January 16, 2017

Top Albums of 2016

A little late to the party, but here’s our Top Albums of 2016 by myself (Patrick) and my new writing partner (Adam).

With Confidence – Better Weather

I gotta hand it to Australia this year. They produced two of my absolute favorite pop-punk records of the year. With Confidence made their debut with Better Weather, released from Hopeless Records. Hopeless has been doing an admirable job at recruiting new and exciting pop-punk bands and With Confidence is another successful investment. Backed by a crisp production, With Confidence’s debut album is chalk full of everything that makes a genre album exciting: strong vocals, catchy melodies, exciting riffs, and most importantly, staying power. Though the album is only 10 songs, there’s not a single wasted track. It’s full of fast-paced tracks like “Voldemort” and “Keys,” and slows things down a bit with “Gravity” and the piano-ballad “Long Night.” I’ve had this album on repeat since it came out in June. Better Weather isn’t a revolutionary album by any means, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a pure pop-punk record that begs to be replayed.


The Hotelier – Goodness

I know this wasn’t a well-received album and it’s fairly obvious why. Goodness is a bit weird and has a slightly different kind of music than their previous album that was revered by all. But something with these songs connected with me and strangely can be played at any time of day or year. Whether I wanted excitement or sadness, this album provided that, which is something that doesn’t even make sense to write down. Yet, that’s how this album worked and why it’s at the top of my list. It’s different and probably slower than anyone wanted, but there isn’t one song I don’t like on it (outside of the spoken word parts).


Tiny Moving Parts – Celebrate

One of my favorite trios working in the industry today is Tiny Moving Parts. Their ability to put together a hook with their lineup is impressive. Celebrate finds Tiny Moving Parts stripping down a lot of the technicalities of their previous work for some drop-D fun. Fun is without a doubt the word I’d use to describe this album. Dylan Mattheisen’s progression as a vocalist is a key component to the success of this album. You can almost picture his cheeky smile behind every word he belts out throughout Celebrate. “Headache” gets my vote for favorite music video of the year and showcases just how insanely catchy the band can be. Moving away from the spoken-word vocal style of their previous albums allows Celebrate to find new ground with added distortion and a much more refined palate.


At a time, I thought Celebrate could lead my end-of-year list, partly due to its catchiness and the usual guitar licks found from TMP. But it dropped a bit after listening to it more. The lyrics are far too simple to have any higher on my list. At one point I felt like these were lyrics I could write and sing to in high school, making the overall effectiveness lesser than early listens.



Brian Fallon – Painkillers

At this point, most people will delegitimize my list because Painkillers was disregarded by most people in the scene as not even being a top-5 release by Fallon and too simple to enjoy because of what he’s done in the past. That’s fine, but this album is good, full of catchiness and I listened to it year-round. It starts with speed and has its downers, which are interspersed throughout. It’s super poppy and maybe not technically great, but Fallon and Butch Walker know what they’re doing. This came out early in the year and at one point I thought it was only a sunny-weather album, but it turned into something more when I gladly listened in the later months.



Trophy Eyes – Chemical Miracle

Trophy Eyes first caught my attention with their debut single, “Chlorine.” I wasn’t very fond of their first album, Mend, Move On, and wasn’t sure what to expect with Chemical Miracle, but I’m glad I stuck around. This brilliant sophomore album is filled with intense energy, brutally honest lyrics and the perfect level of maturity in the bands evolution. Each track is as varied in style as the last and the album as a whole balances the poppier and hardcore elements with ease. At times the lyrics feel a bit too melodramatic, but maybe it’s because I’m getting older. This is a refreshing album to check out for any fans of the heavier “punk” in pop-punk.


Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave

The main thing with Tidal Wave is that no one gave it a chance. TBS has been around forever and has had some run-of-the-mill stuff in the last decade, but this album reminds me of early TBS; their fast songs get the job done and the slow ones can hit an emotional chord. Sure, some songs sound like straight copies of classic rock songs, but it works.


