2016 marks the end of the second full year of Reverb Party. We’re thankful for our readers who kept us going and motivated to find and promote the best music released in 2016. If you look at this list it becomes pretty evident that 2016 was another amazing year for music, despite losing some of our heroes. There’s something like a 50 year age gap between some of the artists on this list, which is crazy. So few artists are able to maintain their creative output that long and to end up on a list like this, whose core reader base is in the 25-34 year old age range, is pretty incredible. If there’s a lesson that can be taught to the younger artists out there it’s that you need to constantly be improving and evolving your songwriting and sound. You need to try new things that may not resonate with your fan base. You should be willing to fail. Stagnation is what leads to boring music (and a boring life) and if you look at most of the artists on this list you’ll see countless examples of artists who recognize this and are evolving at their own pace.
Alright, enough with the boring life lessons. It’s time to get down to brass tacks (as your favorite politicians say…wtf does that mean anyways??). Without further ado, here are our favorite albums of 2016.
Oh, and we also went ahead and created a Spotify playlist for you that has almost all of these albums in it. Listen here.
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
About the album via Wikipedia…
Radiohead and Godrich began work on A Moon Shaped Pool in September 2014. The sessions lasted until Christmas that year and resumed in March 2015. In June 2015, Greenwood said that the band had been slow to regain momentum after their hiatus; Selway stated that they had worked in “fits and starts”, but that a “full schedule” would begin that September. In 2015 they resumed work in the La Fabrique studio near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. The studio, originally a nineteenth-century mill producing artist’s pigment, has been used by musicians including Morrissey and Nick Cave, and houses the biggest collection of vinyl records in the world.
After recording The King of Limbs using software written by Greenwood, Radiohead opted to record A Moon Shaped Pool with tape with analog 8 and 16-track recorders. This added creative limits to the process, as rerecording a take meant first erasing the previous take. For the introduction to “Daydreaming”, the band slowed the tape, creating a pitch-warping effect. Radiohead still used digital manipulation on many tracks; for example, Greenwood used the music programming language Max to manipulate the piano on “Glass Eyes”. Drummer Clive Deamer, who performed with Radiohead on the King of Limbs tour and appeared on their 2011 singles “The Daily Mail” and “Staircase”, played additional drums on “Ful Stop”. Greenwood estimated that 80% of the album was recorded in one two-week period…read more
Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
About the album via Wikipedia…
Pop and Homme began working on the album in January 2015. Pop reached out to Homme by text message to ask if he was interested in writing music together. After they spoke by phone, Pop sent Homme some lyrics by mail, along with notes about Pop’s time working with David Bowie. Three months later, Homme sent lyrics to Pop, and they agreed to work together on recording songs in a studio. They brought incomplete ideas as opposed to finished songs, so that they could work on them together. Pop described the album as discussing issues of what happens when your utility is at an end, and dealing with your legacy.
Consisting of nine songs, the album was recorded between January 12 and March 9, 2015 at Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree, California, over the course of two weeks, and another week at Pink Duck Studios in Burbank, California. Pop and Homme self-financed the album. Dean Fertita recorded guitar and keyboards, while Matt Helders recorded drum tracks. Homme stated that preparing Post Pop Depression was one thing that helped him cope with the aftermath of the November 2015 attack at the Bataclan…read more
Suuns – Hold/Still
About the album via Secretly Canadian…
Hold/Still, the third studio album from Suuns, is an enigmatic thing: an eerily beautiful, meticulously played suite of music that embraces opposites and makes a virtue of cognitive dissonance. It is a record that does not give up its secrets easily. The 11 songs within are simultaneously psychedelic, but austere; sensual, but cold; organic, but electronic; tense sometimes to the brink of mania, but always retaining perfect poise and control. “There’s an element of this album that resists you as a listener, and I think that’s because of these constantly opposing forces,” says drummer Liam O’Neill. “Listen to the song ‘Brainwash’, for instance, “It’s a very soft, lyrical guitar song, existing alongside extremely aggressive and sparse drum textures. It inhabits these two worlds at the same time.”…read more
Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
About the album via Dead Oceans…
Singing Saw is a record written simply and realized orchestrally. In it, Kevin Morby faces the reality that true beauty – deep and earned – demands a whole-world balance that includes our darker sides. It is a record of duality, one that marks another stage of growth for this young, gifted songwriter with a kind face and a complicated mind.
In the Autumn of 2014, Kevin Morby moved to the small Los Angeles neighborhood of Mount Washington. The move would shape Singing Saw, Morby’s first album for new label Dead Oceans. Previous tenants at Morby’s new home happened to leave an upright piano behind, with a few mysterious pieces of sheet music and an introductory book of common chords stacked on top. Thankful to finally be in one place for an extended spell, Morby, a beginner at the piano, immediately sat at the new instrument and began composing the songs that would form Singing Saw.
