Jonah's "50 Best Albums of 2016"

By jonahj3x jonahj3x
updated over 2 years ago

This is not Rolling Stone. This is not littered with things of such nature as "Young Thug". This is what you should have been listening to while worrying about politics, playing Pokemon Go, or praising that Gorilla from Cincinatti.

  1. David Bowie - ★ (Blackstar)

    ★ "at the center of it all" ★
    This album. This album has no competition. This album is the best of the year. To me, this album is one of the best albums of the twenty first century. It has even come to be one of my favorite albums of all-time.

    The timing here was perfect. Releasing it two days before his death, David Bowie had the world pondering over this very dark and oddly unique album. It was an immediate hit among fans and critics, all oblivious of what the near future would bring. The Starman's death brought shock to everybody - especially those who had just been enjoying this new album. Who knew somebody could record and release and album on their deathbed? But his passing shed some light on this masterpiece. Or, rather, it made people see just how dark it really was.

    The timing was even more perfect for me. I've got a whole story I love to think you might be interested in, but I know you're not, so I won't burden this review with too lengthy an anecdote. Basically, a short time before this album's release, I found a few Bowie albums at a thrift store. This gave me a newfound interest in his music, and I learned he was much more than just a few big hits. I wasn't quick enough to preorder "Blackstar", but I placed my order for it on the night of January 10. I didn't know it until the next morning, but he died as I was doing so.

    I love this album. I could go on forever telling you that I love it, why I love it, what I love about it, and why you should love it too. But I think this is the line to see the "year's best albums" list, so I'll move forward.

    Favorite track: ★

  2. Weezer - Weezer

    In very stark contrast to #1, this is a very fun and easy to listen to album.
    Possibly Weezer's best and most consistent album of the 21st century. Every track has character and contributes to the record.
    Favorite track: (Girl We Got A) Good Thing

  3. Catfish And The Bottlemen - The Ride

    The Ride" doesn't show much change from Catfish & The Bottlemen's first album. As a matter of fact, it seems they've gone to make them appear as a perfect matching pair. They've used the same color sceme on the artwork, the same 11-track setup, and more. Each time you'll find all sorts of little hidden things that they did similar to the first album. This, however, isn't necessarily a bad thing. The first album was fantastic. And while this isn't quite as good, it's still great. I love listening to these guys. It's just plain, simple pop rock. No gimmicks, just good music that's incredibly enjoyable.
    Favorite track: Twice

  4. Metallica - Hardwired...To Self-Destruct

    This year was a great one for thrash metal. And the kings take the prize for this one.

    At some point following the release of their best selling album from 1991, Metallica seemed to forget how to be Metallica. After a stretch of five of the best metal albums of all time, they suddenly went heywire. Between then and now, they've been all over the place: making country songs, a terribly recorded album that sounds like a bunch of clanging trash cans, and a very unlikely collaboration with Lou Reed. It was as if they all fell victim to the Men In Blacks' neuralyzer. They forgot how to make good music. But this album, well, this shows them remembering. This album goes hard from its brief beginning to its epic ending.
    It certainly gives 2008's Death Magnetic a run for its money, and blows everything else they've done since The Black Album out of the water.
    Favorite track: Spit Out The Bone

  5. Original New York Cast*, David Bowie, Enda Walsh - Lazarus

    This album consists of two discs, serving different purposes. Disc one is a cast recording of Lazarus, a play composed by David Bowie which consists of previous hits from throughout his career, as well as three new songs.
    Disc two is studio recordings from Bowie himself: the three aforementioned new songs, and one song from "Blackstar".
    The first disc is a fun listen for a Bowie fan: the reevaluated versions of his old hits are quite enjoyable. There are highs and lows, of course, but I really enjoy the performances from Sophia Anne Caruso. She's a 15 year old girl with great talent. I particularly love her performance of "Life On Mars?".
    The second disc is probably what the majority of people bought this album for. That was the case with me. The three songs "No Plan", "Killing A Little Time", and "When I Met You" don't disappoint. Particular the latter couple. They are both absolutely fantastic.
    Though it isn't a studio album, this certainly deserves its place high on this list. It came as a gift to Bowie fans who had been mourning for months, and as a huge profit for his record company who probably murdered him.
    Favorite track (cast recording): Life On Mars?
    Favorite track (David Bowie): When I Met You

