16. Blink 182 – California
Blink-182 is one of those bands that just never goes away. After an 8 year hiatus, we were sure it was over, but like a puppy that’s constantly biting at your heels, they’re relentless. You know, in a way that doesn’t allow you to ever really be mad. I reviewed the album earlier in the year, and my feelings on the record haven’t changed. I love it. I’m still not sure whether I love it because it’s great, or because it’s Blink, and it takes me back to my angst-ridden teenage years, and frankly, I don’t care. It makes for easy listening when you don’t have the energy to think, and pretty poetry just hurts a bit too much.
Release date: July 1st
Favourite track: Sober
15. Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost
Holy Ghost is another album I reviewed on its release in May. Part of me thinks it deserves to be higher on this list due to the lyrical content, and how it hits me so hard in the gut that I might actually fall over. Another part of me, though, knows that while I am fully aware of how beautiful it is, it’s not an album that I’m able to listen to over and over without getting a little tired of it. Regardless, I’m glad that MoBo exists, because more bands need to address mental health illnesses without romanticising the reality of how shit they are – as both the one suffering, and the ones who love them. It’s hard hitting, authentic, exciting, and raw, and a blessing to 2016.
Release date: May 13th
Favourite track: Apple Cider, I Don’t Mind
14. A Day to Remember – Bad Vibrations
I’m still slightly upset with ADTR for never touring NZ at a time that is convenient to me, but I understand that the world doesn’t revolve around me and I managed to get over it enough to really enjoy this record. Bad Vibrations is made even sweeter by the fact that it was released during the legal battle with their old record label, Victory Records (which they subsequently won). Despite all the turmoil the band had been going through for a couple of years, they still managed to write 11 tracks that remind me of why I fell in love with their music in the first place. The lyrical content is more mature than in their earlier albums, and the balance of screaming and clean vocals is more on point than ever. As someone that struggles with the more intense tracks such as You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic from What Separates Me From You, this is the perfect ADTR record for me, and I’m forever grateful that they pushed through for themselves and the fans and released new material.
Release date: August 2nd
Favourite track: Justified
13. Tonight Alive – Limitless
The first time I listened to Limitless, I admit that I was hit with a giant wave of disappointment. Not because it was a bad album, that’s actually very far from the truth. It was just so incredibly different to everything else Tonight Alive have ever done, and it was a shock. I wasn’t expecting pop, I was expecting the pop punk vibe of The Other Side and What Are You So Scared Of?. But I’m a big fan of strong female musicians so I persevered, and was consequently rewarded for doing so. It’s a powerful album that incites potency in its listener just as much as I’m sure it does for the band. Lead singer Jenna has spoken about how this is the album that makes her feel most herself, and it really comes through in the authenticity of the lyrics, which lacks the romantic themes of TA’s previous material, and has a bigger focus on loving yourself and being your own person. When you’ve given it a chance, and looked past the dramatic change in genre, it is, without a doubt, an extremely strong piece of art.
Release date: March 4th
Favourite track: Drive
12. Pierce the Veil – Misadventures
The release of Misadventures was one of the most exciting of the year. It had become one of those elusive albums that took so long to come out that there were moments where we thought it would never see the light of day. The first single on the record, The Divine Zero, came out almost a year prior to the album release and so when May 2016 finally rolled around, the band really needed to knock it out of the park. They absolutely nailed it. From the very beginning, when A Flair For the Dramatics was released, I have always loved Pierce the Veil’s tendency to focus on individual stories, making you feel completely immersed in each moment that is presented to us with each track. Misadventures is a new collection of anecdotal brilliance, offered to us through the band’s definitive sound. Like their previous releases, it acknowledges death and mental illness, yet also provides hope and light, making it an extremely well rounded album both sonically and lyrically.
Release date: May 13th
Favourite track: Song For Isabelle
11. Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor
Death of a Bachelor has led to Panic! receiving their first Grammy nomination since 2009, and while I disagree with the category it’s been put in (it’s not really “rock” is it?), I really do think it deserves the recognition that it’s received. You have to admire Brendon Urie for soldiering on after literally every one of his band members left for one reason or another, creating a brilliant album entirely alone. It’s one of those albums that when you listen to it in full, it seems to be over far too quickly because it’s incredibly fun and easy to lose yourself in. I’m also a fan of the unintentional significance of the final track: Impossible Year. It’s certainly appropriate following the shitshow that was 2016, in terms of seemingly endless world turmoil and the deaths of celebrity icons. Panic! gets a lot of stick, but Brendon’s talent is undeniable, and his voice is magnificently soothing in every track. I’m proud to admit that I love this album, and I can’t wait to see the band for the first time in 6 years this coming February.
