Countdown 2016 (50-41)

Every year, the WPGU Web Staff gets together and tries to agree on the 50 best albums of the year. There was yelling, punching, and unfortunate number of attacks at each other’s mothers, but we finally have a list we’re proud of here. Check it out and let us know what you think!

50. Home of the Strange – Young the Giant

When Young the Giant came out with “Amerika”, we saw modern rock take on an unfamiliar topic of immigration and American identity. Lyrics like “It’s a rich kid’s game” would sound fake coming from anyone other than Sameer Gadhia, son of Indian immigrants. If almost to reflect this cultural identity crisis, the band also took some drastic turns musically, using a lot more electronic music. Interestingly, they take a folksy approach in their youtube “In the Open” series. (Written by Mateo Muro)


49. Heart Like a Levee – Hiss Golden Messenger

Hiss Golden Messenger hit 2016 with their album Heart Like a Levee. MC Taylor led his band to create an intimate record. It tackles the troubles a 40 something man faces when he has to make his living out on the road away from his wife and kids. The album is very introspective with lyrics like “Do you hate me honey? As much as I hate myself?” Hiss Golden Messenger’s album crosses many genres, from rock, gospel, to folk, but holds mostly to an alt-country sound. (Written by Harrison Lindholm)


48. The Dream Is Over – PUP

PUP is one of the angriest bands I’ve ever listened to. The singer seems to hate anybody and everybody, especially himself in “DVP,” with the depressing line “I don’t give a sh*t, I just don’t wanna die and I don’t wanna live.” There’s even hatred for each other to be found in the opener “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will”, with a music video portraying the band members all violently trying to kill each other. The music itself is also pretty violent, each band member sounding like they’re trying to break their instruments. (Written by Mateo Muro)


47. The King of Whys – Owen

Mike Kinsella, University of Illinois grad, and frontman of the band American Football, released his ninth studio album under the moniker of “Owen” this last July. The album is full of dark sentiments, and brooding emotions. From the recollections of Mike’s father’s alcoholism, to Mike’s own desire to turn to the bottle to hide his pain. The instrumentation of The King of Whys is mostly acoustic leaving the plainspoken lyrics to emanate through the music. (Written by Harrison Lindholm)


46.Head Carrier- Pixies

As veterans to the alternative music scene the Pixies have seemingly done it all including breaking up to reuniting and then finally releasing their long-awaited comeback album back in 2014. In their second release since Indie Cindy (2014), the Pixies have decided to carry on stronger than ever. With their nonsensical and whimsical array of narratives that shine through in some of their best moments in Head Carrier. It is evident that this time around the Pixies have arrived in their best version of themselves so far. (Written by Brenda Herrera)


45.iii – Miike Snow

The beats and backing melodies of Miike Snow’s album sets a strange yet endearing tone. Big songs such as “Ghangis Khan” and “Heart of Full” are the two most well-known and after you get past the catchy hooks, the rest of the album lacks filler. The inspiration for this album is a big range from getting back at an ex, a little T-Swift action, during “Longshot (7 Nights)” to the hip hop beats of J Dilla. After their four-year dry spell, this LP is definitely a more robust and heftier sound compared to their previous albums but it seems to favors style over substance. (Written by Julia Antonson)


44. Matter – St. Lucia

St. Lucia has done it again with a synth-pop, dance energy driven album that soared charts with “Dancing On Glass” this past summer. However, the sophomore album Matter has some elements of change aside from their dance hits. “Love Somebody” has a synth R&B feel with lyrics of a romantic despair, which is off track for this artist. This album is especially interesting because St. Lucia found a way to speak about painful experiences; such as, being an immigrant to the U.S in “Help Me Run Away” and falling into a relationship that is just “Physical” – the track’s actual name – and to an 80’s synth beat that wildly resembles work of Boy George. This album sets the scene for an expected change in St. Lucia’s next album. (Written by Emily Steinmetz)


43.Lewis Del Mar – Lewis Del Mar

The duo released a strong debut album after their hit “Loud(y)” hit waves in 2015. Lewis Del Mar’s self titled album has the same electric, acoustic energy that scored them a record deal with Columbia from their singles. They’ve created a symbiotic relationship between the lyrics and instrumentals, making them one of the most artistic releases of this year. You’ll go through a booming beginning from “Such Small Scenes” and make it down to an flared, acoustic story of “Live That Long.” The stories are told through poignant lyrics and dynamic sounds, some people would say their style and sound goes unchanged from previous releases. (Written by Emily Steinmetz)


42. Need Your Light – Ra Ra Riot

After sonically and stylistically tremulous past albums where Ra Ra Riot toyed with different styles of pop, Need Your Light comes out to be the newfound balance of the band’s collective use of instrumentation to produce a colorful synth-pop album; swaying away from their signature baroque-pop sound. Need Your Light is heavily energized with the combination of strings and electronics, and is noticeable in songs like “Foreign Lovers” with a cute key break that keeps you in line with a heavy drumset and “I Need Your Light” being the climax of the album, in which Wes Miles’ vocals reach out high as he taunts through the synth buildup ultimately easing into unveiling an embellished ending. (Written by Kayla Martinez)


41. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein- Stranger Things

Standing out amongst the rest of this list, the Stranger Things soundtrack earned its spot through Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s use of music. Through simple themes, they created tone and mood to convey characters, plots, and reactions through out the series. Simple melodic themes and variations of them are typical in classical music, but the modern twist of synth set the tone for the entire show. It truly emblemizes the 80’s and sci fi at the same time. The creativity in the variations and how they build on each other to create suspense and tension throughout each of the songs is what is most compelling about this album. The music holds it’s own without lyrics or complicated harmonies. Like any good soundtrack, the music made the moments in the show and even without the visuals and the plot of the show, you can get an understanding through listening to the music alone. (Written by Andie García-Sheridan)

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