Considering all the surprises and uncertainty this year has left us, we need great art more than ever. Luckily, newer bands and rock veterans alike did not disappoint. Here are my top five albums of 2016.
1) The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love
My love affair with lo-fi began with earlier albums by this Swedish dream-pop band. The Radio Dept. has returned again after many years' hiatus with Running Out of Love, and they tackle all the major issues: foreign policy (re: "Swedish Guns"), police brutality ("We Got Game"), and political revolution for the good of the people ("Sloboda Narodu"). This album has everything and dares to go beyond their usual shoegazey, synth-drenched fare.
2) A Tribe Called Quest - We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your service
What more can be said? These guys are rockstars. ATCQ finally returns after an eighteen(!)-year hiatus with the album we all desperately need to get us through these trying times. Recommended tracks: "Melatonin", "We the People", and "Kids", the latter featuring a sick cameo from Andre 3000.
3) Porches - Pool
Porches, created and fronted by NY-based musician Aaron Maine, have released this relaxed, dance-y, tongue-in-cheek album (on sleek, clear vinyl)! Pool features Maine's moody vocals and chill wave atmosphere. The band also has serious sartorial skills — just check out the music video for their single, "Car."
4) Yohuna - Patientness
Speaking of angelic vibes, Patientness brings together delicious harmonies, minimal instrumentation, and nostalgic songwriting to create an album equal parts heartbreaking and cathartic. New to the roster of Queens indie label Orchid Tapes, Yohuna has crafted a solid debut album rivaling those of her more known contemporaries (Greta Kline and Girlpool, I'm looking at you). The band also puts on an awesome show.
5) Britta Phillips - Luck or Magic
Coasting, reverb-tinged production and Phillips' breathy vocals create an ethereal atmosphere. Each track has serious angelic vibes. Luck or Magic is the perfect gift for fans of Mazzy Star and Lana del Rey.