1.) The Avalanches – “Wildflower”
16 years later, the Avalanches are back and they are more creative than ever. Focusing more on going to a psychedelic trip with hip hop beats and ranging on R&B and rare samples, the Avalanches’ “Wildflower” is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that shows that they never lost their edge and fun. The main reason why this is the album of 2016 is not only because of their great return, it’s really because they stay true to themselves and embrace absurdity in music in the most cunning and intricate way. Welcome back to music!
Top Tracks – Subways, Frankie Sinatra, Because I’m Me, Harmony, The Wozard of Iz
2.) Kanye West – “The Life Of Pablo”
Say what you will about Kanye West. Yes, he’s a troubled artist who can really create classical and masterful albums. Yes, he’s a gifted producer. But “The Life of Pablo” is a fucking mess…and I mean this in the most honest way. Honest in a way that Kanye uses gospel beats and derogatory lyrics to create tunes that explore the absurdity of Kanye’s mind. Nonetheless, no one can shy way his memorable hooks on “Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1” and “Famous” Henceforth, West’s artistic vision is forever changing and we can just flow like his rhymes.
Top Tracks – Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1, Famous, Waves, Ultralight Beam, Freestyle 4
3.) Solange – “A Seat At The Table”
It was a year of self-awareness and self-identity for many female artists and vocalists alike in 2016. But it’s Solange’s “A Seat At The Table” that really takes the cake. Her message is simple: 1.) I’m a black woman in America and I want to show you what I’m going through back then and now with my soul, funk and melodic R&B beats. Similar concepts like Mitski, Angel Olsen and even Beyonce about female empowerment; but it’s with a great message of racial identity mixed in with cultivating feeling that makes Solange hard to beat.
Top Tracks – Cranes In The Sky, Don’t Touch My Hair, Mad
4.) Angel Olsen – “My Woman”
On her 3rd album, Olsen expanded herself musically and embraced change beautifully. It’s one of her poppiest and boldest albums to date. With her synth intro of “Intern”, to her back-to-basic rock tune “Shut Up Kiss Me”, her diversity and arrangements on “My Woman” makes Angel the “Stevie Nicks” of 2016.
Top Tracks – Intern, Those Were The Days, Shut Up Kiss Me
5.) Beyonce – “Lemonade”
All hail the Queen B! And hot damn we were not ready for the slaying on her tangy yet refreshing “Lemonade”. Each track is literally full of flavors that characterize her personal life (marriage and family alike) as well as her perspective of female empowerment. And what’s really brilliant about this manifesto is that it’s Beyonce’s most artistic album to date and demands attention.
Top Tracks – Formation, Sorry, Hold Up, 6 Inch
6.) Michael Kiwanuka – “Love & Hate”
It would be 2016’s “What’s Going On”, but it’s more personal within Michael’s musical content. Collecting the sounds of Curtis Mayfield, the soul of Marvin Gaye and then stance of Bill Withers; “Love & Hate” evolved Kiwanuka’s music career by balancing and respecting the past to give the present and future something to stand on. And it’s Michael’s storytelling that will give listeners a heads up of what’s to come if action is not taken place.
Top Tracks – Black Man In A White World, Love & Hate, Cold Little Heart
7.) Norah Jones – “Day Breaks”
Norah’s back to her roots and it’s the most engaging album of her career to date. With her sultry signature tune of “Carry On” to three covers from legendary artists such as Neil Young and Duke Ellington, “Day Breaks” is the reflection and a response to her 2002 debut. It’s safe to say that Norah’s voice is forever alluring and awe-inspiring in the world of jazz.
Top Tracks – Carry On, And Then There Was You, Tragedy