  6. Steven Wilson - 4½

    Prog at its finest.
    This guy knows how to make music. This is categorized as an EP, is technically more like mini-album, and is good enough to be a studio album. The name 4 1/2 refers to the fact that it is an interim release between his 4th and 5th studio albums. It is made up largely of things recorded during the sessions of his 3rd and 4th albums. But who'd have known it? The quality of this is far great enough to be a standalone album. It's not too short either - at about 36 minutes, it's a bit brief by today's standards, but I tend to prefer shorter albums anyway.

    Much of it is *relatively* poppy and lighthearted for Steven Wilson, Hapiness III is among his most catchy and radio-friendly songs ever. Can't wait for his next album, expected in 2017. He's been hard at work with another project, Blackfield, as well, who will be releasing their fifth album this coming February.
    Favorite track: Happiness III

  7. Katatonia - The Fall Of Hearts

    While this Swedish band seem to have almost entirely moved past their heavier metal days, there's still some metallic elements dispersed throughout this album. Change isn't necessarily a bad thing. This is a fantastic progressive rock album by a fantastic band.
    Favorite track: Decima

  8. Green Day - Revolution Radio

    Another Green Day album. No funny business with this one though - just a simple album with good songs. It's probably their least adventurous since the beginning of the century - not a rock opera, not part of a trilogy, not attempting to make any statements too bold. And it's great. Good songs=good record.
    Favorite track: Somewhere Now

  9. Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of Denial

    This album is the definition of indie rock. And it's fantastic.
    The simple lyrics somewhat resemble those of Syd Barrett or Lou Reed. And there's frequent simple humor - but only on the surface. It's an interesting blend of funny and serious. You might find yourself laughing as the narrator describes his life as it hits rock-bottom. The record seems an account of a young person who hasn't figured out life and who has made some sub-par decisions. And his self pity is our source of entertainment.
    But the real pity is in the actual events leading up to the release of this album. Track 5 was originally titled "Just What I Wanted/Not Just What I Needed" and contained a sample of The Cars' "Just What I Needed". The label, Matador, thought they had it sorted and approved. Well, after all the copies of the album had been pressed, and about a week before the album's release, Ric Ocasek found out and he was not cool with it. Apparently he had never personally been informed of the use of his song. Matador had to recall all the albums, and ended up destroying thousands of records and CDs. Screw you Ric Ocasek. That was a good song too.
    Favorite track: Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales

  10. Big Big Train - Folklore

    This album is awesome start to finish. It's a fresh take on classic progressive rock. You can catch hints of particular prog bands of the 70s, and even a bit of traditional folk music and theatre music. There's strings. There's brass. There's rock. There's historical lyrics. Fantastic.
    Favorite track: London Plane

  11. Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker

    You want it darker, we kill the flame"
    The last album before his death (hmm, sounds familiar...), this shows just how great a songwriter Leonard Cohen was. Most never recognized the writer behind the hugely famous song "Hallelujah" until his recent departure. His musical style is an acquired taste, to say the least, but there is no question of his ability as a lyricist.

    "I'm leaving the table, I'm out of the game"
    Favorite track: You Want It Darker

  12. Death Angel (2) - The Evil Divide

    Beautiful, calming music.
    Favorite track: It Can't Be This

  13. Megadeth - Dystopia

    Oh, Megadeth.
    Favorite track: Post-American World

  14. Anthrax - For All Kings

    Three in a row! I told you this was a great year for thrash metal.
    You gotta believe this is a great album. Also the first with new guitarist Jon Donais.
    Favorite track: Breathing Lightning

  15. Jake Bugg - On My One

    Away from the heavy metal, here we see the indie folk singer-songwriter who was born about 50 years too late to join Herman's Hermits. Is this his best album [yet]? Maybe. He explores some new ground here. There's some occasional blues and soul hints. Gimme The Love is quick and poppy, a bit reminiscent of 80s/90s alternative (the likes of U2 and R.E.M.). Lots of good stuff packed in here.
    Favorite track: Love, Hope & Misery

