Finally, we can put this year to rest, with my Top 10 albums. Just a quick overview of my Top 10 list shows I have four artists from my youth in my Top 10 albums. Then I looked again, only to notice that I have two more veteran artists from the Nineties represented in my Top 10. So, let’s get going! Here’s my Top 10 Albums of 2016.
10. Drive-By Truckers – American Band. My favorite modern Southern Rock band nailed this moody album about what it’s like to be a Southern in modern times. This time, leader Patterson Hood allowed group co-founder Mike Cooley to have half of the songs on the album, and the result is a more cohesive sounding group.
9. Peter Wolf – A Cure for Loneliness. The former-lead singer of the J. Geils Band once again quietly releases a classic album of blues rock, not unlike what his old band used to release.
8. Solange – A Seat at the Table. This is the album that her more famous sister, Beyoncé, wishes she had recorded. Solange actually showed a soulful side with pop smarts creating an album that will appeal to pop fans, R&B fans and serious music fans alike. Congratulations Solange, you are out of your sister’s shadow!
7. Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book. This brilliant hip hop album is the most colorful-sounding album since rap’s earliest days of the 1980s. Chance brought the fun back to the genre.
6. A Tribe Called Quest – We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service. In most years, this album would have been the comeback album of the year. It was great to hear our jazzy hip hop artists back at the top of their game. The sad part was the loss of Phife Dawg shortly before the album’s release.
5. David Bowie – Blackstar. Bowie created a beautiful, dark, jazz-based album during which he was confronting his own mortality. He released the album to glorious reviews, only to die a couple days later. And, this album is a fitting end to one of rock’s greatest chameleons.
4. Weezer – Weezer (aka “The White Album”). On this, the band’s fourth eponymous titled album, Weezer made an album worthy of the band’s name. Finally, they remembered what their strengths are: powerful pop songs. And, their White Album is full of them.
3. The Monkees – Good Times! I am NOT kidding! The Monkees new album is brilliant. First, the band, celebrating their 50th anniversary, got some of rock’s best young songwriters, such as Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, to give them the modern pop songs they used to record in their Sixties heyday. Next, they electronically recorded a Mickey Dolenz/Harry Nilsson posthumous duet. And, finally, they uncovered a Davy Jones vocal and finished a brilliant pop song. This is the Monkees at their best.
2. Lady Gaga – Joanne. What’s a young artist who ruled the world with her first three albums to do when you idolize David Bowie AND Queen? You keep pushing through various incarnations while trying to advance your sound. On Born This Way, Gaga clobbered the epic sound of the Eighties, so Joanne has touches of the Seventies all over it, through some country rock-ish dance tunes, along with some disco touches and a pinch of 1970s hard rock. This is the sound of Lady Gaga growing into her influences. And, she’s beginning to do just that.
1. Cheap Trick – Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello. Back in 2009, Cheap Trick released a brilliant studio called The Latest, which ended up being their last with original drummer Bun E. Carlos. In his place is guitarist Rick Nielsen’s other son, Daxx, who does a yeoman’s job filling in for Bun E. Yes, Bun is missed, but these are the best set of songs that Trick has released in the 21st century. Is this album as good as their first five? No. But it is WAY better than their collective Eighties output.
And, that my friends, is my Top 10 for 2016. Have a safe and happy New Year! Peace to all of you!