30. Conor Oberst – Ruminations
The founder of Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst, released one of the best emo albums of 2016 alongside bands like Modern Baseball, Cymbals Eat Guitars, and Joyce Manor. The entire record is a very pleasant listen.
29. Isaiah Rashad – The Sun’s Tirade
One of the too-often overlooked members of Top Dawg Entertainment’s impressive roster highlighted by Kendrick Lamar and ScHoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad quietly released one of the best rap albums of the year. After a very successful (and long) EP called Cylvia Demo in 2014, Rashad lived up to expectations with his full-length debut.
28. White Lung – Paradise
“White Lung is a Canadian punk rock band consisting of a vocalist, guitarist, drummer, and bassist. In May of this year they just came out with their new album Paradise. Vocalist, Mish Way-Barber, said that this album focuses on more “story-centric” songs about feminism. So I’m going to help her tell the story. The record starts off with the kicking “Dead Weight.” In this song, the vocals almost match the piercing nature of the electric guitar. Throughout this album Way-Barber focuses on how to be a good feminist. In this opener, I believe she is making the point that females are meant to be more than just mothers, hence dead weight.” – Brennan Flanagan
27. Rihanna – ANTI
The singer from Barbados has had plenty of success over the recent years. Success isn’t the question. For some, it was if she could put out a full-length that is consistently good throughout. We think she has done that with ANTI. With features from SZA (tweet at Top Dawg’s president and ask him where that album is) and Drake, ANTI is a 13 track work of art (or 16 with the bonus tracks on the Deluxe Edition).
26. Jeff Rosenstock- WORRY.
In a 2016 where there was plenty of pop punk to go around, few did it as well as Jeff Rosenstock. Rosenstock has been a member of half a dozen groups and put out countless projects with them. WORRY. is his fifth solo recording.
25. Noname – Telefone
“Fatimah Warner, otherwise known as Noname, can be summed up in one word: badass. She is a very good rapper who hates being singled out for being a female. She just wants to be a rapper, and I love that about her. Regardless of her sex, she makes gorgeous music that the hip hop world has seen nothing like before. Music websites all over the internet and well-established rappers have been raving about this new project, Telefone. Noname featured on Chance The Rapper’s hit, Acid Rap, Mick Jenkins’ The Waters, among others. Since the release of Telefone, she featured on a track on Mick’s LP debut, The Healing Component.” – Dylan Swoyer
24. Mitski – Puberty 2
“Mitski sings about her fight to find happiness as she transitions from a Japanese culture to her new life as an American citizen. Puberty 2 perfectly embodies this story of hers by blending ambient rock with alternative. Transitioning from a beautiful harmonic ambient rock song to an up-beat indie rock song, Mitski truly captured this idea of finding happiness in hard times and that you cannot have happiness if there was no sadness.” – Erica Haake
23. clipping. – Splendor & Misery
“When clipping. (yes that’s clipping with a period, the name of the group) debuted in 2013 with their midcitymixtape, they had a clear message: music is not what you think it is. Rap is not a lullaby; rap is political by nature. The golden trash era of hip-hop at the dawn of the century was commodiﬁcation, an attempt to lessen the political implications of a music genre meant to reinforce marginalized groups of people that found oppression in every other corner of American society. In a white world, rap was black. In a white world, it was necessary to create a lifestyle for rappers to ﬁll and then to glamorize that lifestyle, to give it gold teeth, to siphon the meaning from rap as a movement.” – Blane Worley
22. D.R.A.M. – Big Baby D.R.A.M.
After huge commercial success with his singles including “Broccoli,” D.R.A.M. has proved that he should be taken seriously by hip hop fans – for now at least. The record features collaborations from Erykah Badu, Young Thug, and Lil Yachty.
21. Porches – Pool
“Each track on this album is identifiable as Porches because of his distinct voice, yet they each carry a distinct instrumental sound. The song I heard first was “Be Apart,” and I was immediately captivated and eager to hear more. At first, you are drawn in by the beat of the music, and that alone makes the album worth listening to. You can hear instruments like guitar, piano, saxophone, electric keyboard, and other mixes of sound. Then after looking past the background music, you are intrigued by the lyrics.” – Nick Fief