2016: The past few months have been rough, to say the least. However, it’s also been a great year for cool music. Here are some honorable mentions that didn’t make it to “Best Of” but are still worth checking out.

– This list is loosely based on the original score each album received on its original review. –

99.9% – Kaytranada

While the sounds on this album are constantly fresh and invigorating, they are incredibly and wholly original showing that KAYTRANDA’s colorful and vibrant sound is not a victim to strategic use of sampling and constraining/limiting conformity behind a certain sample. However the album runs out of ideas fast; you can honestly listen to the first half of this record and get a sense of its nuances and musical depths/detours.”

LP2 – American Football

“If you have thirty-seven minutes in your day, get lost in this record. It’s perfect for the worrisome college student aimlessly going through the motions; and if you have been a fan of the band since the beginning, those special moments of your youth where getting lost to “The One With The Wurlitzer” was a daily exercise will feel all the more special. In this busy day and age, with friends moving in and out of our lives, it’s great to have the time to stop everything and take it all in, one song at a time.”

High Anxiety – Thom Sonny Green

“Thom Green does more than just drum for Alt-J, that is a fact. Aside from his dexterous and nimble percussive contribution to the already idiosyncratic sound, Green proves on his solo debut High Anxiety that he can hone his talents into a project that wouldn’t necessarily work in Alt-J repertoire. High Anxiety is composed of three years worth of instrumentals and ideas that Green has so carefully and precisely worked on while on tour; it’s a 66-minute instrumental electronica album, and a HUGE departure from what you would expect from Alt-J.”

Suburban Blues – if, the band 

Suburban Blues shows that if, the band listen to plethora of musical acts that they have thoughtfully echoed into their own sound. They’ve also shown an absurd amount of talent at such a young age, and have so much room to grow & create. It also goes to show what you can find in the deep & dark caverns of Bandcamp – where the future of music are starting to make their voice heard, for little to no money at all. My advice? Step away from the radio/Top 40/iTunes list, and find something new to listen. After this particular release, you’ll be glad you did.”

Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing To – LUH

“LUH (Lost Under Heaven)’s debut record, produced by dark ambient wonderkind The Haxan Cloak, is an unsettling, deceitful, yet compelling record. The moment you hit play, any semblance of subtlety and serenity is thrown out the window. Lead vocalist Ellery Roberts’ voice is one that is not easy to listen to, but it’s also not easy to forget. It’s raspy and throaty delivery complements the multitude of different tones this album has to offer. From orchestral/post rock buildups (“I&I”) to the traditional pop structure with some sharp synths to taste (“Beneath The Concrete”) to ambient soundscapes (“Future Blues”), there’s a lot to go around.”

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service – A Tribe Called Quest

“The discussion has been dominated by hip hop’s brand new voices who both preach and practice progression within the genre, to a point where many older, reactionary fans are feeling a bit isolated, and very confused. It’s anything but a new conversation. The growing divide peaked with Lil Yachty’s admission to never having listened to Notorious B.I.G. (he also confessed to never having eaten a vegetable, so let’s put things in context). Enter A Tribe Called Quest, who haven’t released music for nearly 20 years, but have been nothing but aggressively progressive for their entire career. With a discography matched by few, and a legacy solidified within the spectrum of American music, they have nothing to prove, but seemingly a lot to say.”

You Sound So Gross Right Now – Noah LeGrand

“Noah LeGrand is a multi-instrumentalist from Denton, Texas (or as trendy magazines call it, the place Jason Lee is making more fun :( ) He delivers mostly upbeat indie rock tunes with a sunny and simple aesthetic that isn’t overly sweet. Although Noah shows a knack for writing catchy melodies, You Sound So Gross Right Now has no diversity between the tracks. But even now, he’s delivered a set of solid bedroom singer-songwriter tracks for the masses.”

Adore Life – Savages

“Savages’ debut Silence Yourself is one of the greatest albums to come out of the 2010s era. Its volatile combination of noise rock, gothic rock, and post-punk, all led by a vocalist who evokes Annie Lennox in a brooding fashion, slapped many faces with tracks like “Husbands” and “Shut Up”, the latter being an apt title for what the album eventually did to audiences in 2013. What was most captivating about Silence Yourself was its relentless onslaught of grit & fury, of grace and emotion; Silence Yourself gave everyone huge expectations for Adore Life. However, after being promised a “beast of a record”, we’re met with one that abandons most of the grit and noise, and focuses more on songwriting – to an underwhelming effect.”

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