2016 was a good year for music.

We’re a few days into the new year, and I want to share my favorite 10 albums of the 2016 with everyone. No new albums have been released in 2017 yet, so this list is still in time. I wanted to write this post a few weeks ago, but it took the last two weeks of the year for me to really re-evaluate and consider 2016 in music. I went through the some significant and unexpected life changes in 2016, and I think the albums I chose really represent that. I’ve always relied on music to be my emotional life crutch, and these 10 albums released in 2016 kept me standing. This post is going to be pretty video and lyric heavy, so… enjoy.

10) Big Jesus – Oneiric

Caught this band live inadvertently this year and it was one of the best small surprises of all of my live entertainment experiences. Big Jesus reminds me of so many other bands put together. I’d give you my list, but I don’t want to taint your take on them.

9) Pinegrove – Cardinal

Sometimes, just some beachy-air, garage rock about friends present/past, relationships, and mistakes, is all I need to smile.

“I feel like I could forget about it
I feel like I could mellow out
I don’t feel undone in a big way
There’s nothing really bad to be upset about

But when I thought I was getting better
I woke up on the ground
An appointment or disappointment
I set back, oh, another comedown”

8) Diarrhea Planet – Turn to Gold

Alright. Yes, I know. Shittiest band name over (puh-ha!). But not every album on my list is going to be sad and emotional. There were plenty of releases, like this one that just brought a smile to my face. 4 guitar attack from Nashville, TN. THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH GUITAR SOLOING AT ONCE! So, enjoy the unstable camera video from Riot Fest this year.

7) The Hotelier – Goodness

This band continues to bring Emo back. And I have much joy in my heart because of it. Goodness picked right off where Home, Like No Place Is There left off. Shot this wonderful video on 12.29 in Sayersville, NJ when they opened up for Thursday.

6) Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow

This album was a late addition to my list; And by late, I mean I didn’t hear it for the first time until November and it came out in May. But from that first listen, damn. Start the video at 1:50 and wait for the wall of sound to hit you in the face at at 2:17.

“And I hate
Everything you’re saying
It’s all about me

Watch out for those who dare to say
That everything will be okay
Watch out for those who want to be
Anything at all”

5) Thrice – To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere

It was really great to get a return album from these guys, and it was a special one to me. Hurricane is one of my favorite 3 songs of 2016. Here’s the into from the Summit Music Hall in Denver over the summer.

“And I can’t keep from wondering
Why nothing good could ever stay
Why faith feels like a fistful of sand”

4) The Avett Brothers – True Sadness

Essential tracks… “True Sadness“, “I Wish I Was” “Divorce Separate Blues“. Always one of my favorite lyricists, but damn. This album was heavy. Listen for yourself.

3) Carseat Headrest – Teens of Denial

This album will be a helluva a period piece in 10 years. Will Toledo writes songs that are blunt. They’re real. And more important, raw as an uncooked steak. His lyrics are passionate and unfiltered. Writing about anxiety. Writing about being clueless in your twenties. I was fortunate enough to see them play in Boulder at the Fox on Halloween this year.

“You have no right to be depressed
You haven’t tried hard enough to like it
Haven’t seen enough of this world yet
But it hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts
Well stop your whining, try again
No one wants to cause you pain
They’re just trying to let some air in
But you hold your breath, you hold your breath, you hold it
Hold my breath, I hold my breath, I hold it”

2) Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness

I have two bands tattooed on my body. This is one of those bands. In any other year, when one of the most important music acts to me personally releases an album, it would vault to automatic number one status (so that should tell you something about how important the album to come is), but not this year. The Wilderness is a departure from some of EITS’s historical works, and that is why it is so good. The record really follows the trajectory they’ve been on while composing scores to films the past few years. Beautiful sonic soundscapes that allow me to create my own stories and lyrics, just like every other album. Video from night two in Denver at the Ogden.

1) Touche’ Amore – Stage Four

From the first play of this album, I knew it was the one. Stage Four is Jeremy Bolm’s story about losing his mother to cancer. I could easily do a Ctrl+F “She” and replace with with “Him” and this almost speaks word for word how I felt over 9 years ago, and still do today. The elements of fear, regret, bitterness, hate, resentment, sadness and love come through with every word and every note. I’ve been looking for this album for 9 years. Thank you, Touche’ Amore for sharing it.

“I’m heartsick and well rehearsed
Highly decorated with a badge that reads “It could be worse”
So prideful I choose to live in disguise
With a levee set for my heavy eyes

I apologize for the grief
When you’d refuse to eat
I didn’t know just what to say
While watching you wither away

I’m homesick and living in the past
Seemingly unfazed and strong if anyone asks
I’m keeping up appereances with white lies
With a levee set for my heavy eyes

I apologize for the grief
When you’d talk about belief
I didn’t know just what to say
While watching you wither away

It was time this whole time
We can’t undo or rewind

Just a simple conversation about nothing much at all
Couldn’t keep me in the room, I just kept walking down the hall
But now I understand just what a fool I’d been
No matter what the context, I won’t have that time again
(and I live with that)

I took inventory of what I took for granted
And I ended up with more than I imagined
I’ve kept it bottled up and to myself in the cellar
Kept for my everchanging mental health”