Despite deaths and elections, 2016 was an excellent year for music. There were so many great albums that it was hard to keep up. That being said, it’s time for the most controversial list, where the top 10 are decided. Take a deep breath.
10. Panic! At The Disco-Death of A Bachelor
When A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out first arrived in 2006, Panic! At the Disco was the most exciting mainstream rock band in the world. Pretty. Odd. in retrospect, isn’t a bad record, but it doesn’t have the same life that Fever does. In fact, the band didn’t even scratch that excitement until the release of the song “This is Gospel,” but on Death of a Bachelor, Brendon Urie sounds refreshed. The faux Sinatra songs like “Impossible Year” are irresistible, but he really shines on the songs that serve as bangers. “Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time” or “LA Devotee” are genuine pop hits, and P!ATD’s best records are still to come if Urie can keep up this output.
9.Green Day-Revolution Radio
Green Day’s best album since 2004’s American Idiot has Billie Joe Armstrong writing some of the catchiest songs of his career. Armstrong, Dirnt and Cool’s simple songs touch on everything from young love to gun violence to addiction to simply making music. “Still Breathing” is one of the best Green Day songs written in the band’s decade spanning career. The band hasn’t been this concise and to the point in years, and it’s been well worth the wait.
8. Camp Cope-Camp Cope
The Aussie-punks’ debut full length is the perfect introduction to a band that will only continue to grow. Georgia Maq’s smoky vocals are reminiscent of Joan Jett and Morissey, and her confrontational lyrics match. “Flesh and Electricity” is the saddest song about desexualizing people I’ve ever heard. “Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Beams” is equal parts angry and fun, like a Rage Against the Machine Song. Whether protesting or watching Lost, this is one of the best early morning records from what’s sure to be a great band.
7. Lady Gaga-Joanne
Following her weakest album of her career, Lady Gaga’s Joanne is a nice return to form. From the country-tinted jams like “Million Reasons” or “Sinner’s Prayer” to the modern hair-metal of “Perfect Illusion” and “John Wayne,” Gaga brings it. The album can switch from staying up all night to solemnity on a dime, and Gaga is at her best.
6. Bon Iver-22, A Million
The most bizarre album to come from Justin Vernon seems so unlike Bon Iver albums of the past, but the songs are structured similarly to the likes of For Emma, Forever Ago. Whether it’s the sweet falsetto on the opener or the angry autotune of “715,” the emotional punch of Bon Iver.
5. Kevin Devine-Instigator
In February, Kevin Devine put out the excellent Live at St. Pancras Church, which would have held most fans over for a new album until early 2017, but Devine also found the time to release the excellent Instigator at the end of the year. Like Devine’s past work, Instigator is eclectic, personal yet political, and easily accessible. Devine always gives a bit of a life update in his music, where so much of this album discusses his marriage and the birth of his first child in sweet moments like the closing two tracks. “Freddie Gray Blues” and “Both Ways” are both incredibly pertinent songs as we enter 2017 and a Trump presidency. Devine does well with swapping between gut-wrenching emotions and gleeful guitar tunes.
4. Against Me!-Shape Shift With Me
Including the release of her autobiography, Laura Jane Grace has been busy as hell this year. Where Transgender Dysphoria Blues was a clusterfuck of emotion, Shape Shift With Me picks up with a little more confidence and strength. The songs are a much lighter form of pop-punk for the most part. “12:03” is genuinely fun. Even the dark and aggressive “Dead Rats” has a certain poppy element to it. Grace plays to her strengths here with one of Against Me!’s best.
3. Modern Baseball-Holy Ghost
How do you follow up one of the most critically acclaimed records of 2014? Modern Baseball’s third full length has the Philly-quartet performing some of the tightest tunes of their entire career. Whether it’s the contemplative title track, the explosive love song “The Wedding Singer” or the self-loathing turned positive thinking on “Just Another Face,” MoBo provide some of their most fleshed out songwriting of the young band’s career.
2. Kanye West-The Life of Pablo
Yeezy’s had a hell of a year. This gospel hip-hop album has proven to be one of the albums with the greatest presence throughout the year. Whether Kanye is providing large choirs, freestyling or getting bleach on his t-shirt, Pablo elevates it to an extreme height. Where Yeezus was cold and electronic, The Life of Pablo is warm, welcoming, and organic feeling.
- Mitski-Puberty 2
Sometimes, my dad and I stay up late listening to music and drinking. Mostly, he tends to dominate the stereo by playing classic rock. Every now and then though, he’ll ask me about who the “hot, young bands” are. Usually, I’ll play him something that he doesn’t like. When I played him “Your Best American Girl,” he was speechless. Puberty 2 has a universal appeal as a great rock record. “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars” shows the record at its most aggressive, but Mitski will also give more tender songs like “Once More to See You.” Somewhere in the middle, we get great songs like “Happy” and “Your Best American Girl.” In a year with so much darkness, Mitski provided one of the brightest albums. She had the most best songs, and “Your Best American Girl” is the single of the year.