Stuff N Such’s Best Music of 2016

Chances are, you’ve probably already skipped past this paragraph to see if I’ve lost my touch or not when it comes to picking winners for the year. I haven’t, but by all means, don’t let me stand in the way. If you feel like coming back up here after gawking at some of the records I’ve chosen, be my guest.

2016 was a shit year. It’s practically a fact. If you’re having a good year, you’re either very rich or not paying that much attention. However, there was a silver lining to this year and that’s what was coming out of our stereos and jumping off of our screens. It’s the only thing that compelled me to restart this fucker that I’ve been working on for almost 9 years when it was slumbering. Because when everything else goes to shit, at least good music has been preserved to acetate.

Two noticeable changes to this list: first, there is no “Worst of” section. I’d like to say that I didn’t do it this year because I’ve found some new level of maturity, but really, I’m just lazy. Let’s just say that I didn’t enjoy Solange’s monochromatic record anymore than I enjoyed Radiohead’s latest batch of disappointment or Bon Iver’s sleeping pills.

Second, I’ve created a Spotify playlist of all of my favorite songs from the past year. It’s 3+ hour span covers a lot of ground so you should find something new to like. Either way, it’s easier than posting YouTube videos for everything.

So without further fuckery, here are my favorite records of the year. (and yes, a list of my favorite movies will probably follow at a later date).

Post Pop Depression – Iggy Pop

e6ea053bThankfully, 2016 didn’t take Iggy Pop (yet). Instead, the last of the crusaders recruited one of his best pupils (Josh Homme) and then gave us one of his best records ever. If Post Pop Depression is truly Iggy’s last record, then we should be so lucky he gifted us with such gems as the restless “American Vahalla” or the life-affirming/destroying “Sunday.” God bless Iggy Pop.

Blackstar – David Bowie

db-vinylcoverIt sounds corny but losing Bowie this year was like losing an old friend. His music and influence were timeless and far-reaching. There’s enough evidence of that in the fact that you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like at least one Bowie song. So for him to leave us with Blackstar,  a cryptic farewell who’s message only became fully known when its prophecy became realized, is mind-blowing, devastating, and ultimately, beautiful. We don’t know if there will ever be another Bowie, but at least the one we had left us a sprawling catalogue to fill the hole in our souls that his departure leaves.

Untitled, Unmastered – Kendrick Lamar

1bcdfd6bTo say that To Pimp A Butterfly was the best record released last year is as obvious as saying water is wet or that the Catholic Church is fucked up. With what seems to be endless momentum (save for a cringeworthy Maroon 5 collaboration), K-Dot shows that the flow of his b-sides can smoke many rappers’ A-sides. Levitate, indeed.

Human Performance – Parquet Courts

3d7f0f9dThese New York lads have always showed promise, but this record feels like the start of something special. Masterfully crafted songs about lost lovers, dead cops, and black-outs populate this sprawling record and make it match any mood with almost no problem. It’s records like this that give me faith in the idea that guitar rock is not dead, so if you need some affirmation, Human Performance does just that.

Changes – Charles Bradley

b0ae2d99The best learn from the best. The Stones did so with Muddy Waters, Oasis did so with the Beatles, and Charles Bradley did so with James Brown. The Screaming Eagle of Soul’s latest is another showcase of the power of his voice and heartfelt lyrics. His Black Sabbath song is probably the best cover to come out this decade and the rest of the album feels equally robust. Hopefully everything works out for Mr. Bradley despite his recent health scare, because Changes is the door-opening kick he needed to get into the room with the other greats.

The Soft Bounce – Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve

beyond_the_wizards_sleeve_the_soft_bounce_album_artwork_grandeIncorporating electronic music with 60’s psychedelia is a risky endeavor, on par with mixing alcohol and marijuana – too much of either one and you’re bound to have a bad time. In the ten years it took for this album to be released, it would seem that this band has developed a seasoned dexterity when it comes to genre-bending tunes. They sound like pros on their first go and The Soft Bounce has some of the best trance music I’ve heard this entire year.

Blank Face – ScHoolboy Q

blank-face-lpOxymoron had some good cuts on it, but this record feels stronger overall. The sound, the lyrics, everything is still raw and out for blood. From the throbbing street bass in “John Muir” to the R&B feel of “WHateva U Want” back to the merciless flow of “Dope Dealer,” this album hops in out of genres and delivers hit after hit without skinning its own knuckles. Between this and Kendrick’s record, Top Dawg has had itself a great fucking year.

My Woman – Angel Olsen

a1136135788_5Can I say anything about this record that hasn’t been said before? After Burn Your Fire For No Witness, Olsen had a hell of an opener to follow. My Woman is a soulful record that finds Olsen successfully experimenting with pop Fleetwood Mac-style. Sprinkled amongst this are moments of intensity such as “Shut Up Kiss Me,” “Woman,” and (my personal favorite) “Not Gonna Kill You.” Olsen has raised the bar once again to a level that would seem almost intimidating if it weren’t for the fact that she’s so good at following her own act.

