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02.19.17 Top 10 Local Albums 2016 (LI + NYC)02.18.17 Top 20 Songs of 2016
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Top 10 Local Albums 2016 (LI + NYC)

Every year, in addition to a Top 10 Albums and a Top 20 Songs list, I publish a specialized list for the Top 10 Local Albums of the Long Island/New York City area. I try to keep a fairly loose definition of the word "local". For the purposes of picking a Top 10 Local Albums list, here's what I consider "local": 1. Long Island, for sure; 2. The 5 boroughs of NY (especially Brooklyn, where a lot of Long Island bands have run off to) 3. Sometimes Jersey or a little ways upstate, if the mood takes me. (I'm not giving away money or anything, so I kind of get to make up the rules as I go along). Also, if a band or artist spent a decent amount of time living on and playing on Long Island, they get to qualify, even if they've moved to another area of the country.

Bayside is one of my favorite bands of the modern era, and they put out one of their best albums yet in "Vacancy". There are a lot of songs I like on here, but "Two Letters" and "Mary" really stand out. Pretty much every one of their albums has made my Top Ten list in their given years, and this is the second time they took my #1 slot (after doing it in 2008 with "Shudder").
2Taking Back Sunday
Tidal Wave

I almost feel bad for Taking Back Sunday, because in terms of my taste, they always seem to play the role of Alydar to Bayside's Affirmed. Seems like the two bands always release albums in the same year, and I always like the Bayside one better. But that's not a knock on TBS -- this is an excellent album, and it even shows a bit of a change of sounds for them. The excellent title track, which is my favorite song on the album, almost sounds like a Clash song. I saw some speculation as to whether this would be their last album together, but I hope it isn't. They haven't put out a bad album yet.
3School of Seven Bells

This is a New York City indiepop/shoegaze band that I learned about for the first time this year through the Sputnik Music website. The first track on the album "Ablaze" is a total winner. Unfortunately, the future of the group is in doubt because one of the three band members left the band a few years ago, and another one passed away this year, so for right now, the only band member left is vocalist/guitarist Alejandra Deheza.
4Ingrid Michaelson
It Doesn't Have to Make Sense

Always good to see New York folkie/pop artist Ingrid Michaelson back on the list. For me, this is her strongest album since 2008's "Be OK". She mixes her sound up a little on this one, with the playful, funky "Celebrate", "Hell No" wherein she seems to be chanelling Taylor Swift (which I wouldn't like to see as a long-term strategy, but for one song it's kind of cool), and the beautiful and poignant tribute to her mother, "I Remember Her".
5Jeff Rosenstock

This is Rosenstock's second year in a row on the list with his manic brand of folk punk, following upon last year's "We Cool?". My favorite number here is "Festival Song", but "I Did Something Weird Last Night" is also pretty great. In fact, the whole album is consistently good.
6Regina Spektor
Remember Us To Life

This is another artist I only learned about this year from Sputnik, New York City anti-folk queen Regina Spector. The back of the album drags a little for me, but the front is amazing, especially the Kate Bush-esque "Small Bills".
7Nine Days

Good to see these guys back and making new music. "Snapshots" has the very recognizable Nine Days sound, which is pretty terrific. A lot of songs here are about aging, family, etc. My favorites are the track that leads off the album, "Obsolete", and the title track. Welcome back, boys.
8Amanda Jayne
Strike a Match

This is a Long Island acoustic artist with a cool, under produced DIY album. Her best track by far is the excellent "One" (for which she also has a very clever and funny video). I found out about her in the weirdest way -- a friend of hers was running for my local school board, and he had a link to her on his Facebook page. I'm glad I researched him, and that I followed the link.
9Miles to Dayton
Forces Unknown

These guys have been making excellent music in the Americana genre for years now, and it's not the first time they've made my list. My favorite track here is an upbeat number called "You Are".
10They Might Be Giants
Phone Power

An album of songs from their Dial-a-Song service, with tracks about Armageddon, murderous Lovecraftian monsters from another dimension and time traveling assassins. I particularly love "Trouble Awful Devil Evil", wherein the singer blissfully descends into hell for thousand of years, unaware of the apocalypse taking place around him.
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