Staff List: Chris’s Top Albums

Posted: by The Editor

Over the next few weeks, The Alternative will be publishing numerous EOTY staff lists leading up to our site-wide ‘Top 50 Albums of the Year’ article. Why so many lists? Well, we believe in giving as many bands/artists exposure as possible, and with so many great releases in 2016, more lists will cover more ground. Our goal is to help you find something new. Thank you for reading.

I’ll be honest; I let myself become so submerged in music’s culture that every fiber of my being was somehow intertwined to it and I became a css feed just spewing every new releases, tour announcement, or band drama to all of my friends. So I chose to cut the splice and take a break for the better half of this year. Through the separation, these releases transcended and reignited my passion for what i’ve devoted so much of my life to. In no particular order, here are my favorite 10 releases of 2016.

Old Gray – Slow Burn

Although I haven’t had a lot of time with Old Gray’s newest effort ‘Slow Burn’, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite releases from the band. I’ve watched them grow over the years, walking a fine line between noodley emo, screamo, and post rock. But on this record it seems as if they’ve honed all of their influences and refined them into a cohesive, gut crushing onslaught, destroying all emotional stability. Make no mistake, this record is a departure from any semblance to their other project (Sorority Noise) and truly helps them make their mark as an influence for musicians to come.

Youth Funeral – Heavenward

Seeing as some of the most revered bands in the genre hail from my surrounding towns (Old Gray, The Brave Little Abacus, L’antietam), I am very proud of the scene these musicians have curated. Youth Funeral is no exception. featuring blisteringly heavy bass, unnerving screams, and ridiculously technical drumming, Youth Funeral exhibit peak musicianship on Heavenward. from start to finish is a rippling and crushing wave of unease and despair. The record they’ve created has the ability to evoke emotions we try our hardest to hide, and anything that can do that deserves to be remembered.

Chainsmokers x Halsey – ‘Closer’

‘Closer’ is the song of the year, even if the melody rips off The Fray.

Bon Iver – 22 a million

It seems like ’22, a million’ came out of nowhere, but obviously had years of intense preparation. Justin Vernon has professed his disdain with the drudgery and routine of pop music and it’s over normalized instrumentality, so he used this record to explore unconventional mediums. the opening track was recorded over a beat up Neil Young cassette merely to curate a different listening experience. if Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” was monumental enough to be forever remembered as the high school anthem for kids too normal for Broken Social Scene, “715 Creeks” would be Zach Braff’s first choice for the next Garden State soundtrack. the record embodies the scenery and weather during the time it was released and immediately solidified itself as a staple in modern music. i could not give this record enough praise.

You Blew It – Abendrot

You Blew It’s ‘Abendrot‘ is the graduation from grabbing a pbr from the rafters of a dimly lit basement to ordering a drink at the House of Blues bar. Tanner’s voice translates well from basement to stage and to be honest, the progression was inevitable. Unlike Keep Doing What You’re Doing, Abendrot’s bass lines weren’t learned by a proxy bassist (who also pulled doubles as the recording engineer of the record) and instead have had time to gestate and find it’s own voice, giving complementary effects unmatched on previous efforts. it’s also the band’s first full length with former We We’re Skeletons drummer Matt Nissley, who flawlessly pays homage to Tim’s pulsating marching band style tendencies while showcasing his own intricacies and abilities. like their former touring mates Say Anything once said, “i can’t write the same damn song over and over again”, You Blew It prove their versatility on tracks like Hue and Minorwye, with an expansive palette of instruments used with extreme finesse and purpose. they also remind us of the times we (assuming you’ve seen them 10+ times like myself) screamed the lyrics right back in Tanner’s face with tracks like Basin & Range and Autotheology. Canary and Greenwood’s immediate sense of familiarity lets us know it’s still the same You Blew It we’ve grown to love, there’s just even more to explore now. Abendrot was truly worth the wait.

Pinegrove – Cardinal


I interned at Run For Cover when their roster’s frontrunners were all playing the same vein of melodic punk (Title Fight, Citizen, Daylight) but since then they’ve expanded to incorporate a smorgasbord of genres and influential artists and I couldn’t be happier. I was a bit late to Pinegrove and didn’t listen until they announced their signing to RFC, at which point I downloaded their discography and submerged myself in a self-induced history lesson on the New Jersey natives to prepare for their upcoming label debut. Cardinal lived up to all of my expectations and then some. Every single syllable rolled off Evan’s tongue means something, and further paints a picture of the scenarios he so vividly describes with ease and cohesive usage of “solipsistic” like it’s nothing (honestly a highlight of music in 2016). This band will not stop rising to the top; best to get familiar now than in a year or two and realize how much time you could’ve spent jamming & dancing to this record.

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things OST

I’m sure by now you’ve either seen Stranger Things and spend at least an hour a day sharing Eleven related posts on Facebook, or you spend an hour a day scrolling through Stranger Things memes and couldn’t care less about the show. Either way, the score is the perfect accompaniment to your day. The synth-laden soundscapes transport you to a distant generation and give your mundane day to day activities a nostalgic sense of excitement. Seriously, pop your headphones in next time you’re walking to class or taking the bus home from work and you’ll see what I mean.

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

Kanye won me over with 808’s back in middle school. I’ve always had an affinity for rap with interesting production and beats (which is why I also love Milo and Chance so much) so when this dropped I was instantly hooked. There’s no real reason to say anymore; I know you know how rad this record is.

Lions / Perspective, a lovely hand to hold / Sports. – Split

I might be a little biased, having spent my summer eating wings and skating with PALHTH, releasing a tour tape for Lions through my old label, and playing shows in sweaty Boston basements with Sports., but I don’t care. I am unabashedly full of respect and admiration for all of these bands and am so proud of this release. Being host to some of the strongest Lions tracks yet, and finally quenching my insatiable thirst for new Sports. after they dropped a flawless debut full length last year, this split is not something you want to sleep on. Plus the vinyl has screenprinted art from PALHTH’s own Ben Walker!

The 1975 – I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware

I like pop music that sounds like it was from the 80’s. I still listen to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion almost every day on my way to work, and usually throw this effort from The 1975 on during my ride home. Let’s just get it out in the open: sometimes pop music is good, and it’s okay to admit that. And this album is no exception. Even sometimes reminiscent of The xx, The 1975 prove that you can have songs on the radio and still write interesting hooks.