My 24 favorite albums of 2016

January 2, 2017


2016 was an overloaded of great music. Even in its last week, 2016 brought us the amazing new EP from Nine Inch Nails. That would have made my list, but I’ll wait to see what Trent brings in 2017.

Anyway, here’s my favorite albums of the year. Enjoy:

24. noname – telefone

an intimate, groovy album that’s full of depth.


23. suuns – hold/still

Dark, futuristic and minimalist music from the Canadian band.


22. ekin fil – being near

Ambient music doesn’t get much better than this.


21. childish gambino – awaken! my love

Is there anything Donald Glover can’t do? this record sounds like it came straight from the 70s.


20. nice as f*#k

Jenny Lewis is a genius. nice as f*#k is a fun left turn for her. a punchy, 80s-inspired album. dig.


19. solange – a seat at the table

A jazzy, poetic and soulful statement from Solange.


18. radiohead – a moon shaped pool

How are they so good after all of these years? “True Love Waits” might be my favorite song of the year.


17. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – in summer EP

A dreamy, washed out-like album from the electronic producer.


16. Quicksails – mortal

Dear universe, this is what I want tape loop to sound like.


15. DJ shadow – the mountain will fall

A perfect blend of Shadow’s past and present. He’s one of the best DJs who can make emotional electronic music. Listen to Ashes to Oceans for proof.


14. the julie ruin – hit reset

Kathleen Hanna has been making vital, activist music like this since 1991. And “hit reset” fits perfectly in the discography.


13. kendrick lamar – untitled unmastered

Kendrick can put out an album of b-sides and throwaways and it will still be one of the best of the year. That’s how good this brother is.


12. pj harvey – the hope six demolition project

Every PJ Harvey record sounds different from the last … except this one. That’s ok, though, because “Let England Shake” was a great album. And this one? Even better. I like that’s it more raw than its predecessor.


11. adrian younge – electronique void

Dear universe, this is what I want tape loop to sound like.


10. loscil – monument builders

Dear universe, this is what I want tape loop to sound like.


9. kelsey lu – church EP

That voice, man. That voice. the most haunting album of the year.


8. oddisee – the odd tape

Oddissee has grown so much over the years. As a rapper, he’s at the top of his game. But as a beat maker? He’s doing things that remind me of expert DJs like Pete Rock on J Dilla. Excellent album.


7. de la soul – and the anonymous nobody

I can’t say enough good things about this album. The verses are abstract, the beats are organic, the packaging is stellar, the concept is perfect. De La might be the best rap group of all time.


6. helena celle – If I Can’t Handle Me at My Best, Then You Don’t Deserve You at Your Worst

Dear universe, this is what I want tape loop to sound like.


5. david bowie – ★

I bought this record on the day it came out, and listened to it obsessively. We all know what happened a few days after its release. He went out on one of his best albums, by far.


4. savages – adore life

The best rock band.


3. jan jelenick + masayoshi fujita – Schaum

Ambient, dreamy, peaceful, perfection. Love.


2. kaitlyn auerila smith – ears

I hope Kaitlyn Auerila Smith its getting the credit she deserves for being a master electronic musician. She can bend and manipulate the buchla (or any other instrument) to her will, making some of the most complicated and beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Ears is a masterpiece. Take it for a spin when you need to find some peace.


1. a tribe called quest – we got it from here … thank you 4 your service

Everyone knew this album was going to be good. Right? But we didn’t know it would be this good. I mean. Really. Q-tip was able to push Tribe’s music forward in 2016 the way the first album pushed music forward in 1989. Unreal. At times, this album sounds like it came from the future – unbelievably fast rhymes and super production. There are so many sonic highlights – the keyboard loop of “The Space Program,” the stutter of the drums at the end of “Lost Somebody,” the echo in the drums of “We The People,” the clever Elton John sample and live vocal in “Solid Wall of Sound,” etc. etc. How about Jarobi? Who knew he could rap like this? How about Phife? Rest his soul, and thank God we have a final Tribe statement from him. Q-tip, you’ve given us an album for the ages. Thank YOU, brother.