Best Albums Of 2016

By samlloydw samlloydw
updated over 2 years ago

Presenting my favourite albums of this past year. The songs that I personally find the best (subjectively) and which hold the most significance will be listed as my 'Choice Cuts'. It might seem that Pitchfork has had a lot of influence on this list, but in reality... it has. Even though I might not compare this year for being remotely as good as others this decade musically (2013, 2014 especially), it still has its high points. Apart from Pitchfork, I have sourced my listened-to albums from The Needledrop, recommendations from friends and old favourites. Be sure to also check out my 'Honourable Mentions' list of albums: these are the albums that didn't make my end of year list but still deserve a mention as they are still of relatively high quality. Anyway, this is my opinion so don't be upset if your album didn't make it or if I didn't rate it highly enough.

  1. Bon Iver - 22, A Million

    Choice Cuts: (22 (Over Soon), 8 (Circle), #Stafford ATPS)

    By far my favourite album of the year. After hearing his 22/10 single release I knew that Justin Vernon was aiming high for his next album. The glitchy, auto tuned folk is so well realised that it would be hard to replicate anything that is on this album. There are growers such as 'Creeks' which show just how powerful a completely stripped back song can be. This album admires nature (like previous Bon Iver albums) yet has many electronic touches added to the acoustic instruments. There is a mysticism and a sense of the unknown within every song and all the symbolism that Vernon uses. Not only that but the album cover is definitely an eye-catcher.

  2. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

    Choice Cuts: The Numbers, Present Tense, Daydreaming

    A return to form. The King of Limbs didn't live up to the expectations of most. This new Radiohead release easily stands by their previous catalogue. The majority of these songs are highly orchestrated with strings and pianos constantly being layered into the loop. The final outcome of is a highly cinematic journey.

  3. The Avalanches - Wildflower

    Choice Cuts: Saturday Night Inside Out, If I were a Folkstar, Harmony

    Over 15 years after their previous release, the Avalanches highly-anticipated album doesn't fail to impress. The album remains childlike, nostalgic and original throughout. Although clearly a very different atmosphere to 'Since I Left You', the sounds are colourful and there are constant feelings of love arising. The guest appearances don't dissappoint either, even though I was skeptical before having heard the album. For example, Toro y Moi beautifully delivers his story about doing LSD on the beach with his lover on 'If I were a Folkstar'. Another highlight includes where MF DOOM's and Danny Brown's raps on 'Frankie Sinatra' work very well with the off-kilter production. All in all, an exceptional return by the Avalanches where they exceeded all my expectations whilst building up on their style in imaginative, unexpected ways.

  4. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels

    ACTUALLY RUN THE JEWELS 3 (It hasn't been properly released yet so not in the discogs database)
    Choice Cuts: A Report to the Shareholders, Hey Kids, Bumaye

    Turns out, there was indeed a 'Christmas Fucking Miracle'. On the 25th, a surprise release of the new Run the Jewels album appeared on their website for all to download for free. And fuck me is it good. The production is fantastic (as can be expected with a producer as consistent as El-P) and the raps to go with it are tight and focused. This is definitely my favourite release so far from the duo even though their previous releases have also been 🔥. El-P and Killer Mike are pushing boundaries with Run The Jewels (definitely competition to Death Grips, Clipping and Kendrick Lamar innovation-wise). It's hard to believe that these rappers can produce such a solid LP after being in the game for so long

  5. dvsn (2) - SEPT. 5TH

    Choice Cuts: With Me, Hallucinations, The Line

    DVSN's release this year is sonically sparse and crisp. This album revolves around sex. It treats it as a serious act rather than the meaningless and crude way that most rappers and pop stars talk about it nowadays. The R&B is mellow and sweet. DVSN sings romantically promising commitment and respect. If this album doesn't impress someone sonically (which I would find hard to believe) at least the principles and the themes would make a change to what one normally hears in popular music.

  6. NAO (33) - For All We Know

    Choice Cuts: Adore You, Inhale Exhale, In The Morning, Trophy

    NAO released one of my favourite debut albums this year. Whilst remaining relatively underground, her music is highly accessible and consistent. Her voice never falters. Although her music may seem simple, there is an air of sophistication. I am disappointed some of her older songs such as 'Apple Cherry' weren't included on this LP- that song is a fucking banger. The beats on this album sound so original whilst being familiar. I feel that this album should have been higher on a lot of end of year lists and give NAO the recognition she deserves.

