2016 Year-End Masterpost

Well, December has finally rolled around, meaning it’s time for us to sit down and survey 2016’s music catalog. 2016 was a slumpy year with not many amazing albums to shine through the muck of messy, disheveled releases. So with such a sloppily polarized selection, we decided to step beyond just the best and worst and assess other categories and classifications. Here goes nothing! Some of these we will properly discuss and others we will simply list. (In no particular order.)


So let’s talk about the bad stuff first…

Most Overrated Albums of 2016

  • Lukas Graham – Lukas Graham
  • The Lumineers – Cleopatra
  • Bastille – Wild World
  • Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
  • Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial
  • The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it.
  • Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor

Okay, so we’re probably gonna get some negative flack for those last two, but hey, we all have opinions! ILIWYSFYASBYSUOI and Death of a Bachelor aren’t necessarily terrible albums; they just seem to get a little too much credit for what they really are. First, The 1975’s album title is horrendous in and of itself! We don’t need a entire paragraph-long title to realize how pretentious you are, guys. Going off that, this album oozes pretension, and it does not pull it off. I understand The 1975 was attempting to do something new by incorporating more electronic textures and synthetic tones, but it ultimately turned me off personally. I can appreciate a band evolving and trying different things, but I just cannot bring myself to love this album. (Maybe it’s because some of the songs sound like bad creative writing assignments from a whiny high school white boy…) Don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy some songs! (“The Sound,” “Love Me,” “She’s American”) But I’ll stick with their debut for now. Death of a Bachelor suffers from some of the same sentiments. Brendon Urie’s obnoxious ego shines through too much on this release as he focuses more on showing off his vocal talent than actually writing a cohesive, well-rounded album. I can appreciate his dabbling in various styles, but it doesn’t make for a solid record. It’s difficult to listen to when the sound is constantly shifting from one characteristic to the next. Also, many of the songs sounded very, well, ripped off or plainly forgettable. The sampling on “Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time?” Yeah, Fall Out Boy already did that, Brendon. Maybe Brendon should’ve released this under his own name as a solo project because, while Panic! isn’t known for one distinct style, releasing it as a solo album disallows it from being compared to Panic!’s past discography. Death of a Bachelor is conclusively disheveled in more ways than one.

Most Disappointing Albums of 2016

  • Bloc Party – Hymns
  • American Authors – What We Live For
  • Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
  • Simple Plan – Taking One For the Team (But were we really expecting much?)
  • Ra Ra Riot – Need Your Light
  • Of Mice & Men – Cold World
  • Set It Off – Upside Down (Read our full review here!)
  • Skillet – Unleashed (But were we really expecting much?)
  • Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor

Talk about a disappointing year for some of my personal favorite bands! I thoroughly enjoyed American Authors’s past release Oh, What a Life, but What We Live For sadly did not live up to those standards. American Authors either played it too safe with the same old styles (“Go Big or Go Home”) or stepped too far out of their zone with the electronic elements (“What We Live For”) on this record, and it’s just all over the place. Set It Off is also another one of my favorite bands, and you can check out the full review where we discuss why Upside Down really did not hit home. It’s not because of the poppier direction, but more because Set It Off just didn’t pull it off and make anything great out of the new introduction. Catfish and the Bottlemen’s The Ride is not a terrible record by any means, but it just did not grab my attention the way its predecessor The Balcony did. The band doesn’t push any new boundaries or reach any new heights, resulting in an overall disappointing release.


Okay, now that the mess is out of the way, let’s talk about some positive stuff…

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Most Underrated/Overlooked Albums of 2016

Hopefully you’ve at least heard of these albums! Anarbor’s self-titled album flew too far under the radar, it’s a sin. Yes, Anarbor went for a more polished, poppy sound, but it still turned out fantastic! (Unlike some albums that tried incorporating pop… *cough* Upside Down.) Seriously, give Anarbor a listen if you haven’t! Lake Street Dive is one of my all-time favorite groups; I love their style, songwriting, and execution. While Side Pony did have a more refined, polished approach, the smoothness and fun ruckus isn’t covered up. Give Side Pony and its antecedent Bad Self Portraits a spin if you’re into bluesy alternative music! The Summer Set scored some radio airplay with their latest singles for Stories for Monday, but no one really bothered to give the entire long-player a rotation. While it’s nothing spectacularly revolutionary, it is a solid release! Fatherson’s Open Book… Amazing. Just go listen to it.


