James Ballinger’s top 10 Records Of 2016
- Mike and the Melvins “Three Men and A Baby”
Probably the last recording that will ever surface with one of the best Melvins line-up, add Mike Kunka of Godheadsilo, and you’ve got this record that Melvins fans have been dying to hear for 16-17 years.
- Helms Alee “Stillicide”
The Helms-A-Trio can do no wrong, and this album is yet another fine addition to a stellar discography.
- Heiress “Made Wrong”
One of my favorites in Seattle, Heiress keeps churning out record after record of crushing riffs, brutal vocals, and it’s still fresh every time.
- Radiohead “A Moon Shaped Pool”
This was a sleeper for me. While the record isn’t as great as some of Radiohead’s past work right away, the songs grew on me more every listen. In my opinion, it’s one of their best.
- Leonard Cohen “You Want it Darker”
I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Cohen fan. I’ve always liked his work, and respected his voice and talent, but this one hit me hard. A fitting last record from one of the many artists we lost this year.
- Iggy Pop “Post Pop Depression”
This was the surprise of the year, Iggy really fucking kills it here. While it’s heavily influenced by the first two Iggy records, the addition of a new backing band (lead by QotSA frontman Josh Homme) breathes some new life into it, proving that Iggy is a god damn American treasure.
- Whores. “Gold”
Fucking riffs and tone, biting sarcastic lyrics, and a debut full-length that is as good as the two EPs before it. I remember the first time I heard the Atlanta trio, and it’s amazing that it’s taken this long for the rest of the world to catch up. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
- Sumac “What One Becomes”
This record is an absolute crushing listen. I probably don’t have enough space to go into what makes this record so amazing, so I’ll just say that this trio of heavy music monsters comes together so perfectly it’s balanced so well with all their talents playing off each other. This was indeed the heavy record of the year tied with…
- Neurosis “Fires Within Fires”
…Neurosis and one of their best records in their existence. A band with a discography so full of monumental releases that have pushed the genre forward almost every time, yet this one stands with some of the band’s best work. That’s saying something.
- Nothing “Tired of Tomorrow”
Hands down, this was the record I listened to the most this year. I’ll leave out all the personal reasons this resonated so much with me, but this was my 2016. Sure, it pulls a fair amount from MBV, has a slight Smashing Pumpkins vibe as well, but it’s indeed a darker beast once you get to the core of the record. Album of the year.
Jeffery McNulty’s Top Ten Records of 2016 (in alphabetical order)
Even though I liked it immediately, this album made so much more sense to me after finally seeing them live. I feel like they’ve picked up speed a bit since their first record and I love it. Totally crushing.
Cobalt “Slow Forever”
This is the one for me this year. I have listened to this record more times this year than all the other records on this list combined. So weird that a duo can lose one of their two founding members and then come out with such an amazing work of art. Not sure why they kept the band name actually… they could be called literally anything and it’d still be the best record of the year.
Ghoul “Dungeon Bastards”
Man, Ghoul is killing it right now! I love how they’ve gone a bit more thrash and they have the best Anthrax style gang vocals, then they go and make their own board game. This record is pretty much how I like my Metal, with forked tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Greenriver Thrillers “Distorted Diva”
In my opinion this is the best PNW record of the year. I expected it to be good after last year’s outing but man, so good! Seriously, buy this record. Buy all these records.
Law Boss “Filthy Casuals”
I’m not sure why it came as a surprise to me that my friend Isaac is in such a great band. He’s a talented dude and it’s so rad to hear him cutting loose on the bass with likeminded musicians. This is noise rock done in the old style, like if Thrall and Jesus Lizard kidnapped a baby and raised it in PDX.
Neurosis “Fires Within Fires”
This is my favorite Neurosis record to come out in a decade (at least). I love hearing this band doing what they do best as Steve Albini captures it. It’s so short for a Neurosis record I had to check to see if it was an EP the first time I heard it.
Sex Prisoner “Tannhauser Gate”
I am so thankful when friends turn me on to new music! My buddies in LB! told me about this power violence band with EHG style distorted bass and it turned into my “bus record” (The one that I use to put me in that don’t-fuck-with-me kinda mood.) Another killer band on Deep Six? Yep, no surprise there!
Subrosa “For This We Fought The Battle of Ages”
The last time I saw Subrosa I was reminded how disappointing Swans were to me when I saw them earlier this year, just a bunch of men wanking off as their band leader gyrated in front of them. Subrosa are everything the opposite of that. By far one of the best bands in this subgenre, they are so good I wouldn’t even use words like doom or sludge in their band bio because I think that limits what they actually do. If you haven’t seen this band get off your ass.
Weekend Nachos “Apology”
I think everybody pretty much agrees that Weekend Nachos is the worst band name on the planet but they are so fucking good though. Or they were, this is their last record… I’m forever sorry I missed them playing in Tacoma this year.
These guys have been one of my favorite bands for many years running now. Even if this record sucked it would be on my top ten, but it rules! RULES!!!!! Sometimes I worry this band might get really popular but then I realize they are named Whores.
Dustin Carroll’s Top Ten of 2016 in Alphabetical Order
Shoegaze/black metal from France. This album is the most perfect return to form possible after their stagnant last album.
Aluk Todolo “Voix”
French instrumental trio that defy all ideas of genre boundaries. Amazing musicianship.
The Black Queen “Fever Daydream”
Dillinger Escape Plan’s lead vocalist is just as entertaining in a synthwave/pop band. This album is unique, infectious, and massively underhyped.
