It’s been a big year for music, and seemingly not much else. I decided to take my time (aka procrastinate) on this list because at first I wasn’t entirely sure where to even start. The list might not be as eclectic as I had hoped, but it is what it is. Below you will find my top ten along with honorable mentions and five EPs I enjoyed throughout the year.
Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
Jimmy Eat World instantly had me hooked with their singles off of Integrity Blues. It wasn’t until I saw them perform live for the first time that it was solidified that this would be my favorite album of the year. It was an instant buy on vinyl, and for me, that’s when I know I’m really enjoying a release. After Damage, I didn’t have too high of expectations with whatever the band did next. While I thought Damage was fine, it left me feeling fairly neutral in general. Integrity Blues is a much, much better album. I regret not reviewing it when it was released because I just found it to be a wonderful release. I could review it now, but that might do a disservice to the rest of this list (and make this entry way longer than it really needs to be). This was one of the 2016 albums I listened to the most since its release, so it’s really no surprise that this is where it landed on my list. You can grab a copy of the record here.
Kevin Devine – Instigator
Normally the number two pick is instantly the “runner-up,” which I would disagree with in this case. This album could have easily been the top album, but with Jimmy Eat World I had that live element to boost their album to the top of my list. Instigator was every bit as enjoyable; I just didn’t get the chance to see these songs performed live. Should that factor in? Maybe not, but I considered it. It’s safe to say that this is another album that found its way into my record collection. This one I did take the time to review, which you can read here. It’s a fun, upbeat album that hits all of those personal areas that make it worthwhile to listen to. Kevin Devine is an artist I’ve really only gotten into the past two years. His songwriting abilities are undoubtedly great. This album is more like a 1b on my list than a 2. You can grab a copy of the record here.
Maren Morris – Hero
Hero is by far and away my favorite country album of the year. I’ve been fairly bad at keeping up with the more mainstream country releases this year, but this one caught my attention. Maren Morris is fairly new to the scene, but this is not her first album. It’s just the one that caught on and blew up quickly. Songs like “80s Mercedes” and “My Church” landed in heavy rotation on country radio. “My Church” as the lead single was the song that got me to check out the full album. Its punchy lyrics and fun vibe are what kept me listening to it. While I don’t have this on vinyl yet, it’s on my list. You can grab a copy of the album here.
Yellowcard – Yellowcard
It was a sad day when Yellowcard announced their final album. I wasn’t super impressed with Lift A Sail, but that didn’t deter me one bit from instantly checking out this album. It’s everything I love about the band and I don’t think I could have asked for a better goodbye from them. I did also get the chance to catch one of their many sold out shows on their tour. While they played much more than just the songs from this album, it made me want to go back and listen to many of their albums all over again. This was a solid goodbye and if this is truly the last album we get from the band, they ended their career on a great note. My full review can be found here and you can grab a copy of the album here.
Bayside – Vacancy
Bayside is a band that I never really dug into. I’ve enjoyed songs and albums here and there, but never explored their back catalog. This album made me realize that I needed to change that. It’s another album that I reviewed when it came out. The album paired heavy lyrics with an upbeat rhythm so well that no matter how sad the album was, you’d want to keep listening to it. For my full thoughts on the album, you can check out my review. You can grab a copy of the album here.
All Get Out – Nobody Likes A Quitter
I was honestly surprised at how much I enjoyed this album on first listen. I absolutely have Bad Timing Records to thank for getting me into this band even before they released this record. Movement was the first piece of work I heard from All Get Out, and it impressed me. That said, I wasn’t sure what would be coming next from the band and this album was a fantastic listen. It’s hard to even consider this an ordered list at this point since the albums have all been greatly enjoyable. This is yet another release I had the chance to review this year, so more of my detailed thoughts can be found here. I even got quoted in the Bad Timing newsletter, so that was a cool thing to happen. You can grab a copy of the album here.
Brandy Clark – Big Day In A Small Town
This album just might have the most attitude out of this list. This album quickly grew on me. Brandy Clark can write the hell out of a song and it really shows on this album. It’s only her second studio album, but she’s been in the country scene for quite some time now. She even earned herself a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album with this release. Her songwriting credits go back to 2005 and it’s nice to see her taking time to not only write, but get her own voice out there for everyone to hear. This album is a must listen for anyone who is remotely a country fan. You can grab a copy of the album here.
Into It. Over It. – Standards
Evan Weiss is someone whose projects I will always pay attention to. It helps when you’ve had a chance to meet the guy and you know how humble he is to be making music. While seeing him on tour, I bought the record and he kindly wrote out my full name on the back and signed it. That moment was the one that gave me even more of a reason to continue listening to this album as the year went on. This release might have come earlier in the year, but when I listen to it now, I still enjoy it. You can check out my review for a more in-depth look at the album and you can grab a copy of the album here.
Fossil Youth – A Glimpse of Self Joy
This is the last album in my top ten that I reviewed this year. This is one of those bands that more people should be paying attention to. They made their way out to the west coast in support of this album and while they weren’t playing huge venues, they brought out a dedicated crowd (including myself). I’m hoping to hear more music from them in 2017 simply because once I listened to this album, I instantly wanted to hear more. Instead, I just listened to the album some more to curb the wait. Scottie Noonan also did a podcast with me for MIssaligned and we had the chance to talk about the album and what went into it. Needless to say, I recommend checking that out. The album is full of energy and you can feel it with every song. You can grab a copy of the album here.
Brian Fallon – Painkillers
This album just snuck it’s way into my top ten when I gave it another listen recently. I don’t know how I missed it before, but this album just hits hard. It probably would have been higher on the list had I given it a few more listens, but I did wait until the last week of 2016 to finalize my list, so that didn’t leave me with a whole lot of time. You can feel the pain and struggle through these songs and still find reason to enjoy them. It seems we like to revel in sadness, doesn’t it? If you haven’t given this album a listen, you should stop whatever you’re doing and fix that. You can grab a copy of the album here.
These are the albums that might have made my top ten had I actually listened to them more. I enjoyed each and everyone, but just didn’t make the time to listen to them over and over again. Some are quite long, others are not, but you should give them a listen either way.
Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings
The Pooches – The Pooches
Lost In Society – Modern Illusions
Pinegrove – Cardinal
Tiny Moving Parts – Celebrate
Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Joyce Manor – Cody
Microwave – Much Love
Green Day – Revolution Radio
Owen – The King of Whys
A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service
American Football – American Football
Butch Walker – Stay Gold
Rocky Votolato – Sawdust & Shavings
The Starting Line – Anyways
Frank Turner – Mittens
No Better – …Forget Me Not
Hiding Place – Hiding Place