Top 10 Albums Of 2016
The Past Year Offered Listeners A Range Of Quality Music Choices From American Football’s Long-Awaited Sophomore Album To Rihanna’s Latest Tour De Force
By Jake Oliveira
Special for Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 29, 2016 — I would like to start this list out with a disclaimer: Obviously, everyone has different taste, and we don’t all agree on much. It’s with that in mind that I would like to state that if you disagree with any aspect of this list you are wrong, and your ears owe you an apology.
This list is in no particular order, apart from No. 1.
Camp Cope by Camp Cope
The self-titled debut album by Australian three-piece Camp Cope is a hell of a distillation of 2016 twenty-ness. A spiritual sister to Philadelphia’s breakout band of 2014, Cayetana (who they recently announced a split with), Camp Cope is built on a foundation of straightforward guitars, drums, and fluid, melodic bass lines that weave in and out of every song. The raw conversational vocals pull you in close and then burst into melodic heights that will take your heart right with them and not give it back. Across eight powerful but simple songs about financial struggle, insecurity, intimacy issues, and distrust of the power structures in society, Camp Cope taps into the exact tone of the anger and emotional exhaustion that sticks in the gut of just about every young person I know. Australia and Arizona are pretty far apart, but it sounds like we may not be that different.
One Song to Show Why it Made the List: “Stove Lighter”
(LP2) by American Football
A lot of us know the story; some band makes one full-length album, plays a few shows, then breaks up. The members go on to other projects with varying degrees of success and live their lives. The difference is, when American Football did it, that one album went on to become the North Star to an entire sub-genre of music. Seventeen years later, they came back to do it again. Even setting aside the difficulty of successfully returning from a long absence, (LP2) is an incredible record. It recaptures the magic of American Football’s initial work and builds on it in a way that feels exactly right. While the band keeps a lot of its classic intricate guitar riffs, it’s evolved to feature some prominent bass and drum songs, letting the guitars simply add flavor. Those who have followed Kinsella’s career know the growth in his vocals but it’s still impressive. There is no better emo band than American Football, and now we know not even time can change that.
One Song to Show Why it Made the List: “Born To Lose”
Ology by Gallant
Possibly the most exciting new artist of 2016, breakout R&B singer Gallant is a powerful, emotive vocalist and a dramatic performer that should be everywhere in 2017. He released his first full-length album, Ology, in May of this year and it is the clearest statement of arrival I’ve seen maybe ever. Ology is long, almost a full hour, with 14 full songs (along with an intro and outro track), but it never feels like it’s running out of energy or emotion. The production is bold and theatrical. It has depth that you can sink down into. Almost every single song contains a musical flourish that is as surprising as it is satisfying. The hooks will stay with you. The high notes will make you do that “oooooo damn” face.
This album hits you so right that it feels like you’ve been listening to Gallant for years and you’re catching up with an old favorite. I can only smile imagining what comes next from this guy.
One Song to Show Why it Made the List: “Talking to Myself”
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