I’m probably insane but I had to do it. These are my 100 favorite albums, EPs, singles, splits, and compilations of 2016.
(Side note: I wrote these pretty quickly over three days so forgive any typos or lack of depth. I just wanted to put this up for my own enjoyment.)
- Mothercountry Motherfuckers – Confidential Human Source
Sarah Kirsch passed away in 2012 and that fact can still bring a tear to my eye. I never met her, but the music she made during her life has left a lasting impact on me. Fuel, Sawhorse, John Henry West, Navio Forge, Bread and Circuits, Torches to Rome, Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack, Baader Brains; these are just a few of the bands she was in. She is one of my musical heroes, and this album is her final gift to the world. Confidential Human Source was recorded in 2010 and intended to be a double LP, but was never completed. Switching between Sarah’s trademark savage punk rock and electronic samples soundscapes, Mothercountry Motherfuckers was pure Kirsch. Musically very similar to Bread and Circuits, Please Inform the Captain, and Baader Brains, there is a magic on this album that feels like the best possible version of those bands. This album means the world to me and I will cherish it for as long as I live. Thank you so much Sarah Kirsch, you will not be forgotten.
2. Marathon States – I Want a Warning
I’ve been waiting for this album since the band put of a two song digital single in 2013. Jason Thinh of The Chinkees and Short Round took four years to record this album joined with the rhythm section of the band Hard Girls and it’s well worth the wait. Energetic and melodic, no release gets me as pumped as this album. Angular punk with heavy emphasis on great catchy tunes, I can’t stop listening to this album.
3. Starflyer 59 – Slow
Are you kidding me with this? SF59 released a new album in 2016 and I can’t find the words to describe how good this album is. Jason Martin is a genius with no equal.
4. The Superweaks – Better Heavens
In a very short time, The Superweaks have become one of my favorite bands. Stepping away from the heavy Weezer vibe of the last record, Better Heavens is a more mature sounding affair. Also, earlier this year the band suffered a tragic loss with the passing of bassist and brother of vocalist Evan, Corey Bernard. I’m grateful that I got see the band play with Corey a handful of times and my heart breaks for his family and friends.
5. Adult Magic – EP
After randomly looking up names of bands playing Fest that I’ve never heard of, I learned that Adult Magic is Mike Bruno from Iron Chic, Crow Bait, Jonesin’ and a ton of other bands with a few other Long Island folks. There is something about these melancholy pop punk songs that I can’t get enough of.
6. Dark Blue – Start of the World
John Sharkey from Clockcleaner and Puerto Rico Flowers has found yet another band to blow me away with.
7. Teenage Fanclub – Here
I’m devoting 2017 to listening to as much Teenage Fanclub as possible. Those damn harmonies give me chills.
8. Kitty Kat Fan Club – Songs About Cats
The cutest album of 2016 goes to Songs About Cats. Mike Park, Mike and Morgan from Hard Girls, and a few more friends get together to sing songs about cats. Apt title.
9. John K. Samson – Winter Wheat
Dry your tears you shed from the announcement that The Weakerthans are no more. Now start crying because of how good this album is.
10. Pup – The Dream is Over
The dream is, in fact, NOT over. PUP are one of the most hyped bands in the world right now, and it’s entirely deserved.
11. Neurosis – Fires Within Fires
The metal band to end all metal bands. Fires Within Fires is the best Neurosis album since A Sun That Never Sets.
12. American Wrestlers – Goodbye Terrible Youth
I won’t lie, I only checked American Wrestlers out because of their name, yet they sound nothing like you would expect an American Wrestler to. Goodbye Terrible Youth is a lo-fi indie pop album that doesn’t sound all that lo-fi. Clean guitar tones, terrific 80’s style synths, and catchy hooks make this album work.
13. Pinegrove – Cardinal
I can’t even remember why I decided to give Pinegrove a listen. It was probably from reading a description on a blog. Whatever it was, was one of the best ideas I had this year. Is Emo Country a thing?
14. Medictation – Warm Places
Warm Places is a heart breaking album. Medictation was a collaboration between members of The Sainte Catherines and the almighty Leatherface. In fact, this was the last album the late Dickie Hammond ever recorded before passing away in late 2015. Dickie’s fingerprints are all over these songs, making every listen a bittersweet experience. Rest in power Dickie.
