Mid Album Of The Year: Staff Picks

Featured Image Courtesy of idigitaltimes.com

I know nobody wants to believe it but it looks like 2016 is already half over. Throughout January to June so many great album have come out, and it’s nearly impossible to pick your favorites. Thankfully there’s people like us who compile a list of our favorites and gives our audience maybe something new to listen to. If you already have heard of some of these artist, hopefully you agree with us!

During the month of July, we will also be posting our individual top list, and what we think about each record!

Here is our collective Top 20!

Panic! At The Disco – Death Of A Bachelor (Fueled By Ramen Records)

Having ended up as the sole official member of Panic!, Brendon Urie used the band’s fifth album as a platform to explore the different genres and artists that influence him. Death of a Bachelor takes elements from big bands to Beyonce and everything in between, resulting in Panic! At The Disco’s broadest album yet. – Nikki Tardiff

PUP – The Dream is Over (SideOneDummy Records)

This is one of those albums where you listen to it, and you can immediately tell how personal it is. It’s raw, it’s angry, and it’s oh so catchy. – Grace Powers

David Bowie – Backstar (Columbia Records)

The death of David Bowie shook the world and the release of the record was his final goodbye. Knowing it was his last album, these seven song come together to leave a statement. The jazzy electronic recordings with haunting vocals and obscure lyrics make for an unique release. This may not be for everyone but if you like to listen and search lyrics for meaning than this album is just for you. – Jen Green

Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost (Run For Cover Records)

Philly natives, Modern Baseball blew everyone away once Holy Ghost dropped. They topped the rock billboard chart and sold more records than they ever thought they would. This entire record hits home on so many levels, and I have yet to see a negative review about it. – Shana Davidson

Pinegrove – Cardinal (Run for Cover Records)

It may be a relatively short album, but it’s full of both lyrical and musical genius. With quieter songs like “Aphasia”, more pop-punkish songs like “Then Again”, and some re-vamped oldies, Cardinal never gets boring, and it really comes full circle as the band explores relationships. – Grace Powers

 The Struts – Everybody Wants (Interscope Records)

2016 marks the year The Struts finally went global. With the reissue of their confident and flashy debut album Everybody Wants, The Struts proved to the whole world that they were meant to be international stars from the get-go. – Nikki Tardiff

Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book (Unsigned)

Chance isn’t the most successful independent artist by accident. This gospel influenced hip-hop record will advance the genre even further. Add him to the list of rap pioneers ASAP. – Jake Varrone

Tiny Moving Parts – Celebrate (Triple Crown Records)

I have always been a fan of Tiny Moving Parts, but I never really cared to follow them and so a friend of mine told me I MUST check out their new record, and I am so glad I did. This album is a complete game changer, bringing math rock into the mainstream. – Shana Davidson

Kanye West – The Life Of Pablo (Universal Music Group)

Whether you love or hate Kanye the Man, it’s hard to argue against Kanye the Artist being one of the most influential creatives of our time. Pablo is West’s most controversial and most analyzed work yet, and managed to transform the conventional idea of what a “finished” album looks and sounds like. – Nikki Tardiff

letlive. – If I’m The Devil… (Epitaph Records)

About midway through the first track, I knew this would be one of my favorite albums of the year. Jason Aalon Butler’s vocals are raw and emotive, giving life to deep lyrics. The songs range from pounding rock anthems to quiet, suspenseful, tracks that rely on negative space more than instrumentals. If I’m The Devil… is striking and moving. – Taylor Concannon

Drake – Views (From The 6) (Universal Music Group)

Sitting atop the Billboard 200 for nine weeks is no small feat for any album, even if “Hotline Bling” was a viral hit of epic proportion. I love the parodies and memes yet Drake pulled a rare hat trick (Yes, that’s a hockey pun… Also, have you considered that, technically, YOLO is a Canadian slang term?) when he dropped Views 24 hours after Bey’s Lemonade became the biggest seller of the year, Drake surpassed her complete week-1 download sales when Spotify’s biggest artist of 2015 elected to broker an exclusive Apple record-release… I have a high level of respect for that type of business savvy in an era where pundits have claimed album sales to be dead.

