My favorite albums, bands and songs from 2016

One of my favorite things about December is all the year end "Best of" lists circulating around the internet. Books, movies, tv shows...but especially music.

Throughout the month, Pitchfork, Paste, Stereogum and all the other hipster music blogs announce their "authoritative" lists of the best albums and songs of 2016. 

The problem is that all these lists are super subjective. Who's to say one song or album is the "best" when music is so personal and has such wildly different effects on people? 

Instead, these lists should rather be called “The author’s favorite albums and songs of 2016". 

Which then got me thinking...we should totally do that on thebenbacon. 

So without further adieu, here are some of MY favorite things about music in 2016 and maybe, just maybe you'll like some of this stuff too. 

Starting with perhaps the best thing to happen in music this year. I'm talking about none other than, of course, the cover to this rap album.

Favorite Album Cover:
D.R.A.M. -  Big Baby D.R.A.M.

It's a bold move for a rapper to put a picture of himself hugging his golden doodle on an album cover but it works here. This whole album is fun and never takes itself too seriously like most rap albums. And while you've probably heard the hit single "Broccoli", the real gem of this album is "Cash Machine" which I blast on my way to the gym most mornings now. 

Tracks to listen to (not around the kids though!):
"Cash Machine”, “Broccoli", “Password” and “WiFi"

STREAM IT: Spotify | Apple Music

Favorite Album:
Chance the Rapper - Coloring Book

Let's also get the big one out of the way early and for those of you who've read my blog before this will come as zero surprise. 

My favorite album of the year was Chance the Rapper's Coloring Book. It might actually be my favorite album of the past decade. 

I can't fully explain it but this album, for lack of a better term, just "speaks to me". 

Take for instance the song Smoke Break. On the surface it's yet another rap song about smoking weed. (Which, for the record, I literally never do despite living in the great state of Colorado.)

But listen to the words and you'll realize the song is actually about how tired Chance and his partner are after having a newborn baby and just how much he appreciates the hard work the mom puts in day in and day out and how desperately he wishes she could just have a "break" and relax like they used to before the baby came along. I think it's the most romantic song of 2016. And replace all the weed references with bourbon and Sauvignon Blanc and you basically have me and my wife in 2016. 

Every song on this album speaks to me in some way like this and I hope everyone gives it a listen too. 

Tracks to listen to:
All of them. But my 3 or 4 favorite would be “Finish Line/Drown”, “Summer Friends”, “Blessings” (both versions)

STREAM IT: Soundcloud (free) | Spotify | Apple Music

Favorite Album to Work or Study To:
Tycho - Epoch

Tycho is one of those super rad instrumental bands that plays ambient music perfect for getting “into the flow” when you're studying or at work. What I’ll do mid-morning when I need to knock out some creative or strategic work is pop some Onnit Alpha Brain, throw on this album and get in the zone. And it usually ends up being my most productive hour of the day.

tycho-epoch.png

Tracks to listen to:
Like most instrumental albums, this one’s best if you just listen straight through, no shuffle.

STREAM IT: Spotify | Apple Music

Favorite Album to Sing Along To: 
Frank Ocean - Blonde

Everyone who loves music has a “go-to” singer who for whatever reason makes them sing along no matter how good or bad a singer they are. For my wife, it’s Sara Bareilles. When Sara Bareilles comes on, watch out because Brooke just starts belting it out. Loudly! For me, it’s become Frank Ocean and this album. Thankfully, this happens mostly in my car when I’m driving alone.

Blonde ended up becoming my second favorite album of the year by the way. Definitely worth a listen.

Tracks to listen to:
“Self Control”, “Pink + White”, “Nikes”, “Solo” and “Nights" (my personal fave)

STREAM IT: Spotify | Apple Music

Favorite Band of the Year:
Sure Sure

Sure Sure is an indie band that didn’t put out an album this year, but rolled out 5 singles over the course of the year and I listened to each of them about a hundred times. Super catchy, quirky and fun. If you love bands like Vampire Weekend or The Beatles, you will really like Sure Sure.

Other tracks to listen to:
“New Biome”, “Caveman”, “Easy Way” and “The Expert"

STREAM THEIR SONGS: Spotify | Soundcloud (free)

Favorite Christian Album:
Mosaic MSC - Glory & Wonder

Even though I'm a huge fan of Jesus, I am not a huge fan of Christian music. Most of it is cheesy at its best and really offensive to the craft of music at its worst :) But every now and then I’ll hear a band or an album that does interesting things and it will resonate with me. Mosaic MSC is a worship band out of the Mosaic Church in LA and for this “genre of music" I think they are the absolute best.

Tracks to listen to:
“Never Stop”, “Heartbeat”, “Across the Universe” and “Glory & Wonder"

STREAM IT: Spotify | Apple Music

Favorite Bands and Songs That Reminded Me of the 80s

Every so often, I’ll hear one of my friends say something like “The music today sucks. The music that millennials listen to sucks. They don’t make ‘em like they used to back in my day, back in the 80s, etc.”

I couldn’t disagree more. There are a TON of young bands putting out great music that actually sound like they're straight out of the 80s. So, if you’re one of these grumpy old people, here are 5 artists and jams from 2016 just for you:

1. Matt Wertz - Patient Heart

For fans of 80s pop singers like Richard Marx.

2. Francis and the Lights - May I Have This Dance

For fans of 80s alternative artists like Peter Gabriel.

3. LANY - Current Location

For fans of 80s synth pop bands like Erasure.

4. Kyko - Nature

For fans of 80s bands like Toto. (And seriously, who doesn't like Toto?!)

5. Nightly - XO

For fans of 80s John Hughes movie soundtracks like The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink.

I could listen dozens more examples of things I loved about music in 2016, but we’ll call it here.

For country music fans wondering where all the country music love is…welp, you should read other blogs for that. Assuming people that love country music even know how to work the internet.

ZING! :)

And, I’d LOVE to hear what your favorite albums or jams were this year. Feel free to throw them in the comments or back on FB. Merry Christmas and see y’all next week with hopefully the final 3 (!) blogs of 2016.