By JACKSON DILLARD
Photo credit goes to standard.co.uk.
As a diehard music fan, year-end lists have irked me for quite some time. The fact that these lists start popping up around late November and are most common in mid-December has always baffled me; plenty of quality albums come out in December, and there’s always the potential for a surprise album to drop late in the year.
So while it might seem that this list is a bit late to the party, it’s actually delayed due to a touch of added perspective (totally not because I’m lazy and left it as late as possible). So, without further adieu, here are the top 16 albums of 2016 to help get you through 2017.
16. 21 Savage & Metro Boomin' - Savage Mode
A surprisingly cohesive and masterfully produced EP from the Atlanta newcomer who makes himself very clear despite the “mumble rap” tag often associated with his rap style.
Hot Tracks: X (feat. Future), No Heart
15. Rae Sremmurd - SremmLife 2
Another collection of bangers from the Atlanta duo and producer Mike Will Made It that showcases the range and longevity of the young stars.
Hot Tracks: By Chance, Swang
14. ScHoolboy Q - Blank Face
The natural evolution of West Coast gansta rap headed up by Black Hippy’s bucket-hat-wearing, hit maker over a mixed bag of production that ranges from sleek to grimey.
Hot Tracks: THat Part (feat. Kanye West), Ride Out (feat. Vince Staples)
13. Bon Iver - 22, A Million
Justin Vernon continues to push further away from the soft, acoustic folk of his first album and deeper into the ethereal, ambient, vocoder-drenched sonics that made his second album so groundbreakingly experimental.
Key Tracks: 22 (Over Soon), 33 “God”
12. James Blake - The Colour In Anything
The British singer/songwriter/producer had a huge 2016, with another incredible, understated release full of sparse, minimalist electronic tracks, as well as a fiery Vince Staples remix of “Timeless” and a breath-taking collaboration with Beyonce on her album, “Lemonade,” with “Forward.”
Key Tracks: Radio Silence, I Need A Forest Fire (feat. Bon Iver)
11. Childish Gambino - Awaken My Love!
While certainly a departure from what we’ve come to expect from actor, comedian, rapper and writer Donald Glover; this album deserves immense credit for showing the multi-talented artist’s range, mixing funk, soul, R&B, indie and psychedelic rock all into one cohesive album.
Key Tracks: Redbone, Me & Your Mama
10. Weezer - The White Album
On their 10th studio album and fourth self-titled effort, Weezer does not disappoint, delivering on everything that you know and love about the alt-rock veterans. With crunchy guitars and Rivers Cuomo’s signature lyrics and vocals, this album is just plain fun.
Key Tracks: Thank God For Girls, Do You Wanna Get High?
9. Conor Oberst - Ruminations
Nebraska-born Conor Oberst, one of the best singer-songwriters of our generation, strips down his sound and bares his soul with only the help of a guitar, piano and harmonica on this solo effort. Written entirely in just 48 hours, it’s a brutally honest look into the mind of the 36 year-old.
Key Tracks: Tachycardia, A Little Uncanny
8. Run The Jewels - RTJ3
Dropped on Christmas Eve as a surprise to nearly everyone, the third album from the hip-hop supergroup of Killer Mike and El-P is a sonically fascinating and politically charged tour de force that is an incredible addition to the duo’s already stacked resume.
Key Tracks: Legend Has It, Call Ticktron
3. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
The innovative and eternally-ahead-of-the-curve English rock group continued its reign as one of the most important bands of the past three decades with its foray into new territory, seamlessly mixing drum machines and string sections with the haunting vocals of frontman Thom Yorke.
Key Tracks: Burn The Witch, True Love Waits
2. Kanye West - The Life of Pablo
Easily the most divisive album of 2016, the release of pop culture sensation Kanye West was more talked about than the album itself. This should not distract from the fact that West delivered another classic album, however, as even at his most avant garde, he is still able to produce hits and some of the most memorable moments in rap music whenever he touches the mic.
Key Tracks: No More Parties in L.A. (feat. Kendrick Lamar), Saint Pablo
1. David Bowie - Blackstar
The man, the myth, the legend, David Bowie sadly left us in 2016, but not before releasing his most daring album yet. Truly a masterpiece in every sense of the word, this album serves as the most stunning goodbye letter to everyone who was touched by Bowie’s music throughout his nearly 50 years releasing music. If you understand Bowie’s significance as a cultural figure you’ll understand that I had no choice but to crown this album as the best of 2016
Key Tracks: Tis A Pity She Was A Whore, Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)