So I get the honor of being the first MOS contributor to share their top ten favorite albums of 2016 and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a month. I finally have it narrowed down, and three of the albums are from 2015 but became big in my world this year. At first I was worried that putting them on here was cheating, but then I thought, fuck it I’m the editor, imma do what I want. Alright, here we go.
Bible and Sword
Great lyricism is something I really appreciate and Bible and Sword has that. I’d never listened to Feverwar until I saw them live in Columbus and had to check them out because of the intensity of their live show. I mean they punch each other and break things while still managing to sound kick ass and passionate. I wanted to hear what these guys had to say. This album came to mean a lot to me this year because I was fighting a lot of mental issues and spent a lot of nights in the emergency room. The lyrics about sickness, especially the song Frontrunner, and the anger and energy and aggression behind them really spoke to me and helped me get through some of the tougher days. I had the opportunity to interview the band earlier this year and if you want to read about what went into this record, you can check that out here.
I wish I could write a screenplay based on this album. Troye’s openness and vulnerability in sharing his fears, secrets, experience with sexuality, love, and happiness is inspiring to me. The whole album is so personal, it’s like we get to read Troye’s journal he’s hidden under his mattress. It was written with the voice of someone who is in the process of growing up and discovering who they are, but who is proud of what they’re discovering along the way. It spoke to the things I’m still unsure about and the fears I have and even made me cry at some points, especially the song Heaven. And the three part short film/music video series that goes with the album could be turned into a full-length movie itself. What a beautiful, cohesive piece of art. I’m thankful for people like Troye who give fans who art struggling with and experiencing the same challenges and happiness someone really to relate to.
Say what you want about SWMRS, but they’ve perfected that messy beach punk sound and I’m in love with it. Their instrumentals are raw and their lyrics are weird and nostalgic with a hint of sweetness and Drive North is a breath of fresh (salty, sea?) air. Turn Up made me wanna lay on the hood of my car with a boy I know it won’t last with and listen to music under the stars. Cliche and cheesy, but fuck it. This album made me so happy to listen to, and between all the deep, depressing shit we need that. My only regret is that I still haven’t seen this band play live.
Ollie Baxxter and Dorian Cooke’s voices blew me out of the water. I originally listened to this album because I got it sent to me for review. I wrote the review, but I didn’t stop listening to it and I still haven’t. Every track is so catchy and even the more melancholy songs are still so much fun to sing to. This album took pop punk and put a soulful spin on it, and Broadside definitely has their own unique sound in a sea of bands that sound the same. They’re blowing up and I can’t wait to see what they create next.
Underestimate is a relatively newer band in the local hardcore scene here in Cincinnati, and when I first started shooting local shows they were one of the most welcoming groups of people. At the time, they didn’t have much music online and the only way to hear a lot of their stuff was to see them live. Gabe McQueen, one of the band’s vocalists, has become one of my closest friends and I’ve been privileged to watch the band grow and really come into their own. Parallels was their studio debut record and I can’t express how proud of them I am. Between the dynamic contrast of Jake Jensen and Gabe’s vocals and the gorgeous guitar parts and complex drums it’s apparent that they have a ton of potential, and a uniqueness that could take them far. Besides that, their songs truly have a message. They examine society, death, addiction, and politics and speak out against sexual assault and they really car about what they’re writing about. I spent a lot of time this year showing their music to people that had never heard of them and every single response was positive. I can’t wait to hear their upcoming full length in 2017.
Settle Your Scores
Another Cincinnati local band, Settle Your Scores are one of the best (maybe the very best ;]) easy core bands on the scene right now. They debuted The Wilderness in January of this year and it was their first full-length. It’s so fucking catchy, on of those albums you listen to on your way to work and you’re still singing it by lunch time because it’s stuck in your head. It’s also great to listen to when you’re a little pissed off because it’s full of just the right amount of unclean vocals and fun breakdowns. And there are group chants! If you know me, you know that I live for group chants. I’m proud that this band comes out of my city and I’m hoping to see them take on the world next year.
Pierce The Veil
Pierce The Veil made us all wait forever for this album, the follow-up to their smash hit Collide With The Sky which they released in 2012. The wait was completely worth it. You can really hear the higher caliber their instrumentals and arrangements have climbed to on this album. “Texas Is Forever” is the fastest song they’ve ever written, and I’ve seen them play it live. They live up to the recording and more. Pierce The Veil is so interesting to me to listen to because Vic Fuentes writes lyrics that are things we all think about but would never say out loud, and the way he puts them together is so poetic. The songs could stand alone as poems if he ever wanted to put together a book. And the album manages to be completely different from any other they’ve ever put out while still keeping that signature PTV sound. My favorite track is definitely “Floral and Fading” because it was so unexpected but so groovy and sexy. “Circles” is a good one too, written from the point of view of a couple stuck in the theater during the terrorist attacks in Paris last year. It’s haunting and sweet and really makes you think about how everyone felt that night. I wish I could hug every member of this band and thank them for this album. It was everything I wanted and more.
Peace of Mind
Short Handed is an emo/alternative band from Chicago. The first thing you notice at their live shows is that one of their vocalists, Alan Villalba, plays the trumpet at some point during most of their songs. And it’s as awesome as it sounds. Having the breathing capacity to sing and play that particular instrument and still sound great on both is a serious talent. And that just makes me appreciate the album more. And Bill Perkins, the other vocalist, really pulls at your heart strings with his emotional screams and raw vocals. The first track, Orange Marmalade, is a beautiful arrangement with a spoken word part that I had on repeat for an entire drive home one night. And my favorite track, “You Can’t See Me (Nothing To See)” hits you right where it hurts and perfectly captures that angst that comes with heartbreak. Live music is always preferable to recordings to me, but I had forgotten how magical it can be and then I saw Short Handed at the Hoosier Dome one night and remembered why I fell in love with it in the first place. I wanted to buy an album, but I didn’t have any money and Bill was nice enough to give me one. I listened to it on repeat for a solid week and bought it on bandcamp my next payday. It’s honestly one of my most treasured albums, not just because it’s great, but because I can go back to it whenever I start to get jaded about music and remember why it’s so important.
i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it
The 1975 is one of my five favorite bands, and like Pierce The Veil, their 2016 release managed to be completely different from their last album while still being completely The 1975. The band doesn’t just create musical art, they have an aesthetic on stage, in their music videos, in promotional art, merch, and even their social media. The album was so anticipated by the time it came out that there’s no way it wasn’t going to be a smash. And I love the vulnerability that we get to see on this one, with songs like “If I Believe You” and “Somebody Else.” And “Loving Someone” makes me cry, especially live. The 1975 is a multi-media art piece and a group of passionate people with big, beautiful hearts. And of course I love dancing around like an idiot to “UGH” and “The Sound” and “Love Me.” The album takes everything about 80’s pop that was great, puts a modern spin on it, and adds emotion and it creates something wonderful.
Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through
I don’t even know what to say about this one. I know it’s my favorite album of the year, by one of my favorite bands. The lyrics hit me so hard and resonate with everything in me. It’s genuinely hard for me to even write about, but Strangers and Catharsis are two of the best songs of all time in my world. I can’t wait to be able to see this band play someday. I love them and I love this album.