Best Albums I Heard in 2016

Here is something I am carrying over from my last blog-the best albums that I heard during the last year. So it might not be music that was released in 2016-it’s just music that I had never heard until the last year.

Koi No Yokan, Deftones

Before last year, I liked about 3 songs by the Deftones, but had never really been drawn in by any of their albums. Turns out I just had to wait until their 7th album (and 4 years after they released it) to realize how powerful they are. They were unfairly lumped into the nu-metal category early in their career, but they never really fit, and they have kept evolving, mixing heaviness and intensity with the ethereal. This is truly an album, with all songs either connected literally, with musical interludes between, or just the mood of one song flowing seamlessly into the next. Usually when I get hooked on an album, I listen to it nonstop for a week or two, then not for many months or even a year or more. There were 3-4 times from April until December that I found songs from this album in my rotation.

A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead

This isn’t a perfect album in my opinion, but certainly a better album than The King of Limbs, which was filled with segmented periods of music, but not necessarily songs.  Radiohead don’t forget the songs on this set, even if the mood is muted and mostly acoustic.  So I’d rate this as not as strong overall as In Rainbows, but definitely ahead of King of Limbs (I just don’t like weird Radiohead a la King of Limbs/parts of Kid A as much as epic/structured song Radiohead).

Self-Titled-Year of the Rabbit

I discovered this by deep diving while listening to some Failure songs.  Failure had a very minor radio hit in the late 90s called “Stuck on You”, off the album Fantastic Planet (but my favorite song off that album has always been “Smoking Umbrellas“).  The lead singer of that band, Ken Andrews, formed this band, which unfortunately never released any more albums, after this 2003 debut.  Still, this is a great rock album, and an example of why Spotify is great way to discover new music that otherwise might never be heard.

Love is Hell-Ryan Adams

There is so much to digest in the Adams catalog that it took me a few years to get to this one, so I was shocked at how good it is.  This is a detour into music influenced by The Smiths and other moody British acts (I hear a touch of Radiohead on “Afraid Not Scared”), but with his own original touch.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust-David Bowie

I’m sad to say that it took the death of David Bowie to get me to pay serious attention to his music. Sure, I’ve always been aware of him, but my appreciation didn’t really extend beyond Under Pressure and maybe Let’s Dance (“Dancing in the Street” certainly didn’t reel me in). But after his death and hearing all the tributes, I finally had to check out some of his albums that so many of my musical heroes have always mentioned. This is the one that stuck out, with a song cycle that fully embodies the persona he concocted. In the song “Five Years” I heard the influence for “The End” by My Chemical Romance. I heard shades of “Soul Love”in the Radiohead song “India Rubber”. In the title track, I heard the impact Mick Ronson had on J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. And on and on.  Truly an amazing artist and an album whose impact is still being felt today.


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