A number of historic moments happened with Brexit, the US election and the absurd amount of tragic deaths of some of the most significant figures in the arts. However, what 2016 will also one day be looked back on is an incredible year for music.
This list wasn't easy to compile, and is just a glance at the amount of excellent music 2016 has had to offer. There's been fascinating hip-hop, highly oddball experimental music, refreshing pop music, plenty of punishing hardcore/metal/noise and inspiring passion from DIY scenes. There's also been a great number of emerging artists, displaying much potential with singles, EP's and captivating performances, where hopefully we'll see them put out records soon which will make 2017 a rich year for music. Shout outs in particular to Iglooghost, Yonaka, Mssingno, Miles Mosley and Kai Whiston, be sure to keep an eye on them.
Here we are though, 2016's 10 finest records in my opinion, that display endless possibilities in this thing we call music.
The Black Queen - Fever Daydream
About as pretty as synth music gets with lush soundscapes, irresistible melodies and a spiritual, intimate atmosphere made by the tranquil, yet pulsing synths as well as Greg Puciato's impressive vocal range, which would range from delicate and serine, to souring and conquering on this record.
David Bowie - Blackstar
As heart-breaking as it was that we lost one of the greatest artists of all-time in David Bowie at the start of the year, what shined through that tragedy was his final album, and one of his greatest, 'Blackstar.' Granted it saw Bowie looking death in the eye and not entirely fearlessly either, but with stunning personal depth and a spectral atmosphere through jazz experimentation it stands as a reminder of some of the greatest things about music, that beauty can come from even the most daunting circumstances and in this art form, anything is possible.
Touché Amoré - Stage Four
Documenting the heartache frontman Jeremy Bolm has gone through with his mother's death to Touché Amoré's ever visceral, cathartic post-hardcore, 'Stage Four' not only made for one of 2016's most emotional releases, but also one anyone will be able to relate to at some point in their lives.
Clipping - Splendor & Misery
Already one of the most ambitious acts of recent years, colliding harsh, droning noise with lighting fast hip-hop bars from Daveed Diggs, Clipping outdid themselves with 'Splendor & Misery', going more fractured and sparse sonically and lyrically creating a concept album set in the future about the survivor of a slave uprising on a space cargo ship, where the ship's computer falls for the protagonist. Yeah.
Heck - Instructions
Heck have no problem making it feel like the apocalypse at their shows with no concern for safety at all, due to members climbing architecture, dragging amps into the pit, jumping off those amps, etc . Surely, it'd be impossible to capture such mayhem on record, but here Heck make you feel like you're in a room full of people throwing themselves everywhere and dangling off the ceiling, with all-over-the-place riffs, where you never know where the next blow's coming from.
Every Time I Die - Low Teens
Bands don't come much cooler than Every Time I Die with brutality that serves for some of metal/hardcore's greatest mosh moments as well as boozy, good-time vibes made to soundtrack serious partying. 'Low Teens' freshens up their sound, with some of their most battering songs to date, some of their most feel-good and songs that go out of the box from what's ever expected of Every Time I Die, namely the stoner, desert-like 'It Remembers' and the sorrowful 'Map Change.'
Street Sects - End Positions
Arguably the most headache educing record of 2016. Noise-punk, industrial-punk, digital-hardcore, whatever you want to call it, 'End Positions' announced Street Sects as one of the most aggressive and eerie bands on the planet. Some of it feels like Frankenstein's monster waking up from creation, some of it like a robot sporadically malfunctioning, all of it being terrifying to the regular ear and addictive to people who thrive off chaos.
Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition
Perhaps the strangest hip-hop record of 2016 (and that's saying something when both Clipping and Death Grips each had albums out this year). Erratic, twisted production and Brown's wacky, hyperactive delivery sure made this feel like it was from another planet, but the exhilaration and grit of the songs as well as the grip of the hooks that made this one 2016's most addictive releases.
Death Grips - Bottomless Pit
'Bottomless Pit' is everything we've come to love about experimental/noise-hop trio Death Grips pushed to the max. MC Ride sounding more manic than ever, the beats being at their most muscular and battering, especially on 'Giving Bad People Good Ideas' and 'Hot Head.' It might not have been a drastic change for Death Grips, but it was one of the most interesting bands of this decade at their most thrilling.
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Dissociation
The Dillinger Escape Plan have been one of the finest bands of the last two decades with not even the slightest regard for rules or genre boundaries as well as a level of passion and energy few have matched, with masterful musicianship and apocalyptic pummelling just being the icing on the cake. Being the band's final album, 'Dissociation' did the impossible and saw the band end at their most out-there, visceral and engaging. Whether it's the band delivering some of their finest heavy moments in cuts like 'Limerent Death' and 'Honeysuckle' or throwing every cog they can think of in the works, such as the drill n bass of 'Fugue', the jazz fusion of 'Low Feels Blvd' or the harrowing beats and strings of the title track, no other record in 2016 saw its creator's giving absolutely everything like this, and confirmed Dillinger's status as one music's all-time greatest innovators.