This year has seen a boom of solid releases in the local Northwest music community. I was blown away to have engineered and mixed a release by The Sextet that was chosen by KMHD as one of the top ten jazz albums of 2016. While the goal of producing music isn’t necessarily getting on a radio station’s top ten list, it does feel good to get some recognition.
After getting a little love from KMHD, I thought it might be nice to spread that love around. Below, I highlight my ten favorite Pacific Northwest releases of the year, as well as my favorite releases across the globe. Compiling this list was a great excuse for me to catch up on some releases I missed out on this year. Of course, there are many more artists I could’ve highlighted, but (in my mind) music shouldn’t be a competition. At its best, music should bring people together, not push them away. If a particular release didn’t make the cut, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. These releases spoke to my personal tastes, and I kept coming back to them throughout the year for repeat listens. Hopefully, you’ll find something on this list that speaks to you, too.
Everything is in alphabetical order. I find it hard to rate these albums in any fair sort of way, especially when they span genres from hip-hop to post-rock.
Pacific Northwest Releases
Amos Val – Yūgen
I’m sad that these guys won’t be playing these songs live anymore, but they left a great record of all their hard work with this awesome release.
Blowout – No Beer, No Dad
One of the best live punk bands in Portland. Go see them.
Coastlands – To be found
This album makes whatever you’re doing more epic and moody in the best possible way…adding in the fact that these guys are really nice people doesn’t hurt, either.
David Bazan – Blanco
David Bazan made a synth album, and goddammit he hooked me again.
DETLEF – S/T
Instrumental math rock.
Ex-members of Rooftops. The album is definitely more restrained than Rooftops’ releases, but that only helps Detlef bloom in a lyrical fashion uncommon to instrumental bands.
Dust Moth – Scale
Such a bad-ass band. Before I knew who they were, I walked into their set just in time to catch their last song, and I’ve been sad I missed the beginning of that set ever since.
Ellis Pink – Fist Day Around The Globe
Stellar pop songwriting shines throughout this release. Connor’s intricate yet danceable beats provide a springboard for Simon’s catchy melodies.
Holy Tentacles – Won’t Be Saved
Tapping? Mathy rhythms? Intricate guitar interplay? I’m sold. It’s hard to pull off music this technical while keeping the songwriting catchy, but that’s exactly what Holy Tentacles does on Won’t Be Saved.
Sloucher – Certainty
I was blown away by the production, writing, and simplicity of this release. I haven’t heard straight-ahead rock music recorded this well in a long time.
Two Planets – Procession
Dusty Fox and crew transcend hip-hop and jazz norms in a combination that elevates mind, body, and soul.
Blood Orange – Freetown Sound (New York, NY)
Camp Cope – S/T (Melbourne, Australia)
Enemies – Valuables (Kilcoole, Ireland)
Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math (New York, NY)
Pingrove – Cardinal (Montclair, NJ)
About a year after making this post the lead singer of Pinegrove was accused of sexual coercion. I do not believe in supporting art made by sexual predators, and have removed their album from my 2016 favorites and all of my other collections.
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (Oxfordshire, England)
Russian Circles – Guidance (Chicago, IL)
Still Parade – Concrete Vision (Berlin, Germany)
Totorro – Come to Mexico (Rennes, France)
TTNG – Disappointment Island (Oxford, England)