It’s that time of year for us to count down each of our top ten favorite albums of 2016. Check out Becca’s list below!
10. The Growlers - City Club
I couldn't not include City Club on my list. I’ve been a fan of The Growlers since 2009 when I first heard Are You In Or Outand it's been interesting listening as their sound has evolved over the years. They are essentially their own genre-- beach goth-- with beach-y songs about darker moments and death. City Clubhas far more pop influences, which is a bit different from some of their previous albums, but also makes it a fun record to groove to.
I’m a fan.
9. HALA - Spoonfed
Despite being only 19 years old, Ian Ruhala has created quite mature and introspective songs. The lyrics are relatable to young adults with thoughts such as “I hope my GED gets me past my thirties.” If you are a fan of effortless indie bedroom pop music drizzled with a coat of relaxing charm, then Spoonfed is 100% the record for you.
In fact, “Club Soda” has become one of my favorite songs of 2016 and maybe of all time. Highly recommend this album.
8. SALES - SALES
This album is the definition of chill… and cool. The record rests within a relaxing aura of spacey recollections and sheer contentment. SALES tampers with sonic beats that reverberate echoing elements of electronic, soul, rock, and jazz through listeners’ skulls, and addicting us in the process.
SALES is otherworldly and is best to be listened to late at night, while staring at those glow in the dark plastic stars on a ceiling.
7. Pelvis - R.I.P.
Post-punk meets emo with this Iowa based band's album R.I.P. This record quickly became one of my weekly listens. The songs skillfully play with a balance of explosiveness and softness through incredible instrumentation and harmonies.
This is another one of those records where I have difficulty settling on a favorite song, which is a pretty good problem to have. For this reason, I highly encourage you to check out the entire album.
6. Forth Wanderers - Slop EP
I had the honor of seeing this band open for Turnover in NYC this past summer. I had no idea who they were prior to that performance, but since then I've been meticulously following Forth Wanderers. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for this EP to drop. Everything from the crooning vocals to the airy atmosphere to the infusion of fuzzy pensiveness, molds Slop into a melancholy treasure.
The lyrics emotionally tug in all the right places making those who listen really feel the heartbreak expressed throughout the tracks with lyrics like “I love too much / to hurt this bad” from “Slop” and "Hope you keep / A penny in your pocket for me / Heads up for love / 'Cause I need it” from “Unfold."
I can’t wait to hear what this band releases next, but in the meantime I’ll be playing this EP on repeat.
5. Snail Mail - Habits
Snail Mail’s Habitis both quiet and plaintive, but the lyrics manage to be loud and genuine at the same time. Lindsey Jordan's somewhat gritty, standout vocals gently tear through the mellow instrumentation, exposing the honest, self-reflective vulnerabilities within the lyrics.
Each time I listen to Habits I have a new favorite song, but “ Slug" remains a pretty consistent go-to. “And in the waves I could’ve sworn that I saw my own reflection / And it was just someone else's in the back / I could’ve waited my whole life to / Know the difference / But I should’ve just known better than that."
I’m convinced there is some sort of enchantment spell casted on this record because of how addicting it is. I’ll often find myself walking to class and out of nowhere catch myself singing these songs out loud, or in the quiet moments late in the evening when I’m just sitting alone outside humming along to “Dirt.” Be warned. It's a captivating record.
4. Terno Rei - Essa Noite Bateu Com um Sonho
This Night Hit With a Dream and so did this album. This Brazilian band serenades listeners with smooth vocals that effortlessly go down like a sweet, golden honey. This pairs perfectly with the dreamy melodies that flood the entirety of the album. The percussion alone creates a distinct rhythmic heartbeat to every track without dissolving the overarching drowsy illusion of nighttime that this record elicits.
Although my own understanding of Portuguese is quite limited, I am absorbed by the poetic nature of Terno Rei’s lyrics. The carefully crafted words invite us into these intimate introspective moments such as "E ouvi dizer / Você volta / As coisas que eu perdi, nunca voltam” ("And I heard / You come back / The things I lost, never come back”), which is one of my favorite lyrics featured in “Criança.”
This has quickly crept its way to the top of my list and is becoming one of my nightly listens. I highly encourage you take the time to vibe with Essa Noite Bateu Com um Sonho and allow the melodies to let your mind float away into the twilight.
3. Camp Howard - Camp Howard
Camp Howard decimates the confines of any one sound by bleeding into several different genres to create the ten masterfully blended tracks featured on this record. Suave, cooing vocals evoke the dreamy space-like atmosphere that becomes synonymous with Camp Howard’s sound, while calm, confident melodies are often balanced by strategically blistering moments of distorted fuzz. The catchy instrumentation trickles from track to track melting into a composition of ultra smooth grunge rock.
Essentially, it’s a groovy record.
I’ve tried my best to see Camp Howard perform whenever possible. I’ve followed them from shows in intimate venues to overcrowded basement performances and they havenever ceased to put on a solid, memorable set. Their live persona keeps me coming back as their album has me forever hooked. I cannot wait to find out just what’s next for them and hope that (fingers-crossed) it will be sometime in this upcoming year.
2. Mitski - Puberty 2
This album serves as a narrative between sobering moments of raw emotion balanced by grittier punk-rock defiant in-your-face moments. It’s a continuation drawing on those emotions felt in adolescence and breathing an inspiring life into them by creating Puberty 2.
The first time I listened to the record I started tearing up in the subway during some sort of late night commute by myself. I didn't cry because I was sad or upset or lonely— I wept because I was overcome by what a beautiful work of art it was (and still is). Art isn't strictly limited by ornate gold frames or roped off by red velvet, while hanging on white museum walls— I found expressive contrasts in poignant melodic expressions and sought solace within the lyrical framework of both the space and structure of thought-provoking reflections.
Like a vulture, I picked apart the lyrics from the carcass of each song nourishing my mind on the poetic words left said, while also savoring the beauty in the silence of what was perhaps left unspoken.
Once someone asked me if I cry a lot, and I realized that I sort of do-- because art is something worth shedding a tear over.... and this album is quite the masterpiece.
1. Pinegrove - Cardinal
I essentially wrote a short personal narrative about this record in my GrizzlyGround’s Top 10 Releases of 2016 (So Far) and in that piece I claimed that I wished the lyrics were painted on the back of my eyelids so I could read them even as I sleep. This still holds true. Perhaps it’s just the writer in me, but I am often drawn to poetic lyrics— Pinegrove never ceases to provide when it comes to that.
Each Pinegrove song is like a momentary pause in time and a brief escape from reality to immerse oneself into a nostalgic tale or memory of some sort. It’s refreshing.
I had the privilege to see this band this past summer in an intimate setting— a living room in Virginia surrounded by a group of wonderful people I hadn’t seen in months. Everyone in the room was quiet as Evan Stephens Hall filled the space with his sincere voice and somehow got even quieter as he shared sentiments between songs. When we laughed, however, we all laughed loudly together.
I'm nostalgic, retrospective, and inspired when it comes to Cardinal. It's poetry, it’s community, it's quirky— it’s a piece of raw ginger being passed around a living room as Evan sings just so everyone can try a taste of it. It's warmth. And that's something that is hard to replicate, yet somehow is recreated though this record.
I don’t have much else to say that can’t be felt when listening to the album, so I encourage those who haven't already to truly listen and feel this record.