30 Best Albums Of 2016

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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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Wolf Müller and Cass – The Sound of Glades

Wolf Muller Cass - Sound of Glades

Wolf Müller and Cass created a hybrid that I never knew I needed: the perfect meeting point between new age and balearic synth music. Sure, it takes off from sounds that I’m familiar with, but the result is an otherworldly journey that lasts far longer than its slim 39 minute run time suggests.

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What I’m Into This Week (7/10 – 7/16)

Sideways Paul Giamatti Thomas Hayden Church Beach

Lately I’ve had to remind myself that, in the long run, art has always said more about humanity than the news ever has.

This is one idea that’s helping keep me sane and clearheaded as 2016 rolls on. It’s also something that motivates and inspires me. Let’s see what else helped this week.

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CFCF – On Vacation

 

cfcf-onvacation

One of my many talents is the ability to be surprised, I guess. Because it seems to be happening more and more often lately.

As the news of a Grammy nomination were swirling around CFCF, aka Michael Silver, I noticed a message slipping in: he’s got more music coming soon. Very soon. Like, there’s a full album out right now. It’s called On Vacation.

And so it goes.

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