15. The Exquisites – Home
Here is the second Asian Man release that I surprisingly fell in love with. Formerly known as Dad Punchers, The Exquisites are a hard band for me to put my finger on. Soulful vocals, sporadic horn section, with a west coast/bay area punk sound.
16. Chandeli’ers – Breaker
Have you ever wanted to hear Elvis Costello front the E Street Band? Chandeli’ers is the closest thing to that you may ever hear. Members of Ringers and World / Inferno Friendship Society released this incredible album then broke up because we can’t have nice things.
17. Dogbreth – Second Home
There are two albums on this list from Asian Man Records that I gave a listen purely because I respect the label that made my top twenty. I fell in love with this album as soon as the first chorus of the first track hit.
18. Dwell – Innate
Hailing from my homestate of North Carolina, Dwell started as an homage to 90’s spirit filled hardcore and with Innate have transformed into so much more. Chaotic in a way we haven’t seen the band before, Dwell are like Bless the Martyr era Norma Jean crossed with fellow NC hardcore legends Advent.
19. Year of Glad – I Don’t Know Where I am Either
Year of Glad is a supergroup of sorts, featuring members of Nona, 1994!, Good Luck, and Mike Bell & the Movies. The back and forth vocals between Mimi and Chris are what make this band. This is the second Year of Glad EP and I’m holding out for a full length.
20. Violent Soho – Waco
Violent Soho had been receiving a lot of positive buzz over the last few years, so I decided to give them a shot. Waco was a pleasant surprise that hits on all my nostalgic 90’s alternative rock nerves.
21. Zao – The Well-Intentioned Virus
It’s been seven years since Zao released Awake? While that album had some good songs, it was a fairly forgettable album. I’d also assumed that there probably wouldn’t be another Zao album. You don’t know how good it was to finally hold a copy of this record in my hands. The Well-Intentioned Virus sounds like a blending of everything Zao has released since leaving Tooth & Nail with some new tricks thrown in.
22. Continental Drift – Split
I came for the Wildhoney, and stayed for the Mercury Girls.
23. Great Thunder / Radiator Hospital – The Wedding Album
I went into this record thinking it was going to be a split release, but it turns out that it’s a collaboration between the members of Radiator Hospital, Swearin’, Waxahatchee, and Big Eyes. I absolutely adore the reinterpretation of “Big Cloud”.
24. Ghostlimb – Difficult Loves
Ghostlimb has always been the hardest band from Justin Smith for me to get into, yet between this, Graf Orlock, and Dangers, Difficult Loves turned out to be my favorite.
25. Artie Tea – Out of a Seaweed Dream
The Clippers existed for such a brief time, I was extremely excited to learn that their vocalist has a new band called Artie Tea. Out of a Seaweed Dream has a the same catchy melodies that made The Clippers so special.
26. AJJ – The Bible 2
While I’m still not a fan of some of the production choices on this album, it’s a return to form for the band.
27. The Holy Mess – Trash Age
The Holy Mess breaking up was a major bummer, but as far as swansongs go, Trash Age was the perfect way to go out.
28. The Gunshy – Porterhouse
I got to see The Gunshy perform this year during Fest, and they had the most passionate set the entire weekend. Jason Arbogast’s voice rivals Frankie Stubbs in raspiness, and fits The Gunshy’s unique brand of punk / alt-country perfectly.
29. Dan P. – To the Lions
This is such an adorable record. It’s mostly a collection of love songs written for the former MU330 frontman’s wife Shannon Toombs who lends her voice to multiple tracks.
30. Bob Mould – Patch the Sky
One of my high points of 2016 was seeing Bob Mould live for the very first time. Patch the Sky is the third entry in a trilogy of records Bob began when he signed with Merge Records and added Superchunk’s rhythm section as his backing band. I can’t help but think this is his best solo album since Black Sheets of Rain.
31. toyGuitar – Move Like a Ghost
Jack from Dead to Me’s other band, toyGuitar put out one of my absolute favorite albums last year and they are back again for more 60’s style rock and roll fun.
32. Scrapheat – Stare
I have such a hard time figuring out how to describe this EP. Is it garage rock? Noise rock? Punk? I have no idea, but it absolutely rules.
