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Staff Picks: Best Music Releases of 2016

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Our favorite albums, EPs, singles and music releases of 2016!


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Porches – Pool
This album was recorded in Aaron Maine’s apartment (a fact that has been repeated enough times to make you nauseous) and it’s a tidbit that actually adds to the record. Pool is really reflective of gloomy and shut-in New York days when the loneliness and and cabin fever makes you overly reflective and nostalgic.

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Enjoy – Real Life Like Cold Ice

Wyatt Shears put out an impressive amount of music this year. First there was an album from Enjoy, Another Word For Joy, three singles from the Garden and this Real Life Like Cold Ice EP, a short three tracks that you can read our initial review of here.

 

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Diiv – Is The Is Are
DIIV has always been a great band and it’s really pretty devastating the way their music tends to be overshadowed by the happenings of their wild and infamous personal lives. Is The Is Are came after Zachary Cole Smith’s widely publicized struggle with heroin addiction. Is The Is Are isn’t a swan song per say but it’s an act of defiant redemption and refocus. It’s a shoegaze, dreamwave soaked record that also manages to be painfully confessional.

 

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The Garden – Singles
This year the Garden released three individual singles — “Play Your Cards Right,” “Call This # Now” and “California Here We Go.” These singles follow the release of the Garden’s debut album Haha and are fine tuned testaments of their range as a band. Each of these tracks carries a tidbit of signature the Garden sound but also have very little in common with each other. “Play Your Cards Right” features sing-talky rapping along with an actual rap verse from Crazy 8, “Call This # Now” features a nonsensical chorus and satirical messaging. “California here we go” is the most typical or mainstream of the trio but for the Garden it’s extreme experimentation, it also features some of the best instrument work they’ve done so far.

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Navy Gangs – Navy Gangs EP

Navy Gangs debut EP is this years best release from a new band. The four track self-titled EP is a rumination on teenagehood that carries the same ethos and sentiment as the Strokes’ “12:51.” Ordinary and mundane reflections on literal self love and party regret.

 

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The Growlers – City Club
City Club took the gradual move away from “beach goth” that Chinese Fountain promised and ran with it. The album, produced by Julian Casablancas, highlights everything the Growlers do best while also finding new space for them to grow. City Club is a place — it’s the grime and dirt of dive bars, it’s anywhere at 3 am when you’re bordering that thin line between depression and drunk euphoria.

 

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The Strokes – Future Present Past EP

Any music from the Strokes is bound to make it to year end roundups. The three song Future Present Past EP was short but sweet. The Strokes’ ubiquitous garage rock sound was there with added elements of noise rock that feels new from the Strokes. It also contains of one of the best opening lyrics of this year, (unchain me/ it’s not my midnight yet).

b536a49eAngel Olsen – My Woman

My Woman feels like a testament to womanhood in the 21st century, making a statement without setting out to make a statement. Angel Olsen finds the ultimate expanse of her range while also breaking out of the sad-girl-with-a-guitar picture that has been superimposed on her for so many years. The soaring point of the album comes during “Woman” which starts with a slow whisper and climaxes in a moment of sonic heartbreak.

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The 1975 – i like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it

The 1975 are an embarrassing band to admit listening to. On some level their music is good but the sum of their parts is pretty cringeworthy and tough to swallow. It probably has something to do with their branding and subsequent fanbase. It doesn’t help that their first self titled album is impossible to listen to. Despite all this their sophomore album, the horribly titled “i like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it” was one of the funnest records of the year. It’s poppier, and took itself less seriously than it’s predecessor. It’s also shamelessly inspired by 80’s synth which is actually a good look for the 1975.



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