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12.18.18 Boney's Favorite Songs of 2018 08.04.18 15k Boney Comments!
04.20.18 3 Years of Boney! 02.27.18 A (Belated) Boney 2017
11.15.17 Oathbringer!10.28.17 What genre has the best lyrics?
10.14.17 Listening to whole discogs vs highlight08.16.17 Boney's Shoegaze Journey
08.09.17 Rec Boney Shoegaze07.27.17 The Devil's Number
07.21.17 Sonemic Beta07.12.17 10k Boney Comments!
04.20.17 Two Years of Boney / Buddies 04.14.17 Boney's Anticipated Albums 2017
03.16.17 Boney's Recent Downloads03.07.17 Five Word Story
01.13.17 A Boney 2016 01.08.17 Boney's Back! / What Did I Miss?
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A Boney 2016

At this point pretty much everyone agrees that 2016 was a great year for music, and I'm no exclusion. Here I've listed every proper album and EP I listened to from the year along with a description for each, loosely ranked. Hopefully the descriptions aren't too repetitive, I tried jump around a bit between high and low ranked albums so that I wasn't saying the same thing about every one. I may have come across as too critical on a lot of these, it should be understood that anything rated 3.0+ is pretty well worth a listen or two if you like the general style.
68Hey Marseilles
Hey Marseilles

[Indie Pop]
I was quite looking forward to this as their previous album Lines We Trace was some excellent chamber pop. This on the other hand is just insufferably bland indie pop. It’s not really “bad” per se, but there’s nothing good about it either.
67LSD and the Search for God
Heaven Is a Place

[Shoegaze / Noise Pop / Ear-Rape]
I recently checked out this group’s first EP and loved it, so when I found out they had released another EP I figured I’d check it out. I don’t know what happened here. It’s like they tried to replicate the noisiness of the first by just mixing everything so that it’s insanely loud. I’m usually not a nitpicker about production or mixing but seriously the mixing here is just terrible. There are no dynamics on this thing whatsoever.
66The Avett Brothers
True Sadness

The only true sadness in the album is how poor it is. A couple songs are decent but then there are several atrocities such as “Ain’t No Man”, “Satan Pulls the Strings”, “Divorce Separation Blues”... Ugh. After several albums, Rick Rubin has finally ruined these guys. I hope he’s happy.
65Willie Nelson

[Country Pop / Standards]
This is undoubtedly well-performed, but the production makes it come across as dull. Granted, that's about what I would expect from an album of 1920s and 30s standards being released in 2016. The material is of course good (except for "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", which is atrocious), but it is not given the sense of life it deserves.
64Jenny Hval
Blood Bitch

[Art Pop / Ambient Pop / Experimental / Vampires]
Annoying artsy experimental pop bullshit. The whole vampire concept is interesting, but the songs are just lifeless for the most part. And don’t even get me started on “The Plague”. Not for me, though I can understand why some love it.
Good Grief

[Indie Pop]
These girls have wonderful voices that’s for sure, and I enjoyed their debut quite a bit. But this one just didn’t do a whole ton for me. It’s even poppier and they dropped the folk influences of the first. Hopefully they return more to the sound of the first in the future.
62John Legend
Darkness and Light

[R&B / Neo-Soul]
The only reason I checked this out was because it was produced and most of the songs were co-written by Blake Mills. I’ve always thought Legend was one of the more tolerable of mainstream pop/R&B artists today, so I hoped Mills could help him make something truly impressive. Unfortunately, while Mills’ production is certainly amazing, I just can’t really get into this.
61Colvin & Earle
Colvin & Earle

[Folk Rock / Americana / Duets]
As a fan of Steve Earle, I was compelled to check this out. There are a handful of great tunes here in “Come What May”, “Tell Moses” and “The Way That We Do” but most of the rest are dull or just passable. It doesn’t help that I have a low tolerance for duets, and that’s the format of pretty much every song here. Unlike Case/Lang/Veirs, that was a deeply unsatisfying collaboration.
60Andrew Bird
Are You Serious

[Chamber Folk]
Andrew Bird is one of those artists that appeals to me a lot in theory but for some reason I just can’t really get into this stuff. Technically this album is very strong but for some reason most of the songs don’t click for me.
59Brandy Clark
Big Day In A Small Town

