2016 Countdown (30-21)

30. We’re All Gonna Die – Dawes
Dawes made it onto a lot of indie lover’s playlists with the sentimental song “All Your Favorite Bands” last year, and while they still have that same level of intimacy in their lyrics (whether it’s a personal struggle like in “Picture of a Man” or just describing a great party in “When the Tequila Runs Out”), the band has taken some musical liberties. They’ve added synthesizers and made some alternative-pop choices that make them perfect to play stadiums with the likes of Coldplay or Lorde. (Written by Mateo Muro)

29. Big Mess – Grouplove
Grouplove is becoming the biggest alternative group out there, enjoying widespread success while still playing wild neon tones. Singer Hannah Hooper’s voice is still light enough to tickle you, while still sounding big enough to fill stadiums. Add on hit songs like “Welcome to Your Life”, and you have a anthemic album that people will be singing at graduations for years to come. (Written by Mateo Muro)

28. Signs of Light – The Head and the Heart
The Head and the Heart have signed onto Warner Bros for this album and you can hear that the band is trying to sound bigger now, with epics like the title track. The band still has its strong songwriting moments, with the self-referential “Library Magic” or the catchy “I Don’t Mind.” As long as The Head and The Heart can hold onto their folk roots as they become a bigger and bigger act, they should remain as one of our generation’s best indie bands. (Written by Mateo Muro)

27. Puberty 2 – Mitski
Mitski’s newest album expresses a lot of the anger, sadness, and general distress that comes after your teenage years. “Your Best American Girl” sings about the cultural disconnect that comes from dating outside your ethnic background. “Happy” is about depression, personifying happiness as a one-night stand. “My Body’s Crushed Little Stars” has two verses about the anxiety that comes with unemployment. She delivers these great songs with a beautiful detached voice over grungy guitars and otherworldly synthesizers, a similar sound if you’re a St. Vincent fan. (Written by Mateo Muro)

26. Coming Home – Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges’ album brought us all back to the days of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. The Texas native is the modern representation of classic soul music. You can hear the heavy influence of 50’s and 60’s soul in every moment of the album, but it is placed in a modern context. He uses simple melodies and background music with a tasteful amount of saxophone to compliment his smooth and deep voice. If you are like me and grew up on soul music and wish that there was someone carrying the traditions set forth by men like Cooke and Redding, you will love Leon Bridges. Every song will have you swaying to beat and feeling the music. (Written by Andie García Sheridan)

25. Cleopatra – Lumineers
You won’t find a successor to “Ho Hey” on the Lumineer’s second album. The album is full of great songs like the affectionate “Ophelia” or nostalgic “Cleopatra,” but none of them have the energy you need to take over the radio like “Ho Hey.” Because of that, the album sounds a lot better as a whole, managing to tell stories about characters that come off as genuine, making for a great road trip album. (Written by Mateo Muro)

24. Nonagon Infinity – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Aussie Psych Rock is THE Psych Rock. Aussie Psych Rock rarely ever disappoints, and through the impeccability of Nonagon Infinity‘s continuity, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard strikes again with an overflowing energy that drowns your sorrows and incites an excruciating need to rock and mosh your socks off. King Giz turns up the amp and construes an intense piece of work that is somehow still able to flow so wonderfully, it will leave you wondering when the album truly ends; with an overall sound that loops endlessly. Transitions between tracks like “Invisible Face” and “Wah Wah” will blow you away, and keep you blowing with seemingly no end. (Written by Kayla Martinez)

23. Malibu – Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak’s third album was released in January this year, but I cannot stop listening to it all the way through December. For someone whose playlist mostly contains Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, my love for this R&B album says a lot. The double album is chock full of amazing tracks such as “Put Me Thru”, “Am I Wrong”, and “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance”. Anderson writes lyrically touching songs, revealing the personal struggles he has had since his childhood. (Written by Harrison Lindholm)

22. Schmilco – Wilco
So Wilco is new to me. Schmilco is sort of a depressing album that tears up your dreams a bit, but with a peppy upbeat in some songs. It’s kind of dark and twisted. “Locator” especially draws into a person’s inner paranoia. The entire album has great instrumentation, but for me there is a reason it’s in the middle of the list because while it has you saying “Okay, this is really good,” it also has you going “What is going on here?” (Written by Cassandra Smith)

21. American Football – American Football
American Football released its second album 17 years after their first release in 1999. A lot has changed for the band since then. Their audience has magnified since their first album percolated in the Indie rock scene. Their new album hasn’t changed the band’s emo angsty sound much over 17 years, although the band isn’t worried as much about their teen problems like breakups, but have moved to contemplate more existential fears.


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