33. Crybaby – Drag Me Under
I’ve been waiting for this album for so long now. Ed McNulty is a big rock star in Beach Slang now, but he’ll always be in Crybaby to me.
34. LVL UP – Return to Love
LVL UP are back and this time they are on Sub Pop records. I wasn’t as into this album as Hoodwink’d, but it’s still a great collection of jangly indie pop.
35. Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
Beach Slang were at the top of my album of the year list last year, and they’ve fallen down to 35 this year. Have they lost their shine? Nah this was just such a good year for music it’s too hard to rank albums.
36. Sioux Falls – Rot Forever
This album is over an hour long, which normally drives me crazy but these songs are just too good. They’ve since changed their name to Strange Ranger. Indie/emo with a hint of Modest Mouse.
37. Lilac Daze – Lilac Daze
Killer fuzz punks Lilac Daze released their first full length this year and I couldn’t be happier.
38. Hard Girls – Dulcet Tones
This is essentially a placeholder for a new Hard Girls album. One new demo song, one old song performed live, and another new song played acoustically. The new album needs to get here fast.
39. Slow Gherkin – Lives
The ska punk legends, Slow Gherkin, reunited this year and recorded two new songs. I have no idea if this is going to lead to a new album but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
40. Riot Stares – Riot Stares
All the members of Discourse (minus the vocalist) decided that they didn’t want to quit playing music together and started this Snapcase worship band.
41. Nona – Freaky If You Got This Far
This was a really awesome posthumous release a criminally underrated pop punk band. The members of have all gone on to play in bands like Beach Slang, Spraynard, and Year of Glad, but I’ll always hold Nona close to my heart.
42. Dead to Me – I Want to Die in Los Angeles
The long awaited return of Jack Dalrymple to the ranks of Dead to Me doesn’t disappoint. I just wish they recorded more than three songs.
43. Acid Fast – Last Night on Earth
I really miss the band Big Kids. Acid Fast tries to make you forget, but I’ll never forget.
44. Ship Thieves – No Anchor
What happened to the Ship Thieves? Chris Wollard’s side project from Hot Water Music finally decided to not be boring anymore.
45. The Beat featuring Ranking Roger – Bounce
This can get a little tricky, so try and follow. The Beat were an 80’s 2-tone band from the UK that called themselves The English Beat when they played in the US. They broke up in ‘83, and in the 00’s the two vocalists, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger, each decided to start touring with new bands. Dave tours the US as The English Beat, Roger tours the UK as The Beat. Bounce is the first Beat album in 30 years and while it isn’t as good as their 80’s material, it’s a fantastic ska/reggae album.
46. Daylight Robbery – Accumulated Error
Noisy Chicago garage rock that trades off guy and gal vocals. For the first half of the year I thought this was going to wind up in my top ten.
47. Youth Avoiders – Spare Parts
Or as I like to call them, French PUP.
48. Strange Ranger – Sunbeams Through Your Head
The band Sioux Falls decided to change their name to Strange Ranger. With the name change they decided to change up their sound a little bit. Melancholy emo from Portland, OR.
49. Hot Mess – Nervous Tensions
The opening riff of this album totally reminds me of Hard Girls last LP. I hope to hear more from this killer UK punk band.
50. Chestnut Road – LP 2
Chestnut Road are one of the coolest bands on this list that I wish other people would listen to. Think Leatherface with much much cleaner vocals and you get an idea of what they sound like.
51. Cheap Girls – Lousy
I was holding out hope that Cheap Girls would release a new full length this year, and unfortunately all we got was this two song digital single. Of course I’ll take any Cheap Girls I can get.
52. Tender Defender – Tender Defender
Three-fourths of Latterman get together for a cool little five song EP that sounds just like Latterman.
53. Notches – High Speed Crimes
This was one of the first albums from 2016 that I listened to and I’ve come back to it so many times throughout the year. High Speed Crimes is a noisy pop punk record that at times reminds me of Superchunk and Archers of Loaf.
54. Hells – Paradise
I randomly stumbled across this EP and really dug how it sounded. Then I found out that the guitarist Brad Wallace played in Orchid, Transistor Transistor, and Wolves and fell in love with it.
55. Bodyfather – Heavy Rest
This is a really rad three song EP that reminds me of post-hardcore legends Frodus and Maximillian Colby.
