By Jaran Chance
29: Beyonce – Lemonade
On a ranking of importance, this album would easily find its way to the top. The images emphasized in the visual elements of this release are so incredibly poignant and relevant. However, at times, the imagery and themes in this album are entwined with Beyonce’s personal struggles and each topic competes for the focus. Beyonce is incredibly successful as a pop idol and her stress on black beauty and perseverance are unendingly important to this era.
28: The Dirty Nil – Higher Power
If you’ve ever wanted to shout at the sky and demand answers for your problems that’s what this album is all about. Some of very fun hooks and shouts are found on this aggressive punk rock album.
27: Creative Adult – Fear of Life
Creative Adult is interesting post-punk heavily inspired by bands such as The Smiths and Joy Division while simultaneously drawing from contemporary post-hardcore. The result in some very enjoyable and easy listening.
26: Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits
This awesome explosion of punk rock in no way struggles to hold attention for eight tracks. In fact so much worthwhile music was written in production that there was a carry-over record “An Odd Entrances” released a month later. Exits are the more lively and energetic tunes of the session. The easiest way to imagine the energy of this record is the cover art for their “Live in San Francisco” album.
25: SWMRS – Head North
Surprise, the drummer of this band is Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day’s son. This west coast indie-rock band sound like a combination of Fidlar and Arctic Monkeys. Unsurprisingly this album was produced by Zac Carper of Fidlar.
24: Vince Staples – Prima Donna
Vince Staples is yet another star struggling with unwanted fame and attention battles the emotions and confusion that ensue. Staples released a complex short film to accompany the release of this EP and worked into the tracks are thoughtful monologs. The speeches and film are interesting the first time then become elements to take away from the actual music. The tracks are strong but few and interrupted by monologs.
23: Kaytranada – 99.9%
Kaytranada is Louis Celestin, a Canadian guru of electronic beat production. Blending elements of funk, soul, R&B and hip-hop into his beats and snagging features from contemporary artists like Anderson Paak and Badbadnotgood, Kaytranada took 2016 completely by surprise. Kaytranada won the 2016 Polaris Music Prize over artists like Grimes and Carly Rae Jepson.
22: Look Mexico – Uniola
Uniola is a lively, poppy Cap’n Jazz-esque emo-revival album from Look Mexico over 10 year after their formation. The band could arguably be at their best ever with this release, delivering thrilling guitar parts and ear-worm melodies.
21: Pinegrove – Cardinal
Cardinal was one of the most surprising breakout albums this year, finding its way to many publications’ top 50 lists despite the bands relative anonymity months prior. This album is years of thought and songwriting channeled into an impressively strong debut. The frontman’s standout vocal style and the bands tight instrumental arrangements compose a very worthwhile folky rock album.