Best of 2016 Playlist

December 31, 2016

Top 10 Albums of 2016

It's always hard to nail down the best albums of the year. They're so many to consider. The list may change in the future, and we'll put a notice on the post if it does. Anyway, here are our picks for the Top 10 Albums of 2016. To read the companion post, "Top 10 Songs of 2016" click the link. 

Please keep in mind, we can only listen to so many albums. If you think we missed one, leave a comment and tell us why you think it deserves to be on the list. Also, check out Honorable Mentions list. We only consider full length albums for this list, not EPs. 

To see our "Top 10 Songs of 2016" click the following (link). And remember, we try to shy away from "mainstream" acts, so don't expect to see Queen B, David Bowie, and the like here. 

10. "Who You Selling For?" - The Pretty Reckless (7.5 to 8)

Your mind immediately jumps to Taylor Momsen when thinking of this band. Rightly so, her voice takes command and prove she's got one of the strongest voices in hard rock. But the album does more than showcase her vocals talents. Only on their 3rd album, The Pretty Reckless are just getting started with things. They've learned from their past mistakes. This album is far braver and more experimental than their previous. Digging deep into Southern rock, and blues, TPR write a less accessible album, that only a select few can truly appreciate. Momsen's raspy vocals suit this new style perfectly. The band still include their signature grunge-hard rock style for tracks like "Oh My God". But it's the diversity of the record that ultimately earns it a place on this list. 

Tracks to listen to include "Oh My God", "Wild City", and the title track.  
Recommended for fans of Halestorm, Heaven's Basement and Shinedown
*Note: Unfortunately we never got the chance to finish our full review for this album

"Misadventures" - Pierce the Veil (7.5 to 8/10)

It was worth the wait. "Misadventures" is still one of the great triumphs of the year. Though not as cohesive as "Collide with the Sky", the album delivers on the band's legacy. Dialing back the "Mexi-core" a bit for album 4, PTV create a modern post hardcore record for the books. Every song has been checked and doubled check and triple check for perfection. The few times the band drop the ball, they don't really drop the ball. It's just personal taste that will either deter you or draw you in. "Circles" is the big winner of this record. One of the band's lighter tracks, it's catchy melody and war torn lover theme will get you every time. And of course there's "The Divine Zero", which though has its flaws, has grown on us over time. 

Tracks to listen to include "Texas Is Forever", "Phantom Power and Ludicrous Speed", and "Today I Saw the World"
Recommended for fans of Sleeping with Sirens, You Met at Six, and All Time Low

"Holy Ghost" - Modern Baseball (8/10)

One of, if not the most, captivating listens of the year. This album is overshadowed by bigger bands, and bigger sounds. But Modern Baseball shouldn't be forgotten. From the production, which gives the album a very warm, comfortable feel, to the old school emo style they've captured perfectly, this album is what you listen to curled up next to a fireplace. Tracks can vary from fast paced, punk inspired tracks that get you out of your seat, to slower acoustic, "coffee shop" vibe tracks. But the album's real strength lies in the lyrics. With two writers, it's easy to tell who wrote which song. Frontman Brenden Lukes writes from the heart, while lead guitarist and backing vocalist Jake Ewald writes relatable stories (not unlike Taylor Swift if you need a comparison). 

Tracks to listen to include "Apple Cider, I Don't Mind", Every Day" and "Just Another Face" 
Recommended for fans of The Wonder Years, Transit, and Say Anything

Along The Shadow" - Saosin (8/10)

The long-awaited sequel to 2009's "In Search of Solid Ground" met expectations and then some. This album marked original vocalist Anthony Green's return to the band after ten years. And with his return, Saosin went back to their roots for this record. Shifting their sound to something heavier, with more prominent use of unclean vocals, this is the Saosin you fell in love with al those years ago. Lead single, "The Silver String" seemed to a direct callback to 2003's "Translating The Name". From Green's melodic clean vocals, to his nail biting screams, it was like being a kid again (if you were a kid when you listened to the album). Then you can switch over to something a bit more mellow like "Sore Distress", which has the makings of a ballad but the energy of an arena anthem. This is 2016's best comeback album, and was well worth the wait. 

Tracks to listen to include “Ideology is Theft”, "The Secret Meaning of Freedom" and “Illusion & Control” 
Recommended for fans of Dance Gavin Dance, Senses Fail, and A Lot Like Birds

This band has never gotten the respect or success they deserve. Crafting one of the most insightful, creative albums of 2016, letlive. have a lot to offer listeners. A pure fusion of R&B, experimental rock, post hardcore, rap, and blues. Which sounds like something Issues might do, but make no mistake letlive. are writing at a much higher caliber. A politically fueled album that speaks out against injustices and challenges ideas. In contrast, many of the instrumental elements pull from genres you wouldn't necessarily associate with those themes. You get some electronic samples, some new wave melodies, and of course some very dark hip hop (a personal favorite). Lead single, "Good Mourning America" is without a doubt one of the band's finest songs. It sets the tone for this dark, brooding album. 

