2016 Countdown (20-11)

20. City Club – The Growlers
Joining forces with the Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas on the release of City Club was certainly a wise choice for the Growlers. Some of their best moments happen when they flow alongside this nostalgic groove that is promising enough to hold your attention. With the easygoingness of “Too Many Times” and the vivacious spirit of “Dope on a Rope”, the Growlers combine the use of these whimsical guitar melodies along with these thoughtful instrumental interludes that are quite unexpectedly stellar in many ways. (Written by Brenda Herrera)

19. Why Are You Okay – Band of Horses
Band of Horses has made some changes to their sound, returning to some of the indie-pop elements that made them a great guitar band to begin with, while adding some dreamy Pink Floyd sounds and new production by Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle. Even when he just sings about boring parties or old photographs, this new sound is like a really good Instagram filter to look at old photos through. (Written by Mateo Muro)

18. i like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it – The 1975
Kings of fangirls came back this year with a complete banger, ILIWYSDYASBYSUOI. Whatever you’re opinion of fangirls are, this pop band even came to Champaign for their tour to the delight of all sorts of audiences, so why should we keep fangirls from their fun. The album had multiple singles; the first one being “The Sound” and continued on with “UGH!” but that shouldn’t take the spotlight from many other notable songs throughout ILIWYSDYASBYSUOI. This is an album you can play the entire way through and have you’re head bobbing the entire time. (Written by Emma Kelley)

17. A Sailor’s Guide to the Earth – Sturgill Simpson
Sturgill Simpson wrote A Sailor’s Guide to Earth for his newborn child. The love expressed for new baby is quite touching, and brings Dad rock to a new level. Simpson’s album is beautifully put together, from his yearning to not leave his newborn to go on tour, to “Brace For Impact” a gloomy tune exploring the despair of death. (Written by Harrison Lindholm)

16. Don’t You – Wet
The momentum that Wet gained this year was overwhelmingly fast, with their tour throughout the U.S. and the popularity of “You’re the Best” continuing, which is included on this album. Don’t You is the epidomy of delicate and dream-like with lead singer Kelly Zutrau’s voice soaring high in each track. (Written by Emma Kelley)

15. Savoy Motel – Savoy Motel
The jam band from Nashville has everything you need to make heavy music without being metal. The lead guitar screams when it solos and just vibes when it’s riffing. The rhythm section lays down grooves you haven’t heard since the 1970’s. The vocals sound ghostly. You can hear the band’s chemistry during the instrumental bridges when it sounds like these disparate elements are all having a conversation with each other. (Written by Mateo Muro)

14. Blonde – Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean’s Blonde has earned its spot in the top 50 albums of the year. It can only be categorized as chill R&B. The entire album has a relaxed sound to it. The hour long, 17-song album is true to Ocean’s nature. It highlights his incredible vocal range and the simple background emphasizes his vocals throughout the album. Lacking percussion in most songs and often utilizing a simple guitar background, his voice takes priority in every song. This emotional album serves up several great songs and brings focus to Ocean’s musical talent. Yet another in a line of good albums from Ocean, this one lives up to the hype. (Written by Andie García Sheridan)

13. Do Hollywood – Lemon Twigs
It’s always risky to be a band known for nostalgia. We’ve been there and done that right? Well, despite all the criticisms of Lemon Twig’s sounding like it could be the third disc on the Beatle’s White Album, there is an undeniable amount of talent here. The singer finds the sweet spot between joy and sadness, perfect for the nostalgic theme. The songwriting is absolutelty brilliant, emphasized by ambitious production that throws in horns and crescendos and the odd synthesizer fills. (Written by Mateo Muro)

12. 22, A Million – Bon Iver
Bon Iver surprised a lot of fans of For Emma, Forever Ago, an indie folk classic, by going electric. I don’t even mean he traded his acoustic guitar for a Fender Strat a la Bob Dylan, Bon Iver brought electronic elements, like auto-tone and synthetic instruments. Listeners who decided to give this Kanye West inspired album a serious listen where rewarded with what makes Bon Iver great: great soundscapes and comfortably depressing lyrics. (Written by Mateo Muro)

11. Emily’s D+Evolution – Esparanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding’s new album is a shout out to funk and jazz. After her four-year break from music, her last release being in 2012, she returned more vibrant than ever. She is artistic and original and her impressive voice and vocal range shine through in this album. She truly puts herself in her music. She is unapologetic and bold and her music does not fall into any one category. It establishes its own musical genre. It’s a unique sound that stands out in the current musical culture. This album is brimming with emotion and energetic sound. Esperanza Spalding is overflowing with talent and we all look forward to hearing more from her. (Written by Andie García Sheridan)


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