Release date: January 15th
Favourite track: Don’t Threaten Me With a Good Time
10. Frightened Rabbit – Painting of a Panic Attack
2016 was certainly a great year for Scottish music, and Frightened Rabbit contributed heavily to its success. I hadn’t listened to any of their music before this record, but they came highly recommended to me, and I’m very pleased with my past self for giving them a shot. Based on my previous experience with Scottish bands, I expected rock, but was instead met with a beautiful collection of what might be the best accent in the world combined with a certain softness that warms you from the inside out. From the opening notes, I still get goosebumps. The lyrics are nothing short of poetry, striking chords as they unravel and roll off Scott Hutchinson’s tongue. I can’t think of any other way to describe Painting of a Panic Attack, other than absolutely stunning.
Release date: April 8th
Favourite track: I Wish I Was Sober
9. Biffy Clyro – Ellipsis
Continuing on with the Scottish theme, Biffy Clyro released their 7th studio album this year, and it exceeded every single one of my expectations. They’ve come a long way since I saw them support Muse at Wembley Arena in 2010, something I didn’t think could or would happen after the success of Only Revolutions. While the album opens with a heavy-ish track, and has scatterings of “the old Biffy” throughout, for the most part, they’ve made a pretty sharp turn away from that sound. With Ellipsis, they’ve taken a more anthemic approach, and I see it as being a record that was made to be performed in front of a live audience. The small number of acoustic tracks bring the album together, and tie it up neatly with a bow, and while I’m a fan of their old material, I really love this new path they’ve gone down, which has made it generally more accessible to the masses. Some might call this “selling out”, but I’m always hesitant to use that term when the music retains its quality as this record does. Also the foetal-esque album art is A+ and I’m all about judging books by their covers.
Release date: July 8th
Favourite track: Re-arrange
8. Catfish and the Bottlemen – The Ride
When I first heard the track 7, I couldn’t stop listening, and put in on repeat while I cried for an entire hour. For an opening track to have such a monumental effect is quite an achievement, and I knew from that moment that it was going to be one of my favourite albums of the year. For a while, Ride became the album I’d turn to when I couldn’t think of what to listen to on my car journeys or my bus rides, and yet I never got bored of it. It’s the kind of catchy that doesn’t become annoyingly repetitive thanks to wonderful lyrics that allow you to put your own life into them, making of the words what you will. British music will forever be my favourite and these Welsh guys only fuelled my love further with their latest release.
Release date: May 27th
Favourite track: 7
7. Aurora – All My Demons Greeting Me As a Friend
I owe a lot to Laneway Festival and the music that it has introduced me to over the years. The Scandinavian beauty, Aurora, is set to play this January at the new Albert Park location, and being the first one on the lineup on the posters scattered around the city, she was the first act I looked into. I turned to YouTube to do my research and instantly fell in love with Running With the Wolves, prompting me to download the entire album, which I adored equally as much. With touching tracks like Lucky, it’s impossible not to be filled with empathy, hope, and a little fear – something that remains consistent across the entire record. Aurora’s voice is haunting and sweet, perfectly matching the lyrical content of each track. The juxtaposition of Aurora’s innocence and the intensity of tracks such as Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) makes for one of the most interesting albums of the year.
Release date: March 11th
Favourite track: Lucky
6. Broods – Conscious
This year has taken me from 0 to 100 in regards to my love for Broods. I was entirely indifferent to the brother/sister duo at the start of the year, but with the release of Conscious in June, I saw them in a whole new light. Throughout the year, I’ve listened to the album countless times in a multitude of ways, but whether it be the studio versions on my iPhone, the full live versions at Auckland City Limits and Vector Arena, or stripped down versions performed across the world that I found on YouTube, it has always managed to amaze me. I adore the understated strength of the lyrics, and how much fun they are to belt out with thousands of others in the country that gave birth to their fame. This album has made me cry for so many reasons over the past few months, both happy and sad tears, and I can’t wait to see where the duo goes next.