  16. Gojira (2) - Magma

    Simply wonderful.
    Favorite track: Stranded

  17. Marillion - FEAR (F*** Everyone And Run)

    The album title is very misleading. To those unfamiliar with Marillion, the title will likely evict expectations of a very different music style. For those familiar, it might appear to be a cheesy attempt to seem cool.
    But this album is far from another basic album by an irrelevant band.
    Laced with political themes, this post-progressive album is genuine and heartfelt. It requires a bit of concentration, but is definitely rewarding.
    Favorite track: Living In Fear

  18. Kanye West - The Life Of Pablo

    I hate Kanye.
    I hate Kanye.
    I hate Kanye.
    Yet, once again, I find myself coming back to him. This album is particularly frustrating. Album? Is it even an album? The only way to legally obtain this music is through the overpriced digital music provider Tidal. No physical album. Not unless you want a crappy bootleg vinyl pressing. This angers me.
    Then there's the album title - that's the best he could come up with?
    And let's not even mention the cover - I wouldn't know where to start.
    So we've established that the title and cover are absolutely atrocious- how about the music? Well, this is easily Kanye's messiest, most unorganized album ever. But, there's some good material in here. "30 Hours" and "No More Parties In LA" are highlights (no pun intended). Kendrick Lamar's feature in the latter is one of the best parts of the album. This is the usual: 50% of the good in Kanye's albums lie in the features. The other 50%? The sampling. Kanye is the king of sampling. I have discovered some great music thanks to Kanye using it as a part of his own. The last two tracks in particular make use of great songs.
    This album is exactly what I despise about some modern music. Yet it has taken a[n un]reasonably high position on my list. I disgust myself.
    This album being here is largely thanks to repetition. I always hated "Ultralight Beam", but was forced by simple-brained friends (you know who you are 😠) to listen to it CONSTANTLY. I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point between then and now I have come to appreciate it. Every word, every note, of that song is embedded in my brain.
    And then, of course, for a couple months, I couldn't go ten minutes without hearing somebody mumble "if Young Metro don't trust you I'm gon shoot you".

    I could talk forever trying to explain my way out of this one. Just know I feel incredibly guilty.
    Favorite track: No More Parties In L.A.

  19. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression

    This is a very cool album from the guy who really needs to buy a shirt.
    I couldn't have picked a better title for this album. It just makes sense.
    This is an existential crisis in the form of a record. "I've nothing, but my name."
    Whether he's instructing Gardenia or vulgarly ranting at YOU!, he brings something new and great with every track.
    Favorite track: Paraguay

  20. Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

    Very good album by these rockers. Sticking to their sound, they've not shocked anybody with this release. But "To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere" does have its share of political themes and such.
    Favorite track: Black Honey

  21. St. Paul & The Broken Bones - Sea Of Noise

    A solid sophomore album from this incredibly soulful group.
    This album is a delicious blend of retro and fresh. A swirl of rhythm and blues with a pinch of Motown sprinkles on top ("Brain Matter").
    Favorite track: Brain Matter

  22. Will Butler* - Friday Night

    A live album and the second solo album by the Arcade Fire member. Simply a fun album to listen to.
    Favorite track: Son Of God

  23. Ghost (32) - Popestar

    An EP to hold us over. This only has one original song - but that song's enough to get it here on the list.
    Favorite track: Square Hammer

  24. Avenged Sevenfold - The Stage

    Despite being overrated by edgy preteens and overhated by metalheads, Avenged Sevenfold is a good and consistent band. Very catchy songs on this album. Some nice guitarwork as well, particularly on the first track. And it's a concept album, so that automatically makes it better, right?

    This album was a surprise when it was suddenly released just a few days before Halloween - and a wonderful surprise it was.
    Favorite track: The Stage

  25. Insomnium - Winter's Gate

    Progressive death metal? Sweet. In a very Jethro Tullish manner, this album consists of a single forty minute song (although for digital release, it was split into 7 sections). In a very Unjethro Tullish manner, it's heavy metal (Nevermind what the 1989 Grammy Awards want you to think).
    Supposedly it's a concept album as well - I couldn't tell you, I can't understand half the words. But musically, this album is melodic death metal at its finest.
    Favorite segment: Part 3