[Country Pop]
Clark’s debut 2013 album 12 Stories was a great contemporary country album, its focus primarily on the affecting stories told in her lyrics. Big Day in a Small Town goes in the opposite direction, most tracks blowing up the production making for a glossy pop country album. Most of the songs aren’t exactly bad but they’re just so sickly sweet it’s hard to enjoy them a whole ton and the lyrics simply aren’t as strong as on the debut. “Since You’ve Gone To Heaven” is a beaut, though.
58Gang Of Youths
Let Me Be Clear

[Indie Rock / Chamber Pop]
Rowan’s going to hate me for this, but this EP just didn’t do it for me. The instrumentals are serviceable, sort of Arcade Fire-esque indie rock, and the lyrics are appropriately sadboi, but the whole thing comes across as overblown, and the vocalist is annoying.
Adore Life

These bad babes have an appropriately abrasive post-punk sound but their songs could serve to be a bit more unhinged. Admittedly I don’t remember this a whole ton as it’s been a year since I heard it but I think that fact is telling enough on its own.
Not to Disappear

[Dream Pop]
I gotta give Daughter credit, they have nailed the 4AD dream pop sound - but they don’t have the songs to back it. I should probably have given this more time than I did but instead I figure I’ll just wait for them to release new material and hope it grabs me more than this did. Nonetheless, this is still worth a listen if you’re a fan of dream pop.
55Carly Rae Jepsen

I enjoyed Emotion a lot but thought that it was dominated by a handful of 4-5 amazing pop songs while the rest were pretty average. Unsurprisingly, Side B’s songs fall into the latter category.
54Hayes Carll
Lovers and Leavers

[Americana / Country-Folk]
There's a handful of really good tunes here ("The Love That We Need", "The Magic Kid", "Good While It Lasted") but the rest, while pleasant, are fairly unmemorable. Carll gets the stripped-down acoustic sound right, but the album falls short in the song department.
53Lucy Dacus
No Burden

[Indie Rock / Folk]
A pleasant album, but not much more. Dacus has the makings of a great songwriter but the songs sometimes get buried in bland instrumentation and pedestrian melodies.
52Bon Iver
22, A Million

[Folktronica / Art Pop]
My first Bon Iver album, this was baffling for sure. The mixture of acoustic and electronic elements certainly makes for an interesting listen and I can tell that Vernon’s voice is great, but most of the songs here, particularly on the second half, are just not memorable at all. And let’s not get into those album titles… That said, “22 (OVER S∞∞N)”, “33 “GOD””, and “29 #Strafford APTS” are great songs. I’ll definitely need to investigate Vernon’s other albums in 2017.
We're All Gonna Die

[Pop Rock / Americana]
A disappointing one here. Dawes’ 2015 album made the number 4 spot of my 2015 list, standing as one of the group’s best works. We’re All Gonna Die is their weakest album yet. Former member Blake Mills returns to the band as producer and additional songwriter but they’ve brought their sound into a brighter pop direction as compared to the folk/country rock of their previous efforts. Multiple listens reveal that the change in style isn’t actually all that drastic for the most part but songs like “When the Tequila Runs Out” and “One of Us” are just painfully dull. The title track works excellently though, as does “Less Than Five Miles Away”. I still love these boys but I’m hoping their future works are better than this. I’m seeing them live in a couple months so maybe that’ll make me appreciate these songs more.
My Wild West

[Indie Pop / Americana]
Lissie’s last album Back To Forever was an excellent 80s-styled pop album, but for this she returned to the Americana-pop sound of her debut. Framed around Lissie’s move west to California, there are some beautiful tracks in “Hollywood” and the closer “Ojai” but also a handful of duds, as well as a failed stab at activism in the song “Daughters” which was released as a single the profits of which were sent to the charity Charity Water - well-intentioned, of course, but the song is rather dull.
Puberty 2

[Indie Rock]
Let’s get this out of the way - “Your Best American Girl” is one of the best songs of 2016, its quiet-loud dynamic thrilling and its lyric affecting with its focus on cultural clash and Mitski’s acceptance of her heritage. Unfortunately, the remainder of the songs here don’t even approach the quality there, the lyrics generally solid but the instrumentation occasionally clunky or simply too nondescript for its own good.
48Amanda Shires
My Piece of Land