Release date: June 24th
Favourite track: Free/Heartlines
5. Run the Jewels – RTJ3
This album alone makes me glad I’m riddled with laziness at this time of year, because had I been on the ball like most other publications, I wouldn’t have been able to add this late addition to my list. And holy shit does it deserve all of the praise I can possibly muster (in my post-Christmas lazy, over fed, slightly hungover state). The official release date for RTJ3 isn’t until January 13th, but on being asked, “What are you waiting for?” the duo decided they didn’t know. So they dropped it early as a “MOTHERF*CKING CHRISTMAS MIRACLE”, available for paid download on all major services, and for free. The record is full of political messages that, while in many instances being targeted at the U.S, everyone should pay close attention to. Sonically, it’s verging on genius, with every one of the 14 tracks running smoothly into the next. It’s an outstanding record made by two outstanding guys and I’m beyond stoked that we get it for a few extra weeks than we initially expected.
Release date December 24th/January
Favourite Track: Don’t Get Captured
4. Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave
Taking Back Sunday have written some of my all time favourite songs, and the release of Tidal Wave only added to the list of songs I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. The band’s last release, Happiness Is…, never got me particularly excited, which only made these twelve tracks stand out all the more. It truly is a sensational album, with each song putting its own little bit of magic out into the world. The band has come a long way since they reformed with the original lineup in 2011, after years of mismatched members and bitter thoughts. Now, though, they’re clearly tighter than ever, and the proof is in the way they continue to improve artistically and play to sold out crowds worldwide. John and Adam are the perfect team, and their lost years continue to break my heart. Redemption is found in Tidal Wave, though. This album makes me exceptionally happy, and I cannot wait to see it performed at The Powerstation in March.
Release date: September 16th
Favourite track: Holy Water
(Also) 4. Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues
I couldn’t even begin to choose between this album and Tidal Wave, so I just decided to take the easy road and give them equal status. Jimmy Eat World are another band that have written tens of songs that make up the soundtrack of my life over the decades, and I always admire the way that they manage to bring something new with each album. No two records sound the same and Integrity Blues is no different. I’m a sucker for songs about being free, and this entire record follows a theme of freedom and the happiness that comes with it, following on from 2013’s Damage, which focuses on the painful truth of a breakup. It’s the most ~alternative~ of JEW’s releases so far and my favourite since 2007’s Chase This Light.
Release date: October 21st
Favourite track: Sure and Certain/You Are Free
2. Highly Suspect – The Boy Who Died Wolf
I don’t think I really have the words to express how my love for Highly Suspect has sky rocketed into the stratosphere lately, or how much their music has impacted my year. I gave it a go here, with my review of The Boy Who Died Wolf, but nothing could really do it the justice that it deserves. I love what it sounds like, I love the risks taken in the topics approached, I love that it makes me feel empowered, sad, and motivated all at once. As I’ve said before, I didn’t think anything could top Highly Suspect’s debut album, but The Boy Who Died Wolf is proof that these guys will only continue to give more and more to their fans. I adore that they use their platform to spread love, and this record is a wonderful example of how they do this without sugar coating the reality of the world we live in.
Release date: November 18th
Favourite track: Chicago/My Name is Human
1. Twin Atlantic – GLA
These Scottish lads have followed me through 6 years of ups and downs: I’ve stood front row at their shows, screaming back the lyrics that mean everything to me, I’ve hugged them and told them what they’ve done for me, and this year they read (and loved and appreciated!!!!!!) my review of GLA – my album of the year. The record saw Twin Atlantic go back to basics, busting out 12 tracks that didn’t receive the same polished treatment that its predecessor, Great Divide, did. Aside from the band’s first EP, A Guidance From Colour, and perhaps their first album, Vivarium, it’s the most raw and unrefined material the guys have ever released. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, and sure, that might be a totally biased opinion considering they’re my favourite band in the entire world, but if you’re all about sexy accents and rough songs about partying, loss, love, and politics, then GLA is definitely worth your time.
Release date: September 9th
Favourite tracks: The Chaser/A Scar to Hide/Ex El
An honorary mention must also be given to Openside for their first EP, Push Back, and Sorority Noise for their beautiful and heartbreaking EP, It Kindly Stopped For Me.