The #OPS Best Albums of 2016 List: The Bronze Medals: 40-21
The #OPS Best Albums List
I started my musical journey into alternative music with The Clash's self-titled album when I was in Junior High School. Now that I am 49, I find that my hunger for listening to new music has barely changed.
Look, you are going to find albums here you have never heard of. You are going to be mad that some of your favorite albums aren't represented or seem like they should be ranked higher.
All I can tell you is that I listened to over 400 albums this year, that I whittled that list down to 150 albums, and that in the last few weeks I listened to all 150 of those albums again.
I care a lot about sharing music, especially the music that doesn't get pushed by the major labels. This is a labor of love, but, no matter if 100,000 or 10 people see this list, I work on it all year long.
I hope you Explore, Enjoy, and Share this amazing Music!
Bronze Medals #'s 40 - 21
#40 - Xylouris White - Black Peak (Bella Union)
This is one of the strangest but most interesting albums of the year. Xylouris plays a Cretan Lute, really well (or what I assume is really well). Hell, I will admit that it is the first Cretan Lute that I have ever heard anyone play before.
It is pretty amazing. Hear it for yourself.
#39 - Tyvek - Origin Of What (In The Red)
So glad my second favorite Detroit band put out such a good album this year. I think you will dig it, they are a messy garage full of good g-damn music. I find myself humming Tip-to-Tail all the time these days. Trust me on this one, good stuff, like if the Damned and Rancid had a cool band baby. If you like an old school punk sound, the kind you don't hear too often anymore...This is your new favorite band .
#38 - Super Unison - Auto (Deathwish Inc.)
This is one of those hard-core albums you need to play LOUD. Super Unison As someone online once put it, "Super Unison will send you to the pit to get broken." Singer Meghan O'Neill Pennie (formerly of Punch) brings the screams straight out of Oaktown. You will want to get up and get some aggression out on this one.
#37 - Naked Giants - R.I.P. EP (Miscreant)
I kind of found these folks by accident. My understanding is they are a pretty young band from Seattle, but they are good well beyond their years. Lots of punk to grunge but with a really goofy/fun style and occasional psychedelic tendencies. It is like what would happen if the Beach Boys took LSD and decided to play garage punk but couldn't quite harmonize quite like they used to...Or something like that.
#36 - Summer Cannibals - Full Of It (Kill Rock Stars)
I f'n love this band. Jessica Boudreaux is one of my favorite front-women and they just rip it up. It is rare you find this combination of maturity, polish, and aggression in such a young band. Summer Cannibals are the first of several Portland Bands that will be appearing on this list (so get ready).
#35 - Tobacco - Sweatbox Dynasty (Ghostly International)
Never been a huge fan of Black Moth Super Rainbow, but for some reason, I love Tobacco (you know this if you listen to my playlists). I prefer my electronic music to be bizarre and trippy, so he fits the bill for me 100%. Want to have interesting dreams, turn down the lights, and listen to this while you try to go to sleep.
#34 - Ex Cult - Negative Growth (In The Red)
Chris Shaw channels old-school punk. He and his band Ex-Cult remind me of bands I used to love like NOTA or Minor Threat. I won't lie, this is not my favorite Ex-Cult album, but that doesn't mean it isn't awesome. It is still full of angry, fast, sonic noise. Perfect for when you are doing anything badly that you never really wanted to do in the first place.
Oh, also, Mr. Shaw might appear later on the list as well.
#33 - Sneaks - Gymnastics (Merge)
This is the first truly Post-Punk entry on the list. DC musician Eva Moolchan, who is Sneaks, has made a minimalist roller coaster wonderland out of what sounds like a drum machine, a voice and fuzzy guitar and/or bass. Hell, I know Sneaks is from DC but Eva would have been right at home opening for the Slits back in the day.
#32 - Powell - Sport (XL Recordings)
I kind of grew up around bands like Chris and Cosey that did strange things with tape loops and noise while still maintaining a groove. Powell takes me back to those halcyon days of bands like Cabaret Voltaire and Front 242. Sure, his tech is better, but he still has that same cut, splice, and tape feel to his stuff (Like I said, I like my electronic music to tilt towards weird and experimental and dark).
#31 - Vomitface - Hooray For Me (Help Yourself)
I like to think that I am an early adopter of Vomitface. As I said after I had my interview with them a few months ago, I think they have something special. I know that sounds like I am saying they will be great later, and I think that they will. But, this album is really good now. They remind me of grunge but with an entirely different more modern energy.creeping out from underneath the sludge (and this album was engineered by Steve Albini).
#30 - Big Business - Command Your Weather (Joyful Noise)
Ahh a nice bit of melodic, sometimes atonal, drudge...But with harmonies. Honestly, this is a really great album from another band that you might not know. It is like the precision of a Helmet but put through a nuclear reactor. Big Business is kind of like Prog-Rock through a funhouse mirror.