56. Lies – Plague
This may be the fastest and most pissed off album on this list. Clocking in at a little over ten minutes, Plague never relents.
57. Dangers – The Bend in the Break
The first Dangers LP since 2010 is wild. Continuing their musical evolution started on Five O’Clock Shadow, Dangers show off some new tricks that we haven’t seen from them before.
58. Veery – Veery
Can’t seem to get away from these Richmond bands. This time it’s Harris from Sundials, Chris from Sundials, Springtime, and Family Cat, and Alex from Hold Tight! playing some late 80’s inspired hardcore punk.
59. Michael Knott – Songs from the Feather River Highway
Michael Knott is one of the most prolific and overlooked musicians to come out of the Christian music scene let alone any scene. He has over 30 full albums to his name across a dozen bands. This is his first studio release in three years as well as his first solo record since 2006. There are very few artists who mean as much to me as Michael Knott, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of his discography.
60. Asian Man Music for Asian Man People Vol. 2
The second compilation of Asian Man Records bands playing songs from Asian Man albums is so much fun and features appearances from Winter Break, Spraynard, Modern Baseball, and a ton more.
61. Off With Their Heads – Won’t Be Missed
These buttholes only put two pre-In Desolation songs on here? What a waste
62. Deathspell Omega – The Synarchy of Molten Bones
I don’t listen to much black metal these days, but whenever I hear that there is a new Deathspell Omega album I always check it out. Easily the greatest black metal band of the last ten years.
63. John Doe – The Westerner
John Doe has been playing country music for 26 years now. It’s a wonder that he isn’t more known for his solo work than X at this point.
64. Southern Culture on the Skids – The Electric Pinecones
I only listened to this album out of morbid curiosity and wound up loving it. Don’t forget your roots NC kids.
65. Joy – Of Nothing
North Carolina hardcore with major Nails and Young and in the Way influences.
66. Smoke Break – Everything is Wrong
Members of Sundials, Springtime, Close Talker, Family Cat and so many more bands that I can’t possibly list them all. One of the best punk scenes in the country.
67. Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death
What else can be said about Tegan and Sara?
68. Petrol Girls – Talk of Violence
I didn’t know this album existed until I started writing about the three song EP Petrol Girls released earlier this year. Raging feminist hardcore from the UK that I wish I had more than one day left in the year to talk about.
69. Arrows in Her – It Tired Me All the Same
Broken World Media is killing it with these emo revival bands. Arrows in Her remind me of Muscle & Bone, which is cool because I miss that band a lot.
70. Warpaint – Heads Up
Even though Shannyn Sossamon hasn’t been in this band since before their first LP I always think of this as her band. This one is a chill indie rock album with electronic beats and synth lines woven throughout, like a laid back Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
71. Close Talker – Temper Mistake, Exclusion Erase
Like so many Richmond punk bands that have come before, Close Talker called it quits and released their album after they broke up. It’s a great jammer featuring Cory from Sundials and Smoke Break.
72. Astronautalis – Cut the Body Loose
Five years later and we finally get a new Astronautalis album. The closest you can get to being Doomtree without actually being a member.
73. Wrong – Wrong
Ex-members of Torche, Kylesa, and Capsule playing big, beefy Helmet and Unsane influenced noise rock. I wish this sound was more popular in general.
74. Puddle Splasher – Separate States
This New Jersey emo group have dropped some of the more obvious Hum influences for their full length, and they’re a better band for it.
75. Wildspeaker – Tranquil Garden
A brutally heavy EP of female fronted blackened crust. The cover of “Heart Shaped Box” is a treat to behold.
76. Graf Orlock – Crime Traveller
Instead of using samples from existing movies like a normal Gorlock album, the band decided to act out their own movie clips. I’m not wild about the performances, but the music is absolutely killer.
77. .gif From God – …Defragmented…Reformatted
Abrasive screamo from Richmond that brings to mind Majority Rule and The Number 12 Looks Like You. This type of music hasn’t been popular in a long time and it’s a welcome change of pace.
78. Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
Hip-hop performed at the highest level. I’d argue that Aesop Rock is even better than the overrated Run the Jewels.
