2016’s been quite a ride, are we right? Along with our editorial staff’s Best of 2016 Awards, each member of our executive team has hand-selected their favorite albums of the past year. Enjoy reading this eclectic list of albums from 2016, and let us know which albums you liked the best!
Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
I was introduced to Car Seat Headrest last year and instantly fell in love. When Teens of Denial came out in the spring of last year, the album became the soundtrack of my summer. Car Seat Headrest’s catchy and loud guitar riffs mixed beautifully with angsty, humorous, and at times even relatable lyrics, and was like something I had never heard before. What I love most about Car Seat Headrest is how most of their songs start soft and mellow and quickly build into blaring indie-rock tunes that you can’t help but sing/scream along to, off-key, by the end of each song. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys play live back in October at Treasure Island Music Festival and they absolutely killed it, causing me and the rest of the audience to crave more.
Songs worth checking out: “Fill in the Blank,” “Destroyed by Hippie Powers,” “Drugs With Friends,” and my personal favorite, “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”
Angel Olson – My Woman
From happiness to sadness, from hope to pain, from togetherness to loneliness; all the feelings in love blend perfectly in this melody-driven album. Inspired by ’60s pop music, punk-rock, and even synth-pop, Angel Olson’s new album breaks through the limitation of rock and takes things to another level. The synth-oriented opener, “Intern,” sets the tune for the entire album, in that she’s always been true towards herself and fearless towards love, even though the ending would be heartbreaking. The rock, lo-fi structured first half of the album comes very straightforward. While the grunge-rock guitar and furious drumbeats in “Shut Up Kiss Me” makes the pain even more painful, the 60s pop-oriented “Never Be Mine” is a bittersweet obsession. The eight-minute remarkable song “Sister” is definitely my favorite song off of the album, and the elaborate arrangement of “Woman” fully demonstrated her solid experience in music. I’m in love with this new album, and can’t wait to see her show at the Neptune Theater next year.
Whitney – Light Upon the Lake
The boys of Whitney sure know how to make a girl feel complete and utter melancholy. Released in early June of 2016, Whitney’s first LP, Light Upon The Lake, is the epitome of reminiscing an old love. After both experiencing recent breakups, Julien Ehrlich (previously in Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and Max Kakacek (previously in Smith Westerns) bought a tape machine and started toying with the idea of making music together. But what started off as a simple way to creatively cope with their current hardships turned into one of 2016’s best debut albums. Light Upon The Lake seems like a collection of all of the most intimate, warmest pieces of a fond, old relationship that are told through the melodies, hooks, and lyrics of an album. All of the tracks on this album are cohesive and blend intricate guitar riffs with sweet horn lines and reminiscent lyrics. From the lovingly regretful tones in “Polly” to the retrospective tinges in “Golden Days,” this entire album will get you feeling so, so tender. The feels, am I right?
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
This Unruly Mess I’ve Made is Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ long-awaited four-year follow-up to The Heist, bringing with it the same passionate voice from previous albums and EPs, but matched with new sounds and relevant lyrical content. The album is an analysis of the “mess” created not only by the duo, but the “mess” that we are all living in. The diverse array of sounds within the album gives something for everyone, from the energizing dance floor hit “Dance Off” to the soulful account on the dangers of prescription medicine that is “Kevin.” The free and intimate launch show of this album at Neumos was an absolute treat, making this album drop a special and memorable experience for fans living in Macklemore’s home city of Seattle.
The Lumineers – Cleopatra
The Lumineers’ Cleopatra includes songs that’ll remind you of a warm summer’s evening, but more specifically a summer’s evening a little before you have to go back to work. It’s happy, bittersweet, a bit sad, and it makes you feel. Some of my favorites on the album include the title track, a folksy ballad with a happy, dance-barefoot-outside feel to it; “Angela,” a sadder song with a hopeful tinge to it that’s easy to belt out in your car; “Sleep on the Floor,” a feel-good theme song for your next cross-country road trip; and the hit single “Ophelia,” is the well-known sing along that’s worth listening to whenever you’re feeling down. Overall, the album is enchanting, and a great addition to your folk/pop music library. The music videos to these are just as exciting and as aesthetically pleasing as you think they’ll be, but don’t forget to listen out for that ethereal and slightly mysterious piano riff that’s played in some of them.
Pull from this album the next time you are hosting your annual Seattle-hipster/ folk summer BBQ!
Moenai Hai – The Gerogerigegege
Okay, so maybe we had a few alright comeback albums come out this past year (Wildflower, American Football LP 2), but does it really matter when The Gerogerigegege of all groups finally broke their fifteen-year silence? Of course not. Moenai Hai, Japanese for “Noncombustible Ash,” is an incredible piece of work that, even after almost two decades, fits perfectly into the mysterious group’s discography, exploring their mastery of both harsh, tortured noise, and lonely, spacious, dark ambience. I say “group” with caution, as the liner notes list “J.Y” (Juntaro Yamanouchi) as playing almost everything, with a single drum track credited to (newcomer?) “Dr. Euro.” (Longtime member Gero 30 is interestingly absent from the record.) This is really one of the most interesting and emotional albums of the year, and probably of the group’s entire output, resonating with me unlike anything else released in 2016. Hopefully this isn’t the last thing they release before inevitably fading into obscurity once again. Give it a listen and enjoy the mystery and insanity that is The Gerogerigegege.
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*Original Banner Photo by April Jingco