If 2016 was a terrible year because of celebrity deaths or internet turmoil or fear of things that still have yet to happen, really 2016 wasn’t a terrible year. It was a year like any other. But if 2016 was personally tragic, I’m sorry. The New Year should again be the time to be hopeful things will get better, as things usually do. Just don’t say it’s awful because David Bowie died, a man who was born at the end of World War II, or because that purple magician took too much opiod fentanyl, or because you are afraid of a future that may or may not ever arrive.
Although the internet says this was a bad year, it wasn’t for most individuals. I had the weirdest year of my life, going from living in a limitless world under the stars to a limited one and giving it a try again. Going back to the cage and being around the same people and having to face certain things was weird and difficult, but it wasn’t terrible all the time. Even when it was awful, it sure wasn’t because of something the internet told me to feel anything about.
We all live in an age of individualism, which is either a good or bad thing. I don’t know. No media is more individualistic than music. It’s doesn’t create a movement or change anything, even if that’s what the artist’s intent is. It’s there to make you feel something, connect to someone, let someone magically explain things about yourself better than you can, or at the most basic level, make those things in your brain bounce around so you feel happy.
Of all the time I’ve been consuming music, this has been the best year I can remember. It was loud, fast, and beautiful. It made me feel so much at a time when it’s becoming more difficult to feel certain things as I’ve gotten a little bit older. Although the internet told me 2016 was awful and everything was strange, it was all pretty alright, and the music was far and way from alright.
Anyways, here are my ten favorite (not the best, there are better ones out there, but my favorite) albums of the year.
10. Brian Fallon-Painkillers
And I don't need time to think about it
I don't let reminders get me down like before
The Gaslight Anthem was my favorite band. They no longer exist, so they no longer are. This is a fine album by their former front man. It’s very sweet and very pretty without as much depth as his former separate endeavor, Elsie. Listen to it this in the spring, and go for a drive; being alive will feel really nice. It’s good, listenable music. It’s kind of lame, especially the cover. But it’s pure songwriting. Aperfect example is Open All Night, and oh wow now I’m ready to move away and never miss anyone ever again.
9. Chris Farren-Can’t Die
Ignore the phone calls from my mom, pretend I’m busy writing songs
As I just blaze away single player video games.
Chris Farren was in a band called Fake Problems. I bought the pre-order to their album Real Ghosts Caught On Tape in, like, 2011. It was a great album. The shirt was better, though. Everytime I wore it no one had any idea what it meant, and then I would tell them how I was a ghost hunter. Now Farren is doing the Brian Fallon thing too; he came out with a solo album where he only plays guitar and the rest is backed by a laptop. It’s like Painkillers, except it’s more fun and has great melodies. The best part of the album is all of the “yeah, yeah yeah, yeahs” in the background. Man, I love that.
8.) Modern Baseball-Holy Ghost
In a curiously well-kept house built before I was born
This year we're gonna stamp out the sorry feeling rain on summer vacation
I learned three things from punk music this year: 1.) The road is mean and going on tour isn’t as fun as it is made out to be; 2.) Everyone misses those people in their lives they love that are no longer around; and 3.) Being miserable can be fun. This album is about the first two, but doesn’t follow the third. This isn’t the charming Modern Baseball, the band your fifteen year old loves. They are dour. They are darker. It’s a cathartic album when you want to give in for a bit and actually feel miserable instead of pumping in happiness to feed the optimism.
7.) Cymabls Eat Guitars-Pretty Years
Things I did when I was young and evil
And I have a heart I want to put to use
If you listen to music because you like how someone sings, you probably won’t like this band, or it is going to take some time to like them, and listening to something you don’t like the first time more than once is rarely something anyone else does. If you like his voice, it’s a blast to sing from a whisky-soaked howl to prepubescent falsetto. It’s fast and loud, but it’s different. They have a unique sound. It’s punk, it’s pure rock and roll, it’s jazzy at times. It’s unlike anything else I’ve listened to.
6.) Dinosaur Jr.-Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not
And I'm crawlin' out the window
And I'm crawlin' out the window through the floor
This is an old band I’ve never listened to. I’d see them mentioned on the internet or find that album with the fuzzy green monster on it in book or music stores. Yet I would never listen to it. Then I listened to this one. Then I listened to their other albums. And oMg I love it. This album has the best guitar playing I’ve heard this year. It’s loud, fuzzy, and distorted. Every song sounds like dark purple.
5.) AJJ-The Bible II
I thought I saw you at the Quiznos
I thought I saw you at the Peacock Park
I thought I saw you before I knew who you were
I never got into this band until this year. I thought the Michael Jordan of drunk driving song was clever, a song about someone who loved to drive drunk and was successful at it, until he eventually drove his car to his death and hence played his final game tonight. I just didn’t get it. When this one came out, it clicked. I don’t know if it was getting older and appreciating new sounds or what. It just did.
AJJ was also the best band I saw LIVE this year. Their sound is loud, fast, and expansive. It’s a combination of stand up bass, some weird electric violin thing, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and drums. They sound the same as they do as recorded, except it’s just louder and faster. If nihilistic folk punk is something that catches your ear, you’ll love it. If it doesn’t, you will when that eventually snatches your ear.
4.) Joyce Manor-Cody
I bet it’s gone forever
Burned up in a fiery ball of glue
After the hangover ends, this is the album you get. Picking up the pieces after youth is over, once the fun is dried up, lost and so alone. This album is short, fast, and beautiful. There isn’t a band that says so much with so little.
3.) Jeff Rosenstock-Worry
Someone hung a decorative surfboard up where your records and movies belong
This light makes it nearly impossible to see if they fixed all the cracks in the wall
This is a rambling album about everything: entering the 30s and getting older, watching the neighborhood change and your past life become obsolete, selling out, falling in love, and just accepting the best is all you can do, all while going from punk to synth to ska to pop across 17 songs.
2.) The Hotelier-Goodness
And I am feeling sharpened splinters
Cutting through my center
To hear you as you’re coming around again
I watched Adam Curtis’s HyperNormalisation. I read Chuck Klosterman’s But What if We’re Wrong?. Reality really doesn’t make sense. I don’t really know what’s real anymore. I don’t know who I am anymore. This is an album about the only things that are entirely real and pure, and man is it beautiful.
1.) PUP-The Dream Is Over
And by the end of the summer I let em’ get the best of me
What a god damn bummer What a waste of my energy
Being alone, miserable, confused, and having no idea what to do to has never been so much fun. This was the fastest, loudest, and most enjoyable album that came out this year. The first two songs are perfect. If you read one of those top fifty lists and this isn’t on it, pass it on by; it isn’t worth your time. Drink a six pack, chug some coffee, and play this album as loud as you can.
Anyways, that’s all I got. Check out the music and leave me some more of what you liked this year below. Most of all enjoy your NEW YEAR doing whatever it is that you do.