Hello, everyone. I am back with my third top ten list for 2016, this one particularly for rock music. So, for this list, it encompasses multiple types of rock music, from hard rock to punk rock to garage rock to punk rock and to everything in between. It does not include, however, what I consider to be metal, which is why certain new metal albums, such as Metallica’s Hardwired… to Self-Destruct among others, are not on here.
So, without further ado, let’s get into my honorable mentions for this year.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)
Train Does Led Zeppelin II by Train
This album was a big surprise for me. I consider myself to be a casual fan of Train. “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” is a staple of early 2000’s pop rock and 2003’s My Private Nation is simply one of their best albums. Then, with the release of 2009’s Save Me, San Francisco, I felt that they were going more towards pop (but, their music is still enjoyable). That is why this album really surprises me. For anyone that doesn’t listen to Led Zeppelin (although I don’t understand how one hasn’t), their music is really hard and blues-y, and Train really assimilates Led Zeppelin’s sound, and it makes for a really enjoyable and good-sounding cover album. Pat Monahan can even convincingly mimic Robert Plant’s stellar voice.
Much Love by Microwave (90 / A-)
This band shares the same label as my number two spot as well as one of my favorite alternative hip hop artists, Astronautalis. The reason I enjoyed this album is because it does post-hardcore and emo justice. This is a short and concise album, about thirty-four minutes in length, and it barely has any flaws. I did not put this into my actual top ten because I didn’t feel compelled to re-listen to it as much as the ones in my top ten.
And, now, for the…
Top Ten Rock Releases of 2016
10. The Long Dark Blue by Swain (81 / B-)
This was the year that I really got into punk rock music, and this is one of the best punk rock albums I heard this year. But, this album mixes punk rock with a myriad of other genres. The most prominent sound that I heard throughout the entire album was similar to 90’s grunge music, think early 90’s Soundgarden. On tracks like “Never Clean My Room,” I also hear influences of Audioslave, which is very fitting. I also hear traces of the Red Hot Chili Peppers throughout the album as well. Most of the tracks barely exceed two-and-a-half minutes, but many demand you to nod your head. This was a very enjoyable album to listen to and it will prompt me to listen to their future releases. Favorite tracks include: “Punk-Rock Messed You Up, Kid,” “Never Clean My Room,” and “Kiss Me Hard.”
9. Letters to Lost Loves by Tyson Motsenbocker (85 / B)
Despite being released via Tooth & Nail and the album technically being labeled Christian Rock, I decided it was worth a listen. And it is. It has a folk-y indie rock and singer/songwriter feel to it, that it is actually very easy to overlook the Christian rock label for the album. This was Motsenbocker’s first full-length release (he released an EP in 2013), and it sounds very solid and cohesive. I really enjoyed the first nine tracks on the album, but I will say the only gripe I have is that the last track “The Passage,” in my opinion was really sub-par and disappointing considering the nine tracks that preceded it. The album probably would have been rated a little bit higher, both grade-wise and list-wise, if the album had done without it. But the album is still good, which is why I feel it deserves my number nine spot.
8. Weezer (The White Album) by Weezer (85 / B)
The band’s tenth studio album (and fourth to be self-titled) is perhaps their best album in a while. Not to take anything away from Make Believe or any of the other albums they released in the 2000’s, but this album was very solid all the way though. While I did not particularly enjoy the singles released for the album, I really enjoyed all the other tracks, especially the album’s opener “California Kids” and “L.A. Girlz.” This ten-track album spans a little over thirty-four minutes, and each track is sonically pleasing and, again, very solid.
7. Double Dare by Waterparks (87 / B+)
Oh, would you look at that! It’s pop punk music done right. Ever since I listened to Simple Plan’s No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls during my pre-teen and early teenage years, I have wanted to listen to all the pop punk albums that I could find. And throughout the years, I have found some gems (Marianas Trench’s Ever After is the first one that comes to mind) and many duds (sadly, Simple Plan’s last album is among this list). And, of course, this album is a gem. It sounds really mature for a pop punk album. Tracks like “Stupid for You,” “Royal,” “Dizzy,” “Powerless,” and “21 Questions are definitely standout tracks from this album, but every single track on this album deserves a listen.
6. Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest (88 / B+)
My second favorite indie rock album of the year, no doubt. But, for my top rock releases, it is number six. This is definitely a strange album to listen to, as it’s running time is seventy minutes with only twelve tracks. It has a lo-fi sound that might throw off or discourage a listener from continuing the album. But, it is fantastic. Tracks such as “Fill in the Blank,” “Drugs with Friends,” “Not What I Needed,” “Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales,” “1937 State Park,” and “Unforgiving Girl” are certainly the standout tracks in this album, in my opinion.
5. I Like it When You Sleep, for You Are so Beautiful Yet so Unaware of It by The 1975 (87 / B+)
80’s pop music mixed with modern indie rock music. Who would have thought that that combination would work? I first got into The 1975 in 2013 with the release of their smash hit “Chocolate,” which was available as a free download on iTunes. This band is so completely different with how they produce their sound, and the way Matthew Healy writes his lyrics is so beautiful. The electronica sound really takes this album to another level. And even the funky parts of the album is very reminiscent the very good era of Maroon 5. Favorite tracks include: “Love Me,” “UGH,” “A Change of Heart,” “She’s American,” “If I Believe You,” the album’s title track, “This Must Be My Dream,” “Paris,” and “Nana.”
4. Tidal Wave by Taking Back Sunday (90 / A-)
This was my first full-length listen to Taking Back Sunday. I had listened to single tracks such as “Faith (When I Let You Down)” and “MakeDamnSure,” but I had never listened to any much more from them. But, when this album was released, I was prompted to listen to it. There are so many musical influences on this album. I hear shades of punk rock (“Tidal Wave”), pop punk (“In the Middle of it All”), indie rock (“Homecoming”), slowcore (“I’ll Find a Way to Make it What You Want”), and so many others. Favorite tracks include: “Death Wolf,” “Tidal Wave,” “Fences,” “All Excess,” “Call Come Running,” “Holy Water” and “Homecoming.”
3. Yellowcard by Yellowcard (90 / A-)
Like the number four artist, I didn’t really listen to much Yellowcard before their most recent, and their last, one. I did, however, listen to Southern Air in its entirety, and I still turn the volume up all the way whenever I listen to “Awakening.” This album, however, is really good. With ten tracks and nearly fifty minutes in running time, Yellowcard finished out their heyday with a sonically pleasing and cohesive album. What a great way to finish out a wonderful career for such a prominent and influential band. Favorite tracks include: “Rest in Peace,” “A Place We Set Afire,” “The Hurt is Gone,” “Empty Street,” “I’m a Wrecking Ball,” and “Fields and Fences.”
2. The Dream is Over by PUP (90 / A-)
Another punk rock band made it onto my list, this one being PUP’s The Dream is Over. Another short album, ten tracks and thirty minutes, this album is kind of fun and playful, especially with the album’s opening track, “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will.” There are elements of hardcore punk, but then, those elements are balanced with a sort of an indie rock sound that is sprinkled throughout the album. This album was a blast to listen to, and I highly recommend it. Favorite tracks include: “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You,” “Doubts,” “Old Wounds,” “My Life is Over and I Couldn’t Be Happier,” “Can’t Win,” and “Pine Point.”
1. Nonagon Infinity by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (89 / B+)
This was my overall favorite rock album of 2016. It is a very innovative album in that the entire album is played in an entire loop, meaning that if you played it on repeat, you wouldn’t hear a definitive end with any track or the overall album. This Australian band has since become one of my favorite bands to listen to now. It has a sixties sound to it that is mixed with modern garage rock and a hint of progressive rock. I never would have though that this mixture would work and be so enjoyable to listen to, but my ears were very glad to listen to this. And just like Swain, there are certain times on this album that I can somewhat distinctly hear a little bit of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, especially with the opening track “Robot Stop.” The other reason that I enjoy this album so much is that it is somewhat short, nine songs and forty-two minutes, and all the tracks are very fluent and flows very well throughout. Favorite tracks include: “Robot Stop,” “Gamma Knife,” “People-Vultures,” “Mr. Beat,” and “Wah Wah.” “Big Fat Wasp,” though not one of my ultimate favorites on the album, deserves a mention as well.
So, there you have it: my top ten rock releases of 2016. I hope that my list influences you to listen to the albums on it, or at the very least gives you an open mind to give them a chance. I also hope that you expand your tastes and go outside your comfort zone in music and listen to something new. You might never know what you’ll find, and you might even like it.
As for more top tens, I probably will not do any more for 2016. I might, however, write a blog where I explain albums from other genres that I liked, like pop and metal and R&B.
Thanks for existing,