30 Best Albums Of 2016

bestof2016greenlandsmall

Looking back at what a shit year 2016 has been, it’s no wonder I published more music writing than ever before. As the months wore on I found myself swiping away more and more real news in my feed and just getting lost in Bandcamp and other music sources. I wasn’t really trying to bury my head; I was looking for a better way of thinking.

The world is what it is, but I can frame it and focus on it however I choose. Immersing in the toxicity of bad news and worse reactions changed my perception one way, so I aimed to change it another way. Art has been a life sustaining tonic all my life, a refuge sought in times of stress, loneliness, and most of all, deep frustration. If I’ve hit a brick wall, I know that obsessing about the problem won’t help. I need to detach, breathe, and follow something made to surprise. A good story or song is something to be lost in, sure, but it grants perspective. It can bend the light just so, showing me a new way to see.

Perspective also comes from travel. The simple but profound act of experiencing other parts of the world can never be overestimated. This is where the image at the top of this list comes in. It’s Greenland, as seen from my plane back home to the United States from Ireland a month ago. I happened to open the window shade during the brief window when we were passing over the very tip of the continent-sized island. It felt like magic.

I’m entering 2017 with hope that good news can happen and that we can press on, even when our heroes are gone. I look around and I wonder who the future heroes are going to be. Those people will be standing against the dark tide and risking everything. They’ve got new ideas to replace the scary old ones that never quite die.

Looking back on the past year of music, I see a lot of new ideas and new perspectives on old ones. The best kind of music always elicits surprise, even if it’s made in a familiar way. There’s a flash of feeling, a rush of blood, and it clicks. Everything on this list mattered to me and I hope some of it can matter to you.

Let’s begin the countdown. These are the 30 best albums of 2016:

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Central – Political Dance #1 and #2

Central Natal Zaks

Central brings a pair of brief but incredible 12″ vinyls that explore the deep, weird ends of techno and house in a way that few artists in 2016 are even attempting. The density of quality here is breathtaking, and sets a high bar for any eventual full-length. Together, this hour of music is some of the freshest sounds I’ve heard all year.

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What I’m Into This Week (7/3 – 7/9)

Days of Heaven fire

It’s been a violent week in America. Violence by police. Violence against police. The country’s long gone mad. All I can offer is a quote from one of my favorite films, Days of Heaven:

The whole earth is goin’ up in flames. Flames’ll come out of here and there and they’ll just rise up. The mountains are gonna go up in big flames, the water’s gonna rise in flames. There’s gonna be creatures running every which way, some of them burnt, half their wings burning. People are gonna be screaming and hollerin’ for help. See, the people that have been good, they’re gonna go to heaven and escape all that fire.  But if you’ve been bad God don’t even hear you. He don’t even hear you talking.

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