Your Comprehensive Musical Guide to 2016

Illustration and words by Adrianna Aguirre

Here are 50 albums from 2016 I have thoroughly enjoyed. The artists and albums are quite diverse and not all can be found on mainstream music charts. Some albums made me dance, cry, or struck a political chord inside I never fully knew existed.They have all impacted my life in one way or another. Some artists are dear friends and some have been around since before I was born. Some artists branched out from their traditional sound, some continued their legacy, and others simply said “goodbye”.

Maybe you have also loved (or hated) these albums, or maybe you have yet to give some a listen. These albums have accomplished what music should do for the soul, and I hope this feeling can be spread to you. Here’s to a new era of music.

A Tribe Called QuestWe Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

These guys are, and always have been, solid gold. This album is as relevant as ever and will be one for history books.

Allah-LasCalico Review

Roll up a jammer and sway along.

Andrew BirdAre You Serious

Andrew Bird always brings out my inner sentimental and nostalgic emotions. The way he plays violin gets me every damn time. Fiona Apple makes an appearance so that makes me love it even more.

Angel OlsenMy Woman

Ms. Olsen has created a new, intriguing sound for herself. Even though I am a crazy fan girl and enjoy everything she puts out, I really enjoy the direction she went in with this album.


These guys know how to play their f*n instruments and will make you feel all the feels. Jazz will continue to live on through these fine fellows.

Big ThiefMasterpiece

This album was there for me during the nights when I just wanted to be alone, not necessarily feeling sad or upset. It’s an album that accompanied me while I daydreamed looking out of my bedroom window, filling in the background with some eerily beautiful sounds. It may not be a very significant album of the year, but it was there for me when I needed it. Maybe that’s all it has to be.

Blood OrangeFreetown Sound

I can only hope that many babies will be made to this album.

Car Seat HeadrestTeens of Denial

A particularly good album when you need to get out a lil’ excess energy and jump around for an hour.

Cass McCombsMangy Love

This album is like listening to a series of melancholy short stories that are all too real. When performed live, those stories put me on a whole other level. Cass’ dreamy country folk-rock sound and smooth vocals will make you swoon.

Chris CohenAs If Apart

I highly recommend playing this album at your place of work. It is upbeat in the most calming way and personally puts me in a very productive mood. This is also a great summer roadtrip album or for commuting in general.

Circuit Des YeuxJackie Lynn

Circuit des Yeux is about as experimental and ambient as I get. I’m partial to women who sing with deep voices, and Haley’s haunting vocals are no exception. It’s easy for me to imagine many of these songs accompanying a sci-fi film or television show.

Cool GhoulsAnimal Races

If you haven’t seen Cool Ghouls live, you are missing one hell of a show. The musical energy they create is something from a different time. This is a hard album to not get up and dance to and will guaranteed put you in a good mood.

Damien JuradoVisions of Us on the Land

Damien is a legendary musician in my book, and his albums always pack a soft punch.

David BowieBlackstar

This album makes me cry every time- not necessarily because the music is sad, but, well, ya’ll know why. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to write this album, and maybe that’s what really gets to me. It is fortunate that he was able to produce one last album and (hopefully) leave this world with a piece of mind.

Devendre BanhartApe in Pink Marble

Devendre is another dream – all of his songs being swoon-worthy. There is no one quite like this gothic gypsy babe, and his new album continues his odd legacy.

DIIVIs the Is Are

This is another great album to listen to when you’re in the mood to rock out for about an hour. I’ve listened to this album on road trips, while riding my bike, and especially when I need to get a lot of work done.

DrugdealerThe End of Comedy

Roll up another jammer and get ready to feel like you’re in 70’s L.A. If that flute doesn’t get you California dreamin’, I don’t know what else will.

Fruit BatsAbsolute Loser

This album hits close to home on many different levels, even in the literal sense. The songs “My Sweet Midwest”, “From a Soon-to-be Ghost Town”, “Birthday Drunk”, “Absolute Loser” – actually, who am I kidding? I can relate to the whole damn album.

Jim JamesEternally Even

One of the many kings of folk rock- Jim James- released an album that slays and set a new standard of musical genius.


Put on your leather jacket and disco dancing shoes, and get ready for some seriously funky bass riffs.

Kevin MorbySinging Saw

Many people have been comparing Kevin Morby to Bob Dylan, and I can’t help but agree. Kevin is bringing back 60’s & 70’s passionate folk-rock. Politically charged, acoustically driven, and meant to be taken very seriously, this album is not one to miss out on.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

Go forth and mosh.

Kyle CraftDolls of Highland

Get ready to do some more dancing and party along.

La LuzWeirdo Shrine

If I could be in a band, it would be this one. La Luz, ya’ll are killin’ it.

Laura GibsonEmpire Builder

Similarly to Big Thief, this album was around for when I need a little mellowing out at the end of the day.

Lee Fields & The ExpressionsSpecial Night

Get into the lovin’ mood with this soulful number.

