Phil M: Top Albums of 2016

Baton Rouge, LA

One note: almost everybody’s album was too long.

top ten albums

10A Tribe Called Quest: We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service

I had a couple options for this spot, but A Tribe Called Quest is Maeve’s favorite band.

09Carly Rae Jepsen: Emotion Side B

EMOTION would have won.

08Kaia Kater: 9 Pin

Maeve and I heard this album on our local radio station in St. Louis, and we both love it. She likes banjo music maybe—definitely—more than me but Kaia Kater is really good.

07Thao & the Get Down Stay Down: A Man Alive

I have always liked Thao and the Get Down Stay Down more in theory than in practice, and I’ve liked Thao best when she’s collaborating, specifically with Mirah. What I didn’t know was that what I needed was for her to make a Tuneyards album. Thanks!

06Angel Olsen: My Woman

I know this makes me a bad fan, but why won’t Angel Olsen just make a rock and roll record? I appreciate the whole Neil Young loud/quiet split that’s happening here, but if she wrote a full album that sounds just like tracks 2 through 5 here, would anybody be mad? The answer is no. Nobody would be mad.

05Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam: I Had a Dream that You Were Mine

Despite his involvement with The OA, I really like Rostam. I dislike The Walkmen, just as I suspect I would dislike an Ezra Koenig project that didn’t involve Rostam. But I sure do like Vampire Weekend, and I really like this album.


I came to this really late, but holy smokes, this is good and scary and sad and inspiring.

01Noname: telefone

Honestly, these top three have shifted round and round for the past few weeks, and I think I’d feel comfortable with any one of them occupying the number one spot. They’re all moving records, I liked them all immediately, and, whether it’s accurate or not, there’s something I like about the idea that these are three really pure distillations of these artists’ personalities. I know that “Telefone” is maybe the idiosyncratic pick of the three, but here’s the thing: I’m giving it credit for hanging in there with two much more conspicuously ambitious, big-sounding statement albums for that long. It would be easy, I think, for Chance or Beyonce to muscle Noname to the side. But it’s the album that’s stuck with me most and the one I’m happiest to hear. When her voice starts to break on the last track, oh man.

similarity to overall top ten: 35.67%, 5 matches

top songs

10Carly Rae Jepsen, “Cry”I will freely admit that my advocacy for EMOTION, Side B this year is entirely about my rage that EMOTION did not win every album of the year prize last year. Still: deny this song at your peril.

09case/lang/veirs, “Atomic Number”I wanted to like the case/lang/veirs collaboration more than I did. Or, I wanted to LOVE it more. Still, this song is amazing.

08Car Seat Headrest, “Killer Whales/Drunk Drivers”This is a really good hook with a song patched around it to justify singing the hook. Car Seat Headrest in general peaked very high for me and then fell very low. This is the only thing that stuck around.

07Kyle Dixon, “Stranger Things”Everybody says Stranger Things is just the sum of its references to eighties movies, but I disagree. It is entirely about this song and the opening credits.

06Kaia Kater, “Paradise Fell”Again, not a big banjo music guy, but this song sounds like it’s existed forever at the same time that it could only have been written now.

05Beyonce, “Freedom”I know the pick from this album is “Formation,” and I don’t disagree, but seeing her and Kendrick Lamar do this on the BET Awards put it over the top for me.

04Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, “1000 Times”After “Ultralight Beam,” this is the song that was in my head the most this year.

03Angel Olsen, “Shut Up Kiss Me”This song is several orders of magnitude better than everything else on MY WOMAN, which is still very good.

02D.R.A.M. feat. Lil’ Yachty, “Broccoli”I really like the D.R.A.M. record, and it just missed my top ten. This song, though, got played on the radio so much this year, and every single time I heard it, I was so glad.

01Kanye West, “Ultralight Beam”My favorite tweet of the year was early on election day when Rembert Browne tweeted a Spotify playlist called, “*FINGERS CROSSED* HRC VICTORY PLAYLIST” and it was just “Ultralight Beam” over and over again. The way I felt about that tweet at midnight on that day is the way I feel about everything. This is the best Chance the Rapper song of the year, and the best song of the year in general by a wide margin.

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