Hail The Sun – Culture Scars

One of the hardest working bands in the scene today is Hail The Sun. Between their constant touring and inspired side-projects,  (Sianvar/Sufferer) they still managed to put out their most confident record yet. Donovan Melero lyrics focus on relevant social issues and even find time for another ballad with “Never Kill a Mouse; Let It Kill Itself.” Culture Scars tones down the seriousness from their last release, Wake, and brings back a ferocious amount of fun found in their earlier releases. It manages to do all of this without sacrificing any of trademarks that makes this band so special; catchy 6/8 guitar riffs, thought-provoking lyrics, and extended outros that go all out.


Moose Blood Blush
Moose Blood – Blush

I reviewed Blush immediately after it came out and I was disappointed to say the least. But then the season changed and Fall happened. My feelings came around similar to what happened with I’ll Keep You in Mind… This is completely a colder weather album and releasing it at the beginning of August when the heat was at its highest, took away some of its affect. Then I saw them live in November and everything was made better. Maybe Blush can’t be enjoyed as much in the summer months, but when the leaves start to fall, this is what you want to listen to.



Trash Boat – Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through

It’s easy to see why many people would compare Trash Boat’s debut LP to The Story So Far, but I’m not one to see it. Sure, there’s the heavy raspy vocals and fast-paced punk drums, but Trash Boat displays these attributes with precision and sleekness. “Tring Quarry” makes an excellent case for pop-punk song of the year with its head-bobbing choruses and relentless energy. “Catharsis” takes the best parts of Knuckle Puck’s musical repertoire and sprinkles in a dash of optimism to boot.  Nothing I Write You is an album filled with variety, wit, and just the right amount of angst to get people excited about pop-punk again.


All Get Out – Nobody Likes A Quitter

We only got about two months to listen to Nobody Likes a Quitter, but on first listen, I knew this would make my top 10. I liked All Get Out’s previous work, yet none of them stood out. It was music I’d enjoy here and there and never sought it. This one is it a bit different and that’s mainly because it sounds largely like Manchester Orchestra. I didn’t know where to put it on my list because I need to give it more time, but this one could definitely grow into something special.


Gates – Parallel Lives

Gates is the spirited love child of Moving Mountains, Thrice, and Explosions In The Sky all wrapped into one familiar, yet welcome package. Parallel Lives dials back the distortion and aims to create something truly enthralling. The atmospheric guitar work and often dreamlike vocals elevate this album towards more than just an alternative rock record, but a post-rock one as well. Gates knows when to put the hammer down and when to dial it back with this record and it makes for a more refined, mature, and ambitious sophomore album.


Blink 182 – California

I know California isn’t a ‘good’ album by any means. I know the music isn’t great and the lyrics are okay at best. I know all of that. But that doesn’t really matter for an album that I listened to so much. Surprisingly, I can listen to all of these songs and not be bored… to death. Of course, this is purely a summer album that you listen to with the windows rolled down, hence why it’s lower on this list.


Real Friends – The Home Inside My Head

I wasn’t going to put this album on here, but I looked at my listening habits and couldn’t deny how much I streamed these guys. Their lyrics remain mediocre as does the music, I’m not going to try and convince you to listen to them. I don’t even relate to a lot of the stuff, but since I listened to it so much, it needed a spot in my top 10 based on catchiness alone.


Direct Hit! – Wasted Mind

Here’s another pop-punk album that I didn’t really relate to yet listened to a ton. Wasted Mind starts off with intensity and it doesn’t stop. Maybe you can’t relate to the lyrics either, but this may be the best pop-punk release of 2016 and no one saw it coming. It stays in your face and holds its ground.


a2046092919_10The Other Stars – We Were Kids

I wasn’t going to finish my top 10 until I took a look at my EPs list and knew We Were Kids had to be on there. You Looked Better at a Party is one of the best songs of the year and this band came out of nowhere to provide seven pop-punk songs that no one is talking about.

-Adam & Patrick

Written by:  Adam Zdroik & Patrick Marion

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