  7. David Bowie - ★ (Blackstar)

    Choice Cuts: Blackstar, Lazarus, Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)

    The significance of this album changed completely once Bowie died. There is a melancholy flowing through most of the songs. David Bowie experiments a lot throughout this album with some rough and freeform instrumentals . It comes off as a deeply personal goodbye. "Where the fuck did Monday go?" Bowie sings at the start of 'Girl Loves Me'. Slightly creepy seeing as died late at night on a Sunday.

  8. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book

    Choice Cuts: Summer Friends, No Problem, How Great

    A solid mixtape of the same calibre as 'Acid Rap'. There are plenty of great tracks on this album as well as some thoughtful lyrics from chance. This album boasts a wide variety of guest appearances such as Kanye, Future and Justin Bieber surprisingly. There are two weak songs on this release: Mixtape (which doesn't fit into the mixtape and completely interrupts the gospel flow it creates) and Juke Jam (pretty boring).

  9. Kevin Morby - Singing Saw

    Choice Cuts: Drunk and On Star, I Have Been To The Mountain, Singing Saw

    An overlooked indie-folk album. Good vibes and lush instrumentals.

  10. Mitski - Puberty 2

    Choice Cuts: Your Best American Girl, Thursday Girl, Happy

  11. Angel Olsen - My Woman

    Choice Cuts: Sister, Intern, Shut Up and Kiss Me

  12. Frank Ocean - Blond

    Choice Cuts: Nights, Ivy, Siegfried, Godspeed

    I have to say, it took me a while to like this album. After many listens it has definitely paid off. There are still filler songs ('Solo', 'Skylights To'), and all of the skits seems to me as mere distractions from the main album (this is especially true in 'Futura Free' where the last 5 minutes can easily be removed). However, the highlights of this album are exceptional when they do eventually arrive. There is a very close attention to detail in the production. The album sounds spacious and introspective. It is definitely a step up from his previous release 'Channel Orange' which showed a lot of potential but very little consistency. I still think this album is very overrated by the musical community. I believe that Frank can deliver far better (which can be easily seen by the obvious choice cuts listed above).

  13. Danny Brown (2) - Atrocity Exhibition

    13 For Sale from $40.90

    Choice Cuts: Rolling Stone, Lost, Ain't It Funny

  14. Swans - The Glowing Man

    Choice Cuts: Cloud Of Forgetting, Cloud Of Unknowing, The World Looks Red/ The World Looks Black

    The third and final album of Swan's 'Seer' trilogy. Possibly the most challenging out of the 3 due to its introspective and ambient nature. Their chanting on this album and the long repetitive build-ups can be incredibly hypnotic. Good music to do nothing to. The Glowing Man is just as confusing and windy as 'To Be Kind' but will definitely repay any Swans fan with multiple listens (if one is willing to put in the time).

  15. Nicolas Jaar - Sirens

    17 For Sale from $19.99

    Choice Cuts: The Governor, Three Sides of Nazareth

  16. Kaytranada - 99.9%

    Choice Cuts: Got It Good, You're The One, Leave Me Alone

  17. Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial

    Choice Cuts: Drunk Drivers/ Killer Whales, Fill In the Blank, Connect The Dots

  18. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

    Choice Cuts: I Need You, Distant Sky, Skeleton Tree

  19. Whitney (8) - Light Upon The Lake

    Choice Cuts: No Woman, Golden Days

  20. A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

    Choice Cuts: The Space Program, Lost Somebody, Conrad Tokyo

  21. Solange (2) - A Seat At The Table

    Choice Cuts: Don't Touch My Hair, Cranes in the Sky, Where Do We Go

  22. Nails - You Will Never Be One Of Us

    Great grindcore album. There weren't many metal albums that appealed to me this year aside from this one. This thing is relentless and uncompromising. This albums reeks of nihilism and expresses its hate for the general population whenever it can. If one is into extreme music than I would recommend giving this a listen; especially since this only spans for around 20 mins.

  23. Aphex Twin - Cheetah EP

    Choice Cuts: CHEETAHT2 [ld Spectrum], CIRKLON 1

  24. Massive Attack - Ritual Spirit

    16 For Sale from $42.74

    Choice Cuts: Dead Editors, Ritual Spirit

    Although I'm not the biggest fan of Bristol's Massive attack, nor the trip-hop scene in general, this EP is fantastic. If they could make an LP of the same standard and consistency it would definitely top my end of year lists.

  25. Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

    Choice Cuts: Female Vampire, Conceptual Romance