Amanda Shires is the violinist wife of master songwriter Jason Isbell. My Piece of Land is similar in style to her husband’s work but unfortunately her singing and lyrics aren’t nearly as good as her hubby’s. An very enjoyable listen nonetheless, with Shires showing some considerable chops on the violin on songs like “My Love (The Storm)” and closer “You Are My Home”. Isbell also provides tasteful guitar work on several tracks.
47Margo Price
Midwest Farmer's Daughter

Price has garnered a lot of praise this year, and it’s easy to see why, as her more traditional brand of contemporary country is a breath of fresh air compared to the dross pumped out by Nashville. Her songwriting isn't quite up to par but she’s still pretty badass and quite a babe if I may say so myself. Check out my review of the album if you’re interested.
46Various Artists (Country)
Southern Family

[Country / Americana]
I rarely listen to various artist albums but when I found out that this was helmed by Dave Cobb (one of the best country producers around) and was framed as a sort of concept album about family and home I was intrigued, plus there were quite a few artists I liked here. For a various artist effort this is surprisingly cohesive and there are several highlights, namely Jason Isbell’s “God Is a Working Man”, Jamey Johnson’s “Mama’s Table”, and John Paul White’s “Simple Song”.
45The Felice Brothers
Life In The Dark

[Folk Rock / Americana]
A decent album from the Felices, after the more produced sound they explored a couple albums ago they’ve returned to their ragged, Band-esque roots rock style. There’s a few excellent songs here in the Desire-esque “Diamond Bell” and the intense “Sell the House” but anybody who’s not already sold on the Felice Brothers’ style should probably stay away.
44Lori McKenna
The Bird & The Rifle

Some excellent songwriting on display here, especially the title track with its portrait of a flawed abusive relationship - it’s a tearjerker for sure. Unfortunately, McKenna’s voice is rather edgeless and the album is produced to within an inch of its life dulling the impact of the lyrics quite a lot.
43Steve Gunn
Eyes On The Lines

[Folk Rock]
This is nice psychedelic folk rock with some really good guitar playing. Unfortunately, Gunn isn't much of a songwriter or vocalist, and the sound is so uniform that many of the songs end up blending together. The album, both in its vibe and lyrics, is about getting lost, but overall it ends up getting a bit too lost in itself for its own good. Overall though, it's an enjoyable listen, fine background music, and great for a sunny summer afternoon.
42Sarah Jarosz

[Americana / Folk]
I loved Jarosz’ previous album Build Me Up From Bones, with its rich production, syrupy voice, and tasty mandolin, banjo and guitar work it was truly excellent work of progressive bluegrass. Undercurrent is a more stripped down, singer-songwriter affair with Jarosz at least co-writing all the songs herself. Jarosz’ vocals are once again wonderful but a few songs are a bit “in one ear out the other stuff” and the Parker Millsap collab “Undone” feels kind of awkward. “Green Lights” is an amazing tune though and the equal of anything on Build Me Up From Bones.
41Leonard Cohen
You Want It Darker

My first Cohen album, this left me a bit lukewarm but I look forward to exploring the rest of the man’s catalog, and RIP of course. The title track is pretty irresistible I must admit, with its bass groove and Cohen’s rich vocal, the “I’m ready, my Lord” bit being a surprisingly good hook.
40Hiss Golden Messenger
Heart Like a Levee

A nice bunch of feel-good Americana here. MC Taylor’s vocals are soulful as usual and the band get some nice grooves on on occasion. The highlights are the late-afternoon organ-laden folk of “Cracked Windshield” and “Ace of Cups Hung Low Band” with its intense coda and the gorgeous closer “Highland Grace”. The deluxe edition comes with a bonus EP Vestapol which is more stripped-down folk stuff, also pretty pleasant but nothing particularly special.
39Agnes Obel
Citizen Of Glass

[Chamber Pop]
This is rather gorgeous stuff but a bit too uniform for its own good, the string arrangements are all very nice but even with a couple instrumentals thrown in there’s not enough variety in the songwriting for this to be worth returning to very much.
38Luke Temple
A Hand Through the Cellar Door

