One of my favorite quotes of all time can be attributed to one Hunter S. Thompson:
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
- Fear and Loathing at the Superbowl, Rolling Stone #155
The simple wisdom of that rallying cry has driven myself and so many other creative people I know for as long as I can remember, but never so much as in 2016, because, let me tell ya: SHIT. GOT. WEIRD.
From the death of David Bowie right out of the gate right up to the potential death of our democracy and all of the outrageous pit-stops along the way, 2016 delivered chaos in a way that no other year has in my forty-four years of existence.
It also delivered music.
So much legitimately great music in fact that it's almost pointless to parse any of this into a list when all of it struck to the core of different parts of what makes us human, and did so in a way that we haven't seen before, and likely won't see again for years to come.
Would I trade any of this awesome for maybe a little less chaos? Not a chance. But man alive, do we have great GREAT music to chew on for the next few decades now.
So here you go. A little order to the chaos. It's ultimately as meaningless as anything else I suppose, but to me, these are the things that meant everything in 2016.
Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2016
- The Bird And The Rifle (listen)
- Lemonade (listen)
- Blackstar (listen)
- Telefone (listen)
- Teens Of Denial (listen)
Car Seat Headrest
- Oleander (listen)
- Malibu (listen)
Anderson . Paak
- Robert Ellis (listen)
- No Burden (listen)
- We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service (listen)
A Tribe Called Quest
Favorite Interviews of 2016
- Death (listen)
The progenitors of punk laid down some cosmic truths and ignited a sense of hope in me that hadn't been there in quite a while.
- Bob Boilen (listen)
What do you do when you have the second best music podcast in the world? Sit down with the guy who runs the first best. It's no exaggeration to say that without Bob's work there would be no "us", but even after all he's done, he remains, just like the rest of us, just a fan of music.
- Phil Cook (listen)
If you ever need to get in touch with something good in the universe, go see/chat with Brother Cook. A shining light in the darkness of this year and every year.
- Lucy Dacus (listen)
Lucy inspired not just hope for the youth, but hope that people could still create amazing, and most importantly, INTELLIGENT music. She's a super star now, but we knew her when. ;)
- Aaron "Ab" Abernathy (listen)
As 2016 careened out of control, one conversation brought me back down to Earth, and it's this one. Soulful, smart, and most of all human, Ab is the real deal.
- Robert Ellis (listen)
The most random interview I did this year, and ultimately one of my favorites we've ever done. If you've heard his self-titled LP you know that he's a masterful musician, but his real super-power is being an all-around groovy dude.
- Jenn Wasner (listen)
Wye Oak is one of the reasons we started this site, and chatting with Jenn was one of the my biggest thrills this year. More importantly, her sense of hopefulness inspired when it was needed the most.
- Skylar Gudasz (listen)
I can't say enough about Skylar's album Oleander, but after talking to her it's clear that the greatness contained on that LP is just the tip of the iceburg.
- Laura Gibson (listen)
We made her band breakfast, then we talked about loss, life, and music. Laura is the real deal and it's as much a thrill to see her continue to succeed as it is to be moved by her art.
- K.A.A.N. (listen)
This was the interview I didn't think I could actually do, so with a little help from my friends (sup Marcus and Bryce!) we sat down with with a guy who's art and methods embodies everything we believe in on the site. The future of DIY is now and it's not what you think. K.A.A.N. is the proof.
Black Terry Cat - Xenia Rubinos; Hamilton: the Mix Tape - Various Artists; Splendor & Misery - .Clipping; Freetown Sound - Blood Orange; A Man Alive - Thao & The Get Down Stay Down; A Seat At The Table - Solange; Sorrow - Colin Stetson; Empire Builder - Laura Gibson; Monologue - Aaron Abernathy; American Band - Drive-By Truckers; Above The Prairie - The Pines; Lovers - Nels Cline
Best of 2016 Sampler
Blonde - Frank Ocean
A gorgeous mess of an album. "Nikes" still slays, but the slog of making it all the way through to "Futura Free" just isn't worth the few highs that this album hits.
A Sailor's Guide To Earth - Sturgill Simpson
Individually most of the songs on Sailor's are not only great, but they demonstrate an unwillingness by Simpson to rest on his laurels. Unfortunately, despite being told that it's an album to his son, there's no connective tissue, and a DOA cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom" sinks this ship before it can get out to sea. Nobody should be counting Simpson out just yet (and they won't thanks to his Grammy nod) but this LP is a great reminder of why it's almost never a good idea to produce yourself.