79. Dan Sartain – Century Plaza
Dan Sartain is easily one of my all-time favorite musicians, but this album is a major departure from his usual brand of garage rock. Instead, Century Plaza is entirely made up of synths and would have fit right in with the Escape From New York soundtrack. Not my favorite album by Sartain but entertaining nonetheless.
80. Geometors – Pay to Live
Super late addition to 2016, and probably would be higher up if I’d had more time to digest it. A brilliant debut that worships at the altar of J. Robbins, fittingly recorded by the man himself.
81. Springtime – Do You Know Where You Are?
These are the last two songs from the now defunct Richmond band. Supposedly they have a full length worth of material that they plan to record at some point, but who knows when that will be. As for now this is it.
82. Signals Midwest – At This Age
The third LP by Signals Midwest is a continuation of their work on Light on the Lake, and another excellent addition to their discography.
83. Self Defense Family – The Power Does Not Work in the Presence of Nonbelievers
Every year this band disappoints me more than the one before. They released three Eps and a split in 2016 and this was the best one. Probably because it didn’t sound like the exact same album for the 20th time.
84. Pears – Green Star
I didn’t know what the hype was all about with Pears. Gave Green Star a shot and now I wish I’d checked them out earlier.
85. Moose Blood – Blush
It looks like this English emo band is on the verge of blowing up huge and I’m sure next year they’ll be on the cover of Alternate Press, but as of right now I’m still really digging them.
86. Damien Jurado – Visions of Us on the Land
The third and final installment of Damien Jurado and Richard Swift’s collaboration. I always feel like Jurado gets overlooked by his former band mate David Bazan, but I’ve always preferred Damien’s records.
87. Katie Ellen – TV Dreams
It took me way longer than it should have for me to realize that Katie Ellen features former Chumped lead singer Anika Pyle. Very similar to that band except a little more low-fi.
88. Typesetter – #5
I fell in love with this band when their Wild’s End LP came out a few years ago, and they continue to crank out killer tunes. These are some of the catchiest tunes they’ve released to date, and I’m stoked to hear what comes next.
89. Literature / Expert Alterations – Split
I came into this split expecting to like the Literature side more because I love that band, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the Expert Alterations side. Both bands play a jangly style of indie rock that fans of LVL Up would be smart to listen to.
90. Old Love – Perversion
Australian band plays chaotic hardcore much like Converge with some blackened elements. Just five really solid tunes.
91. Jet Set Sail – Core Reduction
Remember all those twinkly emo bands from a few years ago that broke up before they could actually get big? The next generation of beardy noodly punk is here.
92. Failure Pact – Late Nights
I was going to talk about how promising this Portland, OR hardcore band was, but I just found out they broke up in October. Oh well, just enjoy these three killer tunes.
93. Problem of Pain – Burn What My Hands Wrought
As someone who grew up on Christian Hardcore, I’m extremely excited for what Blood & Ink Records is doing right now. Problem of Pain are dark, sludgy, and to the point.
94. Treeshaker – Off the Face of the Earth
Karoshi Boy made one of my favorite EPs in 2014 and then broke up. This is half of that band, and it’s a little less Weezer and a little more Built to Spill. Definitely keeping my eyes on this band.
95. Sunndrug – Exit Wounds
Ex-Spitfire and Norma Jean members Chris Raines and Jimmy Reeves reunite for a bizarre collection of noisy experimental music that’s not quite metal, not quite industrial, but wholly unique.
96. Showbread – Showbread is Showdead
The surprise final Showbread album brings members from all periods of the band back together to say farewell. Fans of the bands early work will be very pleased with this record. Raw Rock Kills Forever and Ever.
97. Let’s Get Dangerous – Demo ‘16
Boys (featuring Maura Weaver of Mixtapes) decided to record a two song ska demo named after Darkwing Duck. Oh how I wish there was more music from them.
98. Innards / The Caution Children – Split
Two of the best screamo bands today come together for one original track each as well as taking turns covering each other. In fact, The Caution Children may be my favorite current screamo band.
99. Dalek – Asphalt for Eden
The experimental hip-hop legends are back. The first album since their hiatus in 2011 reunites MC dalek with DJ rEk. Truly one of a kind.
100. False Light / Discomfort – Split
Grind heavy hardcore split LP from Italy’s Discomfort and South Carolina’s False Light (ex-Discourse). The best False Light has sounded so far.