Telling It Like It Is – Marching Church

10-28-marching-church-albumWhile the status of Iceage is unclear, it’s great to know that there’s still a creative outlet for Elias Ronnenfelt. Better yet, his other band’s second record feels smoother in vibes and sharper in execution. It’s manic, groovy, and a few shades of strange, just like any great rock n roll record should be.

We Got It From Here… Thank You For Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest

a-tribe-called-quest-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-4-your-service-1478899602-640x640When considering the events of this past election, ATCQ’s latest couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, even if it is 18 years later.

Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

0004571286God bless Nick Cave. He’s truly an artist that never stops growing and gets better and better with age. With the world shattering events that he has endured in the past year and a half, I wouldn’t have blamed him if we never heard from him again. And yet, he, like his art, perseveres through the darkest of times and directs us towards the light. Skeleton Tree echoes long after the record has finished playing and is ultimately, one of Cave’s masterpieces. Rest in peace, Arthur Cave.

Atrocity Exhibition – Danny Brown

atrocityexhibitionAll of you so-called psych-rock bands can stop trying – this is the trippiest record I’ve heard all year. Using all sorts of weird sounds and his natural panache, Danny Brown charges though all 15 tracks of this record, spitting verses faster than machine guns spray bullets. His signature manic gusto has never sounded as fierce as when he’s cutting through tracks like “When It Rain” or as astral as on “Get Hi.” A career achievement for sure.

The Life of Pablo – Kanye West

the_life_of_pablo_alternateThis record’s been hard for me to defend because it’s such a fucking mess. At times, it’s downright sloppy and incohesive. It in no way tops Yeezus……..but damn, do tracks like “Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1,” “FML” and “Fade” come extremely close. If Yeezus was Kanye becoming a God, then this record is more like him telling all of his followers to drink the cyanide Kool-Aid. Sure, it burns a little but it still tastes pretty fucking good. Ye may have gone all chicken killer on us lately, but I sincerely hope he gets better and continues to do what he does. There’s just not enough artists like him out there.

Resistor – Lera Lynn

leralynn_cvr_sq-88436aa290d8c6cb06a0456b54d491c124f770cd-s300-c85Lera Lynn was the artist I saw perform the most this year. All three times, she’s at the top of her game, wringing out songs about heartbreak, living in the modern age, and whiskey with charm. On this record, she sings like she has a love affair with fire and makes it another great addition to her expanding repertoire.

You Want It Darker – Leonard Cohen

0965d672b61dd6173d5b54bf89881891-1000x1000x1Goddamnit, Leonard Cohen. As if this year wasn’t hard enough with the loss of David Bowie. After years of mostly great work (and if it wasn’t great, it was at least very interesting), Mr. Cohen has earned his right to rest more than ever. His final album, You Want It Darker, is a better final album than we deserve and helps us all deal with our own morality. But like a true king of sound, he left it with us and for that, we should be grateful. Rest in peace.

“Awaken, My Love!” – Childish Gambino

2e842b497a96052cade472734d549c93-1000x1000x1Yes, this album is basically Funkadelic for white people who want to feel safe. Yes, I’m eating my own words after calling this guy’s musical career a joke for years on end. Yes, I find it even more fucked up that this is the first record I’ve bought in a month. But fuck me…..have you heard “Redbone?” Well played, Mr. Glover.

Adore Life – Savages

494ad891If their first album got their foot in the door, this one split the wood. Savages is back with riffs that hit you like ice water, performances that will leave your mouth gaping open, and a message that through all of the blood, sweat, and tears is ultimately life-affirming.

Blonde – Frank Ocean

5f06f7f6You know this album’s good. You don’t need me to explain. Any record that properly pays homage to Elliott Smith and doesn’t have Conor Oberst on it is good to me. If you still don’t believe me, just listen to “Pink+White.”

Teens of Denial – Car Seat Headrest

car-seat-headrest-teens-of-denial-compressedWhen this record’s at its best, it sounds like Television mixed with Pavement. When it’s at its worst, it sounds like Weezer. If I’m being totally honest, I only really love one song on this entire album. It’s not that the rest of the album is bad, but it never quite fully lives up to the potential that “Vincent” establishes. With it’s dynamic instrumentation and locked-in lyrics, it fucking shines bright and high above many other singles I’ve heard this year.

The Waiting Room – Tindersticks

tindersticks_the_waiting_room_1453844484Tindersticks’ trademark is their melancholy lyrics and sound, and this record doesn’t break their mold. It does however contain even more amazing songs that allow you to drift out of the blue and into the black with peace. They do what a lot of the greats do best: find the beauty in the sad without coming off as hokey.

Malibu – Anderson .Paak

0e1836c9Having stole the show from Dr. Dre’s Compton last year, Paak steps out of the guest starring role and becomes a major contender. Malibu showcases Paak’s soulful voice laced amongst his hip hop tendencies. The resulting sound gives us an evocative album that grooves in all of the right spots and bites when things get a little too comfortable.

And for those who want a taste of this year’s best, I give you the Best Of 2016 playlist.

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