Top 20 Albums of 2016 - Casey G.

By in Best of Lists 2016 | 7 Comments

Overall, I sadly didn’t feel like 2016 was saturated with tons and tons of great music and found myself grasping at straws to pull this list together. With that said, there truly are were a few gems and I encourage you to check out each of the bands on this list. I’ve also included a sampler play list at the bottom for quick reference. Hopefully something on this list will connect with you!

1. Viscera – My Epic

There’s a reason these guys consistently make it onto “best of” lists. If you’re a consistent reader, you already know these guys. If you haven’t heard them yet, what’s stopping you? As one of their most mature (and perhaps even accessible) releases, the depth of these five songs is truly astounding.

2. Relativity – Archabald

Archabald released this powerhouse of a sophomore album early in the year and really managed to set the bar. It’s a nice mix of ambient, barebones tracks and mathy emo and post-hardcore that’ll make you feel all sorts of things.

3. Collective Memory – Cloud Caverns

Collective Memory is the sleeper hit of the year. Though it’s the second full-length they’ve released this year, Collective Memory is steeped in simplicity, honesty, and emotional intelligence.

4. Everything I See – In Dynamics

I’ll admit – In Dynamics was a recent find of mine. Nonetheless, their debut album definitely earned a quick high spot on my list. The album art is certainly captivating, and the music follows in true fashion. It’s an interesting blend of post-hardcore, indie, and ambient that’s akin to Circa Survive mixed with Coldplay.

5. Real Emotion – Paper Route

While I’m not generally a fan of pop (apart from bangin’ singles), Paper Route has crafted something special with this album. While it’s sure to be compared with The Peace of Wild Things, I think this is their best album yet, with plenty of modern and retro elements mixed well across sixteen tracks.

6. Prelude (.3333) – Adjy

Adjy is one of those bands that flew completely under the radar. Though they’re on Triple Crown Records, I think they definitely didn’t get the press of many other bands, though I believe it may be intentional. The band’s background is similarly mysterious. The music, however, is truly unique. It harkens to the now-defunct Anathallo, with the use of auxiliary percussion, keys, guitars, and so many people on stage you wonder how they don’t trip during live shows.

7. Hourglass Switchboard 1 & 2 – Sean McVerry

Is it cheating to combine two releases into ranking? Perhaps. Nonetheless, both EPs were released this year and nicely complement each other. McVerry employs an eclectic mix of indie, pop, piano, and who-knows-what-else for some good fun-time jams.

8. I Believe, Help My Unbelief – Rival Choir

As I get older, my taste in hardcore has changed a bit. I’ve largely abandoned metalcore, but part of me still craves heavy tunes every now and then. Rival Choir appeals to me more than Mouth of the South ever did and their debut under the new name is one of a few metal releases this year that stuck with me.

9. Stage Four – Touché Amoré

Touché Amoré sits nicely in the vein of hardcore that I do still enjoy; the reverby guitars, fry screams, and angsty lyrics have a place in my heart. The emotional content of the album is pretty draining, but proper catharsis is present as well.

10. American Nightmare – Bad Rabbits

One of my friends sent me the single, Original, a few weeks before the album dropped. I decided to give the entire album a spin later and wasn’t disappointed. It’s a very interesting mix of post-hardcore, almost-rap, R&B, and a number of other elements that are hard to identify.

11. In a Sea of Things Unsaid – Wyland

Wyland reminds me quite a bit of Keane and Windsor Drive, with a mix of piano, airy vocals, and pop sensibility.

12. American English – Tor Miller

Tor’s videos came up as suggestions from Sean McVerry. After a quick glance, it was evident that the two work together. Nonetheless, Tor certainly has plenty of skill on his own. Not every song is excellent, but Carter and Cash will definitely get you pumped.

13. Age of Swans – Oakhands

With some of the most abstract artwork I’ve seen in a bit, Oakhands’ debut EP is an interesting emotional hardcore release that shows promise for the group.

14. Opal, Luna, and Hymn – Altadore

Altadore’s newest release deviates from the previous indie tone, leaning more toward minimalistic folk. I do miss the guitar focus, but the album certainly has its strong moments.

15. Lap Dog – Weaver at the Loom

After losing a full album due to a harddrive crash, Weaver at the Loom returned with this fun EP that’s enticing but leaves me hoping that the “lost album” does make it into the public one day.

16. Nocturna – Hydra Melody

Nocturna is every bit upbeat, odd, and slightly-tropical as the cover would leave you to believe.

17. Forgiver – Yes We Mystic

Forgiver is another album that’s unfortunately a bit hit-and-miss in my opinion, but The Contest of Strength and Undertow are both so good that I can look past many of the flaws.

18. Fold – Motherfolk

Fold is a diverse album of ambient interludes, pop hits, honest lyrics, and plenty of good (and sad) times for all.

19. American Football (LP2) – American Football

American Football makes a decent return after many years of… hiatus? Honestly, I don’t know, I just needed to get this list to 20. The album is certainly in line with my taste, to some degree at least, but I could definitely give it more time.

20. Dealer – Foxing

Foxing once again brings a good mix of indie and emo to play. It’s definitely a strong album and a nice follow up to The Albatross.


Check out this quick sampler with highlight tracks from each of the artists above!

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January 2, 2017 4:05 pm

Not sure if this is possible in the future but for the top albums can we say whether they are Christian or not? Sorry I might be closed minded but I try hard to stick to christian bands.

Chris S
Chris S
January 11, 2017 6:07 am

Nice list, Casey. I really dig both My Epic’s ‘Viscera’ and Archabald’s ‘Relativity.’ The latter really took me off guard with just how solid & diverse it is.

And thanks for the Wyland rec – I’m a big fan of Keane and will definitely be checking that album out!

January 4, 2017 5:51 pm

Your list of bands is staggeringly good! i already bought 3 albums (Foxing, Archabald and In Dynamics) and have 4 or 5 more saved to purchase later. Your taste is awesome! Have heard of Weaver, Paper Route, and My Epic, but the others I had never heard of or barely. Are any of the bands Christians? (hate the term Christian band/secular band) Thanks for the great list and great new tunes!

January 4, 2017 5:58 pm
Reply to  Dave

I should mention I already own every Paper Route and My Epic album and every Weaver at the Loom release except for the one you mentioned since I did not know about it.

January 4, 2017 7:42 am

This top 20 and Brandon’s have been my favorites.

Benji Kunz
January 2, 2017 12:51 pm

We seem to have really similar music tastes Casey and I haven’t heard half of the artists on your list. Looks like I have some listening to do. 🙂

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