The Top 10 Albums of 2016

My favorites from an amazing year for music

It was difficult to put these in order, but I think this is about right. There are many, many worthy honorable mentions, but I'll cover those elsewhere. If you like, follow me on Instagram @thebestnewalbums for more. Enjoy!

1. RTJ3 - Run the Jewels

Like all RTJ albums, Run the Jewels 3 goes hard from start to finish and doesn't pull any punches. Opening track "Down" has some killer verses from Killer Mike, I like El-P on "Legend Has It," "Thieves!" is a standout. There are no bad tracks on this album though -- listen to it start to finish.

Favorite Tracks:

2. Puberty 2 - Mitski

This is an incredibly emotive album. Mitski uses her voice to great effect, crystal clear on some tracks and broken and Alanis Morissettesque on others, but always evocative. I also love the heavy synth on tracks like "Thursday Girl" and "Fireworks." Highly recommend seeing her live, she sounds even better in person.

Favorite Tracks:

3. Do Hollywood - The Lemon Twigs

If I happened to pick up this album from the Goodwill bin, not knowing anything about The Lemon Twigs, I'd assume I'd stumbled across a Best Of compilation of a little known duo whose career spanned 1960 to 1975. Clearly, I'd be wrong. And very wrong, as neither brother, yes they are brothers, is over 20. Influences vary track to track, but I'm hearing a lot of The Beatles, Kinks, Wings.

Favorite Tracks:

4. I Had a Dream That You Were Mine - Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam

Though Vampire Weekend fans weren't thrilled about Rostam leaving the band, this collaboration with The Walkmen's frontman Hamilton Leithauser shows he wasted no time getting to work. In my opinion, this album surpasses all of The Walkmen's work, and rivals Vampire Weekend's best.

Favorite Tracks:

5. MY WOMAN - Angel Olsen

Less folksy than her previous work, Angel Olsen rocks on MY WOMAN and really comes into her own vocally.

Favorite Tracks:

6. Nothing More to Say - The Frightnrs

This is an amazing album. The NYC based group sounds a LOT like a 60s and 70s Jamaican reggae acts, except that they're noticeably tighter and there isn't a Jamaican accent to be found. Tragically, singer Dan Klein succumbed to ALS before the release of the album, but for his sake, and for the sake of reggae lovers everywhere, I sincerely hope The Frightnrs continues to perform and make music. By far the best new reggae I've heard in the last decade.

Favorite tracks:

7. Human Performance - Parquet Courts

This is rock as we rarely hear it these days. It's fun, it's substantive, it doesn't give a fuck. Short as it is, "Outside" might be my favorite song of the year, love Andrew Savage's voice on the track and the lyrics are A++.

Favorite Tracks:

8. Die Alone - Gazebos

I haven't found a major publication that reviewed this album. But it's dope. Singer Shannon Perry (@shannoneperry) crushes it, especially on personal favorites "I Don't Wanna Be Here" and a cover of Grease's "There Are Worse Things I Could Do."

Favorite Tracks:

9. super low - Warehouse

Listen to "Reservoir." It's one of the best tracks of 2016. Singer Elaine Edenfield whips back and forth between growls and clarified wavering, complementing the jangly garage guitars beautifully. Love the rest of the album too, but start here.

Favorite Tracks:

10. The Beautiful Game - Vulfpeck

Unclear why Pitchfork et al don't want to review Vulfpeck's stuff given that they are pretty popular and quite good. A common complaint about them is that they are more a live/jam band than an "album" band -- which I agree with, but both last year's "Thrill of the Arts" and "The Beautiful Game" are very worthwhile listens. All band members are capital M musicians, and you can really hear it on tracks like "Dean Town" and "Margery, My First Car." I also love that these guys just don't take themselves that seriously -- the album is super fun and will put a smile on your face.

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