Leonard CohenYou Want it Darker

As with David Bowie‘s Blackstar, You want it darker brings tears to my eyes. Cohen is a bit more in touch with mortality in a very haunting sense. You want it darker is sure to put you in an emotional funk that may take awhile to get out of. Although beautiful and meaningful, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

M. WardMore Rain

Portland, Oregon has been getting some interesting international recognition over the years. If you really want to understand why- listen to this album.

Martin CourtneyMany Moons

Delicate and darling, here is another one to make you feel nostalgic. As a big fan of Real Estate, it was only natural for me to love this album.

Micahel Kiwanuka  Love & Hate

If you need a little mood booster, this album is sure to get you motivated. With a whole lot of soul, a little funk, and some groove, this album may have you feeling like you stepped back in time to the 70’s.

Michael NauMowing

I’m not sure why, but I tend to listen to all things Micahel Nau (Cotton Jones and Cotton Jones Basket Ride included) in the morning. Although any time of day is suitable, I really enjoy starting my day with his calming, mellow, yet upbeat indie-folk songs.

Mild High ClubSkiptracing

Get some friends together for a chill kickback and play this. You may need to roll up another one for this album.

MndsgnBody Wash

Put on a similar outfit to the one you were wearing while getting your groove on to Justice‘s Woman and keep on with your bad self. You may need to do just as the album suggests after getting down and dirty on the dance floor while keeping up with these bass lines.

Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsSkeleton Tree

There are many artists from the 80’s I wish would retire already. Nick Cave is NOT one of them. He is one of the few true talents that have successfully turned his musical endeavors into a form of art. Skeleton Tree is an album that should be appreciated as a fine art painting on display at MoMA.

Nick WaterhouseNever Twice

Nick Waterhouse has a very distinct sound, and he owns it to the full potential. Inspired by blues, soul, and old school rock and roll, this is another that will make you want to boogie.

Night BeatsWho Sold My Generation

Here is another to mosh and rock out to.

PJ HarveyThe Hope Six Demolition Project

On the same level as Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree, PJ Harvey‘s new album is one for great appreciation.

Sam CohenCool It

Cool It is another great summer road trip album. It has a similar sound to Chris Cohen and Martin Courtney, and you could make one hell of a summer playlist between the three.

Sam EvianPremium

Sam Evian’s debut album is one of my favorites of 2016. He created a new sort of indie sound, mixing the grooviness of the 60’s and 70’s, modern synth, and sexy vocals.

The ShivasBetter Off Dead

Yet another great album to rock out to and a band to definitely see live.

SolangeA Seat at the Table

This album is very meaningful for me. Going along with the current state of political affairs, it is refreshing to hear an empowering album by such a strong woman.

Sonny & The SunsetsMoods Baby Mood

Sonny & The Sunsets is one of my favorite bands of all time. Every album they produce is different from the other and nothing could have prepared you for the sound and direction that this went in. A bit more pop influenced, paired with some wacky sounds, vocal distortions, and just a tad of political satire, this album is sure to put you in a great mood, make you get up, and dance.

Thee Oh SeesA Weird Exits

Even more so than ever before, go mosh and break all the things… but make sure to get a massage afterwards.

Tijuana PanthersGhost Food

…..And just keep moshing…..

Ty SegallEmotional Mugger

….And for the final hurrah, mosh out all the last bits of emotional turmoil you may have experienced during 2016 and get ready for yet another album coming out from Ty in 2017.

Weyes BloodFront Row Seat to Earth

Another hauntingly beautiful album reminiscent of 70’s folk, this album will have you singing and dancing along.


Wilco is continuing their legacy with Shmilco. This is another album that has been critically acclaimed, and I must say I am on board with all the love and support.

Wild NothingLife of Pause

Sway along to this dream pop album and get lost in the golden haze that is Wild Nothing.

WoodsCity Sun Eater in the River of Light

Here is another indie rock album to make you feel all the feels.

Y La BambaOjos Del Sol

This is one of my favorite albums of 2016. I truly feel a range of emotions every time I listen to this album. It makes me feel like dancing, singing, crying, representing my city, and proud of my heritage all at the same time.

Last year was a rather sad time for the music world and despite all the odds, these are just 50 albums that came out this year. There have been many more emerging artists and albums  that may have been more relevant to your life than the ones mentioned.

If there is just one constant we can all look forward to in 2017, it is great music. Let’s all be sure to remind ourselves that no matter what may come to be, there will always be music to accompany you on your life’s journey.

Mentions from the editor: 

Anderson PaakMalibu

The AvalanchesWildflower

BibioA Mineral Love

Childish Gambino Awaken, My Love

From Indian LakesEverything Feels Better Now

High HighsCascades

Kaytranada 99.9%

Massive AttackRitual Spirit

Parquet CourtsHuman Performance


RadioheadA Moon Shaped Pool


SamarisBlack Lights



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