Music Director’s Top 10 Albums of 2016

Teens of DenialCar Seat Headrest

Indie and garage rock group, Car Seat Headrest, released Teens of Denial in May. The band began as a solo project by Will Toledo out of Virginia, who self-released a dozen albums online between 2010-15 before signing with Matador Records in the early part of 2015. Since the Matador signing, Toledo and the band members of Car Seat Headrest have now released two studio albums – Teens of Style (2015) and Teens of Denial (2016). Though both albums received high praise, 2016’s Teens of Denial catapulted Car Seat Headrest into the national spotlight.

Visions of Us on the LandDamien Jurado

Based out of Seattle, Damien Jurado is a musician who’s been making music since the mid 90’s. Back in March, he released Visions of Us on the Land, the final album of a trilogy he conceived, through the independent record label, Secretly Canadian. Typically known as an acoustic folk rock and Americana musician, Visions of Us on the Land, as well as his two prior companion albums, saw Jurado enter into a more psychedelic folk rock chapter of his career. This record marks his fifteenth studio album and many in the industry feel it is his best yet.

The MagicDeerhoof

With the experimental rock group based out of San Francisco, Deerhoof, you never know what you’re going to get. Over the summer of 2016, they released their sixteenth full length album, The Magic. Since the group’s inception in the mid 90’s, they’ve be known for mixing up their sound and choice of genres from album to album, as well as song to song. The Magic blends alternative rock with garage, psychedelia and funk to produce one of their most rocking and fun albums to date.

Eternally EvenJim James 

You may not know Jim James by name but you’ve probably heard of a good amount of his music. James is the vocalist, guitarist and principle song writer for the mega group My Morning Jacket, which he formed in 1998. He’s also contributed vocals to the work of The Decemberists and is a member of the supergroups Monsters of Folk and The New Basement Tapes. In November, James released his second solo album which he titled Eternally Even. It’s a politically driven, smooth indie rock album that blends soul music with that of alternative and psychedelic rock.

Nonagon Infinity – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

If I had to pick one favorite album of the year, Nonagon Infinity would probably be it. Australian psychedelic rock group, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard followed up their fully acoustic 2015 album, Paper Mache Dream Balloon, with the highly energetic, Nonagon Infinity, in April of 2016. It is their eighth studio album since 2010, with their ninth coming out in early 2017. Nonagon Infinity is arguably one of the most fast paced alternative rock albums of 2016 and was made so that it could be played on an infinite loop. Each song seamlessly flows with the next, including the final track through the first one, so that listeners’ can’t tell where one song ends and the next begins.

Human PerformanceParquet Courts

The one album of 2016 that would contend with King Gizzard for my favorite of 2016 would definitely be that of Human Performance from the Parquet Courts. The Parquet Courts are a garage and post-punk group who formed in Brooklyn in 2010. In April they released their highly anticipated fifth studio album and it did not disappoint. While some songs like “Dust” and “Outside” are quite simple, yet marvelous nonetheless, others like “Human Performance” and “Pathos Prairie” are complex and emotional. My favorite from the album, however, and favorite track of the year, is without a doubt “Berlin Got Blurry”.

A Moon Shaped Pool Radiohead

A Moon Shaped Pool is the ninth studio album from the British alternative rock and electronica group, Radiohead, who need no introduction. Released in May, the album was recorded in France and features numerous songs that were written years – some decades earlier by Radiohead frontman and brainchild Thom Yorke. Like their many previous albums, A Moon Shaped Pool has been well received by their fans, music snobs of all kind and the mainstream music industry who recently gave them Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song for “Burn the Witch”.

City ClubThe Growlers

For me at least, this a group that flew under the radar for years. They’re an indie rock band with ties to garage, surf and psychedelic rock that formed a decade ago in 2006. It was not until they released the title track from City Club, their fifth studio album, that they hit my radar for the first time in August. In the last couple years, The Growlers hit a musical jackpot by catching the admiration of Julian Casablancas, frontman for the Strokes. Casablancas signed them to his label, Cult Records, produced their latest album and also provided the vocals for their song, “Too Many Times”. It is a stellar album throughout that has gone highly underrated since its’ release in September.

A Man AliveThao & The Get Down Stay Down

A Man Alive, the fifth album from California based alternative rock group, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, was released in March and is probably the record I’ve listened to the most this year. This is not only the case because it was released earlier in the year than anything else on the list but because every time I listen to it, I find something that I hadn’t heard before. A Man Alive is a deeply emotional album with its overall theme dealing with the abandonment felt by lead singer and chief song writer, Thao Nguyen, after her father deserted the family early in her life. It’s also a highly entertaining album that mixes experimental rock with garage fuzz, pop and funk.

A Weird ExitsThee Oh Sees 

The second half of 2016 was extremely rewarding for Thee Oh Sees fans. Three albums were released by the San Francisco based garage and psych rock group between July and November. The one that makes my list is their eleventh album, A Weird Exits, which was released in August. This record shows an evolution of the John Dwyer fronted group. Numerous songs still have that signature Thee Oh Sees high octane sound, full of screeching guitars and aggressive lyrics sung by Dwyer. The songs on the latter half of the record, however, are much more tame than what fans of the band are used to but are still some of the best songs on the album.

Geoff Parachin

RSU Radio Music Director