2016 Faves

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.


Bey is queen. Lemonade was obviously hugely influential, ground-breaking and all that other massive stuff.

*Beyond The BloodhoundsAdia 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 BookChance 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.

PhaseJack 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.

*CleopatraThe 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.


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 SportsBilly Nelson

Our friend Billy’s 2016 release was played a lot in Louisville. The Haymarket release show was dope, too.

*Side PonyLake 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 EvenJim 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 SuffersThe 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.

*ChangesCharles 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.

*InformationEliot 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 ThingJustin 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.

*HeavyweightDave 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.

*1Moment2AnotherOtis 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!

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