A decent listen this, it’s pretty straightforward indie folk stuff with a focus on the lyrics. Mostly I enjoy the epics “Maryanne Was Quiet” and “The Case of Louis Warren”, two engaging character sketches and two of the year’s finest songs of that style to boot. The rest are pleasant too but don’t have the same emotional impact. I’m kind of conflicted because a whole album of Maryanne/Louis Warren style songs might have been a bit of a slog but at the same time that style is clearly where Temple thrives, either way this is worth a listen for fans of this kind of stuff.
37Kevin Morby
Singing Saw

Morby has gotten a lot of attention for Singing Saw and I agree that it’s a solid work but one that shows room for improvement. Relative to most indie folk artists Morby is a very strong and fairly diverse arranger, presenting a variety of different sounds and flavors over the course of this album, but Singing Saw suffers a bit in its songwriting, and Morby is only a passable vocalist. The best song here is probably the closing “Water” with its redemptive tone.
36PJ Harvey
The Hope Six Demolition Project

[Art Rock / Whining]
It hurts me to put this this far down in the list as with the exclusion of Uh Huh Her PJ has one of the most uniformly amazing discographies I’ve ever heard. Hope Six continues the political tone of Let England Shake but instead of war the focus is on contemporary American issues. Several of the songs come across clunky and unmelodic, their lyrics strangely unsentimental and oddly obscure in their portrayal of poverty and suffering. However, Harvey does close things out in top fashion, “The Wheel”’s “And watch them fade out” coda putting the listener in the face of his or her lack of regard for the suffering of the world and “Dollar, Dollar” drifting out with some of the album’s best and most affecting imagery.

I really loved Preoccupations’ (f.k.a Viet Cong) debut album so I had high hopes for this. Unfortunately they weren’t met. There are still several great tunes here, the closing “Fever” especially, but for the most part this lacks the energy and sense of driving purpose present on the first album. This is especially clear in the album’s meandering middle section, with the overlong “Memory” and its ambient coda as well as the two pointless miniatures “Sense” and “Forbidden”.
34Explosions in the Sky
The Wilderness

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this, having adored The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place but feeling very lukewarm toward Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. This ended up somewhere in the middle, but its sound is quite different from those two, having shorter songs and incorporating more electronic influences on many tracks. It’s very nice widescreen stuff with a sort of soundtrack-like feel, especially when the band explores some more abrasive textures in the excellent “Logic of a Dream”. Like the wilderness of its title, this is a fairly unpredictable effort with a lot of different flavors across its nine tracks.
33Jim James
Eternally Even

[Neo-Psychedelia / Soul]
Props to James for taking his sound in a different direction with his release, dropping the indie rock Americana sound of My Morning Jacket this synth-laden release is has a lot of soul and funk flavors intermixed with some neo-psych. Another Blake Mills production job here too - he’s a busy man!
When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired

[Folk / Indie Rock]
Some real pretty tunes here, often hypnotic, and the string flourishes on a few tracks are tastefully done. And yes, her voice sounds a lot like Angel Olsen’s. Great for chilly winter afternoons.
31The Cactus Blossoms
You're Dreaming

Wonderful stuff this, great dreamy country tunes with some great harmonies and arrangements. Can’t say the lyrics grab me a whole ton but it’s an excellent listen regardless. I particularly like “Queen of Them All”, “Mississippi” and “Adios Maria”. Thanks to TwigTW for recommending this to me.
Stranger Things

[Indie Rock / Noise Pop]
A fun little indie rock record with noise pop and dream pop influences. This band really fell off of people’s radars after their first record and it’s quite a shame, they get way too much hate for being a copy of 90s rock bands. All I know is that they write great tunes, and that’s all I really want from any band.
Light Upon the Lake

[Indie Rock / 70s Worship]
A promising debut. Whitney have pretty much nailed their sound - a wonderful, breezy pastiche of late 60s-70s pop, rock, and folk, with a bit of country and soul too - but for the most part they don't quite have the songs to back it. Still, impressive work.
28Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Skeleton Tree

