Sound Waves Top 25 Albums of 2016
What a year it’s been. A year of loss, reflections and stunning surprises.
Music has a way of capturing the mood and emotions of the moment. David Bowie, always the leader, started off the year with his final album. The rest of the music world followed. Many albums this year were about loss, yet most are still searching and hoping things will be ok. Here is our top picks for 2016
1. David Bowie - Blackstar
David Bowie released his 25th album on his 69th birthday. 2 days later David died of cancer. What an amazing gift he left the world. A stunning blend of modern jazz & sonic hard hitting beats.
2. Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial
After releasing a slew of songs on the internet, 24yr old Will Toledo put his songs about girls, drugs and killer whales into one heck of a full length album.
3. Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Justin Veron’s third album embraces electronic textures and cryptic lyrics. His songs are just as heartfelt, but now they are clouded by digital chatter. A reflection of our times.
4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree
Shrouded in death and loss. These are themes Cave usually dwells in, but this time it’s for real. Cave’s son died while putting this album together. Heart wrenching.
5. Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
Like Bowie, Cohen was a dark romantic. His songs were often filed with love and loss. On his final album, Cohen looks on his own mortally, realizing life is rich and satisfying.
6. Hamilton Leithauser/Rostam - I Had A Dream That You Were Mine
Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) and Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend) team up for an Indi music blockbuster. Leithauser’s boyish yelps combines Rostam sophisticated rhythms.
7. Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
Kevin Morby has the time worn sound of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen in the 1970’s, yet he is not yet 30. A voice to watch.
8. Angel Olsen - My Woman
Olsen transforms from a timid folk singer to a snarling punk rocker. “Shut Up And Kiss Me” is one of the year’s best.
9. Parquet Courts - Human Performance
Just when you think this Texas band will spin out of control, they come back to earth to make another hard hitting album.
10. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
Radiohead fans rejoiced to hear new versions of some live concert favorites. Cool techno beats with splashes of real piano sounds mix perfectly with singer Thom Yorke's heartfelt voice. The band is maturing, yet not settled down yet.
11. Whitney - Light Upon The Lake
From the ashes of 2 other bands (Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra) their debut is a warm blend of folk and indi rock.
12. Steve Gunn - Eyes On The Lines
Gunn’s hush, hazel voice and his trippy guitar tones is a real joy to hear.
Expand your mind.
13. The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful
Yet So Unaware Of It
Big rock sounds like late 80’s Duran Duran or INXS. The 1975 don’t take themselves too serious, that why you can dance to it. Just don’t call them a boy band.
14. Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
Sturgill’s country roots show through on his 2nd album. He can easily flow from country stompers to a Nirvana ballad. A stunning Grammy nomination nod as well.
15. Margo Price - Midwest Farmers Daughter
Old school country songs about drinking and cheating. Margo rises above the current flavor of country singers. Credit to Jack White’s Third Man Records for putting it out.
16. The Frightnrs - Nothing More To Say
This NYC band does classic Jamaican rocksteady music. Sadly lead singer Dan Klein died of ALS before the album was released. Let’s hope the band continues the forgotten rock steady sound that Klein brought to light.
17. Chris Staples - Golden Age
Don’t let the laid back sound fool you, Staples songs sound like a man who wants to put the past behind. After several personal hardships, Staples is not looking back.
18. Warpaint - Heads Up
The L.A band’s 3rd album finds the band exploring hip-hop and contemporary R&B. Not exactly Beyonce, the band known for their down-tempo beats finally loosen up a bit.
19. Anohni - Hopelessness
Anohni, former Anthony & The Johnson's singer, never shy about difficult subjects. Here she uses electronics to explore war, drones, human rights, climate change and Obama. In light of recent events, Anohni will have much to sing about in the near future.
20. Dawes - We’re All Gonna Die
Laurel Canyon meets Radiohead. Added electronics, vocalist Taylor Goldsmith’s lyrics are thoughtful. The band sounds freer to let their hair down to have fun.
21. Frank Ocean - Blond
Frank Ocean sets is own pace. Ocean takes on difficult subjects head on. Like Kendrick Lamar, Oceans songs are thoughtful commentary on life. His subjects are beyond race, struggles that everyone faces though out life.
22. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression
Not sure what Iggy needs to be depressed about anymore. Pop has conquered more hardships than any of us would see in 50 lifetimes. Iggy has made it this far, his raw power still intact. Props to Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and the killer band.
23. Wilco - Schmilco
A laid back affair for Tweedy & Co. The band has recently performed stripped down sets in concert, including a NPR Tiny Desk session. They seem to now enjoy making music simply.
24. Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker - Overnight
This British duo have released a timeless folk album. Clarke’s voice sounds as natural in a church cathedral, jazz club or by a camp fire. Beautiful arrangements make this a treasure.
25. The Record Company - Give It Back To You
Music to the core. 3 musicians move to L.A to find work, only bringing their love of raw blues music. The essence of great rock records, The Record Company bring it own home.