Albums of 2016

2016 was another great year of music, but unlike the last two years, there wasn’t a single album that I found compelling. A number of albums were on my iPhone for months at a time, but nothing really stood out. Nevertheless, I had a long list of albums to review, and those that were the most memorable made it onto my list.

As I review the long list of favorite albums and songs that I’ve compiled over the course of the year, there’s often a theme that emerges. This year more than a few had an Eighties influence, so those of you who grew up in that timeframe may find some of these unfamiliar bands appealing. As always, I hope you find something you like.

1. Red Earth & Pouing Rain, by Bear's Den

My favorite album of the year is Bear’s Den’s Red Ear & Pouring Rain. Every song is at least four minutes long, which gives you the opportunity to lose yourself in their melancholy lyrics and intricate music. This is the best of the albums that, to my ear, have a clear 80s influence; you may hear a bit of Mike and the Mechanics here.

2. Ullages, by Eagulls

Do you like The Cure? Then you’ll enjoy the throwback sound of Eagulls.

3. The Weight of These Wings, by Miranda Lambert

I’m a huge Miranda Lambert fan, so no surprise that her 2016 album is among my favorite of the year. She continues to write, co-write, or simply sing songs that all share an authentic, country core.

4. It Calls On Me, by Doug Tuttle

My infatuation with psych pop continues. One of the best albums in that genre this year came from Doug Tuttle.

5. I'm Not the Devil, Cody Jinks

In year when Chris Stapleton won all kinds of mainstream awards, dig deeper into the Americana genre and you’ll find Cody Jinks. I’m Not the Devil is as good as Stapleton’s Traveller.

6. A Corpse Wired for Sound, by Merchandise

Another great indie band, Merchandise has a big sound that harkens back to the 80s. There’s a lot to like here. I love how the song builds.

7. Dead of Night, by The Saint Johns

Louis Johnson and Jordan Meredith make up the band The Saint Johns. Their roots are in country music, but there’s a strong pop influence on Dead of Night that should broaden their appeal to both country and Top 40 fans. There’s very little here to dislike, so give it a listen and see if you like it as much as I do. And tell me that Jordan’s voice doesn’t sound remarkably like Gwen Stafani at times.

8. New City Blues, by Aubrie Sellers

You may not know Aubrie Sellers, but you know her mother, Lee Ann Womack. She’s a chip off the old block!

9. Young & Unafraid, by The Moth & the Flame

The Moth & the Flame is simply a great indie band. You’ll hear echoes of Bastille, Imagine Dragons, and even U-2 in this most excellent album.

10. Eat, Sleep, Rest, by Copeland

I really like Aaron Marsh’s voice. It's tinged with an emo’esque sensibility and a haunting essence that draws you in.

Runners Up

American Football, American Football
Tire of Tomorrow, nothing
Victorious, Wolfmother
White Hot Moon, Pity Sex
And Then There's This, The Grascals
Animal Races, Cool Ghouls
The Very Last Day, Parker Millsap
Ethos, by Levitation Room
Hierophant, by Indighost
Die Alone, Gazebos
Big Box of Chocolates, Hooton Tennis Club
Ambulance, The Amazing
Cayamo Sessions at Sea, Buddy Miller (et al)
Casino Drone, Mike Adams at His Honest Weight
Is the Is Are, DIIV
City Club, The Growlers
Exodus of Venus, Elizabeth Cook
Chain Wallet, Chain Wallet
Calico Review, Allah-Las
Marlon Williams, Marlon Williams
Running Out of Love, The Radio Dept.
Without/Within, Bear's Den
The Sides and in Between, Gringo Star
We Got It From Here, A Tribe Called Quest

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