[Art Rock / Ambient]
Some may be surprised to see this so low on this list. I must admit that Skeleton Tree is a technically and aesthetically excellent album, and I can't deny the emotion that went into making this, given the context of the tragic death of Cave’s son. To me, however, the album’s insistence on being slow and downbeat becomes a bit grating across the whole tracklisting. I enjoy each song more on its own. Additionally, some of the lyrics, combined with Cave’s always grave delivery, seem kind of overwrought to me, providing moments of humor that were absolutely not intended. The closing title track I love, however - musically it’s a bit lighter, marking a nice breath of fresh air and the final lyrics “And it’s alright now” providing a nice sense of closure. Overall, it’s an album I respect more than enjoy.
27Flock of Dimes
If You See Me, Say Yes

[Indie Pop]
This solo project of Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner presents a different side of her style than her main project’s Tween, released just a few months before this. Wasner’s singing is wonderful as usual across this set of indie pop tunes inflected with synths and electronics. This has the feel of a song cycle, the opener “Sometimes It Is Right…” circling around to the closing “...To Have No Answer”. The major highlight is “Given/Electric Light”, combining Wasner’s emotive vocal with profound but simple lyric. A sample: “I’m getting better as I grow older / But nobody wants to meet me there / Afraid to be seen as I see myself / Even more to be seen as I really am”. Gorgeous.
Everything and Nothing

[Post-Rock / Ambient / Dream Pop]
Probably the straight-up prettiest album of the year right here, a wonderful mix of post-rock, dream pop, and ambient. Some of the pieces here approach wallpaper-quality but it’s hard to fault this. Not the kind of thing I seek out terribly often but if this appeals to you it’s pretty essential.
25James Blake
The Colour in Anything

[Alternative R&B / Art Pop]
I was quite impressed by this after the mediocre Overgrown, even if this is a bit overlong. Just a bunch of nice chilly electronic tunes. “I Need a Forest Fire” is perfection - it’s a shame Justin Vernon couldn’t have channeled some of that magic on his 22, A Million.
24Ryley Walker
Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

[Chamber Folk]
Walker’s got class, I’ll give him that. Not a whole ton to say here, just straight folky jams with some neat jazzy flavors and baroque flourishes. Props to Doof for drawing my attention to this one.
23Ray LaMontagne

[Psych Rock / Neo-Psychedelia / Folk]
This was a surprisingly overlooked release. 2014’s Supernova saw Ray turning away from his signature folk rock sound by incorporating some 60s psych pop influences, but here he totally embraces psychedelia. Split into two halves, the first driving upbeat bluesy psych-rock while the second half is more dreamy and folky. “A Murmuration of Starlings” could even be a Dark Side of the Moon outtake. I’m excited to see Ray continue to explore this sound in the future. Absolutely worth checking out even if you’ve not heard of the guy before.
22Parker Millsap
The Very Last Day

[Americana / Folk / Blues]
Great Americana/folk rock/blues stuff and the kid’s husky Oklahoma voice is excellent. “Heaven Sent”, sung from the perspective of a gay son talking to his religious father, is a truly amazing song. “Daddy, do you think I turned out right?”. Keep an eye on this guy if you’re interested in this kind of music.
21The Veils
Total Depravity

[Indie Rock]
Great indie rock here with an interesting cinematic edge. It grew off me a bit though, there’s a certain sheen here that puts me off a tiny bit and occasionally it feels a bit overwrought but the songwriting is great. “Iodine and Iron” and “In the Nightfall” are both absolutely gorgeous ballads.

[Folk Rock / Alt-Country]
After last year’s somewhat confounding surprise release Star Wars, which was mostly full of upbeat rock tunes, Wilco mellow things out with Schmilco, a mostly acoustic record, and a spiritual successor to Sky Blue Sky and Tweedy’s Sukierae. It’s not heavy listening, but it’s a great soundtrack for lazy afternoon contemplation.
19Sarah Neufeld
The Ridge

Sarah Neufeld made quite an engaging little record with this, displaying her captivating violin playing and great composition skills. With Arcade Fire seemingly past their prime, Neufeld seems to have plenty of skill of her own to fall back on should they become defunct.
18Michael Kiwanuka
Love & Hate