#29 - Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool (XL Recordings)
This will probably be one of my most controversial entries. Not because I included it but because I ranked it so low. All I can say in my defense is that while I love Radiohead, this album was a bit too much sonic wallpaper for me. I like it, but I don't LOVE it like I have some other Radiohead albums. One last small defense, I left about 20 albums I really liked off of the list entirely. It was a really tough cut this year. Anyway, this album has moments of amazing beauty and as always Thom Yorke's voice is one of my favorite instruments.
Maybe another factor is that the album just feels like it is bleeding isolation and sadness. It is like trying to embrace the undeniable beauty of a glacier at night.
#28 - Violent Soho - Waco (Dine Alone)
I am not, like many of my fellow old school punks, a pop-punk hater. Sure, it seems sometimes to be a bit suburban and neat. But whatever. Not my favorite, but not something I hate. That said, this Violent Soho album was my favorite pop-punk album of the year (better than Green Day and Descendents for sure IMHO).
#27 - Deerhoof - The Magic (Polyvinyl)
Have I mentioned I like experimental but structured noise bands? Deerhoof is one of the most fun bands in the playful noise-rock genre. I always feel they would be the most polite band who may have also been influenced by the Butthole Surfers. They walk a very fine line, it always feels like they are about to crack the ice and fall in, but they always barely stay on the ice.
#26 - Gonjasufi - Callus (Warp)
Holy Sh*t, Gonjasufi is one soulful and unique musician. Nothing else sounds like him and I am pretty sure that nobody else would have the guts to try to sound like him. He lives way out on an experimental limb, but his stuff always maintains a soul and passion that binds all the crazy together. I really dig this album. Another album I recommend listening to in the dark.
#25 - GOGGS - GOGGS (In The Red)
I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that Ty Segall set a new record for most albums in one year. This was my favorite of Ty's many projects, perhaps because he brought Ex-Cult's Chris Shaw and Charles Moothart of Fuzz along for the ride. Whatever the reason, this is exactly the fuzzy garage punk goodness that really makes me happy. Another one that deserves to be listened to LOUD.
24 - De La Soul - and the Anonymous Nobody... (AOI)
The list has been a little hip-hop light for me so far. The more I considered it this year, I realized that I liked more songs than albums in the hip-hop genre this year. But De La are kind of my spirit animal (or at least one of my spirit animals). Many millions of moons ago, I wrote down why I am so attached to them. (check it out if you have a few minutes). Anyway, it is a really diverse album, they collected samples from real musicians over a long period of times and then built the album from those collected sounds. Welcome back DLS!
#23 - Moonface and Siinai - My Best Human Face (Jagjaguwar)
Sometimes I feel like I am the only one listening to some albums. I hope that is not the case with Moonface & Siinai, because this is a really good album by Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade (Moonface). Look, Pitchfork and I disagree a lot, this is one of the albums I think that they were just out to lunch on. I liked it from start to finish.
#22 - Controlled Bleeding - Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps (Artoffact)
What a crazy journey this album is from legendary experimental noise band Controlled Bleeding. I was lucky enough to get to interview Chvad SB right after it came out, you can read that interview HERE (Paul Lemos left a comment too). Anyway, if you can fuse jazz, paranoia, and noise, this is the template.
#21 - Yak - Alas Salvation (Octopus Electrical)
Victorious...Victorious...Victorious, yes, Yak have the 21st best album of 2016. As "The Guardian" put it, Yak are a "force of nature." I couldn't agree more. This is a really good tear down the walls garage punk Rock and Roll Record from a band who can set a stage on fire.
Wrapping It Up
Holy Apologies Batman, there are a ton of really good albums that I felt out. Some examples of bands whose albums I really liked but that didn't make the list (but deserve to be heard)?
Honeyblood, Skepta, Crocodiles, Duchess Says, Warehouse, Nail Polish, Jacuzzi Boys, Mind Spiders, True Widow, Swet Shop Boys, Sleaford Mods, Trentmoller, Shearwater, Happy Diving, Charles Bradley, Gap Dream, Vince Staples, Katy Goodman + Katy Morgan, Haybaby, Cool Ghouls, NOTS, Holy Fuck, Dinosaur Jr., Mass Gothic, Ka, Washer, Lisa Prank, Trim, Heliotropes, Aesop Rock, Mr. LIF, Dalek, Weaves, Plaid, Death Grips.and Amnesia Scanner.
There are more :(
And a bonus, Just for fun:
#45 - Subrosa - For This We Fought The Battle of the Ages (Daymare)
#44 - Big Ups - Before A Million Universes (Exploding In Sound)
#43 - Mothers - When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired (Grand Jury)
#42 - Joey Purp - iiiDrops
And #41 - Xenia Rubinos - Black Terry Cat (Epitaph)
Okay, in a day or two, I will put out the accompanying Playlist, and then 20-11.
What were your favorite albums between 40 and 21? 45-41?
What was your favorite song?
Who do you guess will be my number 1 album of 2016?
Do you remember what my number 1 album of 2015 was?
Let me know, leave a comment!