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Best Comeback Albums of 2016

Man, 2016 saw a lot of pop rock/pop punk legends making returns. Check out our short reviews to see why we chose these albums as our top comeback releases of the year.


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Best Full-Length Debut Albums of 2016

I’ve been a fan of With Confidence for a couple years now, and I’m so proud to see them finally release a full-length album! These guys know how to create substantial pop punk jams, and their songwriting has so much potential, which says something considering it’s already reached such great heights. I can’t wait to see these guys go even farther!


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Best EPs of 2016

LAYNE offered up some of their best material to date on the The Black Hills EP! But honestly, everything LAYNE has put out is absolutely stellar, seriously give them a listen. You vs. Yesterday’s Remember This EP is certainly hard to forget. These songs are catchy as hell and get stuck in your head like bubblegum on the sidewalk during a hot summer day! Story Untold, formerly called Amasic, officially signed to Hopeless Records this year and released a self-titled 7-track EP filled with pop rock pleasure. Third Eye Blind redeemed themselves after the messy 2015 album Dopamine with the tenacious EP We Are Drugs which displays the band retreating back to their roots, the stuff they’re actually good at. Masked Intruder’s Love and Other Crimes is goofy but done right. The fun, upbeat pop rock is bright and lively, easy to listen to and enjoyable.


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Best Standalone Singles of 2016

These are songs that weren’t featured or announced to appear on an actual album from the specific artist, but may have appeared on soundtracks or compilations.

  • 5 Seconds of Summer – “Girls Talk Boys”
  • Twenty One Pilots – “Heathens”
  • Muddy Magnolias – “American Woman”
  • HAWKING – “Comfortable”
  • Don Broco – “Everybody”
  • The Front Bottoms – “Needy When I’m Needy” (“Joanie”/”Tighten Up”)
  • LAYNE – “Good”
  • Cold Collective – “Through w/ That”

5 Seconds of Summer really stepped outside their comfort zone with the funky, bass-heavy “Girls Talk Boys.” Hopefully their next album will continue to push boundaries and try out some more new approaches! “Everybody” by Don Broco showcases a heavier side to the band, especially in comparison to their latest album, Automatic.


Before we get into the best albums of 2016, let’s go over some honorable mentions, and boy, do we have plenty!

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Really Good Albums of 2016

So many wonderful albums came out this year, but only a handful really shone above the rest. However, we can’t overlook these nonetheless awesome long-players, alongside many of the great albums we’ve previously mentioned! Chemical Miracle is some of Trophy Eyes’s best work to date, and that also applies to Joyce Manor’s Cody. 22, A Million is Bon Iver’s most experimental material yet and pushes boundaries like no other. This Wild Life’s Low Tides is a decent release encompassing clean, smooth production and chill vibes all around. Bad Vibrations from A Day to Remember is also some of the highest shelf substance in their discography. Yellowcard ended their career on a high note with the self-titled swan song album.


And now…

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Best Albums of 2016

  • Young the Giant – Home of the Strange (Read our full review here!)
  • Green Day – Revolution Radio (Read our short review here!)
  • Local Natives – Sunlit Youth
  • Pierce the Veil – Misadventures
  • Real Friends – The Home Inside My Head
  • Grouplove – Big Mess
  • Moose Blood – Blush
  • Fatherson – Open Book

Man, oh, man, 2016 might not have had a ton of amazing releases, but what we did get was still outstanding. Home of the Strange is no doubt the best Young the Giant album yet. It’s cohesive, flowing, mature, cultivated. It’s absolutely stunning and just a pleasure to listen to! Read our full review here! Revolution Radio proved to be a stellar comeback for Green Day after the disarrayed trilogy album, and revived their political platform that we haven’t seen this fired up since American Idiot. Sunlit Youth displays Local Natives evolving and becoming more and more dynamic with every release by incorporating electronic inflections and consolidating politically charged lyricism. Misadventures follows in the similar vein for Pierce the Veil by utilizing computerized components to couple with the fierce trademark pop rock. Real Friends refines their sound in The Home Inside My Head and still holds true to their signature emotional songwriting we can’t get enough of. Grouplove withdraws to a sound more similar to their debut full-length and expands upon the indie rock style even more in their masterpiece Big Mess, which is far from a mess. Moose Blood hones in their skills to create Blush, a pop punk jewel that deserves to be played over and over again. Open Book by Fatherson is a monumental album. It’s emotional, raw, poignant, and passionate alt-rock that begs to be not only heard but also felt.


That’s all, folks! Let us know your opinion on these albums and what you think were the best/worst releases of the year!

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