James Blake – The Colour In Anything (1-800 DINOSAUR Records)

Every time I listen to this record, I’m floored by a subtle nuance I didn’t hear before. Blake is a Western music visionary. – Jake Varrone

White Lung – Paradise (Domino Records)

You might expect it to be a typical feminist Punk Album (and generally speaking it is),  but it’s so much more. It’s an album that’s polished, dynamic, and it really displays how White Lung has evolved in all aspects of their music. – Grace Powers

Rhianna – ANTI (Roc Nation Records)

Rihanna’s long awaited 2016 album was one of the most outstanding hip-hop/pop records this year. As her eighth studio album, ANTI marks a definitive and secure shift in both her aesthetic and sound; long gone are the days of innocent club jams like “Don’t Stop the Music” or the forced trying-to-shed-the-good-girl-image of her “S&M” era. Rihanna is a woman comfortable in her sexuality, vulnerability, and emotional fickleness and the result is a dynamic album spanning multiple genres and highlighting her vocal talent. Overall, a well-produced and well thought-out album both in terms of song choice and visuality. – Mia Ciallella

Twin Peaks – Down in Heaven (Grand Jury Records)

For this record, the Chicago quintet explore a more mellow sound compared to their previous efforts Sunken and Wild Onion. Although Down in Heaven is not quite as punky, it’s definitely forging a new, very promising direction for Twin Peaks. Favorites from this record include “Walk to the One You Love”, “My Boys”, “Butterfly” and “Holding Roses”. Twin Peaks are really carrying on the true spirit of Rock n’ Roll, and they’re a band you won’t want to miss.  – Dan Cousart

Sixx A.M. – Prayers for the Damned Vol. 1 (Eleven Seven Music)

With Motley Crue’s end and the line up changes to Guns N Roses, the band finally had all the time in the world to work on a new record. Volume One has a slightly heavier but continues with the inspirational, empowering themes seen throughout all their releases. The album features anthemic songs like “When We Were Gods” and “You Have Come to the Right Place”. The band draws importance to the lyrics of this album with songs like Rise of the Melancholy Empire”, which was written as a response to the Paris shootings. – Jen Green

Can’t Swim – Death Deserves A Name (Pure Noise Records)

You would never think this when you listen to them but this band played one show before they were signed to Pure Noise. This is their debut EP, and where I don’t listen to much pop punk anymore, this entire EP stood out to me, and made me once again appreciate the genre. – Shana Davidson

Catfish & The Bottlemen – The Ride (Island Records)

The Ride may feel like it tries a bit too hard to copy CATB’s near-perfect debut album The Balcony during the first listen, but upon further inspection The Ride not only shows growth but also delivers on the high energy and the soaring choruses that attracted us to CATB in the first place. – Nikki Tardiff

Kongos – Egomaniac (Epic Records)

Kongos never fail to impress me. Egomaniac is a distinctive album with powerful beats and passionate instrumentals. Emotion bleeds out of the tracks, and each tells a compelling story. – Taylor Concannon

Beyoncé – Lemonade (Columbia Records)

Perhaps one of the best albums of the last decade, Beyoncé’s release of Lemonade blew all other work out of the water this year. Following the release of her last unannounced audio/visual album, “Beyoncé” in 2013, Beyoncé debuted her new album in an hour-long music video/spoken word/political statement HBO premier. Building on her bold choice to politicize her last album, the first single released from Lemonade was “Formation”, an unapologetic anthem written about her experience as a black woman in America. The rest of the album is a journey through what it means to be both a mother and a sexual being, how it feels to be angry and hurt when trust is broken in marriage, and how forgiveness, love, and family ultimately triumph over pain and oppression; all of it viewed through the lens of black womanhood. – Mia Ciallella 


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