These are the things we liked about recorded music in 2016. It’s not a top ten, because we can’t be limited by trivial things like numbers.
*denotes an album/artist we saw live in 2016 — which is over half of this list. It really wasn’t the worst year, in retrospect, because this playlist is dope.
Lemonade – Beyoncé
Bey is queen. Lemonade was obviously hugely influential, ground-breaking and all that other massive stuff.
*Beyond The Bloodhounds – Adia Victoria
Adia Victoria is an incredibly intelligent and passionate voice. She is not afraid to speak out about her experience as a black woman in the south. Beyond The Bloodhounds is dark and twisty and truly a commentary worth listening to. Both Adia Victoria shows we saw this year (Zbar & Winter Wednesday) were impactful.
Coloring Book – Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper continues to set himself apart from the rest. Coloring Book was a magnificent record as a whole, and included some powerful individual songs. “Blessings” & “Blessings (reprise)” were two of these standouts for us. When I saw this performance on Jimmy Fallon, I fell in love. Chance is the real deal and this song hit so many feels.
Awaken, My Love! – Childish Gambino
Donald Glover has gotten a lot of attention this year, even though he has been one of our faves for a while now. Awaken, My Love! was on just about everyone’s top albums lists. It is very different from Because the Internet but highlights how versatile Glover is. Beyond this gem of an album, Atlanta was one of our favorite shows this year. And we’re pumped to see him as Lando. 2016 was tight for Gambino.
Phase – Jack Garratt
We first heard Phases pretty much when it first came out from our friend Jeffrey at Do502. It was not disappointing. This entire album was played A LOT on our individual Spotify accounts this year. Jack Garratt’s smooth swagger is good for all occasions.
*Cleopatra – The Lumineers
Damn, these guys are catchy. We saw The Lumineers for the first time this fall and were certainly impressed. We really like “Ophelia” and “Angela” from their latest release.
Anti – Rihanna
Rihanna surprised us with her Tame Impala cover of “Same ‘Ol Mistakes”. We loved it from the moment we heard it. It is haunting and distinctive. She took some risks per say with this, and on an album full of radio hits, it is our favorite.
*Water Sports – Billy Nelson
Our friend Billy’s 2016 release was played a lot in Louisville. The Haymarket release show was dope, too.
*Side Pony – Lake Street Dive
We are so lucky to have seen many of the artists on this list live this year, and Lake Street Dive is on that list. Side Pony is fun and lively, like this band. Their Iroquois show was a freaking blast.
*Eternally Even – Jim James
The original run through of this album doesn’t reveal all of its secrets. After a couple of listens though, it really grew on me. It truly comes to life when Yim performs it live, of course. “Hide in Plain Sight” and “Here in Spirit” were exceptional at The Palace this November.
*The Suffers – The Suffers
We (the collective world) waited for this one for a while. The Suffers recorded work pales to their live performance, but we were excited for the band’s accomplishment in this album. It was a long time coming and so worth it.
*Changes – Charles Bradley
Seeing Charles Bradley live changes the game. This man exudes so much power, confidence, love, joy…his recorded and live performance of the title track is beautiful. We wish him nothing but the best during his cancer recovery and PRAY that he is well enough to be at Forecastle this summer.
Moth – Chairlift
This early year album, and particularly the song “Ch-Ching” caught our ears immediately.
We Move – James Vincent McMorrow
Same with this man. WFPK played “Rising Water” a lot. And it led to listening to the entire album. McMorrow is a talented, moving Irishman. This song led me down a path with Moses Sumney, James Blake and others… it was nice.
*Information – Eliot Sumner
We hadn’t listened to Eliot Sumner much up until the New Vintage show, but we made sure to get caught up beforehand. Just like the artist who produces it, this album is different and beautiful.
*Every Little Thing – Justin Paul Lewis
Justin Paul Lewis’ year was nice in our book. He opened for Houndmouth to start the year and then played Go Outside with the Louisville Orchestra at the Iroquois Amphitheater after this City Song representation. Solid 2016, man.
*Heavyweight – Dave Moisan
We got to preview Dave Moisan’s newest stuff before the world met him on The Voice. His falsetto is real nice. If he continues at this pace, 2017 will be wonderful for this local guy.
*1Moment2Another – Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff
Otis Jr had a big year. Me vs. Me is one that catches your attention immediately. Otis Jr and Dr. Dundiff have created a beautiful relationship and we are the ones to benefit. This song is reflective yet catchy. And it won an LMA!