Let’s start by saying, 2016 sucked. Everybody died and apparently, continue to do so.
However, among the rubble, there were some interesting albums released this year.
Here is my list of top 10 albums this year. You may be surprised at some of my selections.
There were many to choose from. I viewed some top lists of other music people. Mine is very different. I think I only saw a few that we shared and many I completely disagreed with.
OKAY, so here goes:
10. Cyndi Lauper – “Detour”
Yes, THAT Cyndi Lauper. When I heard Cyndi was releasing a country album, I winced. The last thing I needed to hear was another artist I respect get sucked into the country pop world in search for a hit on the country stations. I was pleasantly surprised to hear Cyndi went back to the real country music. You can feel the sawdust on the gymnasium floor in the middle of Tennessee. She covers Patsy Cline, Ray Price and many other classic country greats. Special guests offer subtle background vocals in this brilliantly produced album. I love it.
9. Elton John – “Wonderful Crazy Night”
Sir Elton returns with a full on upbeat album that’s probably his best in a very long time. Maybe even his best since Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but I may be pushing it. At any rate, it’s a delightful album with hooks galore, as only Elton can provide. a solid effort and glad to see he has something left in the tank. Welcome back!!
8. De La Soul – “and the The Anonymous Nobody”
Oh, I am sure you are surprised that I included a hip hop album on my list. I have recently discovered 90’s hip hop and I am quite enamored by it’s honesty. This new one from De la Soul is diverse, interesting, poignant and just a fun listen. Open your mind and check it out. Check out this funky jam (do the kids still say that?)
7. Nick Cave & The Bad Seed – “Skeleton Tree”
If you’re not familiar with Nick Cave, this new release might be a great place to start. Not that it’s commercially accessible, he never was. It’s one of those albums you don’t listen to . You feel it. So, I suggest you “feel it”. Excellent stuff, if you feel like getting down in the dark end of the musical spectrum.
6. Regina Spektor – “Remember Us To Life”
I think every album this woman releases ends up on my top 10 list. I absolutely love everything she does and this new one is no exception. She doesn’t stray from her usual formula, which usually bugs me, but in her case, it works. Lyrically, she is brilliant and her musicality is infectious. I await her every release and she never disappoints.
5. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
In what very well may be his final album, Iggy blows the roof off with a perfect album featuring Josh Homme of Queens of The Stone Age. Musically and lyrically his best in a very long time. This could have been a follow up to The Idiot. It’s that good
4. The Monkees – “Good Times”
Yes, The Monkees. Sans, Davy Jones, although there is one song that features him. This is a brilliant album with familiar Monkees hooks and newly explored territories of pop music. A perfect summer album that should be played every summer until the end of time. It gets better with each listen. Bravo boys. You finally got out of the shadow of that other quartet.
3. Suzanne Vega – “Lover, Beloved – Songs From An Evening With Carson McCullers”
I had no idea she was still recording. A concept album about a southern writer Ms. Carson Mccullers. This album is a masterpiece of sultry jazzy blues folk. Suzanne is at her best. Pop it in, sit back with a glass of wine, or 2, or 12 and listen to some of the best music you’ve heard in a long time.
2. A Tribe Called Quest – “We Got It From Here….Thank you For Your Service”
WHAT ? Another hip hop album? I told you I was recently enamored. The Quest return after an 18 year hiatus with a topical album. This is a perfect timepiece of the turmoil of our current age. There’s no holding back and no lack of honesty. Plus, it’s a tribute to Phife Dawg, one of the founding members who passed in 2016, just like everybody else. It’s an exceptional release.
AND THE NUMBER ONE ALBUM OF 2016 !!! Should be obvious
David Bowie – Blackstar
I cannot put into words how much Bowie has meant to me over my lifetime and losing him this year is still too painful. Bowie is not a rock star, he is not a film star. Bowie is his own genre. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about his influence. But, this album. His last album. This album is the culmination of everything Bowie. There are hints of his entire career in here over thick avant garde jazz and that voice. That voice. That Bowie. It was hard to listen to without crying for a long time. I put it away and recently listened to it again. It was then that I realized it’s genius. Of course, how could I be surprised. My only problem with it is it’s too damn short. Only 7 songs. But oh my. Just mind blowing.