2016 was quite a year. I’ve heard it described as a “terrible movie with a great soundtrack”, and I don’t entirely disagree. This year, we lost David Bowie, George Martin, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and so many more – and that was just in the music world! However, this year was full of excellent albums, and I had a ridiculous amount of trouble picking this year’s top 10. So here’s to all of the excellent music in 2016, and let’s hope that 2017 continues the trend of incredible albums – just maybe with a better year in general!
Just like before, each album features genres and a quick summary, but you can click on the title to read a full review!
Genres: alternative rock, alternative pop, indie pop, indie rock
Utilizing attention-grabbing melodies and unorthodox setups, The Mowgli’s are unconventional, but experienced beyond their years as a band, and they’ve always been ahead of the alt-pop genre. Where’d Your Weekend Go? captures this originality perfectly without straying too far from their typical alternative indie pop sound. With catchy melodies, Katie Jayne Earl’s raspy vocals, and synth-laden guitar chords – even incorporating jazz influences on several songs – this album is somehow even more satisfying than the band’s previous releases. I’ve always been a fan of The Mowgli’s, and Where’d Your Weekend Go? is no exception.
Genres: alternative rock, indie rock, rock, alternative
With Blue Healer’s power pop self-titled, there’s almost a guarantee that you’ll never be bored. Each song has something different, whether it’s shimmering guitar hooks, spacey vocals, or grungy aesthetics, and its danceability is off the charts. Throughout the album, lighthearted, ethereal vocals are contrasted by heavy synth and guitar while catchy hooks wrap themselves around your brain. Blue Healer is upbeat, intricate, and just funky enough to make sure you don’t zone out. It’s a perfect album to listen to while driving – something I’m always on the lookout for – but most importantly, it’s good, wholesome indie rock.
Genres: dance rock, indie pop, indie rock
Despite not technically being an album, I felt like I had to include this one. Royal Teeth is back and better than ever with Amateurs, an impossibly upbeat album that captures the sparkling essence of youth in its seven enthralling tracks. Lead vocalist Nora Patterson provides a silky smooth, ethereal overlay to the upbeat instrumentals, and each track is hit-single-worthy. Impossibly positive lyrics mesh perfectly with danceable tunes, and each song is wildly different to keep you from getting bored – but with similar undertones to link it all back together. This album saved me from a terrible day, and I think that sums up everything you need to know about it.
Genres: alternative, alternative rock, indie pop, indie rock
I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It lives up to The 1975’s previous success, if not topping it. Almost like a movie soundtrack, the album’s ethereal sound combines Matty Healy’s suave vocals with tingly harmonies and layered synth. Each song sounds upbeat – that is, until you actually listen to the lyrics, like the ones about struggling with a cocaine addiction in UGH!. ILIWYS, as it’s affectionately referred to, evokes intense emotions and proves even further that The 1975 is not slowing down any time soon.
Genres: electronic pop, electronic rock, pop-punk
Once again, a former member of My Chem is breaking expectations left and right. Mikey Way and David Debiak form Electric Century, an electronic rock duo who’s been quiet since their formation in 2014. This year, we got For The Night To Control, an upbeat, mysterious album that’s packed full of funky chord progressions and rocking bridges. The band layers suave synth over dynamic percussion, creating a perfect mix of mystery and heavy ethereality. For The Night To Control takes total opposites and blends them together, creating one uniform product that’s intricate, rhythmic, and out of this world.
Genres: alternative rock, classic rock, punk, punk rock, rock
Unapologetically bold and earth-shatteringly loud, Green Day’s Revolution Radio is full of classic pop-punk. From the powerful Bang Bang, written from a psychotic shooter’s point of view, to Forever Now’s rock-opera bitterness about wanting a revolution, the band’s pure passion for music shows through, setting them apart from the rest of the pop-punk world in a time when said passion is often stifled. Green Day’s cynical, rioting, rebellious selves show through in this brutally honest social commentary of an album, and at a time when American politics are so divided, Green Day takes a clear stand on the way they think things should be.
Genres: pop-punk, pop-rock
Waterparks, for those of you who don’t know, is classic pop-punk with an electronic twist. They’re upbeat and fun, and lead singer Awsten Knight has a certain pretty-boy charisma that adds to their positive vibe. Double Dare combines that charm with an irresistible danceability to create a genuinely fun record – although there’s certainly no shallowness to the lyrics. I’d never listened to Waterparks before this, assuming that they were just another pop-punk wannabe, but I couldn’t help but jam to this album for an entire week. To put it simply, Double Dare’s album cover is no lie – this music is just as colorful.
Genres: alternative, alternative rock, reggae, hard rock, electronic rock, post-hardcore
Shattering expectations with every song, Ray Toro (formerly MCR’s guitarist) presents Remember The Laughter, jam-packed with positive vibes. Despite having voiced concerns about his vocals on the album, Toro proves his prowess immediately with Isn’t That Something, continuing to showcase his strong voice throughout the album. Alongside his soothing vocals, nearly every song features a different guitar solo, ranging from mellow to upbeat. However, Toro never sacrifices power for those chill vibes. Remember The Laughter is about standing up and fighting for what’s right, it’s about believing in yourself, and it’s about holding on through the darkness. In other words, it’s precisely what 2016 needed.
Genres: alternative rock, pop-punk, post-hardcore, punk rock
After a name change and a bus crash, Frank Iero And The Patience are back (and better than ever). For their latest, Parachutes, Frank said he “needed to push [himself] a lot, almost to the brink” – which is evident in the powerfully raw sound. Sacrificing precision for passion, Iero puts absolutely everything (and more) into this record, leaving you exhausted after merely listening. It’s ragged, it’s desperate, it’s pure, unadulterated Frank Iero. Heavier in all senses of the word, Frank Iero and the Patience have completely reinvented their sound – and this change is definitely for the better.
Genres: alternative folk, ambient indie rock, alternative rock, folk rock, neo folk
The opposite of a “sophomore slump”, Daughter released Not To Disappear in mid-January. Full of hauntingly ethereal vocals and fluid, airy instrumentation, it’s a powerful, cathartic indie dream-pop album that manages to feel dreamy and heavy at the same time, and creates vivid images like shockingly red hair and Arizona deserts. Getting invested into the music is almost a given, to the point where any major change of sound feels like a deeper shift. Overall, the album is indescribable. To truly understand, as with any good album, it’s necessary to listen.
You have no idea how difficult it was to pick some of those albums. 2016 was full of wonderful albums, so I hope that your 2017 is just as musically blessed. Happy holidays, and I’ll see you in the new year!