- Paul

“The National's Aaron Dessner's fingerprints are all over this album, and the partnership is a hauntingly beautiful one. Somehow, this album is both deeply sad and uplifting at the same time.” -

“Their mastery of celebratory self-loathing is peerless.” - Jesse

“On heavy rotation.” - Nesto

2. Beyonce – Lemonade

“The Lemonade film is the most amazing example of music and video I have ever seen. I cannot watch/listen to it without tearing up. I think that it is the women of the world who are going to get us out of some of the terrible bullshit going on these days. I’m with HER.” - Larson

“All hail Queen Bey! A surprise album drop full of deeply personal but instantly catchy songs? Yeah, that was pretty damn cool, but did you see that video??? That thing is stop-you-in-your-tracks beautiful. Oh, and Jay-Z, you better watch yourself or you're going to end up with a six-inch heel stuck in your back.” - Paul

“If you have not watched Lemonade, stop what you are doing and do so. You can come to my house and watch it. Be warned that I cry every time I watch.” - Serena

3. The Avalanches – Wildflower

“I listened to Since I Left you so much that I was honestly fine if nothing else ever came out of the Avalanches camp. Their ability to create familiarity out of that which is unfamiliar is astonishing.” - Eric

“Worth the wait!! Also the video for Because I'm Me is a joyful celebration of black bodies.” - Serena

“I'll be unpacking this album for all of 2017 too.  Dense with carefully curated samples and something like 14 years in the making.” - Tex

4. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo

“I’m a pretty mellow guy for the most part. However, if you try to tell me this isn’t art I hope you’re ready for me to talk at you for an hour.” - Larson

“Kanye West, I'm mad at you. You put out an amazing album and then did everything you possibly could do to 1) not let me hear it and 2) make me never want to hear you speak again.” - Paul

“Name one genius that ain't crazy, amirite!?” - Serena

5. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide to Earth

“Driving straight past his Nashville ascendance, this Waylon-loving iconoclast headed west to Memphis for a countrified soul epic.” - Jesse

“A country throwback who can channel the great ones with his own creativity. Clearly, the album is revered in and out of the country music scene and it’s really not surprising why.” - Eric

“Nods to Motown are throughout, but there's really not a single sound to pin down, it's truly an album worth listening to in order, in its entirety. And his Nirvana cover kicks serious ass.” - JT

6. Augustines - This is Your Life

“Even after nearly a decade of Augustines/Pela fandom, I still find the passion and emotion in their songs to be nothing short of addicting. If they are truly calling it quits for good, I will forever miss putting their albums in my top ten lists.” - Eric

“Pull me along on their stumbling late night anthems in a way that U2 and their ilk never could. Take a shot, spread your arms, and soar.” - Jesse

“An appropriate finale scene.” - Nesto

7. DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall

“I have routinely listened to "Nobody Speak" really loud while dropping my kids off to school (Kindergarten and First Grade). I suggest you do the same.” - Larson

“no words diks, right” - Dan

8. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

“An album that is content to lurk in the background without overwhelming the listener. The quiet allows the impassioned singing of Thom Yorke to shine in a way that somehow gets lost on more complex Radiohead albums. This is truly one of their best.” - Paul

9. Radiation City – Synesthetica

“‘Fully realizing their breathtaking potential. So many layers of art pop awesomeness.” - Jesse

“Oh, Radiation City, you've gone and made an amazing album! Beautifully paced, it holds back just enough to allow those moments when it lets loose with the soaring vocals to truly stand out. How will you ever top this? Oh, you're going to breakup and never make another album together? Yeah, seems reasonable.” - Paul

10. Sheer Mag – III

“Cranking up this album makes any day feel like Friday night and every beer taste like a High Life.” - Jesse

“Not an album. I know right?! These guys can do in 4 songs what it takes some bands 4 albums to do. If you aren’t moved by “Worth The Tears” I doubt you and I have much to talk about.” - Larson

11. Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

“I am in love with the trend of new young bands playing 90s style music with more technique and production. This band reminds me of a mash-up of Idlewild lyrics and fury with Hefner complexity and Boy/Girl vocals. I love this album.” - Larson

“They draw me in with their popping duets, but deceptively clever in their quirkiness.” - Jesse