Blood incantation “Starspawn”
This band and Vastum have saved death metal for me.
Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas “Mariner”
A lot of artists have tried to pull off this same kind of collaboration. No one else did it this well. Equal parts crushing and beautiful.
Deathspell Omega “The Synarchy of Molten Bones”
This band is unfuckwithable. It doesn’t matter how many bands that come out trying to sound like this, DsO will always do it best.
Worth the hype. Pretty much the new standard for this kind of music.
SubRosa “For This We Fought the Battle of Ages”
Haunting, brooding, and surreal the way only this band can truly capture.
UADA “Devoid of Light”
Killer debut from Portland’s unstoppable black metal force. This band has accomplished more in their short two years than most bands that have been around for a decade.
Woman Is The Earth “Torch of Our Final Night”
This came out earlier in the year and I feel like it was overlooked on many year-end lists for that reason alone. This record is fantastic. These guys have really tapped into something that is familiar in all the right ways but still very much their own.
Void Omnia “Dying Light”
One of my bigger regrets of 2016 was missing these guys when they came through the Northwest. Won’t ever let that happen again.
Biggest surprise band of the year for me. Knew nothing of them before seeing them with Ulcerate a few months ago. I was floored by how cool this band is. Interesting take on Icelandic black metal, including a standup electric bass.
Brian Kim’s Top Ten in Alphabetical Order
Childish Gambino “Awaken, My Love!”
One of the most refreshing releases of the year. A soulful, tripped out ride with lots of Funkadelic throwbacks.
Cult of Luna with Julie Christmas “Mariner”
An exquisite collaboration between the Swedish post-metal champions and the New York-based vocalist. The result is one of the year’s most devastating and monumental records.
Heiress “Made Wrong”
Heiress continues to churn out their uniquely perfect style of post-metal/hardcore/rock. Powerful, epic, and brilliantly executed, Made Wrong is an enthralling and ruthless album.
Into The Storm “Where The Merfalo Roam”
I believe Into The Storm have accomplished what may be their opus. A fearless and compelling exploration into the deep reaches of all that is heavy and awesome.
Neurosis “Fires Within Fires”
The legends come back with a stunning addition to their legacy. This is what all those stoners are trying to replicate, but masterfully executed.
Nothing “Tired of Tomorrow”
Heavy and dreamy shoegaze at its most dense, melodic, and pessimistic. Immensely satisfying, yet impossible to put down.
PUP “The Dream Is Over”
Straight forward, fun, and energetic punk rock at its finest, chock full of aggressively catchy and anthemic hooks that stay thoroughly planted.
Radiohead “A Moon Shaped Pool”
Almost like a spiritual follow up to In Rainbows, Radiohead casually unveiled one of the year’s most beautiful records. An intriguing and graceful sonic journey.
Russian Circles “Guidance”
The masters of instrumental post-metal return with another savagely immense release, supremely dynamic running the gamut from delicate and atmospheric to crushing and brutal.
SubRosa “For This We Fought The Battle of Ages”
Continuing to hone in on their expansive yet singular style, the new SubRosa album is an incredible aural adventure, a work of art equal parts ferociously volatile and hauntingly elegant.
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Bent Knee – Say So
Teeph – Widowmaker
Wander – Mourning
Year of the Cobra – …In The Shadows Below
Jake McCune’s Five Records Released in 2016 That Stuck With Me:
Riffs that pound away at your primal instincts, one per song, repeating themselves until you’ve woken up from your black out and noticed the pile of vomit you’ve been sleeping in. Lyrics, as ever with Brainbombs, contain many content warnings. There is much to be discussed with regards to Brainbombs aesthetic content, but very little to be said about the way the music can be gut-punchingly effective. Simple efforts, executed flawlessly.
Latishia’s Skull Drawing “Romanticized”
Many thanks to Iron Lung records and various blogspot sites for promoting this acid-washed hardcore group that have passed largely under the radar this year. Fueled equally by rage and depression, this record perfectly captures the growing anger and concern that embodied our year.
Sometimes the music of this Atlanta trio is the only thing that can bring me genuine comfort. Gigantic, blown out, toned-out riffs are complemented heavily by guitarist Christian Lembach’s massive songwriting chops on this long-awaited debut record. Their first two EPs were milestones, the album is a declaration that Whores. are here to stick around. Music for bashing your head against the wall until you’re grinning stupid.
Sissy Spacek “Disfathom”
There is something quite zen about the count-off of between Sissy Spacek’s songs, the small pockets of near-silence that inhabit the space between nigh-incomprehensible blur of two bass strings, blast beats and maniacal screaming. On 18 barely-spaced-apart tracks and in just under 10 minutes, Sissy Spacek execute the chaotic mess of “noisegrind” in a way that elevates the genre to sounding like something more than a can of bees in your earbuds.
Intensive Care “This Is Exactly What You Are”
Intensive Care is the most recent project of Andy Nolan, a veteran of noise and hardcore bands through projects like The Endless Blockade and Column of Heaven. On this project, Nolan works with fellow ex-Blockade vet Ryan Bloomer as a duo. Whereas Blockade and Column of Heaven traded in grind, hardcore punk and occasionally death metal, Intensive Care find a comparably mid-tempo approach, one rooted in the traditions of noise rock, sludge and even industrial music. It’s a notable change of pace, but one that is executed with aplomb across these four tracks.