Complementing our 10 favorite albums of the year, here’s 10 long-players that we’d say flew a little too under-the-radar in 2016. And also check out our Spotify playlist collecting a ton of great songs from 2016 here.
Double Negative by Jordan Raf
A swooning, modern soul debut from one of L.A.’s most promising rising artists. On Double Negative, Raf knows that less is more and takes aim at the space between the beats on sparse arrangements like "Duvet" and "Roses." The results sound at once classic and haunting.
Guilty of Love by Unloved
Unloved go for white hot riffs that might conjure up images of the wild west, but this is rock and roll with, instead of grit, a special kind of soul.
Never Enough by Public Access T.V.
Public Access T.V., your new favorite bunch of high-school dropouts, ape rock’s garage-y golden age with simple fist-pumpable songs. Sounds unoriginal, sure, but they do it better than almost anyone else. Look no further than "End of an Era" or "Evil Disco" if you still need convincing.
Telling it Like It Is by Marching Church
You’d be hard-pressed to find a rockstar who seemingly knew exactly who he wanted to be his entire life more than Iceage frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt. And on his second outing with side project Marching Church, he’s never swaggered harder, both channeling idols like Nick Cave while sounding so distinctively his own.
Leisure by Leisure
One listen to this Australian group’s debut and you’ll experience the rare problem of having several songs stuck in your head at once. Sappy whiteboy soul and groovy basslines have never sounded better.
Plaisirs Américains by Bernardino Femminielli
Borrowing from Air’s skyward and synthy melodies, Serge Gainsbourg’s endearingly louche murmurs and the cheesiest guitars lifted from 1983, you could blame Bernardino Femminielli for choosing style over substance. But the cosmic haze he injects into the atmosphere on Plaisirs Américains is a thing of grimy, bombed-out beauty.
Nothing More to Say by The Frightnrs
While dancehall, that other reggae-offshoot, took over the world in the form of massive hits like "One Dance" in 2016, the always-excellent Daptone quietly released a Rocksteady revival album full of class and restraint. There’s a devastating story behind the album that threatens to overshadow the music itself, but at its core it’s a lovingly and masterfully crafted achievement that stands on its own merits.
Light Enough by Jaye Bartell
Jaye Bartell was born too late. Raised on a healthy diet of Scott Walker and Leonard Cohen, his quiet yet confident delivery could silence a stadium and new album Light Enough politely demands your attention the whole way through.
Echo by Lescop
The French group Lescop is also a purveyor of precisely fashioned atmosphere, but this one feel appropriate for both a Friday night cocktail hour and a foggy evening spent exploring a foreign city alone.
Utopia Defeated by D.D Dumbo
Australia’s hottest new export is equal parts vigor and composure. Many of his songs on Utopia Defeated percolate with bursts of syncopation before wide-angle tempo drop-offs. It’ll warm in the winter or simmer in the summer.