Some wonderful soul tunes on display here, some great guitar work too and Kiwanuka’s vocal performances are quite passionate. “Cold Little Heart” with its ethereal opening section is astounding, and the moment when Kiwanuka enters with “Did you ever want it? / Did you want it bad? / Oh my / It tears me apart” is pure bliss. This is one of Danger Mouse’s best production jobs in years too.
17Lucinda Williams
The Ghosts of Highway 20

[Americana / Alt-Country]
Following up Williams’ sprawling 2014 double album is...another sprawling double album. While Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone was fairly upbeat, Highway 20 is a much moodier, more atmospheric affair. As usual, William’ band is in top form here too, the interplay between the guitars of Greg Liesz and Bill Frisell being particularly tasty and the often slightly jazzy drumming is quite nice as well.
Alpe Lusia

[Tech House]
Thanks to LordePots and FullOfSounds for hyping the hell out of this record. I don’t usually seek out electronic music, but the quality on display here is undeniable. Pieces like “Prepare”, “For My Better Half”, and “Tans Fur Drei” are surprisingly emotional. And that production. Holy shit.
15Wye Oak

[Dream Pop / Indie Pop]
Wye Oak are one of the most consistently overlooked bands of recent times, and Tween has unfortunately done nothing to change this. Released as a surprise, this isn’t technically the duo’s fifth official full-length, as it is composed of songs written between their 2011 masterpiece Civilian and 2014’s Shriek. However, Tween triumphs in its own right. Standing somewhere between the blistering yet dreamy rock of Civilian and the moody synth-pop of Shriek, Tween is an upbeat dream pop album. Jenn Wasner’s husky voice is harder to understand than ever, mostly being used to add to the dreamy soundscapes. However, on the album’s breezy closer “Watching the Waiting”, the lyrics are clear, making for one of the best songs of the year.

[Shoegaze / Blackgaze]
Kodama’s mixture of shoegaze and black metal influences is not exactly my kind of thing - or so I thought. I’m still a bit confused by how much I like this, but either way this thing just rules. There’s not much else to say.
13Car Seat Headrest
Teens of Denial

[Indie Rock]
Will Toledo took the music world by storm in 2016. Combining 90s indie rock sound with ambitious songwriting and a Dido verse, Teens of Denial is long, intensely listenable, and emotionally relatable. Toledo sings with great honesty about the concerns of standing on the verge of adulthood.
12Jukka Nousiainen
Jukka Nousiainen

[Blues Rock / Neo-Psychedelia / Folk Rock / Finnish]
This album is baffling, to say the least. A Finnish blues rock album with folk and psychedelic influences, and even a bit of country thrown in for good measure, it’s a bit weird at first. Starting out with a pretty straightforward, upbeat bluesy tune, the album gets more obscure and psychedelic as it goes on. But with repeat listens, it reveals itself as one of the most strangely melodic and compelling albums of the year. It’s hard to explain. Just give it a try. (Shoutout to TwigTW for directing this to Doof and to Doof for directing it to me.)

[Indie Rock / Alt-Country / Emo]
Combining alt-country and emo, Cardinal certainly one of the more unique records of the year. Fortunately, instead of being a mere style exercise, Cardinal manages to combine its sound with excellent, personal songwriting. Though the album is brief, barely crossing the 30 minute mark, Pinegrove managed to make this one of the most emotionally affecting albums of the year.
10Angel Olsen
My Woman

[Indie Rock / Dream Pop]
MY WOMAN is of the most mature efforts of the year. It’s also one of the year’s great growers. While the slower, more drawn-out songwriting of the second half clicks almost immediately - “Sister”’s closing mantra “All my life I thought I’d change” is one of the most emotionally resonant musical passages of the year - the more pop-oriented songwriting of the first half takes some time to distinguish itself, but when it does, one is left with a wonderful set of songs, all held together by Olsen’s fragile yet confident and angelic vocal performance.

