40. Weezer – The White Album
Release date: April 1, 2016
Just like the good ol’ days when Weezer would name their albums after a colour, they’ve also returned to their earlier sound of upbeat four-chord rock and unbeatable hooks. It’s not as good as their pre-Red Album work, but it’s right up there with their 2014 record Everything Will Be Alright in the End.
White Album is a record that goes down easy, doesn’t make you question their sanity (too much), and can be blasted with the windows down in the middle of the summer with a sense of mindless euphoria – which is not a bad thing.
Favourite track: “King of the World”
39. Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine *
Release date: September 16, 2016
The last thing I expected from Mac Miller was a love song album – and especially a good one. The Pittsburgh native struck gold with his White-boy, college-party hip-hop tunes like “Donald Trump” and “Up All Night” back in 2011. Well, Miller has made a smooth as hell R&B album, alongside a small handful of hip-hop albums that remind fans of his rap persona. Sensual, dynamic, and with quite a bit of bounce to it, The Divine Feminine certainly has Mac Miller doing something a little bit different, but definitely not out of range.
Favourite track: “Dang!”
38. Miike Snow – iii
Release date: March 4, 2016
Swedish electro-pop trio Miike Snow did it again. They’ve put out some solid tunes. Their third album, aptly named iii has a handful of hits, including one of my favourite of the year “Genghis Khan”. Keeping up with the modern trends of using funk, soul, and hip-hop as the skeleton of the record, iii has enough pep and energy to stand high in the rankings of electro-pop albums this year. Danceable, enjoyable, and catchy.
Favourite track: “Genghis Khan”
37. Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Release date: May 13, 2016
A lot of people forget how difficult it can be transitioning from being a teenager into the cruel, hard-hitting world of adulthood. Throw in the death of a beloved grandfather, bipolar disorder, and a close-call suicide attempt, it’s been a tough run for members of Philadelphia emo-punk band Modern Baseball. From the loss and hardship comes their best work yet: Holy Ghost.
It’s a quick listen; 11 tracks, and half of which barely touch past the 2 minute mark, but the album is dense nonetheless. The instrumentation is comfortably buried in punk, with loud guitars shooting out chords, and the percussion pounding in time just behind. But Ewald’s and Lukens’ earlier days of acoustic songwriting keeps their vocals tame and melancholic, as to not blur and be misheard as they let out the darkness in their minds. It’s angsty, but most of all, it’s nostalgic. Almost every track on the album mentions a simpler, happier time of their youth, when they could sit around, listening to albums and having fun; stuff they did before all the pain and confusion set in.
Favourite track: “Everyday”
36. Young the Giant – Home of the Strange
Release date: August 12, 2016
Now that the California quintet are comfortably planted in the alternative music scene, their third album Home of the Strange has Young the Giant changing direction (oh so slightly), without losing their grip and power. Incorporating more prominent synthesizers, and holding off from crunchy explosions, instead opting for smoother rhythms and lush melodies. Home of the Strange is definitely a more well-rounded effort, with hints of their debut record returning, but with a more focused and matured performance. Colourful rhythms, playful electronic textures, and a heavier focus on melody and lyrics put the new album in line with their previous work. After such a fantastic start to their career, Young the Giant are not slowing down.
Favourite track: “Something to Believe In”
35. Gallant – Ology
Release date: April 8, 2016
Ology encompasses the strengths and appeal of nu-R&B through 52 minutes of stellar production, captivating song writing, and engaging vocal work. Gallant’s range and pitch shifts are enough to induce full-body shivers, and his autobiographical lyrics are dense and complex on the record. Noticeably influences such as Usher, Sam Smith, and the Weeknd find their way into Gallant’s sound and into the stunning 16 tracks.
Favourite track: “Weight in Gold”
34. Baauer – Aa
Release date: March 18, 2016
Baauer has been in the music scene for quite a few years now, but only now in 2016 has he released a full-length record. Aa is well overdue, but well worth the wait. His ability to combine trap, house, and hip-hop at just the right amounts gives the record so much edge and character. Unlike most electronic music that seems to appeal to the basic need of movement in a cookie-cutter, unidirectional way, Aa meets that requirement but with additional dimensions to round out the album’s shape and character. Featuring a range of musicians, from M.I.A. to K-pop star G-Dragon, to grime star Novelist, and trap hip-hop artists Future and Pusha T, Baauer touches on so many of the best contemporary genres. It’s fun, it’s technical, and it’s engaging – prepare your speakers.
Favourite track: “Temple”
33. The Lumineers – Cleopatra
Release date: April 8, 2016
Cleopatra makes you want to dance, laugh, cry, and sing at the top of your lungs all at once. There’s something about lead singer Wesley Schultz’ rusty voice that allows for the jangling piano, foot stomping bass drum, and guitar to fill in the cracks to create a complete picture. The music is simple and welcoming, yet powerful and moving. The Lumineers have made it easy to connect with their music, and once the album makes its way to higher places, it’ll be a way for people to connect with one another, as the record revolves around storytelling. With the unparalleled success of “Ho Hey”, The Lumineers were smart enough to not aim for another radio hit, instead they kept their music genuine, and true to their homegrown style making Cleopatra an enjoyable and meaningful follow-up.
Favourite track: “Ophelia”
32. Yeasayer – Amen & Goodbye
Release date: April 1, 2016
Yeasayer’s music is intellectual, layered, and best of all: easily digestible. It feels like an indie pop album that has been left to ferment and age like expensive wine. Everyone can enjoy expensive wine – it always tastes good. But the more experienced you become with their music (like wine), the more you pick up on their intended details. Harmonies, melodies, and synthetic textures form a full-bodied flavour, that opens with a smooth, cherry taste, and closes with a 36-second, soft oak finish (to complete the metaphor). The spiritual and psychedelic layers underneath the appealing melodies give the album a deeper meaning and captivating existence. If you want to travel to the heavens, outer space, and your deeper world of introspection without paying airfare, Amen & Goodbye is there for you.
Favourite track: “I Am Chemistry”
31. Andy Shauf – The Party
Release date: May 20, 2016
The music of Regina singer-songwriter Andy Shauf is calming, melancholic, and borderline depressing. And aside from its slow-burning qualities, it digs its way deep into the mind and soul, sitting comfortably within as it takes your attention without you noticing. As a heavy contender for the Polaris Prize this year, The Party shapes out Shauf’s spirit and sound through ’60s pop, barebone-singer/songwriter, and his transfixing minimilisitc vocals. His poetic lyricism and careful attention to wordplay and sonic detailing has helped the young musician propel his career forward on his latest album.
Favourite track: “The Magician”