12. Paul Cauthen - My Gospel

“Great throwback country album; cut from the same cloth as Merle and Waylon. This album probably benefitted the most from being released late in the year, because it’s been front of mind for the last few weeks, and I can't stop listening.” - Eric

“Is most listened to in Houston, Stockholm, Manhattan, and Austin. Win.” - Nesto

13. Candace - New Future

“Just packed with killer dreamy shoegaze. And as you'd hope, it's fantastically noisy live.” - Jesse

“The perfect amount of reverb. Crunchy and droning guitars. Vocals that almost fade into the background. This is shoegaze at its best.” - Paul

14. David Bowie – Blackstar

“I didn't like this album. I loved the man. I listened to this album more times than ANY other album this year and it's the only album that made me cry again and again...” - Rain

15. Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust

“Everybody wants a honeybody someday.” - Nesto

“I am a huge Kishi Bashi fan and love his live show. This album dropped off a little bit for me from his prior releases, but his talent and songwriting are still astounding.” - Eric

16. The Lumineers – Cleopatra

"They're trying really hard to replicate the "Hey Ho" earworm, and after hearing O-O-phe-LIA for a few months over and over I really did wind up liking it. In fact, if I listen to it shuffled with the debut, it all just kind of blends together." - JT

17. Bat For Lashes - The Bride

“I listened to this album while trying to fall asleep on Tuesday November 7th 2016, or what I like to refer to as the worst night of sleep ever. It helped.” - Larson

18. Manatee Commune - Manatee Commune

“The song ‘Second Guess’ was a standout track in a late night KEXP listening session. So clean and chilled out and technical without losing the human element. Listen to it start to finish and I bet you’ll want do it again.” - Larson

19. Photo Ops – Vacation

“I think most people needed a good feel-good album during this rather dark 2016, and Vacation was that album for me. Echoing the harmonies and patience of Pet Sounds, this album washes over you like a warm summer day and lifts the spirits like an ice cold High Life.” - Eric

“I hear some Fleet Foxes in these guys, just smelling less of campfire, which could mean they both just build on sweet Beach Boy indebted harmonies.” - Jesse

20. Summer Cannibals - Full Of It

“Damn, these songs are explosive. Feeling this righteous anger more than ever.” - Jesse

“Fast, fierce, and over in 33 minutes.” - Paul

21. The Record Company - Give It Back To You

“Rock and roll, people, doesn't lie. The Record Company gets down to business with some bluesy, rockin' tracks that come straight at you like some of the best bands from the 70s.” - Eric

“Only knock against this great retro soul/blues album is I started rocking half the songs so long ago that they sound fresh again. Luckily, the new songs are some of the best.” - Jesse

22. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter

“It's country because it has to be when the singer lived in a trailer, lived in a tent, went to jail, grew up on her daddy's farm before he lost it, and mentions whiskey in more than half the songs. And if you ever wondered what Loretta Lynn would have sounded like if she recorded a disco funk song with BB King cutting a solo in the middle of it, then check out "Four Years of Chances." - JT

23. The Head and the Heart - Signs of Light

“Major label signing and a major directional shift for Head and the Heart, from moody Northwest folk of the 2010s to sunny SoCal harmonies of the 1970s. It took me about a half dozen listens before it clicked, but once it did, I was hooked.”' - JT

24. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Nonagon Infinity

“I saw these Australian weirdos play and it felt at times like the place was going to explode. The non-stop energy of this band combined with zero fucks given of the crowd made for an incredible experience. They have songs with names like "Gamma Knife" and "Evil Death Roll"!!! Plus the album sequenced to play in a loop. Do it.” - Larson

25. Lucius - Good Grief

“Art pop masters let their identical hairdos down and get noisy.” - Jesse


Unknown said...

This rules! So much new music here!!

Thank you Jesse and Eric for putting this together and thank you to everyone who submitted their list.
Now let's go listen to music and change the world!

Brasilliant said...

It's a really solid and diverse list. I've enjoyed listening to each album I'd missed or never even heard of.

Rain Hiawatha Kernytsky said...

Thank you for adding this small amount of light to the darkness. Music has been getting me through so, in a way, this is the only list we've collectively compiled over the years that's been actually important. Keep listening. Keep fighting.

awmercy said...

Damn. Just listened to "Nobody Speak." That's a hell of a school drop off song! Set em straight.