Ryan Getz’s Top 20 Albums of 2016
I look forward to putting this list together every year, but this year was perhaps the toughest to narrow down yet. I love having this problem. Check out the below albums and leave your feedback on what I skipped! -RG
20. Pace of Glaciers – B C E D H I X K O: This album made me think “wow, 2016 is going to be quite a year” as this little known group from Columbus quietly released a chilly indie rock record amidst a very carefully planned aesthetic. It’s the sort of album full of little earworms to listen to while you drive in the bleakness of the grey winter months, and appreciate the counterintuitive beauty around you.
19. Church Tongue – Heart Failure: This was the one heavy release that resonated with me immediately when I listened to it this year. The band has a classic rock and roll sensibility that permeates the music, making it a bit more accessible than most hardcore bands. Yet, I would hardly call this radio friendly. I’ve been told this band is important multiple times over the past couple of years and the picture is becoming clearer why.
18. Eliot Sumner – Information: Eliot Sumner is probably best known as Sting’s daughter. Though, I didn’t know this when I received a promo from a major label that I downloaded on a whim this past winter. The singer has an androgynous image and voice that add an aura of mystery the new wave meets pop rock sound that is driving from start to finish.
17. Mitski – Puberty 2: This album was a late comer to this list that I admittedly only listened to because I started seeing it on the lists of other major music sites! I admire Mitski’s ability to go from ethereal gliding to aggressive playing from song to song. I fell asleep to this one night actually. But I think it would suit long car rides as well.
16. Local Natives – Sunlit Youth: This is the vibe-iest (just made that word up) I’ve ever heard Local Natives, and I’m okay with that. There isn’t an immediate classic on this album on the same lines as “You and I” or even “Sun Hands,” but we find some driving tunes that employ some of the band’s trademark whimsical effects while carrying the listener’s feelings to new heights.
15. S U R V I V E – RR7349: I might be the only person on earth who has listened to this album and has never watched a single second of Stranger Things. If you want an album full of dark synthwave tracks straight out of the 80s that are vaguely unsettling, this is the record for you. This is one of the few albums this year that I believe can appease both the biggest snobs and the casual fans that engage only in mainstream pop culture.
14. Seaons – Aprilis: Why did no one talk about this band this year? Were we the only outlet to do so? If you enjoy jazz, dream pop, and progressive rock, you’ll love this record. All of the above emerge at one point or another during this release from the Pacific Northwest quartet.
13. Whitney – Light Upon the Lake: Every other outlet has mentioned their love of this band. We’re going to do so as well. Jazz and pop rock meet in a delightful concoction of earworms (yeah, already used that term once this write up. Gonna do it again!).
12. Tiny Moving Parts – Celebrate: Listening to this album was a step out of my comfort zone this year, especially when it comes to writing reviews. In spite of my history being somewhat bored with the company that bands like TMP find themselves in, I found myself unable to skip a track from these guys whenever my iPod Classic (yeah!) shuffled to one in my car. There’s something irresistable about the way this band mixes in math rock to some angsty tunes.
11. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool: A friend of mine said this album reminded him of a movie score, though he wasn’t really being complimentary when he told me this. I differ. I like the anxiety presented in “Burn the Witch,” the sense of wandering in “Daydreaming,” and the classic Radiohead vibe perfect for a late night drive in “True Love Waits.”
10. Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust: The songwriter and looping violin virtuoso presents a sweeping soundscape of an album in Sonderlust. I feel like I’m looking at a painting in a private art gallery, only in reality I think I was sipping on some hot cider in front of a fireplace while listening to this for the first time. Sonderlust is cathcy and cinematic.
9. Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere: Thrice makes a triumphant return with this album, which is chock full of thoughtful rock anthems trademarked by Dustin Kensrue’s powerful vocals. It’s what longtime Thrice fans were waiting for, and in my opinion “Black Honey” and “The Window” are instant classics.
8. Silent Planet – Everything Was Sound: What can I say about Silent Planet? They have a name inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Science Trilogy (cool), they recorded a concept album with the purpose of destigmatizing various mental illnesses in the form of art (cooler), and in one song (Redivider) they tell two stories – which is the same paragraph read forwards backwards. I could keep going.
7. Julianna Barwick – Will: Want something to completely zone out to in the dark? This is that album. I recommend doing so alone. I have to imagine that one of her live shows renders a person unaware of their surroundings for fleeting moments.
6. Bon Iver – 22, A Million: I prefer the sophomore release from the ever evolving Justin Vernon alter ego, but this album is lush and I probably most enjoyed this album whilst driving home from a fall festival with some friends. The album is unexpected in sound, but not so far gone that we’ve abandoned the Bon Iver mindset altogether.
5. Civilian – You Wouldn’t Believe What Privilege Costs: I’ll just reiterate a sentence from our review of this album; all the ingredients for becoming America’s next indie rock darling are present in this record. I think in years to come, this will be an essential record for the autumn months in my collection. Next year, the band is heading out with Eisley and another band we can’t mention just yet. All signs point to a bright future.
4. Comrades – Lone/Grey: The post rock meets post hardcore trio releases a barnburner of an album on Facedown Records, their first for the label. We get vibes of Beloved from drummer/vocalist Ben Trussell. The album is as aggressive as it is beautiful, and as poignant as it is heavy hitting. Look for Comrades to have a big year in 2017.
3. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues: Integrity Blues is a record that many long time Jimmy Eat World fans consider a return to form. Some have even gone so far to say that it recalls fan favorite Clarity, or more commonly, Futures. A couple of rockers are present to get that blood flowing, but Jimmy Eat World excels at composing midtempo songs suitable for evening drives.
2. Polyenso – Pure In the Plastic: The experimental trio from Florida has taken another left turn in their musical journey, emerging from the darkness with this bright, colorful psych-pop masterpiece. Critics have recommended this album for fans of Alt-J and Glass Animals, though arguably in Pure and the Plastic there may be more twists, turns and nuances than either of those two bands present in their most recent albums.
1. Tycho – Epoch: Tycho might be the most instantly recognizable instrumental artist on the planet. Epoch veers from minimalist to lush territory, and back again. It hangs out in the twilight yet remains optimistic. It is simultaneously eerie and comforting. It is these sorts of juxtapositions that make Epoch so alluring. When an album holds your attention through feeling like garbage you know it’s a winner – that was the case with me.