2016 has been described as a dumpster fire of a year—a full-on Renaissance painting of human chaos that was initially fun to watch. However, the reality of 2016 has slowly begun sunk in and laughter, other than perhaps the hysterical, self-mocking variety, is the last thing on our minds. This year saw the election of a, shall we say, controversial candidate for presidency, the dawn of real-life killer clowns, the meme-ification of a dead gorilla, and the passing of far too many extraordinary musical talents including Prince, David Bowie, and, most recently, George Michael. In short, it has been a rough and weird three hundred and sixty-five days, and I, like many of you, am more than ready to leave it all behind in the hope that 2017 is a kinder, gentler year.
One thing that this past year did not deprive us of was some good, soul-healing music. While you gather around to watch the ball drop on the new year and hope desperately for a more put-together 2017, here are some of the best albums that came out of the over-stretched trash bag that was 2016. Enjoy.
1. Childish Gambino, Awaken My Love!
A departure from some of the harsher, dirtier rap Gambino is known for “Terrified” is a personal favorite that goes down smooth like a finely aged Scotch.
2. The Growlers, City Club
To me, this album sounds like the modern soundtrack to a seventies nostalgia film set in southern California—if Inherent Vice was in the market for a house band. Whether it evokes the same feelings in you is uncertain, but either way give it a listen as I have yet to find a disappointing track. “City Club” and “Night Ride” are certified fresh listening, and pro tip—put on “I’ll Be Around” to see me randomly break into dance at any given point in any location.
3. Justice, Woman
Modern disco with a signature electronic twist—the French duo does it again big time with slow-build tracks like “Chorus” and “Heavy Metal.”
4. Frightened Rabbit, Painting of a Panic Attack
If you’ve ever felt like crying in a bar over a pint of beer that’s gone lukewarm while you stared into space despairing at the state of your life, this is the album that will push you over the edge. With the lyrical feeling that has defined the Scottish group in prior albums, Frightened Rabbit ups the ante with songs like “Woke Up Hurting” and “I Wish I Was Sober” that will have you reminiscing on people who have wronged you and examining your own vices—with some good ass music in the background of course.
5. KAYTRANADA, 99.9%
Music to walk down the street to, if you’re a fan of feeling like you straight up own the place, which I am. Try “TRACK UNO” and “GLOWED UP” on for size.
6. Bon Iver, 22, A Million
Haunting, melodic, and singlehandedly responsible for restoring my youthful love for this group, tracks like “666 ʇ” and “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” are pensive and beautiful songs. If you haven’t given this one a full listen through yet, remedy that immediately.