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16 Favorites from 2016

Here's a list of 16 of my favorite albums from 2016, ranked by how much I've enjoyed them. There's a couple I regretfully didn't get around to or just didn't spend enough time with (*cough* Touche Amore *cough*).
16Night Verses
Into the Vanishing Light

While it doesn't live up to Lift Your Existence, Into the Vanishing Light has some powerful moments that I keep coming back to. The final track is a 10-minute epic that outperforms nearly everything that precedes it. Favorite track: A Dialogue in Cataplexy
15The Drones
Feelin Kinda Free

As an American, I'm sure I can't completely appreciate the political nuance of Feelin Kinda Free. However, it's the musical embodiment of cynicism, and I find that so much more genuine than the general cynicism of people typing on the internet. Favorite track: Taman Shud
14Jimmy Eat World
Integrity Blues

I suppose 2016 was the year began to like Jimmy Eat World. I'm not sure why it took so long, but here I am. Integrity Blues is great and convinced me to give their previous work more attention. Favorite track: Pass the Baby
13Hands Like Houses

Vocalist Trenton Woodley is essentially the only factor separating Hands Like Houses from a dozen other hardcore/pop punk bands with nearly identical instrumental sounds. Because of him, Dissonants is awfully catchy. Favorite track: Stillwater
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

Thrice is my favorite band. My family, friends, and probably my pets know this. TBEITBN wasn't quite the Thrice comeback album I wanted, but I appreciate it for what it is. "Wake Up" and "Stay With Me" are possibly two of the worst songs the band has ever put out. Ignoring those two, TBEITBN has some great stuff. Thrice's attention to instrument quality pays massive dividends here. I don't know if I've ever wanted an instrumental version of album so badly before. Favorite track: The Window

I was underwhelmed with Emarosa's previous effort, Versus. With 131, I was honestly impressed. Cleaner production and massively improved vocal melodies made the difference. The final track, which covers several parts of previous songs on the album, is a really cool idea too. Favorite track: Hurt
10Danny Brown
Atrocity Exhibition

This is probably the only album on the list that I don't know if I necessarily enjoyed listening to. It's not exactly an easy listen, but the fact that it was so experimental and intriguing made it stick with me. Favorite track: Really Doe
The North Corridor

Chevelle is probably the most consistently impressive radio rock band since the turn of the century. It's a genre I've mostly left behind since high school, but albums like this make me want to dive back into it. The North Corridor riffs and riffs and riffs some more; such is the Chevelle way. Favorite track: Young Wicked
8Denzel Curry

I've never been into rap that much, but when half your album is fast-paced bangers with impeccable flow, I can help but love it. (Favorite track: Gook)
The Altar

I had never heard of Banks before listening to The Altar, which made it a very pleasant surprise. At its high points, the album is utterly infectious. Unfortunately, there might also be a few too many forgettable moments. Favorite track: Gemini Feed
6Norma Jean
Polar Similar

There seems to be a rule for me: each year, I will fall in love with exactly one metalcore album. This year, Norma Jean has the honors. Polar Similar consistently powers its way from start to finish, with a couple thematic breaks in between. Favorite track: Everyone Talking over Everyone Else
5Ariana Grande
Dangerous Woman

This one is just fun to listen to. The first 7 tracks are more memorable than the back 8, but it's a consistently great album regardless. Of the 16 albums on this list, this is one I'll probably have the most nostalgia for in a decade. Favorite track: Greedy
4A Tribe Called Quest
We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

I don't have any of the nostalgia with ATCQ; it's just not something I grew up with. However, this album still gives me the feeling of nostalgia by way of its production and warm style. It's not a simply a 2016 rap album, it's an album that captures the conflicted spirit of American culture in 2016 in an uplifting way. Favorite track: Black Spasmodic
3David Bowie

Having listened to David Bowie on a few occasions before this and not being impressed, I was skeptical about Blackstar. Even with all the praise it got, I procrastinated all year and only listened to it for the first time mid-December. How wrong I was! Knowing that Bowie wrote with every intention of it being his swan song gives it a whole new meaning. It simply needs to be heard. Favorite track: Blackstar
A Moon Shaped Pool

I listened to A Moon Shaped Pool passively for the first time and almost completely forgot about it. I first came back because of the vocals of "Daydreamers," and then realized just how great the album is. It's a classic Radiohead album, right up there with OK Computer and Kid A. Favorite track: Burn the Witch
Endless Light

I think I realized this would be my favorite album of 2016 four songs into it. O'Brother honed in on creating a rhythmically dynamic album, and it's everything I could want. The guitars and bass tones are sludgy, the drums are groovy, and vocalist Tanner Merritt croons and shouts perfectly. Favorite track: Complicated End Times
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