As album-of-the-year season approaches, we’ve been reflecting on the music we’ve heard this year. While a more formal list is coming, these items are all honorable mentions for a number of reasons. While it may just be that we felt our list was better, for many of these albums it has to do with the fact, we just didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have liked with them. These are still some of the best records of the year, in no particular order.
Chance the Rapper-Coloring Book
Chance’s third mixtape is one of his strongest. With gospel-infused hip hop, he brought some of the best feel-good songs of the summer.
Must listen song: “No Problem”
The most produced-full length has the Cali-punks with some of the tightest songs they’ve ever written without sparing some of the heavy emotions of the past.
Must listen song: “Last You Heard of Me”
Evan Weiss’s most mature album yet is both catchy and relatable. The intricate guitar work makes for an essential emo record, yet some of the heavier tracks don’t shy too far from the punky songs Weiss has been known for.
Must listen song: “Open Casket”
Say Anything-I Don’t Think It Is
Probably the only pop-punk album to have Kanye West’s seal of approval. Max Bemis sorts through a wide-range of emotions, aging, and his past on this lengthy record.
Must listen song: “Jiminy”
The Bard-Trio have a sludgy style of guitar-rock that boasts both emotional peaks and political intensity. While a new album doesn’t seem likely, this was a nice swan song.
Must listen song: “Your X”
Jake Ewald’s side-project has story songs that rival the likes of the Mountain Goats. He has similarly vast emotions and stories for all the stories he’s created.
Must listen song: “Jobs”
Ocean’s long anticipated Blonde was not a letdown. His modern soul and R&B are unchallenged with his intense vocal abilities.
Must listen song: “Solo”
After a name change, AJJ ditched most of their humor, but this album is still as catchy as hell. Reflecting on the past and religion have been common for punk rock recently, but AJJ do it in one of the best ways.
Must listen song: “Cody’s Theme”
Craig Finn-Newmyer’s Roof
Finn’s third solo effort doesn’t have the same huge songs like The Hold Steady’s albums do, but his contemplative, honest side is equally as talented as he writes about his youth.
Must listen song: “Newmyer’s Roof”
Radiohead-A Moonshaped Pool
Rock’s most innovative band have returned with an album of mostly string-music. Jonny Greenwood’s compositions make this one of Radiohead’s best sounding works yet, and it only looks towards the future of alternative-music.
Must listen song: “True Love Waits”
You Blew It!-Abendrot
The Florida math-rockers have grown from just being a scrappy emo band with some fun songs to a great, well produced band. The intricate musicality is still present in songs that now sound expanded for a much larger sound.
Must listen song: “Canary”
Pinegrove have been one of the most talked about bands of the year, and their cross of country, rock and punk sets them aside from their peers.
Must listen song: “Old Friends”