40. Happiness Is not a Place by The Wind and the Wave

Catchy and upbeat folk rock.wind-and-wave-happiness-is-not-a-place-2016-billboard-1240

 

Stay Gold by Butch Walker

39. Stay Gold by the Butch Walker

A reincarnation of the boss. Pure rock ‘n’ roll.

 

Max Jury

38. Max Jury by Max Jury

Reserved and introspective. A solid voice, soft but powerful.

 

Therapy Session by NF

37. Therapy Session by NF

Christian hip-hop from the dark side.

Ouroboros by Ray LaMontagne

36. Ouroboros by Ray LaMontagne

Ray LaMontagne continues his quest to be a classic-rock star.

 

Hymns by Bloc party

35. Hymns by Bloc Party

Bloc Party adds an organ to their sound and questions of faith to their lyrics.

 

A/B by Kaleo

34. A/B by Kaleo

In the spirit of all Icelandic music, Kaleo plays music against beautiful backdrops. The band also has the blues.

 

The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen

33. The Ride by Catfish and the Bottlemen

The 2016 nominee for Oasis impersonation.

 

Atomic by Mogwai

32. ATOMIC by Mogwai

Mogwai is in the soundtrack business. ATOMIC is a good one!

 

Junk by M83

31. Junk by M83

Don’t make me dance!

 

The Education of a Wandering Man by Jamestown Revival

30. The Education of a Wandering Man by Jamestown Revival

Real country. Good twang.

 

This Is Acting by Sia

29. This Is Acting by Sia

Awesome concept to take rejected songs written for other artists and record them for your own album. You can tell which artists to which each song is pitched.

 

Emotions and Math by Margaret Glaspy

28. Emotions and Math by Margaret Glaspy

Margaret Glaspy shreds… as much as someone can shred in indie rock.

 

27. Red Earth & Pouring Rain by the Bear’s Den

Bear’s Den holds the trademark vocal stylings heard in bands such as Snow Patrol, Elbow, or Frightened Rabbit. Add a chorus pedal to the guitar and you have this excellent band.

 

The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock

26. The Impossible Kid by Aesop Rock

The Shakespeare of rap is at it again.

 

Say it Out Loud by the Interrupters

25. Say it Out Loud by The Interrupters

A nostalgia pick. This album takes me back to the ska-punk teenage years.

 

Long Play by The Wealthy West

24. Long Play by The Wealthy West

Some albums connect deeply with the context in which you hear it. For me, Long Play conjures the snowy expanse of a bus ride from Madison, WI to Minneapolis, MN.

 

23. To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere by Thrice

In their return, Thrice pulls out the baritone guitars and aims for cathartic melodic textures.

 

Emily's D+Evolution by Esperanza Spalding

22. Emily’s D+Evolution by Esperanza Spalding

The Grammy award winning jazz artist has gone prog-rock.

 

We Go It From Here by A Tribe Called Quest

21. We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest

I listened to this album on election night, headphones in, waiting for my son to fall asleep (we hang out with him as he goes to bed #parenting). The album really hit a nerve that night and continues to do so.

 

Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

20. Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

Deep soul with bluesy guitar. Hooray!

 

Moda Spira

19. Moda Spira by Moda Spira

Haunting vocals and gorgeous textures. Hoping this album is available on vinyl soon!

 

Woman by Justice

18. Woman by Justice

This generation’s Daft Punk.

 

Home of the Strange by Young the Giant

17. Home of the Strange by Young the Giant

Young the Giant wins the award for coolest music videos this year. They produced a pretty vinyl too.

 

16. I Had a Dream that You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithauser + RostamI Had a Dream that You Were Mine by Hamilton Leithausre + Rostam

I was sad to see Rostam Batmanglij leave Vampire Weekend but if this is the direction he’s going musically, bravo!

 

Good Grief by Lucius

15. Good Grief by Lucius

Not quite the heights of their debut, but Good Grief is infectious. Props to a beautiful album design as well.

 

14. Signs of Light by The Head and the HeartSigns of Light by The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart has yet to strike the right nerve with me. That changed with Signs of Light.

 

American Football

13. American Football by American Football

The sequel! 16 years later.

 

12. Blanco by David BazanBlanco by David Bazan

Multi-layered synths for the indie troubadour. “Trouble with Boys” touched me deeply.

 

The Party by Andy Shauf

11. The Party by Andy Shauf

Nothing more introverted than making a concept album about a party.

 

Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

10. Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

Gospel-infused hip-hop. Sterling performances throughout.

 

Cleopatra by The Lumineers

9. Cleopatra by The Lumineers

Rich storytelling. Catchy Americana. The music video for “Sleep on the Floor” contrasts with the video for “Cleopatra” showing alternate realities for the album’s titular character.

 

iii by Miike Snow

8. iii by Miike Snow

Energetic dance-pop from Sweden’s finest indie pop band.

 

Cardinal by Pinegrove

7. Cardinal by Pinegrove

Pinegrove feels like the spiritual successor of Death Cab for Cutie.

 

The Human Condition by Jon Bellion

6. The Human Condition by Jon Bellion

This dude has so much talent. The album is a pristine collection of eclectic pop. But, his acoustic version of All Time Low is stunning.

 

A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

5. A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

Par-for-the-course Radiohead. The most interesting question might be the meaning of the title. Since there’s no hyphen between “moon” and “shaped,” does it mean there’s a moon out there shaping a pool? Or did Radiohead really mean to say “moon-shaped pool?”

 

First Light by Dustin Tebbutt

4. First Light by Dustin Tebbutt

Australian for Bon Iver.

 

Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights

3. Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights

It’s like Peter Gabriel with a vocoder.

 

22, A Million by Bon Iver

2. 22, A Million by Bon Iver

I’d be happy as hell if you stayed for tea.

 

We Move by James Vincent McMorrow

1. We Move by James Vincent McMorrow

Sterling production values. Emotional honesty. Beautiful songwriting. James Vincent McMorrow gives us a masterpiece.

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