Alongside, he began taking long walks through the winding hills and side streets of the neighborhood each night, glimpsing views of both the skyline’s sweeping lights and the dark, dried out underbrush of the LA flora. The duality of the city itself began to shape a set of lyrical ideas that he would refine with the sparse accompaniment of piano and acoustic guitar. …read more
Woods – City Sun Eater in the River of Light
About the album via Woodist…
Woods have always been experts at distilling life epiphanies into compact chunks of psychedelic folk that exists just outside of any sort of tangible time or place. Maybe those epiphanies were buried under cassette manipulation or drum-and-drone freakouts, or maybe they were cloaked in Jeremy Earl’s lilting falsetto, but over the course of an impressive eight albums, Woods refined and drilled down their sound into City Sun Eater in the River of Light, their ninth LP and second recorded in a proper studio. It’s a dense record of rippling guitar, lush horns, and seductive, bustling anxiety about the state of the world. It’s still the Woods you recognize, only now they’re dabbling in zonked out Ethiopian jazz, pulling influence from the low key simmer of Brown Rice, and tapping into the weird dichotomy of making a home in a claustrophobic city that feels full of possibility even as it closes in on you. City Sun Eater in the River of Light is concise, powerful, anxious—barreling headlong into an uncertain, constantly shifting new world…read more
David Bowie – Blackstar
About the album via Wikipedia…
Blackstar is the twenty-fifth and final studio album by the English musician David Bowie, released worldwide through ISO, RCA, Columbia, and Sony on 8 January 2016, coinciding with Bowie’s 69th birthday. It was largely recorded in secret at New York City’s The Magic Shop with co-producer Tony Visconti and a group of local jazz musicians. Bowie died of liver cancer two days after its release; his illness had not been revealed to the public until then. Co-producer Visconti described the album as Bowie’s intended swan song and a “parting gift” for his fans before his death.
Upon release, the album was met with critical acclaim and commercial success, topping charts in a number of countries in the wake of Bowie’s death, and becoming Bowie’s only album to top the Billboard 200 in the United States. The album remained at the number one position in the UK charts for three weeks…read more
Cass McCombs – Mangy Love
About the album via Anti-…
Over the past decade, Cass McCombs has established himself as one of our premier songwriters. It’s a career that has twisted and turned, from style to subject, both between records and within them. Diverse, cryptic, vital and refreshingly rebellious — just when you think you have him pinned down, you find you’re on the wrong track.
However, Mangy Love, his Anti Records debut, is McCombs at his most blunt: tackling sociopolitical issues through his uniquely cracked lens of lyrical wit and singular insight.
McCombs uses himself as a mirror to misguided and confounding realities, confronting them head-on: “Rancid Girl” reads like a ZZ Top study in Kardashian politics, “Run Sister Run” a mantra for a misogynistic justice system, “Bum Bum Bum” displays a racist, elitist government through the allegory of sadistic dog breeding; the album is sewn together by a common thread of ‘opposition,’ most directly articulated in “Opposite House”, with allusions to mental illness…read more
Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits
About the album via Castle Face Records…
Emerging from the distant light we have a new double LP from our own John Dwyer’s Thee Oh Sees. The first studio recordings to capture the muscular rhythm section of double drummers Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon with ringer bassist Tim Hellman cracking spines, the groove and bludgeon we’ve come to expect from the live shows is captured seamlessly here – they go from zero to head-splitter from the get-go and on the rare occasions they do let up on the gas a bit, we’re treated to some locked-in hypnotizers, too. The guitar sounds more colossal and ethereal at the same time, riding roughshod over the vacuum sealed rhythm section, spiraling skywards, and diving into the emerald depths so quick your guts tingle. Synths, strings and smoke soaked things crawl behind the scenes to make an extra far-out party platter. Served on 45 rpm plates for most excellent listening quality. With amazing visuals and a side D etching by air-brush-van-art maestro Robert Beatty…and packed in vape-proof goat skin…read more
Mild High Club – Skiptracing
About the album via Stones Throw…
Mild High Club founder Alexander Brettin grew up playing flute in the school band and majoring in jazz studies in Chicago. In 2012, a visit to Los Angeles allowed him to connect with the Stones Throw crew. Within a year, after passing the early demos of what would become Timeline onto Peanut Butter Wolf, Brettin made the move out west.
“The difference between Timeline and Skiptracing is detail,” Brettin said. “I was stubborn with the process for Timeline; it took almost three years to let go of it.” On Timeline, Brettin resorted to vague lyrics so as to highlight the music itself. But for Skiptracing there’s both a heightened thematic aspect as well as more complex musical arrangements encasing it. In Brettin’s estimation, the album’s story arc is that of a “private investigator attempting to trace the steps of the sound and the spirit of American music.”…read more
Cory Hanson – The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo
About the album…
Cory Hanson’s debut solo album is a masterpiece, simply put. The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo explores the softer, psychedelic, side of Wand that you can hear on records like 2015’s epic 1000 Days LP. There isn’t much information about The Unborn Capitalist From Limbo online which is a bit refreshing, and frustrating, at the same time. In fact, the only way you’ll be able to hear the record is by buying a copy. It’s not available for streaming and only two songs have been released. This adds to the intrigue of the album and conflicts with the modern day availability of records online. Forcing fans to take a leap of faith, something common in the past, but eliminated in the present, with most albums eventually finding their way onto streaming services like Spotify or leaking on the dark web, available for instant download.
That leap of faith for this album will be rewarded and the fact that this album isn’t available online anywhere makes the first listen an incredibly gratifying experience…read more