Tracks to listen to include "Reluctantly Dead", "Another Offensive Song" and the title track
Recommended for fans of Issues, Deftones, and Enter Shikari

"Bad Vibrations" - A Day to Remember (8/10) 

One of the best surprises of an otherwise tumultuous year, A Day to Remember dropped lead single, “Paranoia” back in March just in time for their Self Help Fest. Three or so months later, the band announced their 6th album and dropped the title track as the second single. Yet another throwback album, ADTR return to their 2007 roots and give listeners the heavier, hardcore album they’ve been asking for. As opposed to previous album “Common Courtesy”, the band forgo any attempt to craft a modern hard rock album and just to what they know best. Mixing their brand of hardcore with pop punk. The minimal production makes it seem as if you're in the studio with the band as they record each track. McKinnon takes a step back from the producers chair, and just focuses on writing, which has proven to be one of the better decisions. Because, where previous albums had this sort of "shine" to them, this one feels natural, and organic in a way the last two weren't. 

Tracks to listen to include “Naivety”, “Bullfight”, and “We Got This
Recommended for fans of Four Year Strong, The Wonder Years, and New Found Glory

"Mothership" - Dance Gavin Dance (8 to 8.5/10)

Imagine if Wes Anderson suddenly started to write music. That's Dance Gavin Dance in a crazy, kooky, and whimsical nutshell. The band brings together a broad range of styles and sounds to give us what we've come to love over the years. DGD's music has a certain grit to it, while maintaining a mainstream undertone. Evident in tracks like "Chucky vs The Giant Tortoise" and "Betrayed by the Game". Slightly more experimental (for the band anyway) tracks like "Chocolate Jackalope" see DGD testing how their sound mixes with R&B and soul. This album is full of songs that, while may seem absurd, are exactly what we never knew we needed. Earworm after earworm, smothered in lines like "Riding a rhino, pico de gallo. Rooster's beak, I'll sleep when I leap that jeep". Few words can describe the confusing song that is "Flossie Dickie Bounce". It starts with the bold line "Cocaine cringe fest!", that speaks volumes by itself.  But that doesn't make it any less appealing, because that's one of the hardest, fastest tracks the band has to offer. 

Tracks to listen to include "Young Robot", "Deception", and "Man of the Year". 
Recommended for fans of The Color Morale, letlive. and Emarosa

Tom Searle's final album is the crowning achieve of his far too short life. Griffin J. Elliot of Exclaim puts it best when he says, “The record is so goddam heavy and fast, it sounds like what one could only assume smoking crack cocaine with Northlane sounds like.” After years of struggling, Architects have found their sound, and it’s one of the best things a fan of metalcore can hear. “All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us” is an album that’s equal parts modern metal, progressive, electronic, and Sam Carter’s signature “Bleh!”. Continuing with the sound they crafted for “Lost Forever//Lost Together”, Architects infuse passionate lyrics with a sound that encompasses a eclectic range of genres, while never straying too far from native metalcore. 

Tracks to listen to include “A Match Made in Heaven”, “Phantom Fear” and “Downfall
Recommended for fans of Bring Me The Horizon, While She Sleeps and The Amity Affliction. 

If there was one album that blew us and our expectations away, it was this one. Too Close To Touch burst onto the scene with their debut, "Nerve Endings" and it seemed impossible for them to top that. They did that and more. Their follow up, "Haven't Been Myself" gives new meaning to emotional and cathartic. The raw power of this record will leave you speechless. We can't praise it enough. It's become THE standout of the year, and one of our top album period. If you haven't heard this, at the very least listen to the ending track, "Eiley". Goosebumps. goosebumps every fucking where. And tears, can't forget the tears. You won't be able to keep them from flowing once you hear the bridge. 

Tracks to listen to include “What I Wish I Could Forget”, “Miss Your Face”, and “Inside Voices
Recommended for fans of Hands Like Houses (who just edge out for the top spot on this list), Tonight Alive, and Sleeping with Sirens 

1. "Dissonants" - Hands Like Houses (9 to 9.5/10) 

The band that just seems to know no bounds. Their musical journey over the past five years has been one for the ages. It's incredible to think that they're only just getting started. Hands Like Houses elevate themselves with "Dissonants", a darker, more intimate take on their usual post hardcore/alt. rock. From opening track and lead single, “I Am” (which was released almost a year before the album), to the quieter, calm of “Motion Sickness”. There’s something for every fan of HLH. The band take their more theatrical post hardcore and their rhythmic alt. rock, then transform them into a new style that is the best of the three. Their take on breakdowns is enough reason to put them on this list. Rather than just chug it out, their breakdowns/bridges rely on the band's ability to mix melody with rhythms. A recipe for success we hope they repeat in the future. You really can't beat the pre-chorus breakdown on "I Am", it's just perfect. 

Tracks to listen to include “I Am”, “Degrees of Separation”, and “Grey Havens

Recommended for fans off I the Mighty, Pierce the Veil and Saosin