2016 has been a year overflowing with high-profile releases, ranging from the long overdue Frank Ocean, to Car Seat Headrest, and to Noname. The sheer volume of albums can be overwhelming at times, so much so, that many artists get neglected until there is room for them on year-end retrospectives. This is not to say they are undeserving; they just get overshadowed by releases with far-reaching appeal. Fortunately, I have too much time on my hands, and nothing better to do. Thus, I’ve compiled a list of the seven records that I’ve enjoyed the most in 2016 that haven’t quite received the attention they deserve. Prepare your earholes, ya dirty heathens.
Told Slant – Going By
Told Slant is the solo outing of Felix Walworth, a member of Brooklyn-based art collective The Epoch, home to other fantastic projects such as Eskimeaux, Bellows, and Florist. Going By is their second studio effort, the follow-up to 2012’s excellent Still Water. Each song is minimalist and melancholy in nature. The album meditates on love, time, and self-affirmation in a way that haunts and resonates. Honestly, this album will make you cry. Like, a lot.
Stand out tracks: Low Hymnal, Green Nail Polish
Attic Abasement – Dream News
Hailing from Rochester, New York, Mike Rheinheimer has been releasing records since 2008. Dream News is their first album for Father/Daughter Records, and consequently one of their best. The album possesses an uncharacteristically hopeful tone previously foreign to the outfit. However, they are all the better for it.
Stand out tracks: Neon Trim, Guarantee Jesus
Petite League – No Hitter
Petite League is the joint effort of Lorenzo Cook, and Henry Schoonmaker. The album is a wonderful showcase of the duo’s songwriting and production talents. No Hitter boasts distant, ethereal vocals, and a fuzzy atmospheric finish. As a result, Cook and Schoonmaker craft fun and introspective music, that never fails to engage.
Stand out tracks: Zookeeper, French New York
Scallops Hotel – Too Much Of Life Is Mood
Scallops Hotel is the side project of Ruby Yacht rapper known as Milo. This is his first release under any name since 2015’s wonderful and moody So The Flies Don’t Come, and it’s a hell of an ambitious follow-up. The album is a singular track, spanning a sprawling 41 minutes. It functions as a sort of stream of consciousness, addressing various existential themes and people along the way. It’s heavy stuff, dude.
Stand out tracks: Well, um…all of it.
Lucy Dacus – No Burden
Lucy Dacus made her stellar debut this year with No Burden. The album is a font of honest, charming, and sometimes even blunt songwriting. The instrumentation is minimalist and catchy. This unassuming demeanor is what makes the record all the more likable. However, this doesn’t preclude it from meditating on more resonant themes like identity and belonging. If you’ve ever wondered what an existential crisis feels like, this is a good place to start.
Stand out tracks: I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore, Troublemaker Doppelganger
Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart
Martha has managed to craft what is one of the most fun records of 2016. Nearly every song on the album begs to be belted at the top of your lungs. It boasts everything there is to love about DIY culture. Amidst the fervor, the band tackles tricky topics about romance in the modern age, sexual identity, as well as sexual liberation. Most of all, every minute of the album is exciting and will lift anyone’s spirits with ease.
Stand out tracks: Chekhov’s Hangnail, Do Whatever
The Afterglows – The Afterglows
The Afterglows is the joint venture of Sam Cook-Parrot of Radiator Hospital, and Michael Cantor of The Goodbye Party. They released the album quietly to audiences in late August. It’s wonderfully fuzzy, with simple and echo-laden production. Cantor and Parrot alternate on vocals and guitar, and synths injected sparingly. The Afterglows is a reminiscent album. It evokes laying in bed in the late afternoon as the sun cuts through the blinds.
Stand out tracks: Angels in The Sunshine Hotel, Line In The Sand