[Chamber Folk / Americana]
I was initially a bit skeptical of Case/Lang/Veirs at first. Having only been familiar with Neko Case’s material, I was a bit concerned that this would end up being an underdeveloped work, as many collaborations are. I needed not have feared. Case/Lang/Veirs is a gorgeous, melodically rich set of chamber folk tunes. The songwriting and lyrics are wonderful. And those voices. I already knew Neko Case was one of the finest female vocalists ever, but Lang’s and Veirs’ vocals are not to be scoffed at either, and the three together in harmony is just heavenly. I would openly welcome further collaborations from this trio - hell, I wouldn’t have an issue if this became their full-time project.
8Richmond Fontaine
You Can't Go Back if There's Nothing to Go Back To

This is an excellent alt-country album filled with strong tunecraft and amazing lyrics telling relatable stories about realistic people. “I Got Off the Bus” is one of the greatest songs of the year. Not much else to say in this space. You know whether or not this sounds like your kind of thing. If it does, absolutely check it out.
7William Tyler
Modern Country

[American Primitivism / Americana]
My first experience with William Tyler was seeing him live about a year ago when he opened up for Wilco. He played a strange set, totally solo, creating live samples and loops with his guitar, but it was oddly captivating. However, Modern Country sounds nothing like that set. While the focus of the album is primarily on Tyler’s lyrical guitar work, both acoustic and electric, the album has very much a full band sound, the warm production filled out by spacey synths and Glenn Kotche’s drumming, in addition to rootsy acoustics. It all comes together for a wonderfully scenic experience front to back. This album tells more captivating stories with sound than most artists can do with words.
6Cass McCombs
Mangy Love

[Indie Rock / 70s Worship]
This was my first full Cass McCombs album, and I was not disappointed. Drawing heavily from the sounds of the seventies and combining it with his strange style of lyricism, McCombs has created a truly wonderful work here. There’s nothing new here, but nearly every song is incredibly strong. Plus, this contains some of the year’s greatest guitar work. It’s pure fun.
5Drive-by Truckers
American Band

[Southern Rock / Alt-Country]
I said pretty much everything I needed to about this in my review, but to review, this is, to my ears, the most important album of 2016. Nothing else I’ve heard has covered with such conviction and emotion the state of American politics and culture in these troubled times. And to combine it with superb southern rock and alt-country tunes? No small feat.
4David Bowie

[Art Rock]
At this point, Blackstar’s inclusion in any top 10 of 2016 list speaks for itself. At the time of his death over a year ago now, I only knew very casually of David Bowie, being familiar with a handful of his classic singles. Nonetheless, I was struck by his death. Listening to this album much later it’s clear that this was a truly amazing way to go out. I’ve still barely scratched the surface of the man’s discography, but I can already tell that Blackstar deserves to be ranked among his best work.
A Moon Shaped Pool

[Art Rock / Chamber Pop]
Ah, A Moon Shaped Pool. At this point, Radiohead have nothing to prove to anybody. Nonetheless, people continue to expect them to push their sound in unexplored directions with every release. Instead, the band created one of their most emotionally resonant albums, filling most of the songs with absolutely wonderful string arrangements. Is it their most cohesive album? No. But in terms of subtle beauty it is bested in their catalogue only by In Rainbows, and the context of Thom Yorke’s recent break up makes some of the lyrics even more emotionally resonant. What can I say? Radiohead are my favorite band. I eat this shit up.

[Indietronica / Ambient Pop / Autotune / Lambchop]
FLOTUS is an unusual album, to say the least. Moving away from the band’s signature chamber pop sound, Kurt Wagner and co mellowed out even more, added electronic beats and noises, and drenched Wagner’s vocals in autotune, resulting in a record drawing on everything from lounge-pop to ambient to R&B. Its atmosphere is truly addicting. It all culminates in the masterpiece “The Hustle”, 18 minutes of pure bliss to finish out one of 2016’s most beautiful and compelling albums.
1Sturgill Simpson
A Sailor's Guide To Earth

[Country / Alt-Country / Country Soul]
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is a fascinating, thoroughly engrossing collection of country songs whose influences range from soul to psychedelic. Framed as a guide to life for his newborn first child, across 9 heartfelt songs, Simpson, who produced the album himself, spews truth all over this thing, his voice clear and commanding. Every song is a winner. “Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)” is an incredible ode to parenthood. “Oh Sarah” tugs at the heartstrings. “Call to Arms” is a manic ride closing out the album with blistering energy. Album of the year? Hell yeah.
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