2017 is approaching quickly, so we are continuing our look back at 2016 records.
This week, we present our ten best albums of 2016. These are not in order of rank, but rather listed alphabetically.
Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial (Matador)
Teens of Denial is the first official studio album from Car Seat Headrest, and Toledo takes full advantage of the new environment and the full band, moving from bedroom pop to something with grander sonic and narrative ambitions.
Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book (Independent)
Released without any major label backing (though it was available exclusively through Apple Music for its first two weeks), Chance’s third mixtape beautifully combines gospel and rap into an uplifting and socially conscious album filled to the brim with guest appearances.
Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp (Yellow K)
Psychopomp, Michelle Zauner’s first full-length under the name Japanese Break, captures an experience of grief through deft lyrics and a mixture of rock, folk, and electronic music. In addition to brand new songs, the record includes reworked tracks from Japanese Breakfast’s previous releases, all from the summer of 2014.
Konono No. 1 – Konono No. 1 Meets Batida (Crammed Discs)
Beginning with Migiedei Mawangu’s creation of the electric likembe, Congolese folk orchestra Konono N˚1 has mixed folk traditions with modern techniques and technology for decades. The band’s collaboration with the Portuguese-Angolan artist Batida is the latest step in this journey, and the two artists’ complementary sounds elevate their collaboration to new heights.
Mount Moriah – How to Dance (Merge Records)
How to Dance sees the North Carolinians reexamine territory explored on their first two records in new detail and with new perspectives and a more guitar-forward sound. The prominence of Jenks Miller’s guitar plays a large part in making How to Dance Mount Moriah’s most rocking album to date. No doubt this record, like their others, is steeped in southern Americana, but the songs push harder, sounding more like Neil Young and Crazy Horse than Nebraska.
River Whyless – We All the Light (Roll Call Records)
We All The Light is a gorgeous indie pop album performed on traditional folk instruments. River Whyless’ vocal harmonies, evocative lyrics, and multilayered instrumentation allow the band to stand out from the indie folk crowd.
Solange – A Seat at the Table (Columbia Records)
A Seat at the Table is too powerful an album to be summarized in a few short sentences, but Solange Knowles has managed to create an amazing R&B record and one of the most powerful statements on racism in 2016.
A Seat at the Table is available on iTunes
The So So Glos – Kamikaze (Votiv Music)
The Bay Ridge trio embeds a self-conscious critique of technology in 12 Ramones-esque punk anthems.
Swet Shop Boys – Cashmere (Customs)
Produced by Redinho, Cashmere is filled with energy—drawing from Qawwali hand claps, harmonium, Bollywood string drama, sitar, Western synths, and an arsenal of drums – from 808s to tablas and tars, dholaks and doumbeks—and cutting verses from dual emcees, Heems (formerly of Das Racist) and Riz MC (a.k.a. Riz Ahmed of The Night Of and Nightcrawler).
Véronique Vincent & Aksak Maboul – 16 Visions of Ex-Futur (Crammed Discs)
Crammed Discs released seminal art-rock band Aksak Maboul’s lost collaboration with Véronique Vincent, Ex-Futur Album, in 2014. The collaboration inspired a multitude of artists from around Europe—including Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab, Burnt Friedman, and Aquaserge to reinterpret some of the album’s songs. The result? 16 Visions of Ex-Futur.